Solo Leveling


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10 years ago, after “the Gate” that connected the real world with the monster world opened, some of the ordinary, everyday people received the power to hunt monsters within the Gate. They are known as “Hunters”.

However, not all Hunters are powerful. My name is Sung Jin-Woo, an E-rank Hunter. I’m someone who has to risk his life in the lowliest of catacombs, the “World’s Weakest”.

Having no skills whatsoever to display, I barely earned the required money by fighting in low-leveled catacombs… at least until I found a hidden catacomb with the hardest difficulty within the D-rank catacombs!

In the end, as I was accepting death, I suddenly received a strange power, a quest log that only I could see, a secret to leveling up that only I know about! If I trained in accordance with my quests and hunted monsters, my level would rise.

Changing from the weakest Hunter to the strongest S-rank Hunter!

Associated Names
One entry per line
I Level Up Alone
Only I Level Up
Ore Dake Level Up na Ken
나 혼자만 레벨업
Related Series
Solo Leveling: Ragnarok (Sequel)
Everyone Else is a Returnee (13)
The Second Coming of Gluttony (11)
SSS-Class Sui**de Hunter (9)
Boundless Necromancer (9)
Seoul Station’s Necromancer (8)
Second Life Ranker (6)
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256 Reviews sorted by

New drago44dd rated it
May 17, 2024
Status: Completed
It was a mistake reading the novel after reading the manhwa. I just wanted more of it after reading the manhwa which is get in the form of frustration.

I suggest reading the manhwa as you are not missing anything there and you will also enjoy the artwork. The novel is not that good with many forced elements.

There's is a hint of romance, just a hint.

Overall 2.5
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triggerk rated it
January 27, 2019
Status: Completed
I Alone Level-up, or Solo Leveling, had as much potential as its protagonist, Sung Jin-Woo, but fails to live up to its possibilities toward the climax. This review contains minor, obvious spoilers, e.g. He gets really strong, and is restricted to the novel version.

First off, the plot. Gates open, monsters attack, and certain humans awaken to combat threats. Simple enough to give readers for this type of story what they want; a cool guy doing cool stuff. Then the author tries to do more than he was capable of. In... more>> fact, I believe he had no idea where he was going halfway through due to the strange conclusion. Everything people enjoyed in the first hundred chapters is discarded to explain the gates and Jin-Woo's leveling system.

Those mysteries disappoint.

Moving on, this is a classic weak-to-strong power fantasy in the form of stats and skills, and for the most part, I dislike this progression. In Dragon Ball Z, once scouters introduced power levels in the form of numbers, Akira Toriyama pigeonholed himself. Planets were already doomed with power levels in the thousands. By Dragon Ball Super, who knows how high those numbers were. Suffice to say, he retconned the idea and stopped mentioning them because numbers soared to ridiculous heights while strength stagnated and leveled off. Stats are blunt and limiting as progression.

There's a reason story elements often refuse to mix with game ones. For example, characters that, story-wise, are the biggest, baddest mofos. Yet when they join your party, they're two levels lower than your courageous but naive teenage protagonist. Why? Balance. Again, gameplay doesn't mix well alongside story. Likewise, it makes little sense in this novel.

Points in strength makes Jin-Woo stronger. It's understandable, though it seems unearned. Like playing a sneaky archer in Skyrim but putting perk points into Destruction, the fact that he can choose which stat to increase despite his fighting style feels awkward. Running 10 kilometers shouldn't raise the protagonist's intelligence, either, and I assure you it doesn't.

Authors can never write characters smarter than themselves. If they've fooled you enough to believe so, they've drafted far into the future. This author clearly didn't. Though he ups his intellect to the extremes, Jin-Woo never smartens up. Intelligence merely means increased mana. Evidently, the author chooses game elements over standard definitions, which is fine. Then he throws the system out the window! That's not fine. Due to a certain plot point, Jin-Woo's power rises so high that stats become meaningless and you no longer get to enjoy seeing him level anymore. After a certain threshold, what's the point? It's like going from level 98 to 99 while still beating on rabbits. Worse, he's not killing the rabbits personally, he's AFK botting. The author can't make up his mind.

Let's now touch upon the problem with the protagonist, his stats, and title of the novel. Jin-Woo is the one character leveling up. No one else can, and as a one-man army, he faces enemies alone. That's splendid until this sacrifices development of side characters. Our protagonist doesn't need anyone and the story doesn't need them. You'll find characters you love vanish because they have no role. S-rankers are irrelevant as Jin-Woo levels. The author bandages this massive bleed by introducing further categories for S-rankers, keeping readers amazed at the protagonist's progress, but then he runs circles round them, too. The best of the best twiddle their thumbs waiting for their hero to save the day, and that's a pathetic look for the strongest rankers. Why exist if they're going to roll over and play E-rank? Literal NPCs. Captain America doesn't throw in the shield because Iron Man shoots lasers out of his palms. They're equals. Spider-Man keeps swinging through his Queens neighborhood despite Thor, a literal god, walking the earth. They have their strengths and niches, and they all shine. Jin-Woo is different; he's all strength and no weakness when even Superman has his kryptonite, and his power casts a shadow over everyone. They're all superhuman, yet he renders them obsolete. It's like Super Saiyan-tier strength becoming a joke because two, three, four, mystic, fusion, and instinct are introduced. That had years to build, at least, while this novel is compact in chapters. I neither have time to appreciate how far he comes nor enjoy the supporting cast. He's playing modern day World of Warcraft, which reeks of unearned progress due to the sheer speed he climbs (alone, no less). The author should've slowed experience gain to Lineage levels or vanilla WoW, forcing him to party up and provide more time per rank.

