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DOTS - SciFi Adventure with a Hint of Romance
Mankind has invented a machine that can locate a Genius hidden among the populace. With two simple tests, not only can a person find out if they're a Genius, but they also will be told what they're a Genius at. Unless they find out they're a Dot. The only thing a Dot knows is that the world hates them.
That is, unless you're a Dot named Hank. The world discovers quickly that it needs Hank very much. But he had better hurry. Bad guys have a use for what they know Dots can do, and they will stop at nothing to achieve their goal.
Read DOTS—a series of seven Light Novels—and see Hank use his Genius to somehow Save the World.
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The premise is familiar, there's a system imposed in this world, the main character doesn't fit in the system. The MC will then carve his own path, whatever that may be. We have seen this in many stories, the question now is how does this story set itself apart from others with this familiar premise.
We have to talk about my impressions of the system (without going into spoilers). Enough of it is in the synopsis for a potential reader to get the gist of. It is a deep system that I haven't seen before, turning the familiar (the premise), into something wholly unique and interesting. It goes deeper than most world systems in stories we usually see, involving philosophy and world bending realities.
Moving on to the characters. The first part of the book focuses on three of the main cast, and the interaction is top notch. The characterization of each one is carefully crafted that you know and can differentiate them, their personalities, their quirks, etc. And because they feel so realistic and diverse, the reader can easily connect to them.
Now onto the shortcomings. At first I was really drawn in with the exposition, the world is that unique and interesting that I didn't really mind the info dumps. However, the problem was that the first book is heavy on exposition (12 chapters) and I couldn't ground myself to what was explained because I couldn't see the bigger picture in action. The prologue seems a bit confusing too and appears to be very far into the story that the reader wouldn't care about it for a long time. Lastly, the story is a bit on the slow side since it tries to carefully build up its world and characters, although some readers may be used to a faster paced story.
The writing is good, above RR standards I might say. The explanations are clear, and they need to be considering the difficult concepts in the world of the story. There are some errors and typos, but I can read past that, nothing that really took me out of the story. The author also adds in some passages from books and philosophical discussions in the notes that I find entertaining.
I mentioned character interactions before, and I just have to emphasize that this story deals into interactions and emotions perhaps more than the average RR story. That would depend on the preference of the reader how they will receive it. But it is a breath of fresh air to have this level of realism in the characters.
With well-crafted characters, and a creatively forged world, more people should try this.
P.S. That thing where the story is chopped up into books that are the opposite of the seven deadly sins is a neat idea.
In my first review, I didn't like this that much. That was during chapter 5 of the first book. But now, once I've completed it, I am beginning to interesting things and I like where the story is going. First of all, I'd just like to say that I'm loving the author's characterization. They've done a really good job in the romance sector and developing relationships between characters. The only problem here is I find the main character a little unbelievable. As the author reveals in the first books final chapter, Hank, the main character, is somewhat interpreted as an important person in the bible. Unfortunately, I'm not christian so I do not know what they're talking about.
I've only got two things I really want to say in this review. One. The author has done a really great job in the romance and relationship sector. When reading it, I get that melting feeling in my heart which is what a good love story will do to you. I really like Rio, she is an interesting character- a tsundere. The second thing that I want to say is that the slow development of the plot is actually quite satisfying to read and it rewards you at the end of the book, which isn't that far away.
Style: Amazing. Easy to read.
Story: Interesting, but seems relatively basic for now.
Grammar: Nothing I saw broke my immersion, so a 5/5
Character: Really good, except like I said, Hank is a little bit unbelievable.
This is the sort of dense, symbolism-heavy writing that tends to go straight over my head. Reading this gives me the same sort of feeling I would get when I would read one of the classics in school: I know that I'm reading something made with a lot of passion and talent, but most of the carefully-crafted work is sailing straight over my head. The dream scene in chapter three was probably the best example of this. I'm sure all of that symbolism has some really fascinating meaning behind it, but I'll be damned if I could make heads or tales of it. This is less of a matter of the quality of the writing, and more a matter of how your brain is wired. I'm a boring nerd, with a boring nerd brain. Not everyone is like me, though. If it sounds even a little bit interesting to you, then I think this story is worth trying.
