Amongst the Sky

by ArthurScott

Warning This fiction contains:
  • Profanity

First came the stars. Then came the dreams.

Dreams that warn of the coming of celestial beings.

The year is 2036 and humanity faces one of its greatest challenges yet.

A technological war between the sky and the Earth manifests after aliens and cosmic beings seek revenge for a fallen brother, stolen and experimented on by the U.S. government.

Celestial entities from another dimension invade Earth, infiltrating the atmosphere through a hole torn in the sky. Humanity has to fight for survival and protect those they hold dear, while three teenagers must rise together to alleviate the battle before it spins further out of control.

Phoenix Newman, Alex Ramiro, and Andy Caulfield are three victims of a fallen economy, polluted to no end. Together, they derive plans to take down the enemies and save the good. The issue is . . . they don't know which is which.

Amongst the Sky is a book about the value of friendship, the fault in our stars, and the fears of mankind. It is a story about bravery and heroism, love and determination – how easily mankind falls under the heels of pressure.


They swaggered from the vehicle and stopped halfway across the junction with a disturbing aura of ambiguity, as if their bodies were robotic and all the components that made them human were stripped from their fibres; as if they might've been only so-so from shoulder to shoulder but dangerous from the waist down. Andy knew they were up to something – the way they instinctively glared at him was all the more reason to believe so. It appeared as though the apparel wasn't intimidating enough; they needed to foster nightmarish insanity – a demeanour he wouldn't want to spend the night alone with.

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ArthurScott

ArthurScott

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Mysterious, sinister setting, a few notable flaws

Reviewed at: Chapter Eighteen

Warning: While I will try to avoid them as much as I can, this review will contain some spoilers.

Grammar: 

Mostly good. I noticed some slipups here and there, but not enough that I decided to start making notes of them. Probably could benefit from a once-over on each chapter just to catch grammar mistakes.

Style:
Third person narrative with focus on a different character each chapter. Usually when I consider style, I consider the following points:

Inner thoughts: The inner thoughts of the focus character each chapter are described, but sometimes in a rambling, strangely tangential manner. I can't quite tell if this is meant to be part of the ambience or not. 

Environmental descriptions/Physical descriptions of characters: I found the descriptions of the physical characteristics the environments the characters are in, as well as the descriptions of the characters themselves, to be a little sparse. It's not ignored, but I sometimes have trouble picturing these characters and where they are. The fantastical elements are given good description.

Action: It's usually clear what exactly the characters are doing, no real problems here.

However, I feel like I have to mention another point here, just because it is the single largest thing that drew me out of the story.

Dialogue: The year is 2108. And yet, all the characters seem to use slang - and even make pop culture references - circa the year 2021. I don't know about anyone else, but this was a huge, glaring sticking point to me, because so much emphasis seems to be put on the manner of speech. Why would people 80 years in the future use the same type of slang that people in 2021 did? And as for the pop culture references - you could make a couple of cutesy references to modern day stuff as 'classics', if you gave a sense that the world actually was populated by a more updated form of fictional media. But that's not really done. When cultural references are made, it's to modern-day stuff, and it sticks out like a sore thumb. I think, in general, the author could do more work in making this story that takes place 80+ years in the future actually FEEL futuristic. Other than the presence of (never really explained in detail) plasma energy - I don't actually see why this story couldn't take place in, say, the modern day, or like, 10 years in the future, instead of 80. 

Story:

The plot revolves around the sudden appearance of strange aliens through a hole torn in the sky, anticipated on social media by NASA posting that aliens do exist - although I thought it pretty appropriate that nobody really knew what to think about that, or even whether or not to believe it. 

The aliens themselves are mysterious and horrifying: They have as of yet made no real attempt to communicate, they kidnap people, and their presence seems to be having stramge environemental effects on the world. The setting seems like a 'soft' dystopia - the government isn't actively going around gunning people down, but nobody really trusts anything they say, and for the most part the government doesn't even really seem all that interested in communicating to people what their response to the aliens is. So a lot of the focus so far has been on our younger cast trying to figure out exactly what the authorities know, and what could be behind the disappearance of one of their parents. It's an intriguing plot, and I like the setting, but it is fairly early on in the story - the mystery is just ramping up - so I can't say much more than that it has an interesting hook, as of right now.