There's a saying about enjoying the journey, not the destination, and I'll spoil you now and say the journey is skipped to a terrible destination.

If this were a game, the community would mock Jin-Woo as a boosted stat monkey, relying solely on gear and levels to dumpster newbies. This revolves back to my dislike of his progression system. He's not smarter or more skilled than his opponents. He overpowers through sheer numbers in more ways than one. He wins because his dagger mastery raises his DPS. And the fact that his ability to level is his only defining trait makes him incredibly one-dimensional. If other characters leveled, you'd realize how stale of a character our protagonist is. There's no good way to describe his personality because he's nice and hollow for the self-insert. He grows a few inches, sculpts a nice jawline, and picks up hot nurses never mentioned again. You could say he cares about his friend and mom and sister, but that's 99% of good people. But I digress, as my point was about his strength. Powerful characters are actually fine. I don't hate them. But they require equally powerful adversaries to warrant it, or else they're just bullying children. Once again, he's an empty shell, and this leads me to the next issue.

Jin-Woo is the director, producer, actor, make-up artist, and so on scrolling down at a movie's conclusion. Some may like this, but I find it a shame to take all the credit. Hopefully few wanted substantial, lasting relationships in the novel, whether it be friendship or romance. No one is worth his time, and whatever connection he has with someone is weak and a passing paragraph. Even if he cares a lot about a character, should we, the reader, care? He can't let another star shine in the spotlight, and as such, the supporting cast have personalities and relevance made of cardboard because author-kun lets Jin-Woo steal the show. He is the protagonist, yes, but he holds too many cards for me to be concerned about his wellbeing, and those cards are as flat as he is. He is not a rounded character whatsoever.

This novel attempted to be more than it was. If it stuck to its basic premise, it's a serviceable tale. You could turn off your brain and enjoy the blood and guts and terror of 0 IQ mobs. The moment it goes beyond that, the plot and characters become alien. The introduction looks nothing like the conclusion, and what sold me at the start is demoted to the backseat. Take pumpkin pie and chicken noodle soup. I enjoy both, but what I don't like is dunking pie into soup. This story should've picked a side.

Judging the novel in its entirety, I Alone Level-Up is subpar. It has an interesting start, but the latter half drags it so far down that I can't recommend it. Most praise comes from the comic, which is currently in the story's prime, but if it follows the novel, prepare to be let down. If the beginning carves out a strong three or weak four, the end flops toward a one or two star at best. <<less
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Isaic rated it
February 3, 2019
Status: c11

I don't ask for much of the authors of the novels I read, just give me: a decent plot, an MC that isn't a complete idiot, and follow the rules you set up for that universe (i.e. be consistent). I even avoid picking novels with tags that don't meet my interests. Seems simple, right?

So, the first eight chapters are actually interesting enough and seem to set up a decent, if unoriginal, plot and an MC who is weak but relatively clever. After that it goes downhill fast, and I mean... more>> like the launch of the rocketship Challenger fast.

Technically a spoiler, but only for the first 11 chapters so I recommend reading it.


(Keep in mind that the MC was portrayed to be clever in the first eight chapters.)

The MC wakes up, in a hospital, after pretty much dying in a super powerful dungeon. Right away he notices that there is a "message unopened" screen in his vision. He doesn't know how to open it, weird but whatever, so says a bunch of random stuff and, with some help, opens the message and sees that he is now a 'Player' and has a daily mission, with a warning of penalty for failure. The mission is to do 100 pushups, situps, squats, and run 10km, with a counter " (0/100) " next to them.

So what does he do? Assumes it is a hallucination and lies down to go to sleep. But wait! Soon after he thinks, "What if it isn't a hallucination? Might as well test it." So how does he test it? Does 100 half-assed pushups against the bed, meaning he stood up, put his hands on the bed, and pushed against it. Wtf? He then checks his message box, not even his mission box, and nothing is there so goes to sleep. He didn't even do 1 proper exercise and assumes it is all not real!

BUT WAIT! Maybe he just hasn't ever played, or seen, a video game before??? Please be the case!

No. He gets his penalty quest, which is to suvive for a bit, and completes it. The system asks if he wants to accept the reward for completing it, guess what he says? f*ck it, I'm going to sleep, and ignores it. Come on Author!