In brief, if you're the sort of person who really enjoys that kind of dense, carefully crafted writing that is three parallel universes ahead of you, then this story is right up your alley.
After having jumped a bit between the different "books" of this story, I relented to reading the Book of Liberality for the complete context beyond the original concepts of PEP geniuses and Dots.
The initial premise is highly interesting, with those seemingly "confirmed" as people to be upheld and regarded as better individuals, compared to the "bridesmaids" of the Dots, who fall short of that secondary confirmation. It has the potential of creating a very interesting societal dilemma that could be explored in a number of different ways.
However, having read snippets of the main character Hank's story from later on, in addition to most of the Book of Liberality, I am thoroughly confused as to the author's message behind this story. Is it an homage to the inherent exceptionalism that Western society has groomed over the past few centuries, with a main character that is in possession of exceptional skills that overshadows what would really be potentially "fatal" (endemic or physiological flaws considering that everyone can apparently "smell" Dots) and gives him unrealistic superpowers, which further propels him into possession of superhero status and the champion of a veritable harem?
Or is it a criticism of society's extreme individualism and makes him an anti-hero in the most sarcastic way possible by being able to achieve his goals (a lot of them revolving around girls) and at the same time making him fit into a religious prophecy mould? I can see the story being read both ways, and I'm slightly confused as to what the author's intent is. That might be coloured by my own biases, and by a sort of "guy gets all the girls" attitude which appears in the later books/chapters which slants my view slightly towards the latter, rather than the former.
Grammar-wise, it is very well done, and only one sentence has so far made me stop and re-read in order to ensure I really understood what was being said. As regards to quality of writing, this belongs in the upper tier of what Royal Road has to offer. The same can be said about style, it is very easy most of the time to keep track of the dialogue, what is meant as pure exposition (unlike what some people may have previously commented negatively on, I do not recognise any pure dumps).
In regards to characters, I find the portrayal of Hank as a series of juxtapositions. He is at first described as a sort of ambitious-less youth, but who is niceness personified, although that changes when he is confirmed as a Dot because of the universe (which I can wholeheartedly accept, that was a nice touch story-wise). What bothers me is he is, for lack of a better term, quite horny. And the oft-repeated usages of pure Japanese in the same sentences as English, is, as a bilingual myself, very off-putting in regards how bi- or polylingualism actually works. And not to mention the girls throwing themselves at him later on; Rio gets a nice introduction in the prologue, but I feel she goes through a decline in quality as a character as the story progresses.
In summary, I would like to point out that I have only been able to read about eleven chapters in total, spread a bit out, so there is certainly room for me to be very positively impressed and change my opinion, and if/when that happens, I will honestly update this review. But as of right now, I'm slightly confused as to the overall story, which clearly carries a philosophical, perhaps also an innate political message, which I am having some trouble identifying.
(Also, having the character Hank is interacting with for large parts of the Book of Liberality called Milton is very on the nose, just sayin')
I have not read too far into this story. And that isn't really needed. From the seven-ish chapters I have read, I have gained a general understanding of just what this story sets itself up to be.
The most obvious thing that sets this story out from the usual would be the system that the world runs on. Reality and how fragile it is. The ability to interpose one's own ideas and meanings into the very fabric of it all. Kinda neat to think about.
It needs to be mentioned that the style of the story has some very strong LN. It's mostly in how it presents the characters, but the sentence-structure also strongly hints towards it. Not my cup of tea, but most people on the platform enjoy it.
