by Avery Light
- Traumatising content
Hey, what would you do after you got isekai-ed?
Look! A cockroach villain has appeared. Let's kill him before he messes things up. Too cruel? That kind of character is always introduced to be killed by the protagonist anyway so I'm doing the world a favor here. Less CO2 emission. It's time to "Go Green" guys, even in another world.
See over there, that's a trash young master type right there. What do I do? Endure the initial insults and provocation then dispose of him when no one sees of course. Why make things difficult?
Hmm, a pretty girl in peril. Potential love interest there… but no, I have enough problems as it is. At the very least, I won't help her just 'cause she's a female. Same goes for males. What? I support gender equality.
Hey, I know the clichés, what did you think I was going to do? Simply let it run its course? Well duh, I'll twist it to my benefit.
-This is a power fantasy story. Weak to strong, strong to stronger.
-The MC is very genre savvy and a hardcore internet citizen.
-English is not my first language, apologies for the imperfections.
-The cover isn't mine. I found it here.
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Being someone who is new to this site, a lot of the fantasy genre stories are something I’m not super familiar with. So when I saw this story was specifically an otherworldly reincarnation, I honestly had no idea what that meant. Therefore, this review is from someone who is completely unfamiliar with the genre. But know this, it was still an awesome read!
The main character, Cain, was an interesting person to follow. He had a mystery about him that made me intrigued. The snarkiness and seemingly insane traits helped me not immediately hate him when he began showing some much darker traits. Still not sure about how I feel about him, but I believe that’s a good thing in this case.
I have found while being on this site that I’m not super focused on grammar. A few mistakes here and there I sort of just absorb and move on. As long as they’re not super glaringly bad throughout, I don’t mind. And I didn’t notice anything glaringly bad in what I read.
The story seems intriguing, even though I’m not super familiar with the specific genre. I also enjoyed little nods like the year 2020 and also the evil overlords checklist. Those were pretty great.
DARKNESS AND SUFFERING are one and the same qualities that man has long endured throughout its ages. The trauma of such suffering can be found throughout our history from the likes of wars and differing cultures. In Aurora Scroll, Avery Light creates a world that is both familiar and disturbing, and the sharp depiction of human naturalism gives the story a surreal, dark-fantasy atmosphere.
Light has said that English is not their first language, and from reading you would hardly be able to tell. The prose is clean, simple, somewhat philosophical, and written with an attraction to all audiences across the board. This delineation of an alternate world is truly captivating and worthy of attention.
With this in mind, some imperfections draw the reader away from the experience, if not by technical means, by story-related issues.
STYLE - 4/5
Stylistically, the story is written with a propensity for simplicity. From the start, we are shown a third-person narration that reads like old literature found from the shelves of libraries: literary, long-winded, and thought-provoking. This changes as the story unfolds, changing to a more Neil Gaiman, beige approach. Along with this, the POV of the characters changes frequently, and at random times, starting with Cain of Ur and finishing with someone else. To combat this issue there are separators (***) found throughout the story. But these come either too early or too late: they generally don't represent the switch, but instead a time-skip. This leaves the reader wondering the which POV the story is told from; this is especially evident in the later battle between Cain and Demetrus. It hollows the immersion and takes the reader away from the more important scenes. To fix this, I would suggest carefully focusing on each character's POV and telling everything from their eyes without seeming too forced (he saw [and] he heard). The aim of the story should be to make the reader forget they're reading at all, not to emphasise that they're living in a reality that cannot mirror the intricacies of fiction.
There are also inconsistent switches between formal English and informal writing, which I found to be jarring. This is usually caused by a confusion of POV in characters; Cain of Ur using colloquial phrases, and at some times, divine language.
By the same token, Light has a tendency to tell at the wrong times. By this I mean the characters' traits are told directly to the reader instead of leaving them to conceive their own opinion. This is especially the case with Cain of Ur, the supposed main character of this universe, and the driving force behind the plot. The "Show, don't tell" rule is often misrepresented in cases like this: show more than you tell. This rule can either break you or make you; the aim of telling is to convey a sense of pace, to create the scene, to expose the trials and tribulations of the stories, to invest the reader in the story, and to, above all else, make the reader slip into the pages. Showing is used to keep them in the pages; an easy way to know when to show and when to tell is to plan a scene, either by daydreaming or writing it down. Show the character's quirks, emotions, beliefs, hopes, dislikes, relationships, and so on; tell the background noise. This attention to prose will leave the reader invested, if not disturbed by another source of error, which leads me to the next category.
GRAMMAR - 4.5/5
Overall sentence flow and structure is fairly good. By reading, you would not be able to tell this story was written by a non-native speaker; there are only minor flaws that hinder the experience for both more attentive readers and pedants. The first is the incorrect dialogue punctuation: sentences that should end with commas, end with periods in places where it is incorrect. And vice versa. A mastering of punctuation is important for many readers: we want to see your display of English, your virtuoso in the craft, your attention to minor details and microscopic blunders in sentences. All this tells the reader that you care about quality, but that's not to be confused with perfectionism. Slip-ups will happen, and they can't be stopped; the only way to avoid this is to edit, again and again, get help from other writers and readers alike, and improve your mastery of English. When we get past all the errors that make us feel terrible, we find an improved version of ourselves. And that's perhaps all that matters in the end.
Other areas, such as the inconsistent number spellings, hyphenated words, British and American variations of words, and occasional grammar mistakes, lead to hiccups in the story that are difficult to ignore for some readers. But considering the general good quality of the prose, it's nothing that a quick reread wouldn't fix.
STORY - 4.5/5
As far as I've read, the story is quite unique. This new world is certainly more interesting than a lot of the others found on Royal Road, and the longer you read, the more complicated and wonderful it becomes. It made for a lot of actionable scenes, coated with a touch of dark atmosphere, and fantastical eerieness. Cain seems to encounter new and refreshing challenges in his way, suffering a "fatal wound" and showing "no sign of injury"; battling against others in the same universe; enduring cold winters and harsh climates. It's the small stuff that makes it all the more enjoyable. The pacing is quite slow at the start, especially where scenes are shown instead of told, even though they don't seem that important to the plot. I can't fault Light on this, because I, too, do this. It adds an air of mystery and realism to an otherwise dense plot. The structure of the plot follows a pattern similar to Stephen King novels: we have characters in difficult situations, they progress to handle them, and newer more challenging situations arise. This is a solid set-up to follow; it differs from a lot of the more teen fiction platforms: action, action, more action; it's nice to take breaks when needed . . . As long as they aren't overdone to the point of boredom, which really hasn't happened in this novel thus far.
There are contrived moments, in my opinion. These likely stem from my unfamiliarity with power fantasy as a whole, but they didn't matter a whole lot in the long run. They simply make for a more exciting experience.
As a side-note: I think the blurb of the book needs a rewrite, as it doesn't really offer anything to the story that readers will encounter. In this case, a dramatic depiction of the novel would best suit, and could then be followed by an excerpt relating to the said blurb.
CHARACTERS - 4/5
As I've already mentioned, Cain's traits are simply told to the reader. They warranted mixed reactions from both me and some readers in the comments section. Nonetheless, the characters seem human, their dialogue isn't stilted, and their interactions feel genuine. I could best liken them to a cinematic introduction at the beginning of Netflix series: dramatic, somewhat comical, and realistic. This all adds to the air of authenticity that often goes unfound in a lot of stories, especially in web-novels. I enjoyed the interactions between all of them, the different ways in which they communicate, and the opinionatedness of their beliefs. My favourite would have to be Irene: her hot-headed attitude was a nice change from the regular, formal talkers earlier seen. She holds within her a drive that many others possess and may act as a catalyst for change in the community, an inspiration that will leave readers turning the pages, wondering with unease if she'll be okay in the end. Only due time will tell, as they say.