He wakes up, gets the same daily missions, completes it (he got a, "Completed 1 pushup.", notification after doing every pushup so yeah...), gets his reward (and opens it...), his status screen opens, then says, "He recalled the online RPGs he had played in the past..."

So yeah..., definitely doesn't meet the requirement of, "an MC that isn't a complete idiot" or the basic rule of "be consistent", so I am out.

Rant over.


P.S. This is the first and only novel I have given a 1 star rating to, and I honestly expected I never would have the chance to do so since I pick novels specific to my taste. <<less
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omegadir rated it
January 13, 2019
Status: c270

Interesting premise ruined by poor execution. It's starts with interesting premise but when main character become strongest hunter in the world it quickly go downhill from there. My main gripe with this novel what it have plot point which don't go anywhere. Remember nurse which he get phone number? You never hear from her. What about Juhee healer from first party which we see? Who's what? Later main character create guild for himself, what he do with it? Absolutely nothing. But the main sin which author commit by completely botching finale:

After becoming complete shadow monarch main hero use artifact to go back 10 years in time with his power and battle other monarchs in dimensions gaps (or whatever they call it) for 29 years (but only few years on earth) completely erasing future there gate appear on earth. And the main kick in teeth its all take place in just few chapters. Even Big Bad unceremoniously killed off-screen and we only presented with this fact. After what we get another couple dozen of chapters about how main character return to earth return to earth, de-age himself, and go with his ordinary live. Just EPIC!| X_X'|

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GetThruThis rated it
January 23, 2019
Status: c76
A boring read, no character development, MC does some really s*upid stuff occasionally, which is why I dropped it. Examples: doesn't want people to know about his skills and growth, gains stealth skill, still signs up through the normal method of doing dungeons when he could just sneak in. Stops the demon castle quest at 10, 001/10, 000 souls, when the one time he learned he could go over a cap for a quest he was rewarded with a hidden completion that gave an insane reward.
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GainedWheat077 rated it
May 10, 2019
Status: Completed
A fairly dull story.
    1. It picks up very nicely with good elements such as the leveling system (as per the name of the novel).
    2. Spoiler

      One of his early main reasons to become strong and level up is to save his mother, sadly she is an empty character literally only used as a plot device to get him stronger

    3. As the story develops, all S ranks are floored just to show how insanely OP our protagonist is. I have no problems with an OP protagonist, but I have a problem when side characters are made completely useless and forgettable.

      An example of forgotten side characters is: When he climbs the demon lords 100 floor tower, he comes along one of 20 royal blood line noble families. He befriends one of the demon family, and destroy the rest including the demon king thus completing the system quest. The process of befriending the single demon noble family was fairly fleshed out, even calling the demon chick "cute", she and her noble family never pop up again, not even in the god awful finale.

    4. Overall I wasted my time reading this.

      if you don't want to waste your own time reading, drop the story after completing the jeju island raid

    5. Story is a bit of a propaganda piece if you pay attention to how the author talks about international politics and other nations, even going as far as shitting on japan I kid you not.
    6. The pacing is completely OFF, if the author cared to pace this properly and have a proper fleshed out story it would have clocked in at a bit under 400 chapters. Overall the premise is good, but the delivery is shockingly bad. Instead I suggest for readers to stick to the ManHwa since the person doing that paces it better.
That's all folks.
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expensivepeanuts rated it
August 26, 2019
Status: c215
I tried to like this novel but my enjoyment of it took a sharp nosedive around after the Jeju Island arc. Pre-Jeju island arc I'd give this 3 stars but after that, the author tried to add too many unnecessary things in the story instead of developing the early premise first or fixing the problems in it.

The biggest flaw this story has is definitely in the characters. The MC himself is boring. There's nothing incredible about him or anything that stands out. Heck I've read 200+ chapters and I still... more>> forget his name from time to time. He doesn't even move the story forward, things just happen and he goes with it cus he has no choice. He never had any major goal and even when he gets one, it gets resolved easily and quickly and the reward for it is forgettable. In example...


Curing his mother's illness. After her illness gets cured, she basically becomes background noise. She's just there now. Yay mom is here but so what? The cure is kept secret and doesn't bring anything else. She doesn't bring new info nor does she bring any major change to the characters surrounding her either.

Second is the guild. He creates a guild but he doesn't do anything with it nor does anything change. Ahjin guild? Who cares honestly. It's all about him in the end and the problem is, he really didn't need the guild to claim the gates because at the point all this happen almost every character and government figure bows to his will anyway. He shouldn't have made a guild in the first place, again another useless subplot that serves to beef the word count.


The background characters are so flat and forgettable. Even the bestfriend/sidekick was just painful to read about. There are only two kinds of background characters here, one is on the side of the MC and the other is against the MC. The latter kind usually ends up dead or face-slapped to oblivion. Face-slapping is a guilty pleasure of mine but I didn't enjoy it here cus it's just so painful to read, because the MC never do anything impressive to deserve it. The background characters are just so s*upid. Too s*upid that they end up slapping themselves anyway.

