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Questland

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"Questland is a thrill ride…Richly imagined, action-packed, maximum fun." —Charles Yu, New York Times bestselling author of Interior Chinatown YOU FIND YOURSELF IN A MAZE FULL OF TWISTY PASSAGES...   Literature professor Dr. Addie Cox is living a happy, if sheltered, life in her ivory tower when Harris Lang, the famously eccentric billionaire tech genius, offers her an unu "Questland is a thrill ride…Richly imagined, action-packed, maximum fun." —Charles Yu, New York Times bestselling author of Interior Chinatown YOU FIND YOURSELF IN A MAZE FULL OF TWISTY PASSAGES...   Literature professor Dr. Addie Cox is living a happy, if sheltered, life in her ivory tower when Harris Lang, the famously eccentric billionaire tech genius, offers her an unusual job. He wants her to guide a mercenary strike team sent to infiltrate his island retreat off the northwest coast of the United States. Addie is puzzled by her role on the mission until she understands what Lang has built:  Insula Mirabilis, an isolated resort where tourists will one day pay big bucks for a convincing, high-tech-powered fantasy-world experience, complete with dragons, unicorns, and, yes, magic.   Unfortunately, one of the island's employees has gone rogue and activated an invisible force shield that has cut off all outside communication. A Coast Guard cutter attempting to pass through the shield has been destroyed. Suspicion rests on Dominic Brand, the project’s head designer— and Addie Cox's ex-boyfriend. Lang has tasked Addie and the mercenary team with taking back control of the island at any cost.   But Addie is wrestling demons of her own—and not the fantastical kind. Now, she must navigate the deadly traps of Insula Mirabilis as well as her own past trauma. And no d20, however lucky, can help Addie make this saving throw. “Gamers rejoice! Carrie Vaughn has conjured up a fun and fast-paced story filled with elves, d20s, and Monty Python riffs.” —Monte Cook, ENnie Award-winning creator of the Numenera roleplaying game


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"Questland is a thrill ride…Richly imagined, action-packed, maximum fun." —Charles Yu, New York Times bestselling author of Interior Chinatown YOU FIND YOURSELF IN A MAZE FULL OF TWISTY PASSAGES...   Literature professor Dr. Addie Cox is living a happy, if sheltered, life in her ivory tower when Harris Lang, the famously eccentric billionaire tech genius, offers her an unu "Questland is a thrill ride…Richly imagined, action-packed, maximum fun." —Charles Yu, New York Times bestselling author of Interior Chinatown YOU FIND YOURSELF IN A MAZE FULL OF TWISTY PASSAGES...   Literature professor Dr. Addie Cox is living a happy, if sheltered, life in her ivory tower when Harris Lang, the famously eccentric billionaire tech genius, offers her an unusual job. He wants her to guide a mercenary strike team sent to infiltrate his island retreat off the northwest coast of the United States. Addie is puzzled by her role on the mission until she understands what Lang has built:  Insula Mirabilis, an isolated resort where tourists will one day pay big bucks for a convincing, high-tech-powered fantasy-world experience, complete with dragons, unicorns, and, yes, magic.   Unfortunately, one of the island's employees has gone rogue and activated an invisible force shield that has cut off all outside communication. A Coast Guard cutter attempting to pass through the shield has been destroyed. Suspicion rests on Dominic Brand, the project’s head designer— and Addie Cox's ex-boyfriend. Lang has tasked Addie and the mercenary team with taking back control of the island at any cost.   But Addie is wrestling demons of her own—and not the fantastical kind. Now, she must navigate the deadly traps of Insula Mirabilis as well as her own past trauma. And no d20, however lucky, can help Addie make this saving throw. “Gamers rejoice! Carrie Vaughn has conjured up a fun and fast-paced story filled with elves, d20s, and Monty Python riffs.” —Monte Cook, ENnie Award-winning creator of the Numenera roleplaying game

30 review for Questland

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca | Velvet Opus

    Westworld meets Jurassic Park... Unicorns. Dragons. Elves. These are a few of my favourite things. I love fantasy and literature and all those things rolled into one so Questland, about a literature professor sent on a quest to take back a fantasy island seemed like an actual dream. It wasn't quite what I was expecting: Questland was neither a serious "what if" story exploring the ramifications of AI creatures and the boundaries of danger for tourists (I'm looking at you Jurassic Park) or a fun, Westworld meets Jurassic Park... Unicorns. Dragons. Elves. These are a few of my favourite things. I love fantasy and literature and all those things rolled into one so Questland, about a literature professor sent on a quest to take back a fantasy island seemed like an actual dream. It wasn't quite what I was expecting: Questland was neither a serious "what if" story exploring the ramifications of AI creatures and the boundaries of danger for tourists (I'm looking at you Jurassic Park) or a fun, lighthearted adventure. I'm not sure it knew exactly what it wanted to be and it got a bit muddled. It handled gun-related PTSD of a main character in a sensitive way, which I liked, and I didn't dislike it overall. It just didn't wow me. I would recommend it to anyone who likes easter eggs in stories (there are tonnes of literature and gaming references) and anyone looking to explore a more lighthearted speculative fiction featuring AI. Thanks to the publisher for a review copy via Netgalley. Read more reviews on Velvet Opus Find us on Twitter | Instagram

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    Carrie Vaughns trek into LitRPG territory is a solid run even if it feels like a half-attempt to legitimize the sub-genre by giving it fairly extensive SF roots, a real-world base, and economic "reasons". Of course, most of the LitRPGs I've read don't bother with any of that. They just go straight into the adventure and let us have all the *ding* level-ups we want, letting us revel in the adventure and learn the basic gaming rules as we go with easy-to-follow diagrams. :) Vaughn's is more along th Carrie Vaughns trek into LitRPG territory is a solid run even if it feels like a half-attempt to legitimize the sub-genre by giving it fairly extensive SF roots, a real-world base, and economic "reasons". Of course, most of the LitRPGs I've read don't bother with any of that. They just go straight into the adventure and let us have all the *ding* level-ups we want, letting us revel in the adventure and learn the basic gaming rules as we go with easy-to-follow diagrams. :) Vaughn's is more along the lines of Ready Player One, but with a more devoted eye to direct LoTR mythology and normal myths that aren't limited to '80s schwag. I LIKED that. I even liked the idea that a PHD in Literature got the leading role. So what didn't I like? The plot. Maybe the first half was okay because it's standard journey stuff, but once we got into the evil corporation arrogance and the rats trying to steal all the company cheese, I either wanted it to go out with a big bang or defy my expectations. It did neither. It wasn't bad, but it didn't wow me, either.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

    How am I only hearing about this now??? This sounds like READY PLAYER ONE! #NEED

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

    This is an old idea: real world crimes in a Disneyland-like environment based off of classical fantasy RPGs. I was hoping for an 2020s update on Dream Park, but this one disappointed. The main issue was the point of view character, a woman who's so burdened by back-story that the author kind of forgets to give her a personality. An appreciation for fantasy gaming and literature tropes is not enough, and nor is PTSD from a school shooting or a past relationship with one of the antagonists. This is an old idea: real world crimes in a Disneyland-like environment based off of classical fantasy RPGs. I was hoping for an 2020s update on Dream Park, but this one disappointed. The main issue was the point of view character, a woman who's so burdened by back-story that the author kind of forgets to give her a personality. An appreciation for fantasy gaming and literature tropes is not enough, and nor is PTSD from a school shooting or a past relationship with one of the antagonists.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nikki "The Crazie Betty" V.