Cain's name-change, later on, seems confusing when brought up in scenes where he should identify as Cain. It may be the interlude-like cut to his other life that makes it strange, but it's something I was bothered by.
Although this book left me bewildered at times, I would still rate it highly at around 4/5 (I would put 4.25 if I could). Many qualities make this story a gem on Royal Road: the brilliant atmosphere, the characters and action, the focus on politics, the excellent prose, and so on. But I feel the story could be devised more cleverly, following a faster pace that feels more like fantasy and less like horror. The darkness in which the story is portrayed may turn readers away, especially the gory moments. Cain is without a doubt an evil protagonist, and that's something to be warned of before entering. If morally grey characters are more in your alley then you will enjoy this story, if you look for the characterisation of good, then probably not. Fans of slow-burn novels may also enjoy this story; that is if the author doesn't quicken the pace, which will likely give it that more authentic feel. I highly recommend this book to fans of dark fantasy, horror, and LitRPGs.
First of all, this is definitely a good dtory overall. BUT...
The very first, and very big, issue of this story is the prologue. Especially the first half of it, so the very start of the story, is a pretty long exposition on the geopolitical situation. The characters involved probably won't be mentioned again before chapter fifty, and appear before chapter 100. And what little information we get that actually seems to matter before we have already forgotten about it could have been used in different ways as well.
But besides that little mishap, the story is well written in a style that doesn't skimp on descriptions. At the same time, the story lives from not telling the reader jackshit. Pardon my french. Already in the first seven chapters the author seems to make a point of waiting until the last moment before he tells us what is going on, which can be both good and bad. I find it to be a bit much, but thats for everyone to decide themselves.
The story itself is very promising. Its not told from the very beginning, but starts at a later point in time, providing a backstory that can be discovered over time. Which is very unusual for an Isekai type story.
I didn't see any problems with the grammar, not even the occasional spelling mistake, which wouldn't be unusual.
This is a bit of an issue I have with this story. Until the point where I read, not many characters have been introduced, so I can only judge based on the MC. But he is who is the problem. The MC seems very unstable in his personality. Sure, considering his backstory (that I don't know) he might just not be the most mentaly healthy person, thus the unstable personality. But for now there havn't been any hints towards mental health issues like that.
- Grammar and structural issues exist, although they're being progressively patched out.
- At some points, it does feel a bit like MTL, although given the author's usual style, these issues can be addressed easily after an edit or two.
- Other than an infodump at the prologue, it's quite light elsewhere.
- The absence of commas is making the work seem very fast-paced, but maybe that's me.
- The prologue does a good job in establishing the wider view of the novel, before Chapter 1 goes back into a more focused viewpoint.
- Vivid use of imagery, although grammar issues detract from it...
- The author has a very interesting take on creating imagery, although they need to be polished if they are to be executed well.
- I found the MC rather endearing, purely because he has very entertaining thoughts.
- Also, he's nice and snarky. On a personal basis, I like that a lot. It makes him seem a lot more alive, although these thoughts can be rather...disturbing at times.
- Something that stuck out to me in Chapter 6: the London Bridge rhyme. Why is it there? The confusion is conveyed very nicely to Irene, and it hints at his otherworldly origins without dumping it in my face.
- It's quite slow-paced, and I don't quite see any goal, but that's kinda alright in my book. I get a SOL feeling from it, but...
- Anyone who's read TVtropes' Evil Overlord List might find this amusing, if nothing else.
Overall verdict: 4/5
- Enjoyable, but some odd grammar choices detracts from it. Readers who are more sensitive to grammatical and structural problems may find it hard to follow.
For those not in the know, this character is a more rounded version of another work.
He maintains his cold and practical approach, that is infinitely superior to superficial and shortsighted "bog standard good guy".
But he shed the previous persona of a snivelling, slimy, worthless little....
He is arguably not evil. Doing a superficially good deed (for good sake), without considering that the rater obvious consequences would make matters worse makes you evil.
He doesn't go around screwing people over, or intentionally ruining people lives. But negative prospects, short-long term, get erased at the best of his abilities.