The s*upidity bleeds into the worldbuilding. Literally every country that isn't South Korea is greedy and selfish. It's understandable that due to the violent changes the world underwent, they are very cautious but if only the author gave at least an hour of research and thought he wouldn't have wrote the other nations in such an unsavoury light.


After the Jeju island/Ant arc, a giant S-rank gate appears in the heart of Japan. Japan is low on manpower because of the Jeju island incident they asked the other countries for help. What did these countries do? Ignored Japan. If it was before Jeju Island it's understandable if they ignore Japan, but due to the Jeju island gate incident, they know full well by now that S-rank monsters that come from the gate can migrate to other countries and wreck havoc there as well. It doesn't make sense that they don't want to help. This is proven to be true later on when a giant from Japan's S-rank gate travelled to China. If the MC didn't destroy the other giants and clear the gate, those giants would be destroying the neighbouring countries too.


There is such blatant propaganda going on in the novel so saturated that it made me uncomfortable reading it.

Surprisingly, there is romance in the novel, and as expected... it is so, so bad. I wish the author just skipped the romance.

The heroine fell in love with the MC because he smells different compared to everyone else (i wish this is a joke). That's some Edward Cullen-Bella Swan rip off right there. The romance is super forced and popped out of the blue. There's no real bond or chemistry between the MC and the heroine because they never had any substantial moments or interaction. He's the hottest dude, she's the hottest chick. That's it.

They have their first date at around ch 200-ish and the heroine asks the MC why he is taking her to an amus**ent park and his reply is that because she is his only friend. Which is not true at all and was said for the sake of a fake deep moment. The whole date was cringey it felt like something written by a teenager. Also they had s*x outdoors after this idk it was really vague but pretty sure they did it.

The pacing of the story is all over the place.


The MC's friend's father ends up with the same illness as MC's mother, but despite having the cure for it at hand, he dances on the subject of healing him until he succumbed to it. 'Oh I know my friend but I don't know his dad so well I cant just cure him' later on, he does cure him anyway because we gotta have filler. He just couldn't go ahead and cure the dad so we can get over this dumb subplot quicker. Not like it matters that he saved his bestfriend's dad cus 1. no one finds out he saved him 2. his bestfriend is already his number 1 fan so even if he finds out nothing will change and it's not like the bestfriend's family has animosity against him so yea it's a really s*upid subplot that only serves to beef up the word count but has no effect on the story

Sure the story stayed true to the title but I don't think it was worth sacrificing the characters and every chance of character development for that. MC's skills and power is nothing to write about because it was wack right from the start and part of why I read this is because I felt like reading some good OP MC and faceslapping. I wish those int stats actually gave him some intelligence though.

Anyway, you can read this at webnovel. Probably another reason why I'm so dissatisfied with this novel is because I paid for it (and webnovel made every chapter at least 15 ss) and didn't get much. Really not worth it. Go read the webcomic version instead. At least it has eye-candy. <<less
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200206 rated it
May 4, 2019
Status: c181
Before I'd like to start off this review, I'd like to emphasize the point that I came over from manga to this disaster of a novel. The manga is drawn pretty well, and the premise is certainly enticing. However, do not be drawn in by the first couple of chapters as the plot is essentially flushed down the toilet and scattered into coherent nothingness. The author draws you in with a seemingly innocent main character - Jin-Woo - who suddenly gets this system that allows him to transform from a... more>> pathetic punching bag into an essentially undefeatable hero that is so disconnected from the plot and the story as a whole. For those who really want to know the general plotline of the story, here it is:

Protagonist trains and does seemingly useless things to get stronger through numbers that seemingly have less and less of an impact as the story goes on. The numbers get so high in the near hundreds that simply leveling up doesn't do much. Great, he's leveled up without any hardship, and then proceeds to curb-stomp the crap out anything that occurs in the story. One such example would be just running 10 kilometers and essentially following the Saitama routine to level up his intelligence - except this story isn't as funny as that iconic manga and anime.

These plot inconsistencies seem to get worse as time goes on. Past chapter 100, this is where the sh*t really hits the fan, Jin-Woo starts his meteoric rise in strength after being a pathetic bedbug, and hardly anyone can keep up with him. He completely shatters the perception of strength to the point where even competing with him is absurd - fast forward a couple of chapters and he'll;

a) Have different summons that he uses to AFK grind (This really just drains the life out of any story. Clearly the point of a weak to strong protagonist is to show his character growth, but the author just conveniently skips past this into the action, which gets worse and worse as time goes on. The author gets too lazy in writing fight scenes and skips past the majority by utilizing convenient characters like the MC's shadows or summons)

b) Be so strong that he ignores all side characters (Once again, he seemingly defies all logic when he is able to do certain things he shouldn't be able to do, like kill the damn system administrator who created the system, or be able to conquer rank S gates by himself with the help of his summons and his seemingly endless mana supply to regenerate his summons. In order to keep up with Jin-Woo, the author seemingly introduces further categories for S-rankers, like SS or SSS rankers in order to keep the audience enraptured with the MC's progress. In the end, Jin-Woo just overpowers everyone, rendering them useless.

c) Completely change his personality. Jin-Woo clearly has been at rock bottom. He's seen how cruel humans can be and his attitude towards others beside his family are nonchalant at best.