    Tech billionaire, Lang, decides he wants to create a real-life quest a la Lord of the Rings or Narnia. This includes hyper realistic mechanical ‘beasts’ like dragons and such that a quester would come across while ‘playing the game’. It also includes having people live on the quest island full-time. People that will be 100% invested into the story and will live and breathe that quest lifestyle. But what happens when one of these full-timers wants to take over the island for themselves? This is b Tech billionaire, Lang, decides he wants to create a real-life quest a la Lord of the Rings or Narnia. This includes hyper realistic mechanical ‘beasts’ like dragons and such that a quester would come across while ‘playing the game’. It also includes having people live on the quest island full-time. People that will be 100% invested into the story and will live and breathe that quest lifestyle. But what happens when one of these full-timers wants to take over the island for themselves? This is basically what this story is about. A group of full-timers have taken over the island and aren’t letting anyone onto it. A boat of individuals sent to the island to find out what’s going on is killed when they hit into a shield that surrounds the island. This sparks a larger issue and now we have a group of mercenaries hired by Lang to get onto the island and take it back. In tow the mercenaries have Dr. Addie Cox, a literature professor who also happens to be the ex-girlfriend of a man on the island who may be one of the dissenters. For not being a fantasy fan I really enjoyed the first part of the book, with it’s quests, puzzles, traps and even a tavern right out of any fantasy video game. What I didn’t like, through the entire part of the story, was Addie herself. If this story is a kind of love letter to the fantasy nerds out there, then Addie was an absolutely horrible representative. Yes, she was SUPER into the lifelike world that Lang created, for which I can’t blame her. But she is absolutely one of the dumbest characters I’ve ever read about. She is so caught up in the fake/real world around her that she completely disregards any and all possible dangers. Even knowing that people have died and been seriously hurt (herself included!!) she has zero issue just tramping off into the woods while everyone’s back is turned. She is CONSTANTLY putting the group she is with in danger and making their jobs that much harder because she can’t, figuratively, keep it in her pants. It really doesn’t look good on the fantast/LARPing culture and honestly, I feel like it instead 100% proves all the negative stereotypes correct. The further the story goes the more far-fetched it gets. Right till the end when we get an almost mustache-twirling villain scenario. Just super OTT. I decided to give this 3-stars because I really enjoyed the idea of the story more than the execution itself. Although, if you’re a big fantasy fan, you may enjoy this more than I did. Addie’s complete stupidity ruined most of this story for me. Releases June 22, 2021 Received from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing via Netgalley

  6. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    I saw several people commenting on the similarities to Ready Player One. I haven‘t read that book, only watched the movie. Mighty media tycoon, ok. But they do not delve into a digital world here. It‘s rather like the first Jurassic Park, with an actual entertainment park, with unicorns and dragons instead of dinosaurs. A real-life game of D&D. That‘s the plan, anyway, but contact to the island breaks off, a coast guard boat tries to go to the island and everybody on the boat is killed when they I saw several people commenting on the similarities to Ready Player One. I haven‘t read that book, only watched the movie. Mighty media tycoon, ok. But they do not delve into a digital world here. It‘s rather like the first Jurassic Park, with an actual entertainment park, with unicorns and dragons instead of dinosaurs. A real-life game of D&D. That‘s the plan, anyway, but contact to the island breaks off, a coast guard boat tries to go to the island and everybody on the boat is killed when they hit an energy shield surrounding it. An adventuring party is sent to investigate. Straight forward, linear story telling. A bit like a dungeon crawler. One mystery and obstacle after another. Check, next one. Don’t forget to pick up all the loot, it might come in handy later. Our heroine is a nerd and knows her way through a dungeon crawler. She has a bunch of soldiers in tow. Or rather, they have her in tow and she helps them to find their way to the center of the island, for the final big reveal. There’s a lot of Tolkien references. I suppose this qualifies as LitRPG… the writing is good, but I didn‘t find it terribly suspenseful or interesting. I guess I expected more adventure and thriller elements. This was fairly slow paced. Definitely something for lovers of epic fantasy, RPGs, Disney animals and seekers of unicorns and dragons. If you are looking for action-driven suspense and a touch of Michael Crichton, this isn‘t it. I wasn‘t exactly bored, but didn‘t feel a driving need to pick it up and find out the next mysterious thing. Somewhere in the middle I started a little skimming, wanting to get to the end already… which turned out to be pretty unsatisfying. There was a proper ending, no cliffhanger and the good guys won, as expected. The loose ends were tied, everything was explained. The End. Pretty meh. I received this free e-copy from the publisher/author via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review, thank you!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Queralt✨

    This book had me internally screaming and eye rolling constantly. Now, let me be honest, I didn't have high expectations. A Jurassic Park for fans of Tolkien, Narnia, and D&D seemed difficult to pull off and turns out, it is. So yeah, I didn't like it. At all, turns out. I wanted it to be a fun, cozy read, but Questland was too much of what it wanted to be. I'll spoiler tag what annoyed me because I'm aware this is just me being annoyed. I see many reviews liked this book and I may have had weir This book had me internally screaming and eye rolling constantly. Now, let me be honest, I didn't have high expectations. A Jurassic Park for fans of Tolkien, Narnia, and D&D seemed difficult to pull off and turns out, it is. So yeah, I didn't like it. At all, turns out. I wanted it to be a fun, cozy read, but Questland was too much of what it wanted to be. I'll spoiler tag what annoyed me because I'm aware this is just me being annoyed. I see many reviews liked this book and I may have had weird expectations on it, I don't know. So take my rating with a grain of salt and go read other reviews. (view spoiler)[- TOO many references of the Lord of the Rings. I cannot believe I'm saying this, but it was TOO much. And it was all pretentious with everybody knowing Sindarin or "my Elvish is coming back to me now that I hear it" or the worst thing, implying that the (unlikable) main character read the Silmarilion when she was a kid and understood it easily. Like hello. And don't even get me started with all the rings (or should I say "Rings", capital R). - Calling the Sphinx riddle a "PhD level question". For God's sake. Seriously. EVERYBODY knows that riddle. MY TEENAGE SISTER knows that riddle. - The main character being basically a plot device. She would say CONSTANTLY that the team had to stay together. And every chapter she would wander off and fuck things up. - Too many "roll for perception/initiative" jokes. Two would have been okay. One every three chapters became too much. I played DnD and I've never heard any of my friends speak this way. - Dwelling too much in every non-Tolkien reference. Whenever the main character would spot something that did not belong to the Lord of the Rings, you knew she'd waste a bit of page about it even if it was not relevant to anything. (hide spoiler)]

