This is my second book from my SPFBO8 batch and I must be honest, my initial impressions were not great. For starters, I received a PDF copy with no cover to view and some of the formatting was askew, particularly in situations where it seemed like the author used the enter key at the end of the line instead of allowing their chosen writing tool to do the job for them. I thought it might be a Kindle app thing, but it did the same on my Paperwhite. Not the end of the world. Maybe it was my expectation that the authors send their sales version to be judged, but I could be wrong. Then I started reading it. After about 30 pages or so, nothing had really happened and I was thinking strongly of stopping at the 20% cutoff mark. This…never…happened…
Okay, let’s start over. What’s the book about? It’s a LitRPG (not my favourite genre) with a YA vibe (see last parentheses). It’s about a teenage boy, Terrence, who on his 16th birthday is sent to test for an affinity. For those unfamiliar with LitRPG (or RPGs), this is a special skill a player has such as sword-fighting or magic which defines your character. Terrence, who had recently lost a lot of weight, was surprised (as was the local cleric) to find out his affinity was Heavy. Terrence, while trying out his affinity, discovers that his level one skill allows him to find out the weight of things. He is, in essence, a human weighing scale. How is this useful and where does the story go from here?
Well, affinity school, of course. Before we get there, we see a little bit of action when Terrence and his uncle go monster hunting and Terrence discovers a practical use for his ability. The school segment is like every school story ever written. Terrence meets a friend whose merchant father disowned him for having an inferior affinity and he also meets some girls who surprisingly are all hot. The instructors are relatively interesting and naturally, there are the rich kids who frown on those with lesser means. Like Terrence. This makes it all sound quite dull, but it’s not. Not entirely.
There’s a side plot with a King who refuses to accept his son and heir has no affinity - a big no-no. Tom, a dungeon explorer gets involved, trying to hunt down a sphere that can grant any affinity to anyone. Here we get to see some action and learn more about affinities and the dungeon missions. This is where the LitRPG aspect part of the book really shines. It’s sad that it’s only about maybe 20% of the book as it definitely adds more fun.
To sum up, after the early struggles, the book does develop a life of its own, despite nothing major happening throughout. I powered through the last 80% and ended up reading it in a couple of days. Part of my enjoyment was having an affinity (pun intended) with Terence, but also waiting for something big to happen, but it never really turned it up a notch, except when Tom was on board, and even that was restrained. I did like the book after the early struggles. Terrence in particular was very likeable, and savvy, and his struggles to ignore idiots are very much a reality for overweight people. If I had some other advice for the author, I would suggest an edit that removed the “strong language.” Most of it reads like a book for maybe 10-15 year-olds. The language isn’t going to cut it with many parents and I think youth/teen would be a better market for this story, and probably better for the author’s pocket.