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In the year 2057, the world has become a corporate-run utopia for the super-rich, and a hellhole for all the rest.
Catherine 'Cat' Leblanc is an orphan that is about as far from super-rich as one can be. When the Incursion alarms start blaring and the sky starts raining hungry xenos, it's just another blemish on an already piss-poor afternoon.
A cyberpunk magical-girl alien-invasion LitRPG.
It’s exactly as wild as it sounds.
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I really like the story but the thing that I feared happened. I already read a lot of stories from the author (more like all of them) and I know that he usually makes the chapters incredible short (around 1k words with some of them going to 3k very rarely) and to make things worse he uploads them like a salesman instead of an amateur writer looking for readers (Which is ok, he needs money to have free time to write after all). What I mean with that is that he uploads 1 chapter each week based on what his patreons vote. Sometimes he writes more, sometime he writes less BUT he will just release 1 chapter each week for 2 or 3 stories. There's also the problem that the moment that his patreons stop paying for a specific story he drops it like yesterday trash xD which is a shame. So he also has A LOT of incomplete stories.
The good thing is that, at least with Cinammon Bun and Stray Cat, he is uploading a lot of chapters and doing those "events" were he uploads one chapter each day for a specific amount of time. The bad thing and what I feared is that all of them are incredible short and all those chapters amount to around 34k words more or less which is almost nothing xD Add to that the slow progression of this story (there are chapters were the MC only buys a pistol and that's ALL that happens) and in one afternoon I managed to read through all the chapters in RoyalRoad at the moment with nothing much happening in the story. I'm sad.
Now, about the story. I thought that it was about a cat that managed through a "system" to become a "samurai" in a futuristic setting. Well...that's wrong. By "stray cat" the author means orphan and the "samurai" is the designation that someone wins by being a "defender of humanity" against and invasion of aliens that are like the Tyranids from Warhammer 40k. The story is good but, as I said, incredible slow and with really short chapters. After around 30 chapter we have just seen the introduction and are still in the start of the story. (As in the hero is still trying to get the Cypress Stick still)
Well, this isn't what I expected to stumble over, but I have to admit I'm more than a little enthused about it. The setting is a distinctly cyberpunk future, with malware packed into even official programs and large corporations slapping their name on anything and everything for advertisements. Seven chapters in, and it's already a pretty significant departure from stories like Cinnamon Bun or Love Crafted, but it hits the ground running. The protagonist being a crippled orphan who picked up responsibility for the rest of the poor forgotten kids at the orphanage, and who's best friend cheerfully navigates around on crutches, builds an instant sense of misfit status and a (true to authorial form) oddly endearing little community. There's also a very immediate sense that even in a world with incredibly advanced technology, they've been swept under the rug and forgotten. Oh, and terrifying aliens are regularly falling out of the sky. That's an important factor too.
Honestly, there isn't too much material to directly review at this point, but if you take the time to read the first few chapters I doubt that you'll be disappointed. The protagonist falls right into the 'Jaded but good-hearted' box, without the slightest bit of manufactured tone, and it meshes with the cyberpunk setting perfectly. Not to mention, there's a single chapter with action, and it charges headfirst into desperate brutality. It's a bit of a leap from the innocent monstrosity of Love Crafted, or earnest effort of Cinnamon Bun, but like I've already said, perfect for the current setting.
So, this may rather early in the story's life cycle to write much of a review, but considering the quality of writing that RavensDagger has already put up on this website, I feel pretty confident in recommending the story off of nothing more than the currently posted chapters.
and the author knows it understood, strutter. Sung to the tune of Strutter, by Kiss.
Really can't emphasize enough how much I enjoyed the premise itself. Shades of the Scourged Earth, but unique enough to still stand out as fairly original. It's the kind of stuff I wish that I could come up with.
Grammar was good enough I ddn't notice any errors.
As of chapter 27 you've got maybe 2 and half characters with depth, and several cardboard characters to bounce them off of. Still hands down better than most genre fiction, paid or not.
My biggest complaint is pacing. Without spoilering, by analogy, in most stories going to the grocery store to get stuff to make tacos would be a chapter. Here I have a super short chapter about deciding I want tacos. A chaptlet about travel to the store. A chaptlet about picking the stuff from the shelves, a chaptlet about buyng the stuff. IF you wait till the author drops 4 or 5 chapters and read them together as 1 chunk it's not bad, but if you take the chapters one at a time there is a lack of flow and context to the story that really breaks immersion.
Technically speaking, this story is pretty solid; good grammar, comprehensible action, non-wooden dialog, the rpg elements aren't obtrusive. Beyond that, it's shallow.
The characters lack more than basic characterization, and the cyberpunk setting is utterly superficial, only existing as passive scenery against which fights happen. Injustices, political forces, subcultures, communities and more are regularly pointed out, and then nothing further is said about them or done with them, they're just set-dressing.
Tl;dr this is a perfectly readable litrpg, but an abject failure of a cyberpunk story that aggressively says nothing about anything
Pretty good twist on the normal System plot, both in the setting of a futuristic distopia and in the main character by an author whose already proven he has great writing skills. The dialogue is believeable, the fights thrilling, the cliffhangers wrenching, and the characters sympathetic. Can't recommend more, and I promise that you'll be entertained if you give this story a try.
Cool story but chapters are way to short, by the time you start getting used to it the chapter ends. The frequency helps mitigate that a bit but it's still stops you from immersing yourself. Highly recommend if you're going to read this to Wait till multiple chapters are out before reading. Not good for chapter to chapter reading
So the first volume is a fun, engaging, interesting read. I enjoyed reading it and the world building is well done. The AI is fun and you can see it adjusting to the personality of the main character. The grammer and spelling is good with no issues that caused me to have to reread anything to understand. I enjoyed the tech and tech trees that came up along with how crap the world is with corps running everything. Good cyberpunk all around.
Now the reason I dropped the series. The MC is horny 100% of the time. This was acceptable in the first volume since I took it as a defense mechanism for the MCs crappy life and crappy situation. It was there, but wasn't the plot. The plot was survival and then adjusting to her new Samurai responsibilities. This was fun. Now in volume 2, it seems like the plot became the MC just trying to get in certain people's pants, but events keep getting in the way. There was a whole chapter of just her and her girlfriend going at it. I was hoping this would get her to tone it down a bit since she is now safe, with her lover and loved ones, and she is rich now. I was wrong. Instead it made her more annoying and more horny.
That is her character now. A horny girl that an AI keeps dressing up with cat related stuff any chance it gets. Turns out the MC is a flat character that has conflicting characteristics. She is both thrifty and loose with points. She will horde points in one chapter then take the whole next chapter spending those points on stuff that is wasteful. She is a lesbian, but not tolerant of straights(ex. she teases any new female character about doing them or them wanting to do her, then seems offended when some look at her wierd. If a straight guy did this to every female character, it's just as annoying.). Wants to be sneaky, but not really. Very frustrating that she wastes points on sneaky equipment and seems to want to corner that niche in the Samurai market, but a chapter later decides nah its boom boom time. She is suppose to be caring because orphans, but she never seems happy when near the orphans. She acts more like an estranged dad who only comes around for the mother with money for the kids to keep the family happy. This wouldn't be so bad if it was actually on purpose and meant to be her character, but there are paragraphs saying otherwise.
In conclusion, I hate the MC.
As pure action gun-porn, this story isn't bad, but it falls flat when it comes to anything other than "Cat finds alien(s), cat blows up alien(s), repeat".
At the start of the story, Cat is introduced with a whole cast of other characters -- her family and friends. Since getting her powers and going off to fight aliens, there have been zero interactions with any of them. It's been ~50 chapters. She also has had pretty much zero angst about ditching her friends and family to go blow up aliens so she can get stronger. Zero lasting angst (or celebration) about getting a super-prosthetic for her missing arm. Character-wise, Cat is basically a sentient gun turret.
This is particularly bad for a story that bills itself as a magical girl story. A magical girl story needs action, sure. But that should be interspersed with slice of life. The point of magical girl stories is the contrast between mundane life and fighting the forces of evil. Without the mundane life sections, this is just a litrpg action romp with a female MC.
Which is fine, I guess. The litrpg system is extremely loose, and is almost entirely used as an excuse for Cat to have infinite guns. Which is fine, I guess. But 'Just shoot things until they die and sometimes use bombs instead' isn't a very interesting litrpg progression.
And as far as the action goes. It's perfectly well-written. However, Cat has maaaybe once been in any actual danger. People who aren't Cat have been in danger, but as Cat is the only character who has any real screen time or characterization (as anemic as it might be), the peril of random side characters doesn't really register as important.
It's not that Cat is overpowered, even. Rather, the enemies she's been fighting are pathetic. The aliens we've seen so far seem to exist almost entirely to be mowed down by Samurai. There are hints that there will be nastier aliens later, but we're 62 chapters in, and we've seen nothing of them.
So the action isn't even "OP protagonist mows down somewhat less OP enemies". It's "Medium-weak protagonist (by the standards of the world) mows down even weaker enemies". Which simply isn't interesting, regardless of how well-written it is.
As far as the actual writing, I have no complaints. Grammar and style are good.
But grammar and style can't carry a story. And given that neither the magical girl aspects, nor the litrpg aspects nor the action aspects do either, Stray Cat Strut falls flat with nothing to carry it.
I'm not a stranger to Ravensdagger's work, but for some reason this one managed to slip through the cracks for me, until now. I blitzed through roughly a hundred and seventy chapters in about two days.
(I know, it says I reviewed at chapter 16. That's chapter 16 of book three.)
The setting is your average cyberpunk dystopia, except for the aliens.
There's two kinds - the weird plant-hivemind ones that drop from orbit and eat people, and the distant 'Protectors' who, instead of killing aliens themselves, have decided to empower select few individials to defend humanity with what amounts to a technosorcerous gun shop.
These individuals are called 'Vanguard' by the good aliens, and 'Samurai' by eveyone else, because it's not cyberpunk without some form of japanese influence.
Go ahead and give it a read, it's well worth it.
Delve into the cyberpunk goodness! It's like Cyberpunk 2077 meets the Reaper Invasion of Mass Effect 3. Professional grade writing makes it easy to get lost in rhe story with no suspension breaking elements. I'm actually planning to buy a half dozen copies of the paperback of book one, so I can get some friends to read it. The charachterization is excellent. The worldbuilding is solid and engaging without delving into scenery-wank like some authors do. Pacing is fast enough to stay engaging without risking burnout.