I have not read many novels from this site, but this one has left me very impressed. I am currently at chapter 142, despite the tracker placing me at Ch 0. Lets first quickly go over what this novel is not:
This is not a battle filled 'I must become stronger' novel, if you had any such illusion after reading the description, please discard that notion.
So what is this novel? Slice of life/romance is as close I can get, with some drama mixed in.
It is a story about the lives of a group of people who meet in a game and become friends, and maybe more. The things they do in the game are there to show aspects of personality and to tell you their actual life stories, they are not the true focus of the story. I find it very refreshing to find a VR themed novel taking its time to develop a story outside the virtual world, while inside the virtual world.
Additionally, considering its value in a broader sense than just the entertainment industry. VR is already used to train in a number of skills, there are certainly medical applications such as recovering from mental trauma.
The writing quality is outstanding with few to no repetitions or overused words. I also admire the dedication in not writing specific things and letting the reader figure it out alone. Thank you, author, for your confidence in your readers. We want to be teased, we want hints and allusions, we want sudden surprises that cause what came before to suddenly make sense. It is much harder to write like that, so my respect for the story so far.
The character design is good. There are few flat characters and those are the 'villager A' types. Recurring characters have complex personalities. Not complex as in hard to understand, but complex as in not having just one reaction pattern. A meek person gets snappy when stressed and tired and a shy person can get surprisingly playful and assertive when around people (s)he trusts.
The only minus points are in the world building. The real world, the game world and the 'rules' of the game are mostly left alone. I do appreciate the points mentioned before, acknowledging that VR wouldn't be used for 'only' entertainment. You can have a job interview in VR. The story could play 'anywhere'... well as long as it snows in the area. At this point I have no idea if Danika is living in a big or a small city, what the area is like and I finally found out there is a sort of janitor/caretaker! (I'd have to look back for it to find the exact word and I'm too lazy). The game world is similarly vague with parts added/explored as needs for the story. I think it is absolutely fine for what the story seems to aim for, but it does mean I cant give it a full score.
This has gotten slightly longer than I intended. I will now enjoy the rest of the novel until I am caught up with the current update.