Character:

None of the characters, as of yet, stick out to me, and that can be both a good and bad thing. 

What I mean by that is: None of the characters stick out as being particularly badly characterized, or inconsistent, or unrealistic, etc. That's a good thing.

However, none of the characters really stick out from each other in terms of distinct personalities, either. They seem to me to be all pretty similar boisterous teenagers. The internal focus helps to distinguish them, but as of right now it's not easy for me to list ways in which they're different from each other personality-wise. There's some hints that Phoenix has a bit of a crush on Alex, Alex is a bit more feminine, Andy seems - maybe - a little bit more cautious or even cowardly? But none of it is super strongly defined. Overall, I'd say the characters aren't a weakness of this fic, but neither are they really a strength.

Overall:

The most appealing part of this fic, to me, is the mysterious and sinister nature of the aliens, and the apathetic, soft-dystopia nature of the setting where nobody really believes or trusts the government. Plot is the biggest strength of this fic, followed by setting - which would be stronger if not for the strange way folk culture seems to have been frozen 80 years in the past. The writing style (minus dialogue), while it can seem clunky at times, occasionally reaches a nice 'ambience' of poetic description. I think the author definitely has a lot of talent, but more experience writing could refine it into something great.

Proxy's saga
Overall

They come from space. . .or it did?

Reviewed at: Chapter Twelve

This review is made with a review swap in mind, and with my other reviews, I'll try to keep this sweet and simple. 

1. Story 

So far, the focuses on three young protagonists - Andy, Alex, and Phoenix - all of them living their normal day-to-day. An image of a UFO surfaces on the web, most have written it off as a fake, but Alex can't shake the feeling it might be real. They live their lives until one night, a mysterious spiral appears in the city of violetwell. The spiral sets off weird and strange events, and most notably, the kidnapping of Phoenix's father. Now the three friends will go towards the spiral to fish-out what's going on.

2. Characters

Now, the characters for the most part mimic how kids would act in the real world; on this comment, I don't think they need to do so, since as long as they're written well and their chemistry with one another is good enough, then it's fine. That being said, they do talk like how normal kids would, at least from the shit-talking front. However, I do think they're a bit one-noted. Of course, I am only on chapter 12, so maybe there's more added-on to their characters than what I know so far, so I won't go hard on that fact.  

3. Setting

The setting is Violetwall city, a city that uses energy called Plasma energy that runs the machines of the city, like a building called the Spire, which had been said to aid in creating new machines that use Plasma energy. Hell, the biggest Light show/arcade area in the city is one Plasma-powered machine. It's safe to say that the setting is kind of interesting, and in that regard, I hope I can learn more about it. 

Overall: I say that this has a good premise that seems to be building on its mystery well, and I hope it gets better from here. I'll read more and maybe I'll update this review to give a better take on this. So if you're looking for a Sci-fi story with some mystery elements, then give this a try. So, until that time, I'll see ya when I see ya.

(P.S. if I made any factual errors about the characters, story, or setting, please contact me so I may fix it if I see that it needs fixing, thank you, and goodbye.)

Avery Light
Overall
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Do you believe there are aliens out there?

Reviewed at: Chapter Ten

Alien Invasion! While others might expect a massive sky battle against alien spaceships, this story gives a different take from the point of view of three young teenagers. They weren't especially special, just like you and me so when shit hits the fan, they have to cope while stumbling in the dark. All kinds of news, speculation, controversy exploding left and right, they don't know which is which. The alien began with literally a bang. Imagine the routine we have every day suddenly take a sharp left turn to a ravine.

Mysterious, the alien was this. They got sighted by NASA from across the solar system(I think) then when such news reached the masses, they got excited, worried, restless, most importantly, life goes on for the majority of the world. Incredible realism. Then the alien came, not with shooting lasers but... actually what the hell they want? The MCs and we are left in the pit of mystery. One of the MC's family seems to be taken... maybe they want to study him like us study frogs in biology class? We don't know! It's great.

The MCs are dynamic with their own persona and interest and thinking. Each with different motivations and circumstances. Always nice to see those character traits.