Overall, I give this story a 4.5/5 which equates to 5/5 by RR's standards. Great stuff
Style - Easy to read, but some preachy dialogues (mainly by one character) might be texty to read. The overall writing style is pretty standard. But do requires readers to read through the abstract meaning of the events. Either need to read the events as hallucination or fantasy, or self-explain the events as something intrinsic, or left it to be explained in later chapters. I read this in the right time since the books had been completed, which will make sense on the whole story had been planned well. It's my personal preference, I do enjoy this style.
Grammar - The sentences are easy to read and make sense in the form of English language. I'm not English expert, can't say anything about the grammar.
Story - It is a soft sci-fi low fantasy. With some hint of drama, and reads like a slice of life (slow). But there's a major plot and also some characters arcs in it. The story delivers some standard tropes. The ending is gonna make you ??? What the heck, it's not even a complete ending and the epilogue serves to conclude that ending. So the whole story is more like an artistic expression of the author, more like a dots where the readers connecting them by own minds. Well, a strange story indeed. Though the seven virtues in the chapter titles might mislead people into thinking that its an "educational" stuff here, but it is not.
I dislike the romance elements in this story. Perhaps this is my personal preference. The romance dynamic of the relevant characters are kinda cringy.
Other than that, the author made some great effort telling a story on the grounds of mind symbolism. It is best to read the said chapter togather with the Author's notes before and after the chapter to understand better on the symbolism in certain chapters.
Dense concepts meet light novel for a fascinating alternate earth story. For the curious, you should dive right in.
First thoughts -
There are a lot of new concepts thrown in right at the beginning. Not very reader-friendly, but bold. I like bold.
The setting is a mesh of sci-fi and the modern world to create an alternate Earth. Common enough and yet with enough variety that every time I see it, the author has taken a fresh and unique approach. So too has this one.
There are vaguely superhero vibes, perhaps better put as Romanticism, with the focus on 'geniuses' with god-given powers. A hyper individual. A heroic figure.
The Milton character has some very strong opinions about 'Asians' but until I learn more about the setting I won't class it as anything. I am curious about it. Also, just because the character has views, does not mean that the author does (though they may do as well).
Again, I am confused about how fascism, marxism, communism and totalitarianism are seen as opposite to western civilisation. Rather than being birthed by western civilisation. Perhaps that is my social science knowledge creeping in. Between the new concepts of Dots and geniuses what Milton espouses is a little confusing. I think intentionally. It is also a different, alternate earth.
I get the impression of a well-edited, finely tuned craft with this style. The lack of indulgence is very kind to the reader and a contradiction to the otherwise flaunting of the 'trimmings' - the different takes of words, the passages at the beginnings of chapters. The 'trimmings', I can't think of what else to call it at the moment, are difficult (ish) and bold. They put an obstacle up against the reader. I suspect, however, that there is a deep commonality that underlies these otherwise seemingly opposing aspects of the author's style.
I liked the multimodality, which is the introduction of images. It enhances the text.
It is a slow build, and no rating given at the five chapter mark is fair. The concept is pulled off well. Wacky and mind-bending. The near-perfect grammar grounds what otherwise might be frustrating and annoying to read. Four and a half stars, Dots is entertaining and pleasant. It will, I trust, reward the effort put into reading it. I hope to swing back around to it, at a later date.
Almost slavishly correct. I don't think the author can grow here. So, I must break my usual high rating limit and give it five stars.
While the straight man is attracted to a young woman is common enough, the fact that he fails was refreshing. And not fails in a humiliating way, like North American comedies. He is stuck in a routine and fails to pluck up the courage to ask the person he likes out. It is refreshing to see, what so often happens as shown. Fear and habit are powerful forces. This was well done.
I like Hank, I don't know if his feelings are to the level of a mental health condition, but there is a genuineness to the portrayal of his fear. I liked that the narrative doesn't mock him for it. He gets humiliated but it doesn't feel moralistic but rather shows how the world reacts to him. Four and a half stars.
The importance of bodies (well maybe hormones to be specific to what the author does) grounds the story greatly and elevates the characters.