  8. 5 out of 5

    kartik narayanan

    Questland is an okayish sci-fi/fantasy story. It mixes up elements of Jurassic Park, Westworld and Ready Player One (as so many other reviewers have said). I didn't find it compelling enough but it wasn't bad either. Questland is an okayish sci-fi/fantasy story. It mixes up elements of Jurassic Park, Westworld and Ready Player One (as so many other reviewers have said). I didn't find it compelling enough but it wasn't bad either.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    DNF. The main character felt like a caricature, and the rest of the characters felt one-dimensional. Also the plot doesn't make a like of sense. I can't suspend my disbelief for this book. DNF. The main character felt like a caricature, and the rest of the characters felt one-dimensional. Also the plot doesn't make a like of sense. I can't suspend my disbelief for this book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    The setting for this novel is a kind of updated Dream Park - an immersive LARPing environment constructed with sufficiently advanced technology (an unspecified number of years into the future) that it's at least difficult to distinguish from magic. Except an energy barrier has gone up and isolated the island where Questland is being developed by a corporation headed by the usual billionaire narcissist, and said narcissist has hired a team to go in and get it back for him. Cue the trope of "very The setting for this novel is a kind of updated Dream Park - an immersive LARPing environment constructed with sufficiently advanced technology (an unspecified number of years into the future) that it's at least difficult to distinguish from magic. Except an energy barrier has gone up and isolated the island where Questland is being developed by a corporation headed by the usual billionaire narcissist, and said narcissist has hired a team to go in and get it back for him. Cue the trope of "very civilian female expert is called in to consult on a matter that's under military or paramilitary jurisdiction and is super secret, and she has to deal with the militariness of it all". (Really, it's a trope, though usually the matter under investigation is first contact, in my previous experience.) In this case, there are a couple of extra layers: the expert, as the survivor of a school shooting where her boyfriend and her best friend were killed in front of her, suffers from PTSD and is not at all comfortable around the military; and her expertise is not only as a comparative-lit professor who is also deeply into the kind of nerdy pursuits that form the basis of Questworld, but as the ex-girlfriend of the prime suspect for the activator of the barrier: the head of the design team. Ironically enough, the problems I had with this one were all about suspension of disbelief. I didn't believe in the conveniently uninhabited, idyllic island some distance off the west coast of the US. I didn't believe that the ex-boyfriend believed he would somehow be able to get legal ownership of it for the developers. I didn't believe that after five months of the island being isolated, no friends or relatives on the mainland had raised any kind of public fuss, or that the supplies were holding out so well, or that the people on the island weren't bothered by the isolation, or that the US government hadn't done more to get in there - especially since a ten-person Coast Guard crew had been killed trying to breach the barrier - or that nobody had leaked anything to the media. I didn't believe that a designer (not an engineer) could come up with the energy barrier and construct it, apparently without the help of the engineering team, in the first place, or that there would be enough power to sustain it. I didn't initially believe that three project managers, after five months, hadn't apparently made any progress in solving the problem of accessing the central system, but then I thought about project managers I've known and believed it after all. I didn't, however, believe in the central system, which none of the people who had set up the entire island seemed to really understand or be in control of. It was as if the true antagonist was a system that everyone had contributed to but nobody understood or controlled, except maybe the tech billionaire; and then I wondered if this was a callback to the first scene, and the lit prof's student going on about rampant capitalism. So anything in the physical and technical setup I pretty much didn't believe. What I did believe was the emotional and personal setup, which is where the book was strong. The post-traumatic professor, the attitude of the military people (who clearly had respect for what she was dealing with and how she was dealing with it, even if she wasn't aware of that respect), the self-absorbed and condescending ex, the ineffectual project manager, the angry engineer who was in it for the sense of wonder - all of these I believed. There was a strong human story being told, but for me, it didn't quite come completely together, not only because of my struggles to suspend belief about the setup and the setting, but also in that it felt just a little bit undercooked. There were the elements of an even stronger, and indeed very powerful, story, but whether from inadequate on-page reflection, a lack of clarity, or not enough development, they didn't add up to as much as they might have. I find this author's books a mixed bag. When she's good, she's amazing, but when she's a bit off her game - and, for me, this is one of those books - it's disappointing, because I know she's capable of more. There was a lot of potential here that I felt remained unrealized. I received a review copy via Netgalley.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kirsten

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Tech meets fantasy when a billionaire tech genius creates an island where technology is indistinguishable from magic. It looks like a dream come true, except his team starts a mutiny and he thinks only Addie Cox can help him get his island back. I was really excited to read this book. I admit I absolutely love fantasy worlds like Narnia and Middle Earth. Did this story live up to my expectation? No, not really to be honest. Let me explain why: First, I want to point out that it took me really long Tech meets fantasy when a billionaire tech genius creates an island where technology is indistinguishable from magic. It looks like a dream come true, except his team starts a mutiny and he thinks only Addie Cox can help him get his island back. I was really excited to read this book. I admit I absolutely love fantasy worlds like Narnia and Middle Earth. Did this story live up to my expectation? No, not really to be honest. Let me explain why: First, I want to point out that it took me really long to get interested in the characters. I had trouble keeping them apart for the first 80 pages, and the story didn't make me feel like I wanted to get to know them. Also, I think Addie was just not that likable to me. I wanted to like her, but just couldn't. Also, the character-building for Dominic was just not enough The first few problems the team ran into after arriving on the island, moved way too fast for me. After 150 pages the story started moving a bit slower, but that was not for long because the last 50 pages moved really fast again. Just too fast for my liking. I did not have the time to really get invested in what was happening in the story because before I knew it, the moment was gone. What I obviously loved were all the tropes from fandoms that I knew, that got mentioned. But at the same time, it felt like so many things I already knew, that I missed some original elements. Maybe if a few original elements had been put on the island, I would have liked it more. It also felt like the same thing just happened over and over again. Addie got herself in trouble and she had to be saved. Only the end was different, but to me, that came out of nowhere and it should have had more of a buildup.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Wolf