He isn't willing to go out of his way to help others, but when the side character Yu Jin-Ho's father is sick, Jin-Woo takes out a priceless medicine to heal him. Like what the hell! He doesn't take the blank cheque offered to him, or a favor from the Chairman of the strongest company in Korea. Instead, all he wants is gratitude. Furthermore, Jin-Woo ignores all human interaction unless its with pretty woman or Yu Jin-Ho, which is used as a plot device to casually introduce the plot or introduce another (surprise surprise!) pretty woman.


Frankly, I don't know why I even read so far into the novel. It started off strong, but simply tapers off to being a mediocre to tr*shy OP MC novel to the point its unbearable to read. Even the author scrambles to think of things that can counter the relentless progression of the MC. The latter half simply drags it down by so far to the point where the plot can be simplified to a circle. The beginning starts off with a 4-5 star rating, but the chapters past 100 deserve a 1 star rating. <<less
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lyn rated it
August 7, 2020
Status: Completed
One of the worst novel I have ever read. Extremely overrated, worshipped by the braindead fans as obsessive as hardcore kpop fans. I would give it a negative rating if I could. It doesn't even worth the 1 star rating. The characters, the plot, the logic, the writing, the world building are all extremely horrible. Everything just shows how horrible the author actually is. Author is xenophobic, racist, spreading hate, stepping on every single country in the world except South Korea. Author is a disgusting narcissist and sexist with a... more>> high ego, this novel is basically just a tool for the author to satisfy his sick fantasy. Disgusting. I don't need to explain in details, other reviewers have discussed most of the disturbing things. In the end, I think the author is extremely lucky that the manhwa was very well received. Author owes a lot to the manhwa artists, coz they're are so talented. They managed to upgrade this garbage into something more interesting. But if the manhwa exactly follows the novel, the manhwa will just turn into another garbage. <<less
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dark.matter rated it
August 16, 2019
Status: Completed
Novel had a very good start up with the system and what not but then it becomes the same stale thing over and over again like him clearing dungeons, killing monsters. The character has zero personality you dont know why he does things, theres zero character interaction. You think this character might be interesting and what could happen when they interact with MC but then the character is never spoken off, the author writes useless lengthy fights with no suspense whatsoever and useless internet reaction filling up the pages for... more>> no reason at all. Oh and the ending its one of the worst ending I could ever thinkof the author literally uses half a brain cell to write this novel at some point I was even wondering if I was reading something written by a 14yo. All in all dont waste your time reading this novel unless you want a story written by a teen with zero sense of personality in MCs and afk killing bots and side character being more insignificant than an npc in a game. <<less
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TheHawkk rated it
May 19, 2019
Status: c166
The fights are just so dull and drawn out. Chapters and chapters of the most boring generic stuff you could imagine.

MC has no real character development and neither does anyone else in the story. Several love interests are introduced, but so far MC has done nothing to further his relationship with any of them. If the author has no interest in writing just a slight bit of romance, how about not introducing these characters as love interests and then doing nothing with them. It's both frustrating and just needless.

In this... more>> regard, the descriptions in the novel are painful and mind-numbing. Every single time anything happens in the world, expect to see endless paragraphs about people's reactions and descriptions of the scenery. Or if the MC says something, you can expect a paragraph or two explaining the thoughts or meaning behind what is he saying. It's as if the author thinks we are all little kids, incapable of understanding the grand meaning behind what the characters are saying. The reality of it is that it's all very obvious and not complex in the slightest.

The MC's skill or fighting strategy is also detrimental to the overall development of the story. He's basically a lone wolf, but that's really hard to write well, something the author clearly isn't capable of doing. The plot ends up becoming nothing but him solo grinding on and on, barely developing a friendship with anyone. It's mostly a badly written wish-fulfillment where you get to see the MC level up over and over, with nothing else of lasting impact happening.

It's a boring story and not much else. <<less
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ERROR_This_username_is_already_registered rated it
January 3, 2020
Status: Completed
Stick to the comic.

I was just like you. Blinded by the awesomeness of "Solo Leveling" and having way too much free time on my hands, I decided to read the original. That was a terrible mistake because now I won't be able to enjoy the comic as I did before.

The biggest disappointment was the amount of propaganda and nationalism. Although it is a common theme for many Asian novels, the author of "I Alone Level-Up" "Korean Jesus the Novel" spends third of this story boasting about Korea and shitting on... more>> every other country mentioned. Once, twice, ten times - fine, it's a Korean novel written for Koreans, I understand. But this gloating never stops.

