They Called Me MAD
I was in my garage when the space elves addressed the whole world. They didn't call themselves space elves, of course. Most humans struggled to pronounce Khjurhnalva, so we opted for the easier version. They had a message for us: forces that had eradicated their species' males were now en route to Earth. Hungry for our resources, the alien hordes would annihilate everyone that stood in their way. The space elves offered us access to the System and asked for very little in return. After all, cooperation was vital to the survival of both our species.
I, Mathew Alexander Dunphy, know all of the above is bullshit. I saw the truth with my own eyes and heard it from their beautiful, delicate mouths. No one believes me, though. They call me mad.
What reason could the space elves have to lie?
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The beginning was intriguing, with MC and his friends watching the transmission about the aliens. Alas, then we are subjected to 'happy coincidence' allowing MC to discover the truth about the situation at the very beginning, not leaving anything interesting to discover.
Interactions between the characters are awkward, with MC being the only thinking person and everyone else being dumb. It gets even more awkward when the girl is introduced and we are outright told the MC and his friends are incels, with some mentions of their problems with women.
Apparently some pylons in the sky are interacting with people's motivations and making them believe the aliens and don't question anything, but MC avoids that by wearing tinfoil hat, which protects him from a godlike level of alien technology. Even though the system doesn't have any problem with reaching his mind. For some reason the protection also allows him to get a better starting class than anyone else, jumping from C to A, which for me is one the laziest reasons for having a strong main character I've ever seen.
I haven't noticed any grammar problems, so that's a plus, but the writing itself is bland and uninteresting. I found myself just skiping some descriptions, especially in the fights, can't say they weren't boring. It turned out I haven't missed anything important for skiping so much, so I guess there's a room for improvement there.
The biggest letdown is the litRPG part of the story, we get a few descriptions of the classes and scarce informations about the abillities, but nothing more. Nothing that'd invite me to read more.
In summary, the story is another generic post-apocalypse system introduction, with no interesting characters, alluring story or even enjoyable progression. In short, bland and forgetable story that gives no incentive to read it beyond the initial dozen chapters.
A seemingly silly story with a serious plot, that's what I expected when going to this novel.
What I got was a story that tried to convey a serious feeling with a silly undertone but ended up being just silly.
Of course it doesn't help that I disliked the reasoning the MC used to pick his class and the class itself, but I digress.
I believe if the author focused more on one aspect of the story it would have been much better. Either make it more lighthearted and continue as is, or strengthen the serious aspect of the story.
I usually find ways to nitpick in my reviews. I yell about style, grammar, obvious plotholes, trying to be constructive as possible while destroying people's souls. But this time, it seems like I'm the one who's been destroyed.
They called me MAD reads like a crack-induced manic fusion of Attack on the Block (2011) and anyone of Edgar Wright's movies. It's fun. It captures quintessential British energy. It's in your face with both grimness and irreverent comedy. It's got that pastiche of old sci-fi movie energy with a full modern cover.
I think I had a full-on Ratatouille-tier flashback to when I first watched Back to the Future when I was a wee lad, or maybe something closer to the first time I saw Hot Fuzz with my friends way back when. Memories of times with the lads, condensed into words.
So yeah, no complaints here. Give it a whirl, you won't regret it.
At the time of writing, there are only around ~80 pages worth of content, a pretty good start to the story. Can't wait to see where this goes.
(as of chapter 13)
The blurb on the story page is a good introduction to this system apocalypse setting. The MC avoided the aliens' brainwashing rays because he was wearing a costume with tinfoil headgear at that time, but his friends don't believe his claims that it's all a lie. Of course these beautiful aliens are here for their nerd seed like the hot ambassadresses announced! In addition to fighting against their disbelief and the aliens' nefarious plans, Matt has to survive the monster hordes popping up in the neighborhood. Luckily his special ability is to craft gadgets that would make any mad scientist proud out of random stuff. Yeah, that "mad scientist" vibe is not helping his credibility either...
We are still rather early in the story so the subscores can only be rated preliminarily. The story is told in first-person style from Matt's perspective so we know exactly how the events affect him and how he tries to pull through, IMO it's not bad. There's an okay amout of descriptions and details. The LitRPG system has not presented any numbers yet, only some blue boxes, mainly ingredient lists for Matt's gadgets (paintball gun + antibacterials + bandages + ... = Healing Gun). These bring a good amount of lighthearted comedy to the story. The fighting scenes are done well, as are the interactions between the characters. Matt's friends act a bit strangely compared to normal human behavior, but that is explained by the brainwashing. While they are presented as rather stereotypical nerds, it's not too over the top. There are some spelling errors but not many.
All in all, this story makes a good first impression. I'm looking forward to seeing Matt create more funny gadgets and I wonder how he will tackle the bigger problems. This story should probably not be taken completely serious at times, but that's not a bad thing.
Hoping that the author actually reads all of the reviews, here's some constructrive cristisim to help your writing improve.
Showing not telling: You want to show the readers how characters act, not telling them how they act and what their personality is. There's several instances of the main character telling us that this person is adcventorus or this person is an "incel." You're better off showing us how these characters interact with one another both in combat and the breaks in between as they get to know eachother and as the reader gets to know them.
