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Nic Tutt is a good student. He excels at all subjects. But his education serves only one purpose—to gain entry into the Ransom School.
Ransom is the most prestigious school in the country. Its alumni are destined to become the future leaders of Ranvar. Politicians, statesmen and, in some exceptional cases, mages. Only the brightest and the best get into Ransom.
But Nic doesn't care about any of that. He isn't determined to get into Ransom to further his prospects or better his career opportunities. He has another reason to want to enter Ranvar's most famous school.
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The Good Student is a really well-written story, with an interesting premise and characters, and a great first 500 pages, but the plot pacing really slows and gets scattered.
The premise of the story is that a working-class boy gets accepted to the most prestigious school in the nation by virtue of being an excellent student and highly intelligent. The early plot basically follows his attempts to succeed in school as well as his attempts to rekindle his friendship with his noble-born childhood friend.
The writing style and characters are the greatest strengths of this story. The story is really well-written, with some of the best prose and flow on RR, and this writing style really enhances the story and adds depth to the setting and character interactions. The characters are also well done, being complex people subtly shown to have further depth in their secrets and backgrounds.
The early plot of the story is great. It moves at a good pace, is interesting, and enjoyable to follow, and continues this way for most of the first book. Towards the end of the first book, events lead to a long arc that is glacially paced and quite repetitive, while still well-written.
After that, the plot kind of loses focus, and seems to become somewhat scattered. Part of this can be attributed to the fact that the magic system is not well-developed, and is frankly quite a boring one.
At this point, I somewhat lost interest in the story, and the philosophical slant it took really wasn't for me.
Overall, while I don't think I'd recommend this story, I can definitely say that it has some great writing.
Gave up after reaching Chapter 40. The story had so much potential...
There are other reviews far more detailed than mine, so I won’t go into too much detail. This Web Fiction is a flop because of its glacial pacing and boring characters. I get why the main character makes the decisions he does, but he is extremely boring. The other characters suffer by proxy. There is hardly any depth to the magic system; actually, scratch that, there is NO depth because the main character has no motivation to learn magic. However, we do get to read countless pages on historical figures, battles, and papers through the main character’s perspective. This ties into the pacing problems.
However, the writing itself is fantastic. Absolutely phenomenal. I would argue it is in the running for having the best prose on RoyalRoad. I love how he author synthesizes sentences and the flow of ideas from paragraph to paragraph. The author can be very witty in places as well.
I’m writing this review because I’m so sad and frustrated that a story with this much potential falls so flat. World building is great and all, but characters and the actual story matter more.
Great to binge read, the early story rockets along. An interesting main character, and substantial problems/mysteries that have to be overcome while the world building is fleshed out. All in a harry potteresque magic academy. If i had to give a score for the early story - pre chapter 30 - it'd be 4 out of 5. Worthy to be published material.
That being said, now the story is starting to run into problems. The first main confrontation is over, with an ambiguous ending: Think of it as book 1 ending, and book 2 beginning. Only, looks like book 2 is going to be a continuation of the same storyline.
... and frankly, that's a problem.
The main character has lost the mystery/goal that was driving the plot foward, and now we're getting slice of life chapters as they wait for the inevitable plot progression from the fallout. I hate to say it, but it's not very interesting. We needed some additional plot point to drive the story. A rival school, finding a fairy in the back garden, a spreading black ring from the site of the confrontation. A mystery, or an interesting tidbit to open up the world, or drive the character to other destinations.
Just seems like the story is going to trickle out to the demon realm, which hasn't been interesting to date, with the few side character trips to it. And the main character is starting to grate a bit now that he IS the top dog in school. With flippant thoughts about how he isn't even bothering to correct the teacher in class, to show how speshal he is.
Without persecution, and when he's top dog he's kind of a dick.
Early story was so good that it'd be a real shame, if this work kind of slouched it's way to the same fanfic quality of his other published work. At the moment the only standout character is the librarian, who I'm not even sure if she has a name? The friends group kind of just blend together. I tried keeping track of them and had no luck.
Doesn't help that the other potentially interesting character is absent from the main group for story purposes.
The first chapter I was a bit hesitant finding out the motivation of the MC to succeed. It was painfully generic & pathetic but I stuck with it & for the first twenty chapters it delivered some entertainment.
However the longer I read, the more obvious the major flaw of this story became, the female characters, they are either one note or complete cows. They spend most of the time brow beating the MC who is a spineless wimp who tolerates & seems to go out of his way for more female abuse. It's like he's a Japanese MC, incapable of telling a woman that her shit does indeed stink and she should just shut up and go away.
This is one of those stories that start explosively with all the ingredients for greatness, crafted with details that make it attractive to a wide audience: teasing bits of what promised to be expansive worldbuilding, fun dialogue, a modest protagonist striving to do his best in fresh situations, and unrequited love? What's not to love. The only two minor complaints I had at the start were the one dimensionality of the Ransom students (entitled brats one and all?) and the limp, doormatty passivity of the protagonist.
However, the real test is whether characters and their choices stand the test of time. It's extremely difficult to maintain a plot trajectory that pieces together a coherent, interesting narrative given a cast of characters with distinctly different agendas (think about the scene where Nic goes "Miss Delcroix" - sublime). However, in recent chapters, many characters and events have lost this sense of continuity and spontaneity where you internally go "wow! that's so unexpected but I can see how things built up to this" or "huh, I really want to see how their dialogue here affects things later."
I won't bother with every case so I'll focus on one: the inconsistency with Dizzy's dynamic with Nic. One chapter, she suddenly decides to visit bedridden Nic, presumably throughout the night (besides why? this scene was a major anticlimax, regrettably removing a lot of the mystery and anticipation that was previously instilled in readers wondering how they'd reunite-and hey look Simole found out again). Then the next chapter, she's cold with him and Nic's response suggests he mysteriously had rapid short term memory loss of her visit and warmth the night before. A bit later you have Nic's outburst which is uncharacteristic of his portrayal so far and needlessly melodramatic. Characters are acting unnaturally, mostly because there's insufficient development and fleshing out to adapt these rapid jumps and partly because the pacing is much faster in the past few chapters.
But that is not an appropriate reason for the 1/2 star review and never should be. It's quite likely mooderino will recover because he's an excellent writer. No, he lost a reader and loyal voter today because of his contemptuous treatment of my critical comments, going so far as to censor/delete them because he saw it as "rude and hostile." I leave my comments below because there's no freedom in the comment section. I believe everything was constructively oriented, but I may be biased so I leave them here for posterity. I only have one excerpt from mooderino's 1st reply.
MOODERINO'S REPLY #1:
It's jarring because it wasn't mentioned before. It was mentioned before. Oh yes, but still, it's jarring because I don't think he would have mentioned it.!!!!!?????
I know when you have a feeling something's off it's hard to change it retrospectively, but you made the mistake, not me. When that happens so clearly, it's churlish to go 'okay, but still...' and exasperating to deal with even if you're trying to be genuine in your criticism.
CENSORED COMMENT #1 TO ABOVE:
If it's a spoiler thing, then okay. But the way Nic's reticence in the previous chapter was written did not read in any way as purposeful misleading. That's what I wanted to point out. He could definitely feel guilty about not sharing everything when he had the chance, but as I said above, there's not much basis for feeling so guilty for not sharing all his vague suspicions when he had no reason to suspect his friends were relevant to his 'accident'.
I don't think any of my points are just a matter of taste. I'm only pointing out any little details that potentially break the story's consistency or fluidity.
Also, I didn't say I don't like the jokes; they're quite funny in the right situation. I was just remarking that upping its frequency may reduce its kick.
On point 2, that's valid. Regardless, it still presupposes their ability to read through a *roomful* of books posthaste and find the needle. It's possible but it's nearing one extreme of suspension of disbelief.
On point 5, your sarcasm notwithstanding, I'm not being churlish: the point still stands. As I said above, it's a very sudden jump from telling about their history to Nic sharing his deepest desires that even he's barely aware of. For the reader who isn't aware of what exactly "history" entails, it's a disorienting jump from Nic's friendship with Dizzy to Nic sharing that he's in love with Dizzy. Again, I expect Davo is good at reading into these situations, but there's a missing link in the causal chain from a storytelling POV. It's not about what I think or what you think. The context of a criticism changing does not suddenly make it invalid.
I know you must deal with entitled critics all the time, but there's no need to be patronizing. Everything I've written, I've given tenable support for.
CENSORED COMMENT #2:
That's because they were good points that you didn't address (the only thing you directly addressed was Nic's ambitious plan) and instead chose to disparage without expending the same effort to explain or refute.
I only agreed with one of your points, and partially at that. I don't know about you, but I've found it is quite normal to partially agree but still find faults in something.
And oh yes, I can tell you think it's all incredibly obnoxious. But I'm not here to criticize for criticism's sake or even being pushy. These are just the type of things that any professional editor will bother to point out (I know because I've been there) because an author usually can't maintain the same distance to spot. I only bothered with this at all because I think the story's been great and I only wanted to see it excel.
If you don't want to see these types of comments, then just leave a note on the bottom of each chapter to the effect of "I know best, don't question me."
CENSORED COMMENT #3:
I can see how tiring it must be to respond to all these walls of text and acknowledge that it's not feasible to address everything. But I hope you recognize that when people bring up the same points, it's not a coincidence, but a pattern.
For instance, it's not always about answers coming in the forseeable future, but how the build-up to those answers are qualified in the present.
Overall, there was a clear decline in quality in this chapter and readers like Sir Fury and I just wrote to let you know. Though if you don't read it (especially when it's well formulated), you can't be snooty about it *taps finger to temple*.