    3.5 stars. To understand the basic premise of Questland, it’s helpful to refer back to Arthur C. Clarke’s famous statement, explicitly referred to in this book: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Questland is contemporary fiction, but with technology and fantasy as its underlying themes. In Questland, Professor Addie Cox, an expert in comparative literature with a focus on mythology and fantasy, is approached by tech billionaire Harris Lang with a proposition: H 3.5 stars. To understand the basic premise of Questland, it’s helpful to refer back to Arthur C. Clarke’s famous statement, explicitly referred to in this book: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Questland is contemporary fiction, but with technology and fantasy as its underlying themes. In Questland, Professor Addie Cox, an expert in comparative literature with a focus on mythology and fantasy, is approached by tech billionaire Harris Lang with a proposition: Help him reclaim control of his top-secret project, which has been hijacked (supposedly) by his underlings. The project is a fantasy island in the truest sense of the words: Think Jurassic Park, but instead of T-Rex and velociraptors, insert wizards, goblins, elves, and archers. Insula Mirabilis is conceived of as a fantasy vacation resort, where hardcore gamers and fantasy geeks can immerse themselves in a world in which magic appears to be real. Thanks, of course, to the sufficiently advanced technology to pull it all off. But Insula Mirabilis seems to have cut off all access and communication with the outside world, and Lang wants it back. Addie is sent to infiltrate the island along with a small band of mercenaries. Addie’s gaming/fantasy brain immediately recognizes her role in all this — their group may have a Cleric and a Ranger, but she’s clearly the Bard. Her unique knowledge and experience in fantasy worlds quickly becomes important, as the team encounters a Sphinx, a maze, and all sorts of dangerous riddles and traps. Worryingly, the fail-safes for the fantasy elements seem to be turned off — so yes, those arrows and stunners and spider claws can do real damage, and worse. Addie also carries with her very significant baggage. As a teen, she survived a school shooting, but watched her two closest friends die. Fantasy worlds and gaming became a sort of refuge for Addie: All I’d ever wanted to do was escape. No, that wasn’t true. All I wanted was for what happened to mean something. Stories meant something, and real life… didn’t. The plotline of Questland follows Addie and her team’s journey across the island, from the realms of dwarves to the magical and beautiful realm of elves, with random weird encounters with animal villages, Robin Hood and his Merry Men, unicorns, wargs, and more. It’s all so real — but Addie knows it’s not. My feelings on Questland are mixed. First, delight — who wouldn’t want to inhabit a real-feeling world that incorporates every fantasy element you could possibly desire? It sounds too good to be true, and of course, none of it really is true. For all the mead and antlers and fairy lights, there’s a backroom filled with computers and controllers and transmitters. It may feel like entering a fantasy world, but the ancient stone castle is 3D-printed. Beyond the delight of the concept, I was often frustrated by the quest itself. The overarching plotline about the corporate takeover veers between being overly complicated and just not very rational. So one faction seizes control of the island — and then everyone there just stays there, wearing costumes and acting as if they live inside the fantasy? To what end, ultimately? If Addie’s team hadn’t arrived, how long would this have gone on? Still, it’s fun to see Addie use her wits and her geek sensibilities to outsmart the traps and puzzles of the island, getting to be heroic while those around her want to view her as a damsel to be shielded. I wish Addie’s backstory had been even more fleshed out — the pieces dealing with her PTSD and the lingering trauma of her past are sensitively depicted and quite moving. Never having played D&D or other fantasy-based games or RPGs myself, perhaps I wasn’t quite primed to be the perfect audience for Questland, although I did appreciate how seriously Addie and the island characters take Harry Potter, the Tolkien masterpieces, Narnia, Labyrinth, and more. These aren’t presented in the wink-wink pop culture cool way of many contemporary novels that want to show their characters’ geek cred — instead, in Questland, knowledge of modern fantasy epics is as foundational as a knowledge of Gilgamesh and the Odyssey. Overall, I enjoyed Questland, but got bored at points with the quest elements. And yet, it’s never a bad thing to see geek culture front and center, being celebrated for all its complexity and wonder. As Addie explains: I’m not sure any of them really understand — it’s not the stuff. It’s not the magic, the unicorns, the rings. All that’s just things. Fantasy is about what you can’t patent. Honor and heroism and… and… hope. And as the author says in the end notes: It’s not just about the sufficiently advanced technology that appears to make magic possible. It’s about a culture hungry for worlds and stories filled with magic. That embraces a sense of wonder instead of being suspicious of it. If you’re a fan of magical worlds, and especially if you’ve grown up immersing yourself in games and movies that transport you into those worlds, do check out Questland. Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley. Full review at Bookshelf Fantasies.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Marta Cox

    I should preface this by stating that I'm not a "gamer" so if I'm blunt many terms I simply didn't understands so I had to approach this simply as an adventure story. Our protagonist is Addie and she my fellow reader is most definitely a "gamer" who has been approached (bamboozled ? ) into helping check out an island where her ex Dominic is working. Things have gone drastically wrong with a new and deadly barrier surrounding the island and the people living there strangely out of touch for month I should preface this by stating that I'm not a "gamer" so if I'm blunt many terms I simply didn't understands so I had to approach this simply as an adventure story. Our protagonist is Addie and she my fellow reader is most definitely a "gamer" who has been approached (bamboozled ? ) into helping check out an island where her ex Dominic is working. Things have gone drastically wrong with a new and deadly barrier surrounding the island and the people living there strangely out of touch for months. Addie, together with a small elite team arrive but there the fun and games begin or should I say the madness ? Before choosing to read this I checked out other reviews and was surprised that so many don't like Addie. I actually had empathy for her as her life has been turned upside down and yet she's a fully functioning adult surviving an horrific past. She doesn't see herself as the damsel in distress but instead as someone who wants to guide others towards better things. Yes at times she's impulsive and totally entranced by this world opening up around her but she pushes through although admittedly I didn't agree with all her choices. The idea of something straight out of Jurassic Park or Westworld but with a heavy fantasy feel was very entertaining. I particularly enjoyed the juxtaposition of the armed mercenaries accompanying Addie as they outplayed the medieval/fantasy elements in this world fuelled by crazy, good old fashioned greed and just sheer longing. The team see everything as a job, a mission but Addie and indeed the islanders see the rabbit hole they want to jump down. I cannot say there's romance here although Addie does allow herself to get swept away. I think my favourite character was Torres who if I had to choose a romantic interest for Addie would win hands down but the character that surprised me the most was Rucker the gung ho soldier who actually developed as this story progressed. I did enjoy this book although I admit I wanted slightly more as it ended concerning the billionaire tech genius behind the island but I guess the quest to shut down the island was over so hey ho on to the next project for this author. This voluntary take is of a copy I requested and my thoughts and comments are honest and I believe fair

  14. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    This is a fun gamer/scifi‐fantasy adventure with a summer action movie feel! Another reviewer's description of this as "Jurassic Park meets Westworld" will give you a good feel from what's to come. I really liked the main character, Professor Addie Cox. She's a lot nerdy and totally into gaming, scifi/fantasy and RPGs. I'm not a gamer, and though I felt a little lost when she would drop some cryptic gamer lingo, I felt a kinship with her scifi/fantasy book & movie depth of knowledge. She is an e This is a fun gamer/scifi‐fantasy adventure with a summer action movie feel! Another reviewer's description of this as "Jurassic Park meets Westworld" will give you a good feel from what's to come. I really liked the main character, Professor Addie Cox. She's a lot nerdy and totally into gaming, scifi/fantasy and RPGs. I'm not a gamer, and though I felt a little lost when she would drop some cryptic gamer lingo, I felt a kinship with her scifi/fantasy book & movie depth of knowledge. She is an expert who has to help a team navigate a LARP wonderland filled with magical creatures in places filled with tricks and traps. Her ex is behind the hostile takeover of the island, so the team is going in to help figure out how to stop him. The happenings at Insula Mirabilus are so much fun that I think this will be a great beach read for the summer! Recommended!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Geonn Cannon

