Dawn of the Void by Phil Tucker is a highly addictive adrenaline rush fueled by a constant wave of dopamine to the brain. I can’t possible understate this.
When Phil reached out and offered me an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC), I jumped at the chance.
It’s a beefy book, clocking in at 150,000 words, or roughly 600 pages. At first, this seemed daunting, but I quickly realized it’s far too short.
Dawn of the Void grabbed me from Page 1, but really sunk it’s claws in around the 10% mark. I don’t remember the exact moment I realized my absolute obsession with this book, but it was somewhere between vicious, lethal gremlins and a vaporizing aura that turns everything to ash.
Before I get side-tracked, let’s jump into the review.
Dawn of the Void Review
What is it about?
Dawn of the Void follows a homeless man by the name of James Kelly. At first, the reader doesn’t know anything about the circumstances that turned James from a dedicated EMT into a bum looking to survive the day.
As the story unfolds, you’ll learn more about James and watch as his character grows in front of your eyes, both emotionally and physically.
James awakes one day to a digital prompt in front of his eyes asking him to acknowledge a 60,000 year plan in the making to release Nemesis 1s into the world. He does, just to get rid of the message.
A second later, a demonic-looking gremlin-like creature steps out of the subway and chases him into a bar where it attacks him. The only problem is that no one else can see it and think he’s crazy.
He manages to survive the attack and winds up in the hospital to discover hundreds of others experiencing the same problem where he meets Serenity. They decide to get a drink together upon leaving the hospital and form an unlikely team of drug addict and homeless bum.
When James’s EMT instincts kick in, Serenity records him issuing some tips for surviving encounters with the gremlins and the video goes viral on TikTok. And just like that James Kelly has become the face of the resistance against what soon becomes a worldwide apocalypse.
Plot & Setting
Dawn of the Void takes place in Brooklyn, New York, though the events of apocalypse occur across the entire world.
Upon surviving his first attack against a Nemesis 1, James is alerted via prompt that Nemesis 2s will be released in 4 days, and The Pits open in 90 days.
The world quickly discovers that Nemesis 1s that kill their “summoner” roam free to attack and kill others. James and Serenity take it upon themselves to save others by killing these free roaming gremlins and discover they can level up and learn new skills to aid them in their war against the Nemeses.
But when a second wave hits even larger than the first, and then a third, and a fourth, they quickly realize they can’t save the world by themselves.
The two and their ever growing crew of allies must deal with exponentially more difficult threats each and every day.
Dawn of the Void is a LitRPG, which stands for Literary Role Playing Game. In short, it’s a video game book. There are stat sheets, but they aren’t exhaustive or overly crunchy.
Each person that defeats a Nemesis 1 unlocks personal statistics. Each level grants them 5 points to spend toward bolstering their stats. Increase strength, and your biceps grow larger and more defined, enabling you to carry heavier things.
Increase your agility, and hand-eye coordination is improved as well as grace in movement.
But most interesting is Arete, which is a Greco-religious term roughly meaning the realization of one’s true potential. This statistic affects outlook on life, the capacity to make better life choices, etc.
Perhaps more importantly, it also affects the users Aura. James, and the world, quickly learns that Aura is the key to fighting the Nemesis and dumping all his points into Arete might be the craziest and smartest decision James makes.
What is an Aura? In short, it’s a shield against the Nemeses. At first, it burns them, and at higher powers can straight up disintegrate the little guys.
There are also Benedictions, which are skills unlocked at levels 5, 10, and 20. These skill choices directly influence the class each character will eventually adopt, though classes aren’t revealed in this book.
The most interesting item, though, is Aeviternum Points. Each point allows the character to fully self-heal from the brink of death when used, and replenishes itself every day at dawn. These points are expensive and rare, but a crucial tool needed for survival in the dark world around them.
In addition to classes, Virtues and Miracles are items on the stat sheet that we fail to learn anything about in Dawn of the Void. We’ll have to wait for a future book to explore these areas.
Dawn of the Void Review
I read an ARC of Dawn of the Void, and while I loved it, it is fraught with typographical errors. To me, it felt like the book had only received a cursory glance of proofreading, without the benefit of a dedicated editor.
That being said, it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story at all. Sure, I noticed every time one came up, but the story is so good I didn’t care at all. I only share it on the off chance this bothers some.
Because this is an ARC, it’s also highly probable a good portion of these will be fixed before the final version goes live.
As for praise for Dawn of the Void, all I can say is that I’ve been really struggling to read lately. My average time to read a 350 page book is 3 days. Lately, it’s been taking me around 5 days.
I read Dawn of the Void, a whopping 600 pages, in under 48 hours. The last time I got fully absorbed into a book like this… well it might have been when I read Phil Tucker’s Death March.
If you’re a fan of LitRPG, this absolutely MUST be on your reading list because it’s going to be THE series to read for years to come.