“The way they spoke was also interesting – half ancient half modern, half plain and half serpentine. It gave the feeling of modern people attempting to converse using ancient dialects but their fundamentals in old language falling short, making it awkward while communicating.” (Cultivation Chat Group, Chapter One)
“Although he had long passed the age of being a chuunibyou, who hadn’t had a ‘thinking back’ experience? The experience brought by his previous chivalrous hero dreams, wuxia dreams, and superhero dreams was a black history he was unwilling to face in his whole life. He felt so embarrassed that he wanted to die just by thinking of it; he wanted to forget, to absolutely forget it!!!” (Cultivation Chat Group, Chapter Four)
When Song Shuhang, username “Stressed by a Mountain of Books”, receives an invitation to join the ‘Nine Provinces Number One Group’, he doesn’t think much about it. Stuck with a bad cold in his dorm room, he doesn’t realize that the other members are expecting him to be a “Daoist” and a member of their exclusive world.
After skimming the group’s messages, Song Shuhang realizes that its members are all Xianxia enthusiasts. The young student quickly understands that those within the chat are obsessed with the fantasy elements of Xianxia, incorporating old and mysterious language into their conversations. To Song Shuhang, they all clearly “are suffering from chuunibyou”, a disease that he considers pathetic and silly.
Song Shuhang lost interest in these youthful imaginings years ago and wonders if he was added to the group chat by mistake. However, though Song Shuhang does not believe the group is truly remarkable, mysterious events soon occur, making him realize the magic that is intricately woven into the world around him. Time travel, magic, fantastic abilities, and fearsome adversaries await those willing to journey alongside Song Shuhang in this new take on the cultivation genre.
As the name suggests, this novel centers on the genre of cultivation. However, this is not your average work of cultivation. I love that this is a novel with a twist. Instead of a world vastly different than our own, the story takes place in 2019 and incorporates the laptops, phones, book stores, and other modern conveniences of our times. It is so much fun to see something different within a much beloved genre. Because cultivation novels are usually set in fantastical lands filled with unfamiliar monsters and inhuman abilities, Cultivation Chat Group is refreshingly different while still maintaining the key attributes that make this genre popular.
Everyone believes that they have something secret and special about them, no matter how small this belief is within their heart. Cultivation Chat Group taps into the secret longing within all humans to be special, to be more. Because our world does not have magic or enchantments, we must depend on novels like Cultivation Chat Group to explore our dreams of grandeur and heroism. Maybe one day you or I will wake to find that we have been added to a group chat that reveals a thrilling world different than our own. This novel is total wish fulfillment, taking the very ordinary world around its readers and crafting a story of magic and possibility.
This novel possesses over twelve hundred chapters, making this an epic fantasy adventure that starts from a very simple misunderstanding. Song Shuhang’s original unwillingness to join the “imaginary” world of the group chat reminds the reader of Bilbo Baggins’ hesitation to join a quest to the Lonely Mountain. Like Bilbo, Song Shuhang soon realizes that he can be a true hero, despite his initial misgivings. The plot does not suffer because Song Shuhang is slow to realize that the world around him is more multidimensional than he once thought. The best protagonists are often those who are wary of adventure, as they then defy expectations to become true heroes.
The tone of Cultivation Chat Group is refreshingly light and humorous. While cultivation novels can often be bogged down by their own seriousness, this web novel does not ignore humor in the pursuit of glorious victory. Even when the reader is confronted with ancient powers and mystical abilities, the juxtaposition of these fantasy elements with the real world create levity within the novel.
This novel boasts of a large ensemble cast full of interesting and diverse characters. Each member of the original group chat has their own specialties and abilities, making the reader want to learn more about each character. One character, Medicine Master, rarely writes more than a few words in the chat, but possesses an incredible knowledge of potions and elixirs. Other characters have mysterious backgrounds, leaving the reader eager to learn more as each chapter gives tantalizing hints.
Cultivation Chat Group is a fun blend of the popular cultivation genre and the real world. Song Shuhang is a relatable protagonist who represents the desire in every reader to be a hero. With a large group of supporting characters, this work does not overly rely on its protagonist, allowing readers to choose their favorites from characters possessing various skills, powers, and goals. This novel is perfect for those who enjoy fantasy and cultivation but want modern characters and situations that they can more easily relate to.