Final thoughts -
I am surprised Descartes never gets a mention, maybe he does later. The Buddha is apt. But I think Descartes was one of the most powerful descriptions of a being that wills reality into being. A philosopher I thought mad when reading him.
Abstract symbolism meets light novel characters. The sentence structure is, I think, of web novel style but the symbolism gives flavour to what is so often a rather plain read.
I did look through the other reviews for this final section, as it is pure opinion rather than judgement. I agree that the characters are frail I am not sure the world is, at least at the stage I am at. More like transformable, and it is limited to a few individuals. It truly fits the notion Age of Enlightenment.
Unfortunately, I haven't read far enough yet (don't look at the chapter, I just decided to read the last one before review) to leave an advanced review, but the opinion did form in my head about this book.
This book can be described with one word - ambitious. 'Dots' is way, way, way too ambitious for it's own good sometimes. Most of the time you can read it as a simple harem-like story about your average everyday Joe, who by the twist of fate becomes the only person capable of saving the world. The world, that is so fragile, people can impose their own realities on top of it. Which is a very cool concept, no doubt.
But when ArDeeBurger decides to play with symbolism and parallels to religious and spiritual concepts, then writing gets way over its head. Or it gets over my head, I am not sure. Either way, it get too much sometimes.
Now, this book is actually great at exploring deeper ideas. How world can change from a simple thought, how fragile people themselves actually are, and how it affects everyone around them. The author crealy loves his project to bits, and it shows. Outside from the weird fixation on the word 'bosom', and very flowery descriptions, that could be trimmed a bit, this book is great, especially if you love symbolism and deeper meanings.
It got me right at the synopsis, I tell you, and the prologue didn't leave me hanging either.
I had a very little issue with some wording, much probably because engglish isn't my mother language, and I'm not familiar with a few word choices.
Besides that, I loved the interaction between Rio and Arius. It has that kinda not-so-serious-yet-wait-for-it anime vibe that I truly like.
The style of writing seems to be fast paced, and oh boy, how I like it!
The way you wrote the whole scene, in the middle of the ocean, it flashed through my eyes life a movie. Pretty sure it has the potential of becoming a web comic or the likes of it, and I so wish to see it in this format someday.
I’d be one of its first readers. Just announce it, I’ll be there!
Since I only read the prologue up until now, I won't mention a whole story score, but it hooked me real hard. Got me craving for the next chapter, if only I didn't have to write right now...
To summarize, keep it up, dude!
I’ll be reading it as the story unfolds, eager to get more and more.
And I promise I’ll be back for more
Full disclosure, existentialism isn't my thing. So just bear that in mind.
So, the reason I made that disclosure statement right off the bat, is because it has a significant impact on whether or not you will accept the premise and conflicts within the story. Where characters have the ability to manipulate, alter, create or deny elements at will, Your ability to go with the flow dictates and determines whether you will enjoy the story. So I really couldn't get into it and kept coming up with questions about every little reveal or unilateral statement made by a character trying to swing the MC's mind to their point of view.
Characterisation is partly why I ranked the story so low. In the beginning of the first 'book' Hank, our MC is outlined as a generally decent guy who is pretty much a silent unassuming pillar of the community despite how relatively young he is. You get some great insights into who he is as a person, what his hopes and dreams are and then that all gets crumpled up and thrown out the window.
The first chapter should ahve been the prologue. Hank's lack of character is actually a running theme of the story, and it is very difficult to look past that. His only consistant motivation seems to be wanting to be liked by people, specifically women. Unfortunately, his lack of established character makes this bahaviour and desire come off as incredibly shallow.
The writing style is fine, and so is the grammar and spelling. Errors are few and far between, but some segments of expositionary dialogue tend to become repetetive and ruin the flow.
In case I haven't made it abundantly clear, Dots is not for me. HOWEVER, if you get a kick out of existentialism and existential crisis, then you will probably get a kick out of it.