The first item of note is that this fiction is currently physical copy only. However purchasing a used copy is extremely cheap, and if you enjoy LitRPG it’s very worth looking at one of the earliest works in the genre (especially for the current possible price point).
The general story is outlined very clearly in the editorial review from publishers weekly, but in essence we have a paraplegic main character who escapes to virtual reality where he can safely explore worlds that real life won’t let him have. The trope seems over used – until you consider this came out in 1994. Baal, the love interest we find, has diabetes and requires regular insulin to prevent her from crashing.
There is also the standard trapped in a video game, only this time it’s a bit more realistic then say – SAO. Instead of an over plot where the game creator is a megalomaniac and kind of a jerk, we have one hacker who seeks to alleviate his own struggles by making other people suffer (so still a jerk, but this time the story has people actively working to prevent the hacker from winning. That’s new, people outside the game are clever enough to stop the bad guy – given enough time.
Phreak, the hacker, locks on to the love interest and threatens her life due to the diabetes premise. Our main character rides to the rescue while risking his health. The adventures leading to this catch the bad guy plot, and chase resulting, travel through multiple game worlds to solve the main storyline – demonstrating that the virtual reality concept isn’t simply one fantasy world that everyone exists in, but a possible smash together taking in tons of settings – because not everyone enjoys the same hero and princess. The main character, in one scene, pretends to be a girl then proceeds to save herself. The game allows the princess to do just that if she wants.
Despite a generally negative critiquing from bigger names, I still give it a five simply because I came back to it over and over as a teen. It was one of the first books to explore the inside of a video game world, and how it would ultimately connect people instead of separating them. Still, perhaps I only rate it a 5/5 from nostalgia and love for the LitRPG genre.