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Book Review: Time to Play

Table of Contents

“A few minutes ago, Meghan Moretti’s biggest concern was getting the kids’ athletic clothes washed in time for practice this evening. Now, it seems that Earth has been forced into participating in some high-stakes intergalactic reality television. All electrical wiring has been slagged, and most combustibles neutralized. Some kind of evil space rodents are appearing on the front lawn, too.

Like any parent, Meghan’s first instinct is to keep her young kids safely away from the monsters, but an odd stroke of luck has her coming into some advanced information about this dangerous game. She learns that her kids will have to fight too.

What’s a mom to do?”

Title: Time to Play

Series: Apocalypse Parenting #1

Author: Erin Ampersand

Page Count: 474

Genre: Science Fiction / LitRPG

Rating: 4.0/5.0

Date Read: February 9th, 2024

Time to Play by Erin Ampersand was my first of four SPSFC-3 read from the current round. As always, please keep in mind that the below review and scoring are those of my own and do not reflect the official scoring from the SPSFC-3 competition.
Admittedly, I have not read many LitRPG’s to this point. I have maybe a half dozen under my belt and with those there are some differences between them. I am coming to realize I prefer what some call the soft LitRPG’s where the reader isn’t seeing menu or system messages front and center within the story on the page. I think this just detracts from the story itself within my own brain.
With that being said, this was still a cute story that I’m sure most gamers could relate to. I know personally when I really get into a game, whether this is healthy or not, I’ve had my moments out in the real world super imposing aspects of the game onto things I see. I couldn’t help but think of those moments when going through this read. There were even moments in the book where our characters clearly identify and gamers and are thinking of how they can adapt those gaming experiences to the world they’ve now been thrust into. That was a fun experience for me.
The pacing of Time to Play was fairly fast throughout. There are times when the excitement calms down a bit. However, even in those moments there is almost a constant suspense so things are still on edge. Other than the visuals of system messages to take me out of the immersion I was able to feel within the story fairly easily.
The world building was unique both in the makeup of this alien induced survival game as well as the general world our characters are trying to survive in. As time progresses our characters slowly expand outward from their house and immediate neighborhood finding more survivors as well as resources. Also as time goes on the level within the game increases or at a minimum changes so the characters or players are required to adapt in different ways.
The character development was nicely done as well. We see a lot of character arcs in Time to Play even beyond our loveable gamer mom Meghan. We see a lot of changes both in the children as well as the adults along the way in this book. Even if some of those changes aren’t always for the better. It still make you stop and wonder how accurate it would still be in a real life apocalypse. I think we even seen shades of this just a few years ago.
I also want to mention as I did both visually read as well as listen to the narration by Laurie Catherine Winkel she does a really good job in helping the reader feel a part of this world. So much so that her performance for some of the younger characters drove me crazy! This isn’t a bad thing towards her performance, on the contrary I think she did well in letting the reader know how annoying some kids can actually be.
I think fans of this genre would certainly enjoy this read. I still enjoyed it as a fun adventure even just as a one off from a sub-genre I don’t frequent that often.

World Building 4/5
Pacing 4/5
Character Development 4/5

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Chad Barnard

Owner/Operator of The Hiking Reader Blog. Sharing thoughts on books and hiking trails and trying to find ways to continue to incorporate both hobbies together.

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    1. I’m still very new to the genre. This is only my third or fourth if I am remembering correctly. I am interested in checking out book two in this series which I think is already available as well.

      1. I have noticed there’s a big variety in how “hard” the LitRPG elements are throughout the genre, though. Some rely on implication while others feel like you’re watching someone actually play a game, complete with game HUD.

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