Born to die and be born again, Gell, the Jellyfae must discover her strange connection to the horrible monsters called humans, that speak with words she understands, but seem to want nothing but her death. Driven by a desire for safety and freedom, she ventures forth to Tread the Sky, and finds more worlds than one.
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Gell the Jellyfae is a cutesy non-human lead that wants to explore and learn about the world, but can't due to her monster nature.
Then she's turned into a human, and it becomes a story about AI.
The story is a bit of a jumbled mess from there. Characters range between bland and irrationally hostile. The main "villain" decides Gell is the biggest threat to the world through illogical perceptions, the company that owns the game Gell exists in seems to want to delete her due to possible loss of profits, despite multiple mentions of the insane value an AI like Gell has. The type of story Artificial Gell seems to be going for is one of logic and philosophy, given the topic of AI. It fails to deliver on either of these fronts.
The problems keep adding up as more chapters are released, leaving me to believe the promising start to be nothing more than a fluke. The beginning of Artificial Gell is well executed, but unfortunately it gets thrown out the window. The potential was there, which is why I'm giving it a rating of 2.5 stars. It's a damn shame the story didn't work with its solid foundation. The theme of AI could have been expanded on once Gell had learned more of the game world and characters were fleshed out, since as things currently are she's just confused by everything and gets exposition on AI as an answer to all her questions.
Should you read Artificial Jelly? Probably not, unless you have nothing better to read.
Okay, so maybe not forever, but it did toss a wrench into my sleeping schedule.
This story is without a doubt one of the cutest things I’ve ever read on this site. The fact that its delivered with a quirky prose that’s not riddled with mistakes, and at a pace that is slow and yet not meandering is just the cherry on top.
Speaking of things that look like cherries if you squint. Gell is, without doubt, the most huggable protagonist ever.
Honestly, just give it a read.
As much as I like the story and the concept, time, and time again I've felt that the character interactions are getting more fake as we go. I find it very offputting how characters just immediately start talking about something when there should be exposition, reference, or some kind of build-up. It feels like conversations are very forced and just aren't real. I'm not sure how to explain it, but here are some exerts from the story.
“After, perhaps. Alright, let's find out what to make of you,” he said before clapping a hand on my shoulder.
All of a sudden, the entire world changed. Completely. There was no fade to black. No loss of control like when I’d entered the city either. One moment we were in the builders guild, and the next we were in a sunlit meadow. The sky was bright and inviting, which was drastically different from the cloudy weather of Variak.
A waterfall was cascading into a river a little ways down the sunny path and a pleasant looking wooden table was erected a few paces off the path.
“Sorry about that. Really, about all of this,” he said. “But some of the questions I need to ask you are a bit… personal. I’d rather everyone in the builder’s guild back there not know.”
“Wh...what? Where… how did we? Can you teleport?” I asked. I’d never seen an adventurer who could teleport before. Everyone in the Builder’s Guild had been giving this man loads of attention though. Even more than me.
I wanted to be angry but I was feeling more shocked and confused than anything. How did this man just… yank us into a new location? Why? I didn’t even know him.
“Well, let me get right to it then. How long have you been playing Tread the Sky?” he asked simply.
I scowled. “Playing? I don’t know what you mean. I’ve… as far as I can remember, I’ve never really played anything before. What’s Tread the Sky? Isn’t that when you explore somewhere that no one has ever been?”
If you noticed after Gell asks what happened, how did she get teleported etc, the dev completely ignores her and continues asking questions. Now you might say it probably just means the Dev is a prick, but later we know that Fae knows exactly what happened, where she is, and who these people are etc. It's like we missed a conversation between these two for no reason. On its own, this doesn't really mean anything. But it happens all the time, it's so weird and for me ruins the 'realism' of characters and the experiences of Gell.
Here's another example, when the Developer Donna invited Iron Crock and Amy to Gell's prison, there was no talk about their appearance, them being summoned, them being surprised at where they were etc. They just immediately jumped onto Gell and crying about being sorry. Obviously, they are sorry for what they did, but the interaction just feels so forced it's offputting. At least have descriptions of them being bewildered to find themselves here, ask who is Donna, is Gell okay, stuff like that.
I really like the story, but for a story literally about an AI becoming as intelligent as a human, the humans don't even feel human. I can only give a story like this a 3.5-star rating since the entire premise is focused on the characters. The VR game they are in is repeatedly viewed as garbage, boring quests, bad reviews, basic AI dialogue. The only reason it's so 'popular' is that it's the next step in real virtual reality.
You should also read Bonemaws review, he pretty much says what I was trying to get to. The character's conversations and arguments are just simply illogical, they just make no sense and they are simply used to force a story that the author wants. The main villain red is a prime example of this, everything she does feels like it would literally never happen for a character such as her. Let's not even talk about how she became one of the top dogs of the game while still being 20 levels below the highest level players. (Even if she has huge dex because of Gell, it doesn't matter because the high-level players also got broken from their builds etc). Red will cry saying she is absolutely sorry for what she did, which is understandable, but then the next second decide to spawn kill Gell and torture her because she believes Gell, the AI hates her and will try to kill her family, FOR SPAWN KILLING HER CONSISTENTLY. Like what? It just makes no bloody sense, and it feels like the author just forces Red to try to kill Gell to force some kind of plot, while also giving the readers some combat, which Gell SHOULD HAVE LOST BTW, but somehow kills Red.
Anyways, characters are just illogical, especially Red. I've been thinking about it more and decided to drop my review to 3 stars. I'll continue reading, but I doubt it will really improve.