    This book isn't exactly my cup of tea, but I'm a big fan of the author, and that makes all the difference. This is going to be like gold for its intended audience. It's Ready Player One with the benefit of a story and a competent author who has more to say than "remember this? What about THIS?" It's an adventure inside a world built on nostalgia, and I feel people who were let down by Ready Player Two will finally get what they were looking for here. Received from Netgalley in exchange for an hon This book isn't exactly my cup of tea, but I'm a big fan of the author, and that makes all the difference. This is going to be like gold for its intended audience. It's Ready Player One with the benefit of a story and a competent author who has more to say than "remember this? What about THIS?" It's an adventure inside a world built on nostalgia, and I feel people who were let down by Ready Player Two will finally get what they were looking for here. Received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dan Trefethen

    Listen up, gamers. This one's for you. It's also for anyone who enjoyed “Ready Player One”, but I pre-date gamerhood enough to be reminded of Christopher Stasheff's charming book, “The Warlock In Spite of Himself”. When sufficiently advanced technology actually CAN seem like magic, who's to say an eccentric gazillionaire won't buy and island and fill it with fantasy tropes from legend? It's just another form of “Fantasy Island”, but this one has claws. However, the game developers who live on the Listen up, gamers. This one's for you. It's also for anyone who enjoyed “Ready Player One”, but I pre-date gamerhood enough to be reminded of Christopher Stasheff's charming book, “The Warlock In Spite of Himself”. When sufficiently advanced technology actually CAN seem like magic, who's to say an eccentric gazillionaire won't buy and island and fill it with fantasy tropes from legend? It's just another form of “Fantasy Island”, but this one has claws. However, the game developers who live on the island have different ideas than the big boss, and isolate the island with a real honest-to-goodness force field. Send in the Marines! Or in this case, a team of ex-military contractors and one professor who's an expert in myth and legends, plus being a rabid gamer. Oh, and she's the ex-girlfriend of one of the developers which is why she was chosen. Complications ensue. Honestly, this is a fun romp through a fantasyland that rings the chimes on any number of famous legends, D&D games and fantasy books written in the past 100 years. It's a lot of fun, and you won't need your d20 die to join. Although it might be handy.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Susan Tunis

    Four stars for this one. Not for any kind of literary merit. I just had so much fun reading it! There's a great tradition of fiction set in unbelievably cool theme parks, from Jurassic Park to Westworld to Fantasy Island. But this book brought lots of best-sellers to mind: another Crichton, Timeline. And even Ready Player One, if you can believe it. There was a quest, and lots of geek and pop culture references. You see where I'm going with this. What you won't find are fleshed out characters, su Four stars for this one. Not for any kind of literary merit. I just had so much fun reading it! There's a great tradition of fiction set in unbelievably cool theme parks, from Jurassic Park to Westworld to Fantasy Island. But this book brought lots of best-sellers to mind: another Crichton, Timeline. And even Ready Player One, if you can believe it. There was a quest, and lots of geek and pop culture references. You see where I'm going with this. What you won't find are fleshed out characters, subtlety, or any kind of nuance. This is the literary equivalent of a popcorn movie. And sometimes, I'm really in the mood for that. Another day, I wouldn't be as enthusiastic, but on the day I read it, it was just the thing. I had a blast!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Annarella

    I don't think this a perfect book but i surely know it's a book that made me live in another world for some hours and made me think that I could kill to work on a project like Insula Mirabilis (that's the project manager in me to talk) or travel there (that's the geek in me to talk). I know that I loved every moment of this story even when the plot drags a bit or when my rational mind is tut-tuting (project manager talking again). I loved Addie: she's so frail and so strong at the same time. She's I don't think this a perfect book but i surely know it's a book that made me live in another world for some hours and made me think that I could kill to work on a project like Insula Mirabilis (that's the project manager in me to talk) or travel there (that's the geek in me to talk). I know that I loved every moment of this story even when the plot drags a bit or when my rational mind is tut-tuting (project manager talking again). I loved Addie: she's so frail and so strong at the same time. She's no kickass heroine but she kick asses with her know of how the game can work. The characters are fleshed out and I love them. I even felt for Dom, a man self-centered but also one with a vision. This is the perfect book if you grew up reading tons of sagas and playing D&D. Or if you were a young developer dreaming of developing the impossible. The senior high tech person found the description of the relationships amongst the Lang employees quite realistic. Technology can be magic and magic is a technology. I travelled to Insula Mirabilis with Addie and her friend and I would be happy to meet them again and see what happened to the island. I assume that there's a small hope. The world building is fascinating and I like all the references to books, movies and games. I strongly recommend this book if you ever played D&D or worked on a huge IT project. You played the game and you know what it means. Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    A fast enjoyable adventure, extra fun for gamers, but anyone who loves a bit of fantasy and adventure *and when that goes amuck* will find this Jurassic Park/Westworld like island of modern tech marvels, well, fun. Mostly.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Theresa

    Questland (Paperback) by Carrie Vaughn I have been anticipating this book since Carrie Vaughn's first announcement on FB. She is a wonderful writer for the genre of RPG. Questland is the the ultimate RPG novel. The story of a Jurassic park like construction of a RPG world, with full immersion is goal for many people in the RPG world. To live in a world of Robin Hood, King Arthur or even Riverdale, this book has that in spades. The premise is island that has been developed in this fully immersive w Questland (Paperback) by Carrie Vaughn I have been anticipating this book since Carrie Vaughn's first announcement on FB. She is a wonderful writer for the genre of RPG. Questland is the the ultimate RPG novel. The story of a Jurassic park like construction of a RPG world, with full immersion is goal for many people in the RPG world. To live in a world of Robin Hood, King Arthur or even Riverdale, this book has that in spades. The premise is island that has been developed in this fully immersive world had been cut off from its benefactor, people have died in an accident and someone needs to find out what's going on. The references to pop culture, movies and historical books is so expertly inserted into the story, the imagery is like having your own Never Ending story moment. I really found this a great summer read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Bowyer