Thank you to mods for recovering my comments.
So, I can't actually bring myself to say I dislike this story, or the characters in it, but rather I hate the relationships that some of them have.
Mainly, Delcroix is a massive ass to Nic and their relationship is toxic to say the very least.
I found it rather revolting how Nic getting together with her was framed as a good thing. Like Ashok says in his review, Nic is a bloody doormat when it comes to his crush and...
Eh, guess I just wanna say I'm a Simone fan.
Read up to chapter 37.
The novel starts extremely strong with a lot of potential. The quality of the language of writing is also above average for RR.
Unfortunately, the novel fails for a long time because of its characters. These are extremely flat, the only person in the novel with a little character build up is the MC. Unfortunately, this will also be destroyed in the later course of the novel because the MC (and others) no longer act plausibly within their range of characters.
It is almost impressive how quickly the novel changed from a very good start to a catastrophically bad one (in my seventh).
(excuse my bad English)
The characters are by far the best thing in this story. One understands where they're coming from and if they're human they act like it. There is of course a shounen character but he's still a teenager and thus flawed like one.
The reason why I'm giving a review is to warn people. The first 30 chapters (basicall 2/3 of book 1) are great. I'd have paid good money to buy an ebook like that, however the story starts to meander and attempts to be high brow, extremely clever and philosophical. It might be the latter but nothing else. If one wants to be clever one should do it subtly. It wasn't badly writte per se, it merely detracted from the story and in my opinion was a smelling pile of shit.
So to the author, "Next time, don't try to be Tolkien. Maybe try a Sanderson."
Oh, and the magic sucks but that I admit can be debated.
MC of this story is pretty similar to the one in another work by the same author, minus the cynicism. If you are familiar with the author and don't like his other pieces, don't let it dissuade you from reading this one. This is a planned story and it shows in both the pacing and the quality. Here are some reasons why you should give this story a shot.
1. Beautfiful Prose. It's difficult to describe in a short paragraph just how good the writing is in this story, easily on par with major published works. The author is obviously well practiced in the tools of his trade.
2. Stellar world building. You won't find any info dump chapters in this story. Lore and information about the setting are revealed gradually and meshed naturally with the plot.
3. Consistent characters with relateable motivations in a believable universe. Secretly OP broody MC that reveals his powers to put the beatdown on TOTAL JERKS (TM) while chicks fall all over him? None of that here. Another cheap plot hook I see in these types of stories is authors having the story *** on their characters for the sake of cheap drama. Orphan who had his entire village slaughtered by evil overlord? *yawn*. This story completely avoids this trope. MC has a fairly stable home life, the lords of the land aren't raging assholes (any more than you'd expect), and society allows for some merit based upward mobility in a pseudo-feudal system.
4. Natural and well paced progression. What do I mean by this? One of the major hooks in this story is the "magic" system. So far the reader only has enough information to make inferences, but it seems like it building up to be something science based. While birth is one way to access it, the "mages" in this story seem to be selected by academic ability. Our MC isn't slinging fireballs straight out of the prologue and there is every indication that he will have to earn his way through the plot. No mysterious old man with cheat training, no heavenly fruits, no genetic lottery, no xian xia bullshit(cultivation is a plague on fiction. BATTLE GOD ULTIMATE DRAGON JOHN CENA), just a normal base human with brains and a good work ethic.
5. Well excectuted ?sort-of-romance? I cannot begin to describe how tired I am of cringy, self-aggrandizing MC/pseudo SI's who think they are god's gift to women spouting their juvenile insecurities and obviously incomplete understanding of basic human nature. Just when I was about to abandon all hope and fling my keyboard through the window, Mooderino arrived to save the day with his beautiful story. Again, I will fall back to point #3, every interaction in this story is, above all else, BELIEVABLE and CONSISTENT with the characters and backgrounds.
I can go on and on about how great the execution of this story is and how many greating writing techniques the author is using, but I'll stop here. If you are looking for curbstomp MC's with the depth of a puddle on a sunny day plowing his way through a cardboard setting, then there are hundreds of other "works" on this site. If you want excellent prose, beautiful world building, and well developed characters, you won't regret reading this story.
edit: my saltiness at some of the stuff I have been reading has reached critical levels and erupted all over this review. That aside, read this story, seriously. This is the gem that makes trawling through all the garbage worth it.
A good student. Five chapters in and I'm already hooked. The author's other stories are really good and I recommend you try them if you're fine with a story SANS OP. But this one I'm afraid is something I beg you to try. As long as you can get past the LACK of ooh's and wow's magic and action, I believe you will find it a good snack you won't regret trying. This story gave me what I missed in stories since a long time, the feeling I used to get before sci-fi,fantasy or lit-rpg were a-thing(I love these genres mind you) thank you mooderino. (P.S. I might have become a little emo and inflated this story a little too much(?) But its my honest feelings and I want to see this story reach the top.