The first is that the book was self-published. You can find a lot of amazing things in the self-published world- WOOL is a great example of this since it was initially self-published and it's since developed a huge fan following. Scott Sigler's work is also something to point out. However we all have to be honest: for every one book that's extremely well done there's at least 3-4 that just weren't ready to be published.
The second is the obvious thing: if a friend recommends a book and you don't like it then what do you say? Obviously my friend isn't going to subject me to a Klingon shunning ceremony but it can make for a little awkwardness if your friend is a particularly big fan - which he is. I think the average book fan's fear is that you'll read their favorite book and it'll be so awful that you can't even begin to understand why someone would like it.
Luckily this book is shaping up to be pretty darn good- so much so that I'm going to go ahead and give it a recommendation despite not finishing it because I think it needs to be in more people's hands.
The book is the first entry in the Play to Live series by D. Rus, AlterWorld. The author lives in Russia (presumably) and this was initially published in Russian but was translated into English and self-published on Amazon.
I'm really stumped as to why this isn't more well known and my only guess is that this isn't really being talked up that much. The first book is only $3 on Amazon and so far I highly recommend it.
The book is what is being called RPGlit and it's extremely similar to stuff like Sword Art Online. However the bigger difference is while the SAO characters are unwillingly kept in their online world, people in Play to Live are completely willing- most are choosing to live in their online world because their bodies in the offline world are severely disabled or they're facing a terminal illness.
In any case, I recommend it. Here's the cover, a link to where to purchase the work, and the synopsis for the first entry in the series:
A new pandemic - the perma effect - has taken over Earth of the near future. Whenever you play your favorite online game, beware: your mind might merge with the virtual world and dump its comatose host. Woe be to those stuck forever in Tetris! And still they're the lucky ones compared to those burning alive eternally within the scorched hulls of tank simulators.
But some unfortunates - the handicapped and the terminally ill, shell-shocked army vets, wronged crime victims and other society misfits - choose to flee real life willingly, escaping to the limitless world of online sword and sorcery MMORPGs.
Once a seasoned gamer and now a terminal cancer patient, Max grasps at this final chance to preserve his life and identity. So he goes for it - goes for the promise of immortality shared with a few trusty friends and the woman he loves. Together they roam the roads of AlterWorld and sample its agony and ecstasy born of absolute freedom.
You can purchase this in the following places: