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What made the experience of listening to The Laboratory the most enjoyable?
The Laboratory is very clearly an example of Portal fanfiction. The main character is an AI named EMMA who is a somewhat blatant copy of Portal's GLADOS. The narrator, Gabriella Cavallero, appears to have been aware of this and she does a fantastic job at bringing the character to life. Without Gabriella's performance, I would have rated this title much lower.
What about Gabriella Cavallero’s performance did you like?
Gabriella does a fantastic job giving a voice to the snarky, insulting and generally condescending AI EMMA.
Any additional comments?
The Laboratory is a mishmash of preexisting video game tropes brought together in what feels like a somewhat descent work of fan fiction. I got the feeling that many of the reviews that applauded the author's creativity must have come from non-gamers. The author does a descent job of it, however he fails to truly expand on the &quot;dungeon core&quot; genre. He also fails to bring real life to his interesting yet ultimately 1 dimensional characters. Without the Gabriella's fantastic narration, I would have immediately passed on this book before the 3rd chapter.
To summarize, this is the story of how Portal's GLaDOS awakens with amnesia and discovers that she is the main computer for a Fallout Vault. The fall of civilization was caused by magical mcguffins that resemble a cross between DC comics Mother Boxes and Bioshock Plasmids have granted super powers to many and subverted a number of natural laws.
It's not a bad book but any feeling of logic immediately falls away when EMMA begins using her own Power Cores to upgrade herself and the facility she has been installed in. Rather than devising a quasi-scientific means for these upgrades to occur, the author instead relies on magic. I had hoped that the author would at least fall back on nanotechnology or some other classic sci-fi trope in order to explain things. Sadly he does not, and following one upgrade, a swirl of blue lights instantly converts EMMA's reactor into an Starcraft Zerg looking, organic bioreactor.
The magical Power Cores instantly create rooms in EMMA's facility, they grant superpowers at random, and they operate entirely on video game logic. If you've ever played a Starcraft style strategy video game, you are likely to recognize and roll your eyes at the descriptions of EMMA's upgrade options. These are presented as the classic &quot;pick 1 of 2 upgrades&quot; and &quot;this room costs 50 resources and 5 energy&quot; style of gameplay mechanic. By the end, it feels as though this was an attempt at a novelization of a video game, but the author mistakenly thought that the actual game mechanics such as hit points, ability scores, and levels were an integral part of the story.
I wish that the author had had either the time or inclination to describe anything of the world outside of EMMA's facility, or to go into more detail on the workings of EMMA's facility beyond what upgrades she purchases.
The book falls apart at the end though. The final act falls utterly flat. Enemies suddenly become allies, character motivations are completely ignored, and the primary antagonists that are built up throughout the story are immediately supplanted by sky wizards in a floating castle who appear out of nowhere like the final boss in a terrible JRPG. Finally, the story ends on a massive cliffhanger that leaves little resolved and feels like either a chapter went missing or the author just lost interest at the end there.
That being said, it is a somewhat enjoyable story, but it's not deserving of a plate of cookies. But it on sale but do not spend more that $10 on the audiobook or $5 for the text version.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
Love living dungeons? You'll love this. It wasn't over the top with action, or upgrading. Nor was it an anime in a book, or a straight d n d theme. Looking forward to the second book.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful