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"Exciting read that keeps getting better" permalink
This story is an easy, fast-paced read. The story is engaging and really grabbed from the first complication. There are multiple narrators, each of them distinct and fascinating. After seven chapters, I can't pick a favorite yet.
I think what really impresses me most is the level of creativity. All the layers of detail and the sheer amount of thought put into it, it just keeps getting better with every chapter. I'm getting a good feel for all the societies and characters without being bogged down by info dumps and such. The story keeps moving without me losing track of who's who, and what's going on with whom as the POVs shift from chapter to chapter.
I'm not much of a sic-fi reader but I'll be sticking with New Earth 6.
My only complaint is that in the first two chapters, the descriptions are a tad thin, but right after, she does a fantastic job of balancing description, character, backstory, and forward action. I'm a big lover of descriptive detail, so this just might be personal preference.
May 14th, 4:17AM
"The best Fairy tales are twisted..." permalink
Ember presents a twisted retelling of the Cinderella story, but does so with an original voice, intense imagery, and a memorable heroine whose moral compass is perfectly skewed. The piece is novella length, which leaves a little wiggle room in the character department. There are some side stories presented which leave me wondering if the author has expanded on them in other works (Sylvie and her Beast perhaps?) and I definitely look forward to the story of Nieves I saw posted on her site, I cannot wait to see what she does with a Snow White retelling. This was a satisfying adult themed fairy tale, it kept a good balance between it's erotic scenes and storytelling, which is vital in a shorter piece. The ending did irk me a little, I feel there could have been more build or a stronger confrontation between Rian and Ember, but I love how she tied in the original cutting of the step sister's feet into this version, in fact just about every facet of the original fairy tale was addressed in Ember's story. The writer's attention to these details makes it a worthy adaptation and I will definitely be looking for more from this world.
May 6th, 5:39AM
"An Experiment Gone Horribly Right" permalink
Tribe is an old work, in Internet terms. It dates back to 2007, when web fiction barely existed. It was an experiment and an exercise for Alexandra Erin, author of one of the pioneering works of modern web fiction, who was a fledgling writer at that time. It suffers from many of the hallmarks of a writer who is still honing her skills. It was never "finished."
Tribe is amazing. Its limited wordcount per chapter means that the reader is left with poignant, minimal images much of the time. The reader actively participates in the creation of meaning in the text. This device isn't simply used to make the work fancier or more "artsy," however. The entire story deals with the ways we create meaning in our real lives. Whenever we are confronted with a person or situation, we have an option: We can either rely on our received notions of that person, society, and the world, or we can accept that we know nothing about this phenomenon and embrace it with open, innocent eyes. When we make the latter choice, there's a chance that magic will happen.
Is this surprisingly deep, high-brow material for a work that was originally intended to be a simple writing exercise? Yes. Is it one of the most inspirational works I've ever read? Definitely yes.
Tribe tells the story of those who have fallen between the cracks of society and found out that they haven't failed; they've escaped.
May 1st, 11:13PM
"Quirky, saucy, grimy." permalink
Based on the first story arc of six, I found this to be an entertaining, reasonably well-written story. The author deliberately restricted herself to chapter installments of exactly 333 words, which I'm sure is an interesting experiment in precision and control from a writer's perspective, but as a reader I think the story would have benefited from more traditional, approximate chapter length limits. Having said that though, she did pull off the trick pretty well, as the installments all seem pretty natural and not rushed or drug out. Also, the very brief chapters make it very easy to dive in and read one or two complete chunks before deciding whether you want to commit to finishing it or not.
I might have given the work a higher rating, but it wasn't really the kind of thing I usually like. If you like your worlds dark(ish), your characters quirky, your fantasy unconventional, and your dialogue arch, you might find this really enjoyable. Even with my usual aversion to this kind of story, it was still interesting, and short, enough that I will go back and finish more of the story arcs later. If my opinion is considerably revised after reading the other character arcs and learning more about the mysterious Tribe, I will revise this review accordingly.
April 29th, 2:17AM
"You won't be able to sleep.. You'll be too busy reading!" permalink
Worm is a story about making hard chices, trying to do the right thing, and dealing with the consequences. Wheb Taylor gets superpowers, she thinks she'll get a heroic escape from her normal life. Instead she gets mistaken for a villain! When Taylor goes undercover to discover the mysterious backer of a local super powered gang, she becomes friends with them and learns disturbing secrets about the so called heroes. And Taylor begins to wonder if turning on her friends is really the right choice.
I really love this story. There are nuanced protagonists and antagonists, mysteries, plot twists, and most importantly really really good writing. However, Worm is obviously a work in progress. For instance, the author has stated that zie wants to make changes to the work (changing the beginning to better fit the tone of the rest of the story, re order events so that they fit a novel format rather than a chapter arc format, and re ordering the echidna arc to not have a two chapter long fight scene), but zie will not have time to do that until the story is over. The other big warning that I have to new readers is that Worm is dark, scary, and disturbing. Wildbow was a horror writer before this and it shows. I love it, but Worm is not for everyone.
February 6th, 5:47PM
"The strange made natural" permalink
After reading the first ten chapters of Tim Sevenhuysen's fourth Special People story arc, 'Hide and Seek,' my first impression remains – this is a well-written story that seems a lot more like urban fantasy than the superhero fiction I thought I was headed for. However, the talents of these special people are firmly in the superpower tradition, which goes to show just how close the two genres (or subgenres?) are.
I'll hasten to point out that the author never claims to write superhero fiction. The motto at the top of each page says 'Superpower fiction with a fistful of twists,' and superpowers don't have to belong to superheroes. Sevenhuysen's protagonist Naomi isn't foiling bank robberies and battling superheroes (not yet, anyway), she is trying to get away from people who want to hire or hurt her. I found the story a bit slow at times, but that could just be me. The characters and the world are engaging, and there are several descriptive passages that jump off the screen. The use of superpowers leaving 'the barest hint of that in-between sensation [...], like the slowly fading aftertaste from a strong drink'? Beautiful!
There are a few hiccups along the way. Naomi takes her jeans off twice after coming home, and although she fell backwards and skinned her elbows early in the story, she later finds scrapes on her knees. On a more basic level, I find myself wondering why so few are aware of the existence of special people in a world where, we find out, women with water powers are hired as gardeners. And when the super-powered Naomi meets what seems to be a telepath and a man who communicates with crows, why doesn't she suspect that they might be as special as her? The idea seems to be that there are only rumours about the existence of super-powered individuals, but if so, the police officer who sees Naomi appear out of thin air in chapter nine rather seems to UNsurprised. Surely an experience like that would send just about anyone to the psychiatrist?
Finally, one of the most fascinating parts of the story is how natural Sevenhuysen makes the utterly unnatural abilities of his characters seem. To Naomi, skipping six minutes and eighteen seconds into the future is as normal as raising an arm. Of course it is; she has done it all her life, and the reader understands that without any clunky exposition.
That's that. On to chapter eleven.
February 3rd, 1:53AM
"Interesting world." permalink
The story Aldain spins an interesting tale of an intriguing world (series of worlds, I believe).
The worldbuilding is engaging, the story of conquest interesting - I want to keep reading, to know more about what happened to the world, and what' going to happen in the future.
However, I had trouble engaging with the characters.
The story is written in first-person, and the viewpoint character seems cold and stilted. His compatriot shows more emotion than he does, but it is confusingly random emotion. That could be on purpose, but it makes it hard for me to get attached to anyone.
This could be a great series As it is, it's a decent series.
December 27th 2012
"An interesting start" permalink
This webfiction appears to be on hiatus, with no updates since September of 2010. It also is desperately in need of a "start here" link, and appears to be incomplete.
The incompleteness is frustrating, because the story appears to be building towards a point. The protagonist, a teenager who's friends with the wrong sort, mostly by accident, is likable, her problems are accessible, and the story seems to be going down a normal-teenaged-live cliff.
I want to watch her recover from the cliff. I want to know everything is going to turn out okay, because the narrator is so easy to attach to.
Parts of the story are clumsy, the tropes very common - but those tropes exist for a reason, and high school is full of common, painful mistakes. I'd like to see this story continued.
December 23rd 2012
"A Classic World, a Lovely Tale" permalink
As I sat down to write this, I read first the review by METraylor. I'm left with the feeling that everything I could say, they have said first and more eloquently.
Tapestry is a lovely anomaly in the world of webfiction. At turns sweet, dark, and dramatic, the story draws you in and keeps you reading, long part, in this reader's case, your bedtime.
Told in the form of a journal, it tells us of one woman's life, and through her, her family, and through her family, the country in which she lives. The feel of the setting is Asian, medieval in feel, in a war-torn nation; the narrator's husband is intimately involved in the war.
In tone, it reminds me of the best of the gothic romances - the narrator and her husband are of a middling well-to-do family, as far as I can gauge; they have servants and tutors as well as slaves. The narrator runs her household, worries about her husband and children, and tells a delightful and engrossing story all at the same time.
If I were more regular a reader, the irregular updating schedule might bother me. As it is, I come back and catch up every six months, and am un-bothered.
Try Tapestry yourself. But be forewarned - you will find this hard to put down.
December 21st 2012
"The most amazing thing I've read these past few months!" permalink
Caelum Lex is one of the most amazing reads I found on the internet. I'm a person who has difficulty reading stories from a computer screen, yet, I never had to force myself to read a single chapter of that particular story.
The pacing is made to keep the reader interested, the science fiction stays understandable and doesn't go too much into boring details and the characters and dialogues are very well developed. The action scenes are very well described and the illustrations give a very nice touch to a story that already makes you picture things in your head.
Every chapter leaves you yearning for more and makes you anticipate what is going to happen.
I like the story so much that when a new chapter is out, on fridays, I can't wait to be home and I read it in my techno class. I'm never disappointed.
November 25th 2012
"Great Series, Continued " permalink
This wed fiction series contains mild violence, sexual content, dynamic characters, angsty monster-teens, and some creepy stuff, dude. I have followed this web fiction since the original "Addergoole" and I must say that this new generation has captured my interest in the same way. The plot lines and characters can get a little confusing, but its easy to sort out after a time. It is most certainly worth a read; careful though, once you start for Addergoole, its hard to come back! Instead of writing another 18 words which would probably neither convince you nor serve any valuable purpose, go read the series and decide for yourself!
November 21st 2012
"Nothing too original or taxing – but an enjoyable read non the less." permalink
The first few pages I found lacked sufficient plot and tension and might have prevented me from pursuing this story further. Nevertheless, I persevered and the reward was an enjoyable read. If the intended audience is the Potterites I am sure there will be those who will see too many similarities. However, there is sufficient originality to appeal and recapture the imagination of those willing to read it with an open mind. There have been comments about the time taken to load the pages. I did not experience this problem so it would not appear to be a general problem.
October 2nd 2012
"Addergoole is Addicting" permalink
In Addergoole: Year 9 the author has expanded her range tremendously with even more main characters than ever before. The amazing part is that none of the characters suffer for it. Each character is still as rich and complex as ever, and the reader can't help but wonder what each will do next. This is the most creative story I've read in a long time. The characters feel so real, which is really the highest compliment I can pay. The mysteries in Addergoole will definitely have you on the edge of your seat. I personally can't wait to see what else Year 9 has in store for us. If you're looking for realistic people and reactions, excellent writing, mysteries around every corner, and magic, Addergoole: Year 9 is for you.
September 11th 2012
"Fun, but a little flat." permalink
I liked the format (another reviewer mentioned slow load times, but it was near-instant for me) and it's great to have good art and such in a free online story.
But... the characters are flat, and a little boring, the setting a little too contrived and lacking in originality, and the plot is mundane and predictable.
The writing in general is solid, but pedestrian. If I had a lot of spare time on my hands I might continue to follow this story, but as it stands there are so many things warring for my attention that I just don't have the patience to see it through.
August 22nd 2012
"an easy, enjoyable read" permalink
Kemia is a caring, if somewhat unexperienced young woman. At 16, she seems like she still has a child's imagination, but the ability to hear others' thoughts sets her apart from most of her adopted family. Faced with the threat of starvation if she doesn't hunt and go to the town, the other option might be dreaded marriage.
The first chapter packs a powerful message, and introduces me to the character in a great way. I felt immediately drawn into the storyline - I wanted to know if Kemia had family, or if she was hunting by herself, and why she had these urges to save small children at the threat of losing her own life. It also introduces the system of magic well - Armoured Dragons that can kill with a sound. I loved this idea of dragons, and I was drawn to the fact that it was the dragon's song which was dangerous.
I was worried that this story would disappoint me, but I found myself pleasantly surprised. The world building the author has put in, and the time she has obviously spent on this project is great. Webb has young children, and it reads into the text nicely. I tend to pick up how accurate a relationship the author has with children (although I've been wrong before) because sometimes the things expected of children in novels is unrealistic.