Edit: this review is outdated at this point, it does apply to like the first half of book 1, but beyond that there has been a large change that this review does not accurately apply anymore.
Plus book 1 also has been mostly taken down for Kindle, so beware if you plan to read this. (doesnt affect the rating in my opinion as the author is free to do such with their work)
Ouch, this story hurts a lot more than i thought, i actually felt bad for the MC, it is also a lot better than i initially expected, im not surprised anymore at this story being on the first page best rated, it wholly deserves it all!
It just has so much emotion, which is a rather rare thing to find on this site, the author has written this story exceedingly well in that aspect. And the rest of the writing is also great, aside from the side chapters, wasnt too interested in the one side chapter so far, but that may be since Gell's story is so much more interesting.
I also like the idea of a dungeon mob gaining sentience, with some additional powers to go with it all, those scenes involving the players were fun, aside from Red Thorn, may she be slaughtered!
Seriously a story worth reading, as early as it may be, it certainly is showing a lot of promise! With a skilled author it seems, i hope the author can keep this story as good, or somehow even improve on all that!
But end in a whimper. I found the last few chapters very disappointing. They felt rushed with an ending that left me cold. The writing is solid and Gell is a great character but the story seems lacking. The ending is so abrupt and unfulfilling where there seem to be fertile grounds to write a much longer story. I can't recommend it.
As you know, all fictions need to have a certain level of eloquence for them to be readable. Proper grammar, nice syntax, good spacing, etc. This has that. It flows nicely, and nothing is awkward.
Next, little has been revealed about the story so far. However, Materia-Blade seems to have decided to pace it iut instead of choosing to info dump it into a few chapters. Fantastic.
I will say one thing, and that is that the author makes one of the characters easy to dislike. Which is a good thing! This means that they have a good grasp of character design. Hopefully future characters will also be crafted in such a way.
Strange how this is on the first page of best rated but not on trending (as of now). Hmm
And so is Gell. Great protagonist, great voice. The set up is fun- an NPC jellyfae is special and understands speech and human words, but doesn't understand she's in a game. She finds interest in the humans, the players, but quickly sours on them when they kill her family and want to kill her. And yet they still interest her.
Grammar and storytelling is lovely and cute, characters are a highlight.
Every chapter so far has been compelling, if a bit short. The setup is interesting, MC is not as generic as it might initially seem, and the conflict seems to develop naturally, if so far slowly.
Materia-Blade has the experience to pull off a long-lasting fic, and so far, he seems to have put in the work to get there.
(as of "Treasures", i.e. chapter 15)
Gell is a dungeon mob in some VR-MMORG. But not just any ordinary mob, because somehow she overcame her programming and gained sapience. You know, with independent thoughts and feelings, something a computer just can't have? Bodily and emotionally hurt by the players repeatedly slaughtering their way to the boss room, she chafes against the Instinct that sends her on the ever-same two-hour patrol route and keeps her confined to the dungeon. Poor thing. Will she be able to escape to the strange outside (the one with the far-away blue ceiling) and live a happy life? Or will she break free and take revenge on the cruel gamers?
Style/Grammar: This story is told in first-person style from Gell's point of view (and two short scenes in third person from somebody else). The descriptions of the surroundings might seem a bit simple but that is caused by the MC's very limited initial knowledge; those descriptions of actions and Gell's inner feelings are very good, and the prose has a vividness that draws you even more into the story. Grammar and spelling are excellent.
Story: Not much has really happened so far, just some one-sided conversations with other mobs, a number of dungeon runs by players, and exploring the collateral damage this all had on our MC. But that already painted a more realistic picture than other stories accomplish in a whole book. We can't yet say where the author will lead us but I think we will gladly follow. The pacing is rather slow and deliberate, but the plot is very solid and the hurts, which the readers have to share with the MC, come quickly.
Characters: There are only two characters seriously presented in the story so far. The MC Gell starts out as a small independent glimpse breaking out of a narrow programmed software routine, but over time we'll see a whole personality emerge; We're not fully there yet though, but taking large strides. Gell starts out with that innocent naivety that is so painful to watch for every caring person who knows what the world has in store for innocent minds that leave their mother's hand for the first time. The other person likewise starts out as a simple archetype but by chapter 14 cracks are already beginning to form in that façade. The other characters are only simple background faces. That's not a bad thing, they just haven't been needed for more than that yet. (preliminary subscore)
Other rating categories:
Suspense (higher is often better, but it depends of the type of the story; can be tied to predictability): (3?)
Predictability (lower is usually better but too low is bordering on madness): (3?)
Fun (do I laugh out loud while reading or at least chuckle? A low score is not bad, just different): jumping between 1.5 and 3.5
Happiness (does this story create happy feelings? NOT a higher-is-better score): jumping between 1 and 4, depending on the scene
Sexual content: 0
Most relevant story tags: VR, GameLit, Non-Human lead. And I hope the 'Tragedy' one that is listed will not be explored too much in later chapters.
This lovely story shines a light on an issue gamers never think about. What if the in-game mobs, which we slaughter by the thousands for XP and a chance of loot, were not just bits and bytes but had feelings? Would YOU enjoy being forced to stay in the same place forever, painfully killed again and again for the stuff you drop on death? 'Artificial Jelly' manages to turn your view on monster farming completely around and will have you never kill a virtual entity again (okay, probably not, tomorrow we'll be back to grinding. But at least for today). All in all, a cute and heartwarming story that is written very well. But you shouldn't read it right before you plan a dungeon raid with your online friends, because it will hit you right in the feels.