Never mind adding something substantial to the story, it makes already the below average character development even worse. The majority of characters exist solely for the reason to prostrate before the Korean Jesus and sing praises to his glorious homeland. Every time when something happens, it ends up with a long and detailed description of why Korea is so amazing or why this other country is so ignorant/s*upid/got what they deserved etc.

Again, it's a Korean novel written for Koreans, so I did my best to understand, ignore and move on. But with predetermined outcome fights, the almost total lack of meaningful character development, and the major plot points being resolved in just a couple paragraphs, this was extremely burdensome story to read.

Also, the ending

is criminally underwhelming with time travel once again making everything pointless.

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sgrey rated it
May 16, 2019
Status: Completed
The novel and all characters are just dull... the MC is braindead, all other characters are also s*upid, the plot is dull, everything about this novel is dull. MC is just this apathetic character that even after reading the whole novel I can't really tell what kind of person he is. The only thing we know about him is that he cares about his family. His behavior is erratic and just random, he goes against things we know will happen only to change his mind later on and do the... more>> things we know must happen. And that ending... bleh..

The best way to describe this novel is: grind, grind, grind and some more grind. He just goes to dungeons and defeats monsters that come out of the dungeons in between. After you are done reading, you can't even pinpoint anything that was interesting or fun about this novel.

Don't read this novel, it will spoil your mood. <<less
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DimaShishandra rated it
January 23, 2019
Status: c94
In general story is good but MC... While reading it I feel that character development in Japanese isekai are 3-4 times more believable. His behavior and minds are disgusting and pretty often he does contradictional illogical things.

Also amount of coincidence and silly people surrounding MC makes story even more fantasy like than worlds with sword and magic.
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Arha rated it
June 14, 2020
Status: c115
tr*shy power fantasy where only Jin Woo gets to do anything, which includes the mass mu*der of hundreds of thousands of demons that the MC made a conscious decision not to negotiate with because he's a power tripping a**hole. And you can't even argue that they deserved it due to being demons because they were just minding their own business and defending their home from some psychopath.

But fine, whatever, it's really more of a problem that everyone else sucks or is a total a**hole, including more of Korea's hatred of... more>> Japan. I'm not even sure I want to finish reading the Jeju arc or whatever. <<less
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Fear rated it
May 13, 2020
Status: Completed
I think this novel gains alot in the Manhwa version. When you read the manhwa version you just read it cause its cool and epic, but reading it in the novel version is feels bland as hell cause it's a type a story that is 100% superficial, there is no depth to that characters, the sotry is pretty simple and straightforward, it only advances by poping stronger enemies, and the only focus is in the action, wich is not necesarly a bad thing, but in this case it feels too... more>> dull and empty. It kinda does what it tries to do, pero it feels too lackluster.

Oh and the end is garbage. <<less
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February 20, 2019
Status: --
In contradict to what some of you who read this novel wants, I love the MC. He is the epitome of what I imagine the main character would be. Often, this type of plot, in the beginning it was interesting and intriguing, later the author would add up side characters to make the story more interesting and not leaving the readers bored with the recycle plot.

However, I don't like moe. I don't like harem. Definitely, don't like useless girls hanging over him, doing nothing other than inviting troubles. It's the... more>> same as having a team or joining a team, as the members just serve to further highlight the MC OP-ness. Isn't just better to have the MC rather than creating pointless characters?

Dragging him down, distracting his purpose.

If you want to read a plot with human relationship, romance as some of you wants, just go and read other novels that sways that way, and stop commenting that this novel is bad just because it didn't go the way you wanted. There are a lot of novel like this one, even the sidekick are quite the same.

The dark and murky MC with no sense of emotions, I like him. I like him a lot.

Also, what else do you expect from a person who had gone through things he couldn't chose? Exiting a dungeon and instantly falls in love with the first woman he sees? You want the novel to as sensible as you can, and when the author couldn't execute the way you like it, you condemn it.

Write your own novel then. <<less
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walutpetir rated it
January 16, 2019
Status: c91
Amazing, this story like the other novel of same genre but something different that I saw from the story, it is the system that make MC's leveling up is unique system

And I also love about sociality in the novel is not very dark like the others novel, like the MC's way for being strongest is not only from a misery

Thanks for Author and Translator

I hope this novel's release will always continue and update until the end of story
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Nuage rated it
April 6, 2019
Status: c100
Turn off your brain if you wish to read this novel. If you do, you will very much enjoy the read very. If you don't, only pain and suffering await you. This is a wish-fulfillment story so don't expect much from it.

The author is talented in creating suspense and stylistically he's doing pretty okay. But the content of his story is poor, astonishingly poor. The other characters are bland and serve only to show how badass our MC is. I kind of lost it when that S rank chick (one... more>> of the most powerful character in the story) thought the MC smelled good so now she's obsessed over him. It's funny when you think about it, but the thing is... the author is serious.

Yes, the author takes his story too seriously, and that's the problem.

His MC is a Mary Sue disguised as a handsome aloof loner. Is the author 15 year old? Could have fooled me.

