Welcome to the Apocalypse – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

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D.L. Richardson

In D. L. Richardson’s Welcome to the Apocalypse: Pandora, Kelly Lawrence is a grieving widow longing to reconnect with her deceased husband. She takes his place in a beta test for a virtual reality game he helped to design, one in which players are placed in simulation pods and virtually transported to an apocalyptic scenario of their choice. Kelly, along with her overprotective brother, Jack, and their friend, Reis, select the vampire apocalypse. Once the game is over, instead of being released from the pods as they should be, they are transported to another apocalypse to start again. Together, Kelly, Jack, and Reis must try to find a way to escape the brutal game, all while doing everything they can to stay alive.

While Welcome to the Apocalypse: Pandora certainly has an excellent premise, its execution leaves much to be desired. The main character, Kelly, is far too brooding and melancholy, with confusing motives and no real desire to be there in the first place; her miserable demeanor diluted the excitement and terror of the games. Many of the potential action scenes were passed over completely, in favor of her internal conflict on the sidelines or just closing her eyes (literally!) to it altogether. The general plot development was also quite lackluster, rushing through scenes without including more details about the game and its various scenarios.

What makes Welcome to the Apocalypse: Pandora so exhilarating, though, is its ingenuity. It resembles a blend of The Hunger Games and Jumanji, while still maintaining a level of believability not achieved in those works. With the growing popularity of virtual reality gaming and survival-oriented games, the plot depicted in this book is not implausible, and that’s what makes it so interesting. D. L. Richardson has a fantastic idea here; hopefully, the next book in the series will improve its plot development so that this series can reach its full potential.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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