The dialogue was a little stilted for me, but I imagine that the later chapters and later drafts will improve this novel. Also, the details of the knife jolted me out of the narrative. I appreciated that the author wanted to get its importance across, but it just seemed awkward after the human contact that had just been displayed. I wasn't convinced by the introduction to the marriage storyline. For some reason the dialogue there just felt stilted, and I felt like more could have been done with it.
Webb is good at grabbing the reader's attention back though, as evidenced by my Ah moment! I was just thinking to myself, how inappropriate for Kemia to consider a haircut, and then her ma picks it up too! I wondered almost immediately whether Kemia was also able to do this, and the author didn't keep me waiting to guess.
I didn't know why there was a chapter titled 'Bonus material'. I think it could have fitted in nicely into the end of Chapter 1, or as Chapter 2. I don't always read bonuses, and so if I hadn't in this case I could have missed out on something that gave me more insight into Kemia's relationships with the other characters.
I did not like the way each sentence had its own line, or almost. I appreciated that it broke up the somewhat stream-of-counciousness narrative style, which can be overwhelming in large clumps of text. Also the format of publishing online can often be disruptive, and laying things out with lots of 'blank space' is a good thing.
There was a little much 'telling' rather than 'showing', but again I have hope that Webb will improve as the novel goes on. It is just so hard to get a good impression from a couple of chapters! I did fine myself at the end of Chapter 4 and thinking 'Oh no, that's it for another week!'
I got off on both a good foot and a bad foot for this novel. I was requested by the author to review her book, so that was exciting. I'm not sure I'll ever get over the excitement of someone actually asking me to read books for pleasure! The bad thing was that when I went to the Blurb of the book, I found it a little fragmented and I got confused about what the story was actually about. The good thing about this being an online book means that it is easy for the author to fix that! She has also recently updated the page.
I don't know whether I will keep reading this novel past the first couple of chapters, as I've never been particularly good at remembering to check. I do use GoogleReader religiously now to keep up with all the other reviewing blogs (and some makeup/nail art blogs) so it might have a chance. Not necessarily though, as I like to read my novels in a big hit. I find it useful to keep a novel on my laptop in order to read it wherever I am though, and without having the foresight to open the page before travelling, it isn't possible with this novel. It is certainly not a critique of Webb's writing.
I'd recommend this book for older children and teens at this stage. Unless the later (unpublished) chapters contain huge amounts of sex and violence, I don't think this will change. I don't think there was anything particularly contentious - just a good, easy read.
I was asked by the author to review this book, but I have not received any monetary compensation, or had her opinion influence the review I have given in any way.
July 29th 2012
"Breathing New Life Into Old Stories" permalink
When I started reading Tales of the Big Bad Wolf, I wasn't sure exactly what to expect, other than the obvious retelling of a fairy tale that many of us are familiar with, but I've been pleasantly surprised by what the author has done. The age-old character have been dusted off and each seems to have been given more of a depth and life of their own than they were really allowed in the old tale. I'm especially intrigued with what has been done to the wolf; I've always been more interested in stories that don't seem quick to demonize any particular character, and this is what the author seems to have achieved here. Also, I've been enjoying the site design, especially the artwork that goes along with each chapter.
Although I haven't read too far into the story yet (up through chapter 5c), I definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys stories based off of mythical or fairy tale references. I'm most interested to see where the story goes from here, especially what happens to the wolf and Red Riding Hood, and to see what the author does next.
June 26th 2012
"Magic in Progress" permalink
I've always been interested in Mages. Warriors can get very stereotypical in the Fantasy genre, and even the stereotypes of mages are a fascinating basis to start from. So one day, just on a lark, I typed in the phrase "last mage" into google to see what I would get: if it would be some kind of game or RPG stats for a variant class of spell-caster: because god knows there are a great many of those.
Instead, I found a story: the story that I am reviewing right now. In some ways perhaps it might not be fair for me to review Last Mage at this time. Even now that this story's time as a Web Serial Novel is over--that Andrew Eckhart continuously worked on for twenty chapters and many more parts later--it has and it is a work in progress.
The fact of the matter is that Andrew wrote this novel as a work in progress. From the very beginning, he made no secret of the fact. So yes. There were spelling and grammatical errors, but nothing that couldn't and can't be easily fixed. Some names changed. Some character motivations were expanded upon. He made this a very interactive process. He asked for feedback and he got it. Even now, he has even stated that he is still in the process of editing this work but we--and some people even more so with email subscriptions--got to see it evolve before our very eyes. It is a rare and good thing to see the creation and creative process of a novel and it is even more doubly so with regards to Last Mage.