This story is sinful. But enjoyable without a brain. <<less
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Zackarotto rated it
December 23, 2019
Status: Completed
If you look hard enough, you'll find a dozen novels (or manga) with the same premise: Gates start opening in the world, and humans who awaken to superhuman abilities are tasked with defending against the monsters which pour out. It's a fun, well-executed power fantasy, and with a main story that only spans 243 chapters, it's not a massive time investment. But it's also a novel marred by some ugly nationalist impulses (particularly against Japan), and additionally set back by some choices in its final story arcs, which are dragged... more>> down by inevitable rising stakes, and by convoluted, unnecessary lore, forgetting the simple fantasies which drew in readers in the first place.

Even if you don't finish this review, the one thing I want you to know it is that "Only I Level Up" is even better in comic form, as "Solo Leveling", and I recommend that you read that instead. As of this writing, the comic is about 50% of the way through the novel (end of "Season 1"). Thus far, the comic has thankfully not rushed the pace of the story, but has added terrific visuals and character designs, and has even corrected some of the worst tendencies of the original author. Though some events are reordered or streamlined, these changes have usually been for the better, as the comic has the benefit of foresight in adapting the novel, setting up later events sooner. Just note that I have no good reason to expect the latter story arcs to be any better in comic form, but I'm curious to find out for myself.

Not too many words are needed in praise of the webnovel: if you enjoy extremely dumb stuff about a guy getting strong and often incidentally looking cool in front of girls, it's an easy binge-read most of the way through, although it tends not to fully capitalize on its best characters or ideas. However, an understanding of the critical weaknesses of the novel requires deeper examination.

First, the author's nationalism:

Although Japan does have some unpleasant imperial history to put it mildly, and Japan-Korea grudges can run deep, the novel ridiculously has all the top Japanese Hunters complicit in a greedy scheme to steal Korea's island and get the Korean Hunters massacred by ant monsters. The Japanese carry this out poorly and arrogantly, they die in droves, and all for a plan that seems like it would have been a political/PR disaster for Japan on the world stage even if it had been successful.

As far as what I've read of the comic (Season 1), it's unclear if it intends to fix these problems or just gloss over them, but it does spend a little bit more time developing the Japanese characters, with names and interesting character designs, instead of just leaving them as faceless guys who get owned. It feels like a bit of filler, but it creates more of an impact when they start dying, as it seems like a real loss of life and not just a tasteless "Yeah! F*ck those Japs!" moment, as originally intended. I think the comic has had a better approach thus far, but I was disappointed that the comic adaptation stuck to the novel's plan for the South Korean hunters to die at all. The Japanese Hunters didn't all die at Jeju, so it isn't quite as ridiculous yet, but it will really depend on whether the story diverges later.

The novel does acknowledge, of course, that the average Japanese citizen has done nothing wrong in this situation, and that they should not all be blamed for the greed of their politicians and Hunters. But even in doing this, it is to give Korea the moral high ground. When the Japanese are desperate and needy, it is the Korean hero who is their savior. I can't help but roll my eyes.

It isn't just Japan to look foolish, and Canada in particular later gets the short end of the stick by rallying behind one arrogant fool Hunter. I could make a joke about how the author has a deep grudge against Canada, but the real issue here is that the worldbuilding is too shallow to portray foreign nations several times larger than South Korea as anything other than monolithic. Frankly, the same problem affects the monster and demon civilizations as well.

Although I enjoyed the ending itself, and the side stories which followed, the latter parts of the storyline were disappointing:

The premise which comes later is that the "Rulers" are using Gates to prepare Earth to protect itself, by sending in mind-controlled monster subjects of the "Sovereigns", in manageable numbers. But Seong Jin-Woo is not a part of this plan of theirs; rather, his power has been given to him by the "Shadow Sovereign". His level-ups were merely an intuitive means to unlock this power gradually. I have some issues with how this plays out:

1) Going by the later explanation, it was always the plan that Seong Jin-Woo would become the next Shadow Sovereign. I think this cheapens the earlier parts, where he actually obtains this "secret class" by sheer luck. If he got any other class, like Assassin or Necromancer or whatever, the whole plan would have failed. And I liked the idea of him outperforming expectations, rather than just borrowing his powers from a specific person, with a "level cap" once the full potential has been unlocked.

2) There was an earlier plot thread where the System seemed intent on turning Seong Jin-Woo into a cold-hearted killer. After he kills the architect of the System, he becomes free to spare his enemies whenever he wishes, instead. This thread kind of vanishes -- and for the architect, it would not have mattered anyway once the Shadow Sovereign replaced Seong Jin-Woo's ego -- and I preferred it when I thought he was going against the plans that were made for him by others, rather than walking right into the destiny that had been prepared for him.