    Fantasy is about what you can't patent. Honor and heroism and... and... hope. I really enjoyed Carrie Vaughn's latest offering, Questland. Jurassic Park meets Game of Thrones, set on a small island in the 'real world' where an eccentric billionaire tried to use science and technology to bring fantasy to life. And, naturally, things went... wrong. One or more of the project leads has mutinied, taking over the island and locking everyone else out, including its founder. There are enough eccentric bi Fantasy is about what you can't patent. Honor and heroism and... and... hope. I really enjoyed Carrie Vaughn's latest offering, Questland. Jurassic Park meets Game of Thrones, set on a small island in the 'real world' where an eccentric billionaire tried to use science and technology to bring fantasy to life. And, naturally, things went... wrong. One or more of the project leads has mutinied, taking over the island and locking everyone else out, including its founder. There are enough eccentric billionaires in the world now that the premise of Questland is utterly plausible. I loved Vaughn's description of Questland's founder: One of them was Silicon Valley tech guru Harris Lang himself, founder of Lang Analytics, inventor of a revolutionary telecom device that nobody understood, founder of a private company flinging satellites into orbit. Lang wants control of his island back. With no expense - or manipulation - spared, he recruits skilled, armed operatives to send on the mission. Plus an expert in pop culture, to help the team navigate their way through the island's many fantasy-themed traps and puzzles. Told from the point of view of Dr Addie Cox, literature professor and highschool shooting survivor, she doesn't bother to explain the tech in detail. Instead, she focuses on the wonder. As a reader, visiting Questland with Addie feels like stepping into a movie set. But instead of CGI unicorns there are cyborg unicorns. And instead of robotic giant spiders controlled off-set, they're A.I. And they don't have inbuilt safety protocols. There are so many wonderful moments in the novel, from passing references to childhood favourites, to meditations on the meaning of life. On finding a cupboard portal: He pushed aside the rack of coats and gestured me back through the wardrobe. "You know, Mr Tumnus would have had tea for me," I said. He raised a brow. "I've actually read that book. you can't trust Mr Tumnus." "Well, no. But still." Questland is great escapism, partly because escapism is what it's all about - an island where the D&D game never ends, and the GM (game master) always ensures there's structure, logic and an identifiable solution. As Addie says: All I'd ever wanted to do was escape. No, that wasn't true. All I wanted was for what happened to mean something. Stories meant something, and real life... didn't. God has a plan, this is part of God's plan - stupid people kept telling me that over and over again at Alex's and Dora's funerals, at the endless memorials. There was no plan. Or if there was, it was cruel, and God was a terrible GM.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Leona

    I've read some of Vaughn's YA novels, and this has a light, similar feel. Everything sketched out on the surface, without diving too deep. This will disappoint some, but not everything needs to be deep. Rather, it made it a quick, enjoyable read. I could see it all playing out as a movie while I read. I consider this book great for readers like me - those who like and appreciate nerds or geeks, but who themselves are not nerds or geeks. I've played some of the classic video games (Zelda), watched I've read some of Vaughn's YA novels, and this has a light, similar feel. Everything sketched out on the surface, without diving too deep. This will disappoint some, but not everything needs to be deep. Rather, it made it a quick, enjoyable read. I could see it all playing out as a movie while I read. I consider this book great for readers like me - those who like and appreciate nerds or geeks, but who themselves are not nerds or geeks. I've played some of the classic video games (Zelda), watched both old and new Westworld, watched Lord of the Rings (although I didn't love it), and have rudimentary knowledge of Dungeons and Dragons, mainly gathered from those around me who have played a little in the past. So, I got many of the references and asides. But I'm not steeped in geek culture overall. I suppose I skim the surface, dipping in my toes occasionally, not unlike this book. Clearly, Insula Mirabilis is inspired by Jurassic Park. I seriously heard the Jurassic Park theme each time I read the name. Equally clearly, eccentric millionaires don't learn from the mistakes of others, because you'd definitely know something was going to go wrong. I sympathized with Addie's yearning for the island to be real. Haven't we all wished for our fantasy world? But like us readers, she views it with skepticism. It's nice to get lost in the fantasy, and understandable even, but you can't ignore that a fantasy is what it is. I'm glad she didn't get sucked in. Addie has PTSD from surviving a school shooting. The way that she coped with that throughout the book seemed realistic to me. I liked all the characters well enough. Everyone was lightly sketched out, which made this a quick read once I could get into it. I really enjoyed the ending. Again, exactly what I would expect if I were watching a movie. I received an copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Marlene