If you want to read mystery, try this out. 

Sara Mullins
Overall
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The prologue sinks its fangs in and doesn't let go, really, and things only get better before and after things come full-circle. 

Style: The writing is incredibly distinctive. There's a horrific quality to the dreamlike descriptions because of what we know is coming and how the looming threat is wound up slowly. Each character has a unique voice of their own, giving them all a sense of verve. Overall, it's a stylish piece of work. 

Grammar: Nearly flawless, and there's not much that can take away from the beautiful descriptions we get. 

Story: The story is elevated by the beautiful way it's told, but it's still got merit on its own as well. The fear and mystery do a good job at maintaining interest and creating emotions that help readers get even more invested. I'm looking forward to even more worldbuilding going forward as the mystery and horror deepen. 

Character: One of the most unique things here to me was a sort of focus on family units. We have our primary trio of young adults, yes, but each of their family lives are highlighted and given a sense of weight in the immediate aftermath of the first major event of the plot. I liked it and found it warming amidst the growing feeling of foreboding. Our main three are all compelling in their own rights, and I'm interested to see how they will develop in the face of adversity. 

It definitely couldn't hurt to pick this up and give the first few chapters a go. 

carebear90
Overall
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The horror creeps up on you

Reviewed at: Chapter Thirteen

It's like one of those good old horror movies, that get you with their atmosphere and not cheap jump-scares or special effects.

The story takes it's time in the beginning to establish the 'normal' of this 90-years-into-the-future world. We have a group of very authentic (imo) teenagers, who get along with their daily life, but from the beginning on, 'strange stuff' keeps happening and keeps adding up. 

This 'stuff' gets dismissed, of course, right until 'shit get's real' a few chapters in. I really don't want to say more about the story to keep this relatively spoiler-free.

The narration is authorial, but most of the time it reads like a third-person limited. The narrator seems to have their own voice though. It feels sometimes a bit like someone is telling a story. It's not off-putting, I quite liked the style. It tends to be very flowery at times. Maybe a bit too 'purple' for some tastes. I liked it though.

I can't say much about grammar since that is a bit of a week spot for me. I only found a minuscule amount of typos now and then. It looked very clean and carefully edited otherwise. No easily avoidable mistakes either.

The characters are great! They are teenagers and they behave as if they are! Can you imagine that? It's glorious. Even the change in behaviour when they interact in their group, in contrast to how they act around their parents or authority figures. Oh, did I mention that they actually have parents they interact with? Incredible, right? ;)

The only thing, and I can't really put my finger on why, is that I couldn't really bring myself to care about what happened to them. Maybe there just wasn't enough time yet to get familiar with them, but probably it's just me. 

I really liked the mystery. I gladly went along with them to find out what exactly is going on and why. It's just that... At no point in the story was I afraid for them or cared for their safety. 
Maybe that's just part of the genre? That you're making bets on who's going to die first? :D

JDFister
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Aliens for the common man.

Reviewed at: Chapter Five

Step into a realistic world where you get to watch some crazy shit go down through the eyes some regular people. To the point I've read this reads more like a social science fiction than a political one, and it makes for a nice change of pace from works like The Expanse and Hunger Games that seems to have this need to put you right out-front with the movers and shakers. Well done.

Style: This is clearly a strength of the author. Scott wields prose with the skill of an experienced author. Each line read as much like poetry as genre fiction. The descriptions are vivid. The setting comes off as a character of its own.

Grammar: Very clean. Virtually error-free.

Characters: The varied cast each come off as unique. They each have not just different physical descriptions, but different conversational styles as well.

Story: The story starts out in a very familiar, those slightly more dystopic, version of earth from the near future. Then comes the aliens (I don’t consider this a spoiler since it’s already spoiled in the synopsis). There just enough of the familiar to keep you grounded and just enough of the bonus hover-board/nanotech/etc extra to keep it interesting. I appreciate getting to see a world-shaking event like contact with an alien race from the perspective of some regular kids just hanging out and living their lives.

Auraptor
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Another alien story on RoyalRoad? And it’s even horror themed? OM-

Okay, let’s just start with the review.