3) For the novel going out of its way to invent the character of a "previous Shadow Sovereign", the man himself doesn't really have much of an agenda or motivation beyond passing on his power. In fact, his origin story is that he was the archangel who didn't care that he was trapped in a game of endless brutality for the amus**ent of God. He was the one unwavering s*ave who didn't rise up with the others. Are we supposed to take that as outstanding or noble? In my subjective view, he's the one Emissary who s**ked, and it's just another reason I'd have preferred to skip his entire association with Seong Jin-Woo.

4) As mentioned, Seong Jin-Woo is not part of the Rulers' plan to safeguard Earth, but he's the only one doing a decent job of it. It's questionable if all the "Special Authority"-rank Hunters working together could have even stopped the Giant Gate opened by the Rulers at Tokyo. Why have a Sovereign invasion at all, if the "protection" of the Rulers is deadly enough as it is? Or to put it another way: with friends like these, who needs enemies? It's unnecessarily convoluted, when you can just say that some evil demon is opening Gates to terraform Earth to its liking, and Seong Jin-Woo was overachieving enough to stop it. There aren't even any named "Ruler" characters in the novel. Why bother having them?

5) What exactly are the Sovereigns supposed to do after they "destroy everything"? Just go back to the featureless gap between dimensions, where they apparently hated being? Why do they even want to do any of this? Why aren't they the ones rebelling against their purpose? It's like their whole existence was an afterthought.

The novel might have gone on longer, while remaining interesting, if his leveling speed were more gradual. A few promising characters were sidelined too fast, due to the rapid pace. It would have been best if we had more Dungeons that had some kind of social order and culture, like the ice elves and the aristocrat demons, which never really got examined in depth. We had the one "Red Gate", where time passed faster on the inside than on the outside, and I think this could have been a great opportunity to do some longer Dungeon story arcs about expeditions into these other worlds, story arcs which maybe weren't solely about killing everything within that moves.

As for the translation, it's alright, apart from having far too many TL notes in the early chapters. The translators also can't seem to make up their mind as to whether there's a "Stamina" or "Endurance" stat. But it's nothing I'd worry too much about. <<less
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wapulos rated it
February 8, 2019
Status: Completed
I came to this novel after reading its manhwa adaptation. I love the manhwa... but reading it until the end of the novel, there were a few points wherein I was disappointed. Still, the manhwa is cool.

What to like:

  1. the MC - now I know that there are some who don’t like the MC, but I like how his character was developed. Since I didn’t start to read the beginning through this novel but through the manhwa, I definitely loved how the MC’s courage was developed. The account of what happened before he acquired his special levelling powers; I felt goosebumps while reading that part, honestly. I was able to embrace and sympathise with his fears at the beginning to the point wherein I celebrated when he faced his fears and overcame. Also, I appreciate that his personality changed the moment he grew stronger. Somehow, because of the betrayal he experienced at the beginning, his naivety was gone. Some might say that he is ruthless, but for me, I say that it was all because of what he went through. I also appreciated stories with MCs who are ruthless but with reasons. He became who he is because of what he went through.
  2. the other characters - there aren’t many novels that could make me like the side characters. The other characters had their own backgrounds and stories as well, even the one who betrayed the MC in the beginning. Also, their POVs weren’t as exaggerated as Sovereign of The Three Realms, wherein the other characters praise the MC too much for my liking. It was too shallow. This novel, on the other hand, was written well., I look forward to reading the other characters POV in this novel.
  3. the plot - it’s consistent. True to its title, the plot remained consistent. Its seriousness, setting, characters, etc; all are consistent to the plot. When I first read the title, I thought it would be like the other novels with ‘levelling plotline’ wherein it would be light and fun to read. But to my surprise, this novel has a serious and dark plot after all - which is a plus as it made the novel belong to a few unique ones. The way it was written made me feel its atmosphere. So I guess it also boils down to the author’s style of writing..?
now to reasons to dislike:

... more>>
  1. the romance - the development was too rushed for me. But I have to admit that I like this romance better as it is no harem. Still, I would’ve preferred that there would be no romance at all rather than reading a rushed one. On the other hand, I like the female lead’s character.
  2. the ending - it was dragged on longer than I would have liked. The author could’ve ended it with an open-ended conclusion. To my disappointment, he dragged it on for 20-40 chapters. I regretted reading it all the way. I continued reading it because I didn’t want to miss some action.. indeed, I didn’t... because there was no action at all!!! It was just filled with drama!!! Don’t get me wrong. I like drama.. just not the dragged ones.
  3. Lastly, the plot - kinda contradicting for me to put the plot in the ‘dislike’ section after putting it in the ‘like’ one. The reason is personal preference. Until the end, the MC was alone in the action. No teamwork. No one else could fight alongside the hero because the enemy is just too strong them. No further development of friendships. The MC gained friends, but in the end, they can only depend on him to fight the enemies alone. No character development of the MC through friends.. True, the plot is consistent to its title... but it is too lonely for my taste. So yeah, I guess this is a personal preference.
overall, the novel is good. I recommend you reading this.. but I recommend reading the manhwa more :D

even after finishing the novel, I still look forward to reading the manhwa as it is really good. Highly recommend!! <<less
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