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  • Nikky Lee

Book Review: Dungeon Crawler Carl

Title: Dungeon Crawler Carl (Dungeon Crawler Carl #1)

Author: Matt Dinniman

Publisher: Dandy House

Page Count: 446

Series Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Cover of Dungeon Crawler Carl by Matt Dinniman

Blurb for Dungeon Crawler Carl

The apocalypse will be televised!

A man. His ex-girlfriend's cat. A sadistic game show unlike anything in the universe: a dungeon crawl where survival depends on killing your prey in the most entertaining way possible.

In a flash, every human-erected construction on Earth—from Buckingham Palace to the tiniest of sheds—collapses in a heap, sinking into the ground.

The buildings and all the people inside have all been atomized and transformed into the dungeon: an 18-level labyrinth filled with traps, monsters, and loot. A dungeon so enormous, it circles the entire globe.

Only a few dare venture inside. But once you're in, you can't get out. And what's worse, each level has a time limit. You have but days to find a staircase to the next level down, or it's game over. In this game, it's not about your strength or your dexterity. It's about your followers, your views. Your clout. It's about building an audience and killing those goblins with style.

You can't just survive here. You gotta survive big.

You gotta fight with vigor, with excitement. You gotta make them stand up and cheer. And if you do have that "it" factor, you may just find yourself with a following. That's the only way to truly survive in this game—with the help of the loot boxes dropped upon you by the generous benefactors watching from across the galaxy.

They call it Dungeon Crawler World. But for Carl, it's anything but a game.

My review

This book takes the cake for being the most ridiculous thing I've read in a very long time. But wow, it's SO MUCH FUN. I devoured the first three books of this series in a week. That's almost unheard of for me. 

Here's the premise: One night, while fetching his ex-girlfriend's cat out of a tree—in the middle of the worst snowstorm of the season no less—Carl witnesses every human structure get "sucked" into the earth.  Buildings, cars, and all the people inside have all been atomized and transformed into a dungeon.

The culprits: Aliens. 

They've claimed all of Earth's  materials on some planetary independence technicality. If Earth's few million survivors want to regain independence, they have to beat the dungeon.

Dressed only in a pair of boxers, pink crocs, and a leather jacket, Carl must traverse—and survive—said dungeon and its monsters with no one but his ex-girlfriend's cat for company. Oh, and his progress is being broadcast across the universe as a game show. 

Like I said, this premise is totally wacky and is by no means "Literature" with a capital L, but damn if it's not incredibly entertaining. And morish. Good luck stopping after one bite.

That said, I will caveat this review with the fact that this book is a LitRPG story (i.e. the characters experience the world like it's a game—they level, have hit points, mana bars and so on). As such, the story assumes the reader has a basic knowledge of gaming terminology (e.g. what a tank is/does etc). Having spent a goodly part of my twenties playing World of Warcraft, much of this was a trip down memory lane. However, I did find myself wondering at several points how someone without any gaming background might fair. 

In all, if you're not familiar with gamer lingo, the book is still very readable, but be prepared to look up the occasional term that's not explained in context. If you do have a gaming background, buckle up and enjoy the ride.


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