Tag Archives: LitRPG

the scum villains self saving system

Book Review: The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System, by Mò Xiāng Tóng Xiù

I purchased a copy of Mò Xiāng Tóng Xiù’s The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System (Vol 1).

the scum villains self saving system cover
Half-demon Luo Binghe rose from humble beginnings and a tortured past to become unrivaled in strength and beauty. With his dominion over both the Human and Demon Realms and his hundreds-strong harem, he is truly the most powerful protagonist…in a trashy webnovel series!

At least, that’s what Shen Yuan believes as he finishes reading the final chapter in Proud Immortal Demon Way. But when a bout of rage leads to his sudden death, Shen Yuan is reborn into the world of the novel in the body of Shen Qingqiu–the beautiful but cruel teacher of a young Luo Binghe. While Shen Qingqiu may have the incredible power of a cultivator, he is destined to be horrifically punished for crimes against the protagonist.

The new Shen Qingqiu now has only one course of action: get into Luo Binghe’s good graces before the young man’s rise to power or suffer the awful fate of a true scum villain!

my review
I didn’t know much about The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System when I bought this light novel. I’d seem clips of the donghua here and there. But I’d not paid much attention to it, because I didn’t like the animation style. But like so many of us, I’d seem the live action version of The Untamed 3 Mò Xiāng Tóng Xiù booksand loved it. Would have read the book too, except that I didn’t think I could handle something thousands of pages long on my computer screen. So, when Mò Xiāng Tóng Xiù’s books got official English translations (in print) I bought the first volume of all three that came out together (The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System, Heaven Official’s Blessing, and Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivations). I’ve read two of the three now.

I ended up enjoying this. But I honestly thought the start was a bit of a mess. It took a little while to figure out what was going on and settle into the narrative. It’s partly because the main character (Shen Qingqiu) is so utterly blasé about what happened to him and so informal in his narrative, slinging around slang like loli and moe. But after a little while, even that felt like it fit.

But what I found significantly more amusing than I expected was the parody aspect of the story. It’s very meta—aware of what it is and good-naturedly mocking the genre, authors, conventions, and character arc-types of what is, in essence, itself. I laughed several times at it.

When I finished this volume, I went ahead and finally watched the donghua, which follows the book quite closely (but loses a little of it’s meta-ness), and pre-ordered volume 2 of the print series. Here’s the thing though, I ordered it more on my expectation of liking where the story is going than my love of this volume.

Luo Binghe is a child (14) for most of this book and Shen Qingqiu is trying to be a good mentor to him. It’s cute yes, and watching Shen Qingqiu miss all the signed of how he is changing the narrative (and even the world and genre of the story itself—and doing it with kindness) was fun. But there’s a quote, round about the middle of the book that goes:

the scum villains self saving system photoDemons were compelled to viciously bully the person they liked. Only if the object of their affection failed to die would the demon accept them. If the target died, that meant they were useless and not worth nursing any lingering affection for.

The anticipation of a Mò Xiāng Tóng Xiù-style pairing and all the flustered bullying to come if delicious. So, I’ll be following the series. I’d honestly expected that to be what I found in this volume. But I don’t mind the story starting earlier than I expected and being made to get to know these characters better while I wait.


Other Reviews:

REVIEW: The Scum Villain’s Self Saving System by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu

Review: Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System, Volume 1: Ren Zha Fanpai Zijiu Xitong by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu

 

I normally prefer to link to other small blogs, not big ones like Tor. But I liked this review so much that I’m including it.

Screwball Comedy in Translation: The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu

 

Review of The Desert Sequence (Puatera Online #1-3), by Dawn Chapman

Covers of Desert Runner, Desert Born, and Desert Storm

I received audible codes from author Dawn Chapman for the first three books in the Puatera Online ‘series,’ Desert Runner, Desert Born, and Desert Storm. I’ve chosen to review them as one for reasons I believe will become clear below.

Description:

Follow NPC Maddie on her journey of self-discovery. Through the deadly desert plains to the inner programming that makes her who she is.

Review:

I don’t usually use star-ratings here on the blog. But sometimes it helps situate a book in my estimation. I’d give Puatera Online a 2.5, and then round up to 3.

The first thing I want to establish is that I would not call this a series. I would call it a serial. I know Goodreads/Amazon/etc doesn’t give authors and publishers an easy, clear way to make this distinction. But as a reader, it’s a big one for me, as serials don’t necessarily wrap up at the end of a ‘book.’ Think movie vs episode of a TV show. 

That’s the case here with Puatera Online. Each book runs one into the other, with the breaks between being fairly random. Each book contains three or so quests and at the end of one the author breaks for the next. The next picking up with the remainder of the ongoing quests and adding new ones ad infinito. If this was not a serial, my comment would be that all three of these ~100 page volumes should have been one novel. No question in my mind. 

Here’s the thing, I was annoyed to discover this is a serial, not a series (at least by my estimation). But I can’t really fault it for being what it is, instead of what I expected. So, my 2.5 rating isn’t based on that. I just thought it was important to let future readers know what to expect. Additionally, the cover image says “the complete trilogy,” but the story doesn’t wrap up at the end of book three and there are 8 books as of the time of me writing this review. So, don’t go in expecting something complete. Again, just worth noting. But no, my 2.5 star rating is based on the fact that it’s sloppy. 

Let me pause and add that the book is entertaining and the two main characters are likable. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy several aspects of it. But that fact remains that there are editorial inconsistencies (like the sisters being mentioned before before their quest was actually introduced, someone being said by an entity that can see the code to be an NPC and then being a player (this may have been authorial misdirection, but it felt more like she changed her mind midway through writing)). There are too many characters introduced in too short a time, some of them basically being dropped again very shortly there after. Chapman never even attempts to define the limits of the game/world (or even tell readers what kind of game it is), which I think is 100% necessary in a LitRPG book. Not all role playing games are the same. The timeline is a mess and this is complicated by some of it being programing and not real. But apparently some of it is? See, I’m not even sure. Some things are said to have happened a 1000 years ago for vaguely non-NPC characters, some players have played for 10+ years, but the game is still in alpha testing, etc. I have no idea of the timeline. Chapman doesn’t even attempt to explain how characters cross from the digital to the real world and the human players have nowhere near enough reaction (practically none at all) when this happens. This story just kind of sprawls all over the place. 

Honestly, I think Chapman has the bones of a good story here. It just feels too broken into pieces. The narrator (Andrea Parsneau) did an excellent job with it though.