So what is Last Mage? Last Mage is a story about a man named Elijah Valentine who gives a writer an interview with regards to how he saved the entire Earth and all of reality. It is nothing more and definitely nothing less than that. But I still feel as though I'm not doing it Justice or--should I say--I'm leaving Law out of it and only Justice. ;) Sorry I couldn't resist, if you read the story you will get my reference.
As for the feel of Last Mage: imagine Dr. Who, mixed with a little Sandman, StarGate, X-Files, and some superhero elements for good measure. Imagine following a team of very human--if not completely human--characters and beings and realizing that one person's story is only one focal point for an entire constructed world. This world can be unwieldy at times, but it is a work in progress and Andrew spends a lot of time, effort, and detail--particularly on the short stories he's included on his website--to create a really varied and complex world. I would even venture for you to consider that his world is--in some cases quite literally--multi-dimensional and events function in it on many different levels with the echoes of personal consequences resonating through each and every facet.
In some ways, this is a very straightforward story, but it is also very complex with enough moral ambiguity, unstated stories and philosophical quandary to be considered quite human. Overall, I see Last Mage becoming something great: if it isn't already and I just as I looked forward to reading each new part to the tale, I especially look forward to its sequel.
Andrew Eckhart is doing an excellent job because you know that a magical ritual--especially in fiction--is never ever quite finished.
June 13th 2012
"A must-read" permalink
This was the first original fantasy novel I ever read online, and it remains one of the best, and one of my favourites. The writing is rock solid technically, and the characterisation is incredibly sophisticated: in particular, the characterisation of Laurent through Damen's eyes is absolutely brilliant.
Freece also occasionally puts up "commentaries" of chapters, which blew me away with the level of consideration put into every language and characterisation choice.
The summary above doesn't really do the story justice: it is not only about hitting the slave kink (which it does), but evolves into a complex political fantasy as Damen navigates the labyrinthine Rabatian politics. The romance is exquisite, with some of the best-realised sexual tension I have ever read.
This is and will always be one of my favourite fantasy webnovels. Compulsory reading for fans of the genre.
February 28th 2012
"A little weak, but getting better" permalink
Gun to a Knife Fight is an interesting read. It's flawed, but it shows a lot of promise. A self-proclaimed noir novel, it follows a gritty private investigator who consults for the the police on an apparent murder-suicide that becomes linked to something larger and more sinister.
Much of the writing is dialogue. Anything more than a cursory description of the settings is rare, and that makes it hard to get sucked into the world of Detective Jacoby Stone. Often, all you have to go on to make the events play out vividly in your mind is...people talking.
The story suffers from some pacing issues. It's slow to start, although that time is used to wisely develop the characters. Once the story picks up, however, it moves too quickly, eliminating cooling-off scenes between important events. The beginning of the narrative is mostly smooth, and as it progresses it becomes jarring.
What frustrated me the most was the writer's frequent and unpredictable shifts in verb tenses. Often, sequences of events within the same paragraph will happen and be said to have happened...even though they all took place in the order in which they were described. But the writer did include a little disclaimer to say that he understands he's made some grammatical errors that he will eventually fix. I just hope he gets to those first!
The actual crimes at the center of the plot are interesting. It's difficult to be shocking and original when television is so saturated with cunning, depraved serial killers, but the murders in Gun to a Knife Fight are believably horrific and interesting enough to make me want to find out more about them.
The good news, I suppose, is that Gun to a Knife Fight appears to be heavily plot-driven and the plot is hands-down its strongest point. It's far from the best piece of web fiction I've read, but it offers just enough to keep me reading. There's a lot of potential here. It may turn out to be pretty damn good.
December 9th 2011
"Great stories." permalink
I found Special People almost by accident, and I am glad that I did.
There certainly has been a lack of good 'super powered' fiction in the past years. I like the idea of normal people going about their daily business, but with special abilities.
I don't think that you will be able to avoid the comparison to George RR Martin's Aces series, which started out well written, but quickly turned to 'pulp'.
Tim's stories are well written, and though it is still early in the story, his work so far has certainly left me wanting to read more.
I have really enjoyed reading the story so far, and am looking forward to the ongoing updates.
I encourage anyone interested in reading 'super' fiction to take a look at Special People.