 

Alien invasion stories aren’t easy to write these days, given how strongly they are associated with pulp, but boy does the author pull it off. Believability is a huge stumbling block for a lot of alien invasion literature, with astronomers being oblivious, global culture being unaffected by such an Earth-shaking event and the aliens relying on starship that are basically just boats in space.

This story avoids all these pitfalls. NASA detects the alien spacecrafts well outside the solar system and the horror only builds up from there. Social media as well as various conspiracy theorists react to this discovery exactly as you’d expect them to: By going completely nuts over it. Once the aliens finally take center stage, they aren’t generic ray-gun equipped green men either. Instead, they are threatening, mysterious, unknowable and, well, alien.

In true horror movie fashion, the first five chapters are all about getting to know our teenage characters before everything goes off the rails. It’s probably going to be an effective beginning for those who like Phoenix, Alex or Andy and a slow one for those who don’t.

Personally, I found the cast easy to identify with. My only complaint lies in tone, namely that the character’s behavior is a tad cartoonish. Maybe that was what the author intended, but it clashes with the story’s overall dark and serious tone.

Since this is so subjective, a total score is difficult for me to determine.

I’ve been torn between 4.5 and 5 stars. Overall, I decided that my main complaints (the too cartoonish tone and the too slow beginning) are rather subjective and, given the preponderance of 5 star ratings, they didn’t really bother anyone else. Thus, this story gets five stars, although I still recommend the author to consider the critiques for future stories.

strand VV
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So to start, I will of course say what I liked then what I did not, but any criticism from me will be based on personal preference.

 

The story is a sc-fi, alien invasion type that hints at a bit of cyberpunk and maybe (apocalypse?).

 

In my humble opinion, the style was the best thing in the story, not just prose but the word picking that matched that what is needed for a sc-fi. I would honestly love to learn how the author does that. 

 

I liked the story and hinted plot, right now the story is picking up and worth the read, it is a great one, it immerses you in the atmosphere for the story, but I had to power through the beginning chapters. It is worth the read if you do so. 

 

The grammar for me was impeccable so no saying from me there. 

 

The characters were all fleshed, can't say I like them on a personal level, but that shows how much they are brought out for me to actually react to them. They were too teenagey for me, and maybe that's what the author was going for. 

Akaso
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Polished, high-grade YA fiction.

Reviewed at: Chapter Eight

I'll preface this review with a simple fact - between the setting, the genre, and the storyline, this book doesn't appeal to me on a personal level.

That being said, I couldn't deny its quality even if I wanted to. It all starts slowly, submerging the reader in the setting of Violetwall for a long enough that much of RR's readerbase will likely drop it before chapter 4, let alone 6.

When the "real" story starts up in chapter 6, one will have gotten to know and gotten attached to the main cast, and the events which transpire only hit harder because of that.

If you even remotely like YA or alien invasion stories, you'll like Amongst the Sky.

Ben Arisson
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Great YA Sci-fi story.

The story is expertly told. It began slowly, which is perfectly fine as it helped the reader get immersed in the city of Voiletwall and all of its cool futuristic eccentricities. The slow ramp-up also helped us get to know our main cast of characters Phoenix, Andy, and Alex. These three are fantastic as standalone characters. The author did a fabulous job showing us their uniqueness and how they each approach the world, more so now that aliens exist in said world. I love their dynamic with each other; they come across as believable teens with a history and a past. 

I have to give extra props to the author's worldbuilding and descriptive style of writing. Each scene you created, from the Retrove Centre to the empty streets of Violetwall, was fantastically done, and I felt I was right there in those scenes with the characters.  I need to learn to improve my own descriptive writing style.

A word of praise I can use for this story is "believable." Everything that took place seemed like an event that could happen in our world. Even with the bizarre things like the alien in Phoenix' house, while such an occurrence would be incredibly strange, the way it was described blurred the lines between reality and fiction, and I love that. For example, if a similar event occurred in our world, we would most likely have the same reactions as the characters in the story. Such believability is excellent as it helps with the immersion. 

I can't wait to see where things go here as things have begun to poop off, but if the past couple of chapters are any indication, it is going to be an exhilarating and satisfying ride.