Conflict: I'm only around chapter 20, but make sure you have interesting conflict occuring. Setting up antagonists such as the alvans and the unnatural wildlife only does so much. Rival factions competeing over nests, world-building the new area (being aware that an entire species has only recetly begun to survive, there's a lot of potential here to see trading hubs pop up to set up new and intersting characaters from other groups. I'm sure you can think of other things to include.
Promises: This is important, knowing what you've promised the reader and either giving them what they want as a pay off, or giving them something they didn't realize they wanted. An example: golems becoming sapient is something the reader is expecting, but you could always have a twist to it.
Yes, but no, and: this is the concept of "Yes, you've killed the rat queen, but no it's not over yet, and there's a hoard of rat babies tearing through her womb straight at you." It's a tried and true method of keeping fight scenes interesting. Things have to get worse before getting better.
This knowledge is literally pilfered from Brandon Sanderson's lectures on writing availble on youtube.
After reading the description you would expect a nice LitRPG with a unique, strange but charismatic protagonist similar to Okabe Rintaro. What we get instead is a silly story about superpowers. The MC's power is completely copied from Vaudevillain (respect to the author for at least acknowledging this), but the problem here is that such power is fine in an online game, but IRL it just seems silly (even if the author tried to "balance" it a little). MC himself lacks any charisma, he is just a cosplaying nerd. He could easily prove to his friends that he is right by "predicting" what would happen right after the "time stop" event ended, but he didn't. Overall, the story just didn't hook me in the first ten chapters or so.
There is something I want to comment on though. Unlike that other reviews say, I wouldn't be so hasty to conclude that MC was resistant to the brainwashing because of the tinfoil hat, lol. It is just something that MC jokingly assumed and not a fact. It is likely that the real reason would be explained later in the story and I doubt it would be as stupid.
This is basically "LitRPG System introduced to Earth forcibly by arseholes"
It's a decent enough story but doesn't stand out from the crowd. Grammar and spelling is good, characters are okay. It's lacking in social interaction with other groups.
[Update] The plot seems to be on a slow burner and I eventually lost interest in following it.
Very good start, well written and engaging.
This story needs to get trending, fast!
This story hooked me SO. GODDAMN. MUCH. It's unbelievable. I was only supposed to read up to chapter 5 before reviewing, but I couldn't stop until almost twice that >.<
Let me break it down, worst to best. (Mind you that all of these categories are 5 stars. That's just how quality this story is, that even the worst category deserves a 5 in my book)
Grammar. It's always my shortest section, and I can't say much except it's very good. I don't think I noticed anything, and if I did, the rest of the story just pulled me in so much that I completely forgot about it. Whatever the case, thumbs up from me.
Style. Simplistic, efficient, and smooth as butter. The prose is exactly what you need in a story like this, blending into the background and helping to highlight the characters and action. Oh, and this story is written in first person, which I absolutely love given the entire premise of the story is that the MC is kind of isolated from his friends due to them not believing his knowledge.
Characters. Speaking of MC and his friends, here we are! The protagonist has the stereotypical nerd energy down to a tee, and he's absolutely loveable for it. The other nerd bros are also funny and likeable in their sheer bro-ishness, and Kitty is a nice mirror to MC
for her also resisting the space elves' mind hack.
Liam is a character that I love to hate, and it's so weird because story-wise, he hasn't done anything that should make me hate him. It's just the MC's reactions and thoughts towards him, along with some behavior that could easily be explained otherwise.
Still, despite all that, I find myself finding just as much satisfaction as MC does when he punches Liam straight in the face.
In case I haven't gotten through to you yet, the characters are fantastic.
Finally, we have the story. And my oh my, do I love this story. It's exactly the type of interesting action that I've been missing since I caught up with Magnus. The MC is a mad scientist type that makes cool gadgets from himself and the rest of the gang, and the fake system apocalypse setting works super well. I can't really say much else just yet, but it really doesn't need anything else. Like I said, this story had me hooked since page 1, and I'm looking forwards to reading the rest of it as soon as I'm done with this review.
Chances are, if you're on RR, you'll like this story. It's a perfect blend of serious and funny, action and characters, plot and worldbuilding, and just about everything else. It puts a twist on something that we know works amazing and in this author's hands, I'm sure it will surpass even our wildest expectations.
The author's style is solid, no crazy plot twists, tear soaked pillows or tears of laughter either for that matter. But I often smile or frown depending on the situation and the plot is both evident and in progress.
The story reminds me of a better more grittier Vaudvillian. Better might not be the right word but it is certainly more realistic which in turns gives the story a grip instead of the whimsical fancy that Vaudvillian uses as a lure.
Grammar is fine though the occasional mistake slips through especially closer to the recent releases. Though for the rate at which the author is producing this is truly a minor inconvenience.
The characters are complex and while none of them have given a reason for me to really truly care about them they are well on that path. Honestly as long as they aren't 2d I'm mostly satisfied.
I would be very interested in seeing things from other characters viewpoints and currently the characters are very testosterone-centric so there is room for improvement there. (Totally fails the Bechdel Test)
All in all, definitely worth the read/follow and I'm very interested to see where the story goes from here.