The Perfect Run

B: Great read, highly recommend.

Quicksave (with his power to make checkpoints in time) is searching for his perfect run. Great characterisation and imaginative powers made this a great read.

It's been a quite a few years since the Alchemist distributed Elixirs into the world, each which grant a unique super power. Since then, modern civilisation has collapsed, because giving some people phenomenal power tends to go badly a lot of the time. Quicksave begins the book searching for his childhood friend, Len, and determined to go through every chapter in his life with a perfect run. Which, as you might have guessed from the hero name, is possible thanks to his ability to set a checkpoint in time he can revert to on death. He can also pause time for up to ten seconds too, which helps get things done.

Now, this isn't progression fantasy as I would normally read. Quicksave has already had a long time to master any and all skills he might need, so he doesn't grow in power (though he does take some great emotional strides in the book), but there's something similar enough in the time-loop plot device that I think it does deserve a space on the wall.

But, ultimately, I kept read not for the time-loop shenanigans. I kept reading because the plot is great—just when you think you've figured out all the connections, there's another layer underneath them tying more things together. And more than the plot, I read because the characters and their interactions are fantastic. There is a diverse cast of characters, and they each have a unique power or two, their own motivations, their own personality, and their own way of interacting with each other and Quicksave.

Quicksave, effectively living a life where everyone will forget him in all his attempts leading up to his perfect run (as he jumps back in time but they don't) has a bit of a standoff-ish attitude about getting in too deep. I can't say more without spoiling a few plot points, but the relationships (both personal, professional, and romantic) illustrated in this series, are some of my favourites.

It's hard to dig down into anything actually in a review about a time-loop book, because events at the start remain relevant as they repeat. The only vague "I don't understand this" in the series comes from the author writing pop-culture and video game references as explicitly obtuse—as in most people don't know any and Quicksave bonds with those that do. I'd understand this if, for example, the plot was set a hundred years after civilisation fell, but it's set a couple of decades from what I can infer. Ultimately, the constant pop-culture references feel less like an authentic personality quirk of Quicksave's, and more like fan service for the original readers on Royal Road.

And look, if that's my biggest critique, it's a good story, so go and read it.