    Originally published at Reading Reality If you’re a fan in the real world, it’s possible (again) to go to Hobbiton and visit a bit of the Shire. All you have to do is go to New Zealand, where they’ve turned the movie sets from the Lord of the Rings into a tourist attraction. You may be able to see the sights, but you can’t actually insert yourself into the story except in your own head. You can eat a meal but you can’t spend the night. The immersion can only go so far. But if that description makes Originally published at Reading Reality If you’re a fan in the real world, it’s possible (again) to go to Hobbiton and visit a bit of the Shire. All you have to do is go to New Zealand, where they’ve turned the movie sets from the Lord of the Rings into a tourist attraction. You may be able to see the sights, but you can’t actually insert yourself into the story except in your own head. You can eat a meal but you can’t spend the night. The immersion can only go so far. But if that description makes your head spin with possibilities, you’re not alone. And that’s what the original project to build Insula Mirabilis was all about. Creating a place where well-heeled travelers could spend days or weeks not just observing a fantasy world but actually living it. Complete with mythical creatures – like unicorns and wargs – running around and occasionally even running from each other. And there would be magic – at least in the Arthur C. Clarke sense of “any technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from.” All in the service of allowing people to live out their dreams of living in a fantasy world. At least for a little while. But the problem with fantasy worlds is the same problem that exists with the real world. Humans do have a way of messing up even the best things – perhaps especially the best things – in ways that their designers never expected. Or did they? A rich tech wizard has created Insula Mirabilis to provide as many dreamers and geeks and nerds and LARPers and members of SCA as possible a place to live their dreams by paying him big bucks for the privilege. But the real purpose is for his crack engineering teams to rise to greater and greater inventive heights, providing him with lots of patents and trademarks and even more ways to make even more money. But it’s all gone wrong. Or at least it looks that way. The island has cut itself off from the rest of the world with some kind of forcefield. Nothing going out – not even telecommunication – and nothing and no one going in, something that the Coast Guard has discovered to their loss. Harris Lang, that rich tech wizard, has put together a team to sneak into his island and get it back for him. The team consists of four mercenaries and one very much out of her depth literature professor. But Addie Cox has all the tools they need to figure out what went wrong and why. She’s an expert on the original sources that form the backbone of epic fantasy. She’s an avid player of D&D and a member of SCA. Addie’s geek credentials aren’t the only thing she has going for her – and they’re not the only thing that Harris Lang is counting on, either. Because he’s planned much better than that. Addie is his ace in the hole, because Lang is pretty certain that the engineer who has gone rogue on HIS island is Addie’s ex-boyfriend. And that the man will be unable to resist trying to impress Addie in the hopes of getting her back. Escape Rating A-: This story feels like it exists on two levels. On the surface, there’s, well, the surface. Which is an adventure tale about exploring the island resort in order to figure out what’s gone wrong. And on the other level, the story is one gigantic in-joke. If you love epic fantasy and role-playing games and everything that goes along with them, you’ll get the joke and enjoy the story. If you don’t, I’m not sure whether the story is strong enough to carry the reader over. I can’t tell because this is a joke that I very definitely got, as epic fantasy has formed a pretty big share of my reading since I first picked up The Hobbit. When I was 8. In OMG 1965. That’s a long time in which to read a lot of fantasy. Which means that I had a great time in Questland. But I felt like I got all the in-jokes, and understood all the references. And kept thinking up more as I went along. This turned out to be a story where I kept discovering more and more books and movies that it reminded me of the longer I got into it. Like one or two on every page. A lot of people are going to say Ready Player One because they share that nostalgia factor, but that didn’t feel like the primary influence to me. For that to work, James Halliday would have to have been the founder of Innovative Online Industries. In other words, the inventing genius would also have to be kind of evil. It’s a lot more like Westworld in that the resort, which is also the gamespace, is mostly a work of mechanical engineering rather than the genetic engineering of Jurassic Park. Although the two books that Questland made me think of way more than anything else are both rather obscure, Sherri Tepper’s first novel King’s Blood Four, where the game is the world is the game, and Jean Johnson’s The Tower, where the protagonists are playing a live action role-playing game as entertainment for others – with very high stakes. Your reading mileage may definitely vary, and there are hints of plenty of other books, games and movies if you squint a bit. But at the center of it all is Addie Cox. While the mercenary team that takes her to the island does all of the physical heavy lifting on the trip, Addie is the one carrying all of the emotional baggage. Not just because the rogue wizard at the heart of the maze is her ex, but because Addie is the survivor of a school shooting. (She’d fit right in with The Final Girl Support Group). Traveling with a bunch of mercenaries with guns is way outside what comfort zone Addie has left. That the team makes it clear that they think she’s useless does not help any of her issues, because she agrees with that assessment. The way that she refers to her uselessness is one of many, many references to Dungeons and Dragons and lots of other geekery. That the story is her journey, her putting all of her knowledge to use to not just figure out the puzzle but also suss out who the monster is at the heart of this maze helps Addie change her perception of herself from being an unskilled and useless “Bard” character to become someone skillful and important and necessary for the quest, no matter what part she seems to play. So come to Questland for the nostalgic geekery, but stay and enjoy for the very human story.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    Originally posted on Just Geeking by. This book was absolutely everything I expected it to be and more. There’s always that worry when someone’s writing a geeky book that it is going to be horribly cringe-worthy, and I was pretty sure that this was in good hands, but having read the book and then Carrie Vaughn’s acknowledgement’s I can confirm that we’re good folks – she’s one of ours. Vaughn is a self-acclaimed geek (it’s blazed across her website header proudly) and she’s certainly screaming it Originally posted on Just Geeking by. This book was absolutely everything I expected it to be and more. There’s always that worry when someone’s writing a geeky book that it is going to be horribly cringe-worthy, and I was pretty sure that this was in good hands, but having read the book and then Carrie Vaughn’s acknowledgement’s I can confirm that we’re good folks – she’s one of ours. Vaughn is a self-acclaimed geek (it’s blazed across her website header proudly) and she’s certainly screaming it from the rooftops with every single moment in Questland. From the premise of an island where fantasy has come alive and has been designed and brought to life by teams of designers and engineers who are all geeks themselves, to the quotes and random pop culture moments thrown in at perfectly timed intervals. Then there’s the protagonist Addie Cox. Addie is a literature professor teaching a pop culture course (aka any book geeks dream) and is essentially the wizard of her party because this isn’t a military operation, it’s very much a quest to find out what’s happening and Addie is the only one who speaks the arcane language of fantasy, geeks and gamers. But like all geeks, Addie isn’t super confident, and that’s not because she’s an introvert stereotype who doesn’t go out at all. No, as a geek Vaughn is very aware of the stereotypes and Addie has a complicated backstory that is all too believable in modern-day America. The tragedy and trauma that Addie went through led her to tabletop RPGs and the concise rules of gaming ruled by the throw of a dice helped her get through the darkest times of her life. It means she speaks a language that none of the soldiers in her party speaks, and as Addie remarks to herself throughout their time together, they may have high stats in strength and constitution like a barbarian but she has the high stats in intellect. Addie sees the world as a roleplayer, thinking of things in terms of dice rolls for perception and at one point she even tells the Captain to make sure he does a perception check. By this point, she’s proved her value to the team and he doesn’t look at her twice, he just takes it under advisement and checks for traps. My only issue with Questland is how heavily it draws from Tolkien because as regular readers of my blog know, I’m not a fan (an admirer of his skill, but not a fan) and this book is filled with hero worship. Many of the elements of this book and the character themselves are Tolkien hero worshippers and many people forget that Tolkien didn’t actually create elves or dwarves. He just borrowed them from mythology and folklore, and while there is a moment where things are correctly credited to the legends Tolkien admired so much, it is a fleeting moment. It’s understandable; Vaughn is a huge fan herself, and it is her book, I just wish that a book about geeks and filled with geek characters didn’t essentially fall into the stereotype of “all fantasy fans are obsessed with Lord of the Rings”. Despite my one misgiving about Questland what Vaughn has achieved in one novel is to be commended. There are so many random genuine snippets of conversation that would be at home in any group of geek friends or work colleagues. References to video games, film and book quotes and other pop culture moments are not awkward added to make it look real. It is real. These are like conversations I have on a daily basis with my fiance. Just a couple of geeks being geeks. These dialogue moments compliment Addie’s inner dialogue as a geek seeing fantasy and magic brought to life by technology which is on point at every turn. Vaughn’s rich narrative describing the wonders of the island makes you feel as if you are right there with Addie, uncovering this magical place one step at a time. Welcome to Questland; are you ready for your quest? 😉 For more of my reviews please visit my blog!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Liz (Quirky Cat)

    Fans of Carrie Vaughn and games should rejoice, as the two merge beautifully for Questland. This is her latest novel, one that is fun, chaotic (in the best ways), and full of that iconic RPG aesthetic. Dr. Addie Cox is a literature professor, and she loves her job. She loves everything about her quiet life. So she certainly never expected to be approached with a job offer from somebody like Harris Lang – an extremely wealthy tech genius. Yet, that is the turn her life has just taken. She's been Fans of Carrie Vaughn and games should rejoice, as the two merge beautifully for Questland. This is her latest novel, one that is fun, chaotic (in the best ways), and full of that iconic RPG aesthetic. Dr. Addie Cox is a literature professor, and she loves her job. She loves everything about her quiet life. So she certainly never expected to be approached with a job offer from somebody like Harris Lang – an extremely wealthy tech genius. Yet, that is the turn her life has just taken. She's been tasked with entering a secluded island, one full of experimental tech. Tech that is specially designed to mimic a fantasy world that gamers would give anything to dive in. That's the goal, after all. Only, something has gone wrong, and apparently, Addie Cox is one of the few people who actually stand a chance of getting onto the island alive. Insula Mirabilis here we come. “Fantasy is about what you can't patent. Honor and heroism and... and... hope.” Picture D&D fantasy meeting Jurassic Park, and you'll find Questland happily tucked into the folds of that merger. This is a wild ride, one that is full of intrigue and some very iconic vibes, which I couldn't get enough of. I'll confess that it did take me a little bit of time to get into Addie's character. Her personality is a quiet one, and it shows. Yet once I found myself connected to her story and everything happening around her, I was sold. Actually, I take back my earlier comparison. On further thought, it would be more accurate to say that this novel is the child of Ready Player One and Jurassic Park. There's a lot of chaos, running, and so many references and fun tropes. If that is the sort of book that you enjoy diving into, then you're absolutely going to adore Questland. If that isn't your cup of tea...well, at least you know what to expect! Still, it was a fun read, one that I'm happy to have picked. Thanks to John Joseph Adams/Mariner Books and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own. Read more reviews at Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks

  26. 4 out of 5

    Billie

    I received an ARC of #Questland by Carrie Vaughn through #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The blurb for this story really caught my attention. Think “Westworld' and ‘Jurassic Park’, but instead of dinosaurs, you have a mythologically inspired island filled with creatures made out of life like technology, with quests based along the lines of ‘World of WarCraft’ and ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ with a little ‘Lord of the Ring’, among others, tossed in. I loved ‘Ready Player One’, so I dove rig I received an ARC of #Questland by Carrie Vaughn through #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The blurb for this story really caught my attention. Think “Westworld' and ‘Jurassic Park’, but instead of dinosaurs, you have a mythologically inspired island filled with creatures made out of life like technology, with quests based along the lines of ‘World of WarCraft’ and ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ with a little ‘Lord of the Ring’, among others, tossed in. I loved ‘Ready Player One’, so I dove right into this book but was disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, creative, and interesting, but there was something missing. The main character, while she was interesting and had an issue that made her a bad choice, but because of her relationship with one of the island’s creators, she was ‘bait’, but she felt flat, as did the other characters. There just wasn’t a whole lot that made me really care about them.  Now the island, the idea of it, I connected with and would love to go on an adventure there, even if it was just to sit out and chill with the unicorns and dragons. It wasn't overly graphic, but the main character’s past, (witness to a school shooting), would be very sensitive for some readers and there is some violence on the island, so I would say this book would be okay for those 16 and over, just as long as they aren't overly sensitive to the mentioned content. It’s not overly detailed, but it’s there. Overall it was a good story, but as I said, it felt a little flat. Three stars.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Monica Hills

    Have you ever wanted to be transported to Hogwarts, the Middle Ages, or Lord of the Rings? This is a perfect book for anyone who has ever wanted to experience one of those worlds. Addie is a English literature college professor but with a past that includes a traumatic experience. She is also a lover of all things fantasy and gaming. She is hired to go to an island that was designed as every sci-fi/fantasy lover's paradise filled with everything mythical such as dragons and unicorns. The island Have you ever wanted to be transported to Hogwarts, the Middle Ages, or Lord of the Rings? This is a perfect book for anyone who has ever wanted to experience one of those worlds. Addie is a English literature college professor but with a past that includes a traumatic experience. She is also a lover of all things fantasy and gaming. She is hired to go to an island that was designed as every sci-fi/fantasy lover's paradise filled with everything mythical such as dragons and unicorns. The island was designed as a new adventure park but the creators/designers have taken it over from the owner. Addie must go in with a trained group of navy seals in order to prevent anyone else from getting hurt. What follows is a full out adventure filled with surprises, drama, twists and turns. This was a quick novel to read as it kept me engaged. I wanted to know what challenge Addie was going to come up against next. I also loved the fact that there were references to ancient literature such as The Odyssey as well as pop culture hits like Labyrinth and Harry Potter. This novel was a great escape and I really enjoyed reading it. I highly recommend this novel to anyone who loves fantasy/sci-fi and is looking for a little adventure! Thank you to NetGalley and John Joseph Adams/Mariner Books for the advanced copy.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    REALLY enjoyable book about a fantasy version of Jurassic Park. This is a love story to D&D and Tolkien and Labyrinth and Narnia and all of the stories I grew up wishing were true. This may as well have been WRITTEN JUST FOR ME, and I loved it. I first saw this book mentioned in the June 2021 volume of Locus Magazine, and I knew I had to read it. It sounded like a book written specifically for me. A D&D theme park where the tech is so good you can't tell that the Sphinx is an animatronic? A LARP REALLY enjoyable book about a fantasy version of Jurassic Park. This is a love story to D&D and Tolkien and Labyrinth and Narnia and all of the stories I grew up wishing were true. This may as well have been WRITTEN JUST FOR ME, and I loved it. I first saw this book mentioned in the June 2021 volume of Locus Magazine, and I knew I had to read it. It sounded like a book written specifically for me. A D&D theme park where the tech is so good you can't tell that the Sphinx is an animatronic? A LARP where you do actually have to check for traps? Unicorns and wargs, and dragons, oh my! This had my name all over it. And I loved it! There's enough believability to the tech that this could conceivably take place in a handful of years, and the mentality of the fantasy geeks who are the most excited about this theme park world could be straight out of my experiences. It felt real to me, in the same way that Jurassic Park felt real. Only with unicorns and dragons and giant spiders instead of dinosaurs. You can just TELL that Vaughn loves the concept of this story as much as its intended audience will. (She confirmed all of that in the afterword, but I didn't need to read that to know she was One Of Us. And yes, there was a time when I knew how to read Tolkien's elvish script, even though I didn't ever actually learn Sindarin.)

  29. 5 out of 5

    Darcy

    I really wasn't sure what to expect with this one, thought it might end up on my dnf pile, happily that didn't happen. This book seemed like an homage to geeks everywhere and it makes you wonder what if it was real, how would you react, would you be a Addie or Dominic or would you be the evil behind it all, Lang. I thought Addie did a good job of helping figure things out, especially considering she was a bit of a fish out of water with the soldiers, although she did end up building a good relati I really wasn't sure what to expect with this one, thought it might end up on my dnf pile, happily that didn't happen. This book seemed like an homage to geeks everywhere and it makes you wonder what if it was real, how would you react, would you be a Addie or Dominic or would you be the evil behind it all, Lang. I thought Addie did a good job of helping figure things out, especially considering she was a bit of a fish out of water with the soldiers, although she did end up building a good relationship with them as the journey went on. I thought it interesting how many different factions were working on the island and how each one thought they were the one in charge, which left a big mess. By the end of the book I felt bad for those that were on the island, their zeal carried them away, pretty much ruining what could have been a great thing.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Dianne

    I have no idea how to review this book. This is a different genre than I'm used to. I love this author and thought that going outside of my comfort zone would be good for me. It was not a good idea. This book DID hold my interest, and I found no issues with finishing it. I did heartily dislike our female protagonist, Dr. Addie Cox. I understand that she has PTSD, but in the long run, she acts just like a spoiled child crying every time we turn around and for no apparent reasons. I found this to I have no idea how to review this book. This is a different genre than I'm used to. I love this author and thought that going outside of my comfort zone would be good for me. It was not a good idea. This book DID hold my interest, and I found no issues with finishing it. I did heartily dislike our female protagonist, Dr. Addie Cox. I understand that she has PTSD, but in the long run, she acts just like a spoiled child crying every time we turn around and for no apparent reasons. I found this to be very annoying. I can say that if you love RPGs, quests, ultra-rich guys, not having all our questions answered AND Jurassic Park ( but a modernized version of JP), you will most likely love this book.

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