Lemongrass - The Chaotic Life of Meadow Song

by Kevin Huynh

Warning This fiction contains:
  • Gore
  • Profanity
  • Traumatising content

Follow Meadow Song, a 16-year old transfer student, delve into the darkness of Heaven’s Gate, capital of cultivation. Many people there aspire to ascend to Heaven but only a few know that the path to immortality is built on corpses. This glamourous city is home to all the classic factions of Wuxia-fiction. In this future-esque world, people learned to cultivate through artificial interfaces, so-called cyber spirits. How will Meadow, born with an innate grass-spirit, survive in this urban jungle?

Dedicated to all the birds out there.

(2021/03/07) Note: The first 13 chapters were written for a contest that's why they are quite frankly rushed. I'm working on revising them. The current chapters are way more focused on slice-of life than action. That's why I changed the title.

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Author
Kevin Huynh

Kevin Huynh

The Writing Birb

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Table of Contents
Chapter Name Release Date
Prologue: The Dawn Of Revolution ago
Chapter 1: A Warm Welcome ago
Chapter 2: A Leaf In The Wind ago
Chapter 3: Sympathy ago
Chapter 4: Human Value(s) ago
Chapter 5: Life Lessons ago
Chapter 6: So Many Choices ago
Chapter 7: Feeling Lost ago
Chapter 8: Wunderwelt ago
Chapter 9: Zero Sum Game ago
Chapter 10: Grass Grows On All Graves ago
Chapter 11: Cursed Cure ago
Chapter 12: Recovery ago
Chapter 13: Breaking Point ago
Chapter 14: Retreat ago
Chapter 15: Home ago
Chapter 16: A Warmer Welcome ago
Chapter 17: Trainwreck ago
Chapter 18: Marathon Of Madness ago
Chapter 19: Gates To Hell ago
Chapter 20: The Black Heart ago
Chapter 21: A Gift From Above ago
Chapter 22: The Secret of the Suitcase ago
Chapter 23: Feathers ago
Chapter 24: Defense in the Dark ago
Chapter 25: Back to the Surface ago
Interlude: Mandate of Heaven ago
Chapter 26: Dinner after Dark ago
Chapter 27: Naked Honesty ago
Chapter 28: Full Assembly ago
Chapter 29: Soft Tofu, Hard Friends ago
Chapter 30: Part-Time Delinquent ago
Chapter 31: Pecking Order ago
Chapter 32: Time to Cultivate ago
Chapter 33: The Lonely Lion ago
Quick Announcement ago
Chapter 34: Entangled ago
Chapter 35: A Crazy Plan ago
Chapter 36: Violent Garden ago
Chapter 36.25: A Kiss from a Rose is like a Thorn in the Eye ago
Writathon Hiatus ago

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Publius Decius Mus
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Edit for Interlude: Mandate of Heaven.

A long dropped storyline, that I have already forgotten about made its glorious return, and made me remember what I liked about the beginning of this book. In Volume 2 it feels like the plot is finally going somewhere instead of getting side-tracked every chapter. There are actual, meaningful characters besides Meadows. I think this novel is going to continue to get better from now on!

Edit for chapter 19:

Volume 2 is better, so I bumped up the score.

Original review:

I have multiple problems with this book. It is one of those novels that you can encounter here, which look like a light-hearted comedy at first glance, but in fact they soon turn into something gritty and dark. Obviously, if that's the intention of the author, then it's okay. But I still think it's not the best approach to hint the readers that this will be a comedy which will deconstruct tropes, and then not continue on that path.

Style:

The sentences flow along nicely, but there is a certain abruptness in the description of events. Also, the dialouges could use some polishing.

Story:

It's rather action-packed, and there are many twists, which I liked. On the other hand, the abruptness and randomness that we can observe in the style, show their effect here too.

Grammar:

I had no problem with the grammar.

Characters:

The only really fleshed out character in the story is Meadows, all the other characters are cardboard, brought in or discarded on moment's notice. And even in Meadow's case there is one pretty serious case of retconning if I am not mistaken, which just shouldn't happen in a book of this length. EDIT: The author showed me the error of my ways, I was mistaken about this one.

Overall:

The genre change in the first few chapters doesn't make the book very appealing, it rouses the suspicion that the writer is making up things as we go. Which is more or less fine, that is part of the appeal in the serialised novel form, but I would still say this novel could use some more storyboarding.

P3rfectInsanity
Overall

Up to the point I read, there has been almost zero downtime to the action in the story, no characterization, no scenes of training or how the power system actually works (just that it does). We are told the students are cultivators, but don't see them cultivating-

and its implied that the MC had really gotten into the cultivator lifestyle (jokingly/in jest), but there's no scenes of it up to where I read.  

 

Its not all bad, the setting is unique and has a lot of potential for exposition and exploration. But again, once the action started, it never really stopped long enough to do that. The chapters are fun individually, but together I don't find them good for story progression.

DragonOfRochester
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Xianxia and Cyberpunk in a Mecha-Blender

Reviewed at: Chapter 23: Naked Honesty

This story is both fun and dark, just like any good Cyberpunk or Xianxia.

***

The story’s style and pacing in the beginning suffers from the origin of it... It was originally written for a short story or novella contest making the first story arc feel a little rushed if a reader doesn't know that at the start. The story after the first arc was written in a more web novel format and the pacing feels a lot better.

The descriptions tend to be minimal but as a minimalist writer myself, I didn't have too much of an issue with that but some readers might.

I listened to this novel through a web text to speech app, and I found that the prose flowed well when said aloud. I found no issues with either sentence structure or wrongly used words. It is very well done.

The character is a delightfully odd. She’s trying to gain strength to take her familly’s land back from some kind of very strong rusty mecha beasts. She doesn't get an MC halo and often finds herself in dangerous situations beyond her ability to deal with, but she does her best even if she makes mistakes. Probably her biggest flaw is that she trusts too much. I find this a very realistic flaw in a character coming to the big dangerous city for the first time. It is also why I like this character. Instead of growing wary and distrustful of everyone she would still pick up the luggage of someone who died in front of her to return it to their family, rather than let it be confiscated by the corrupt cops. She also has a tendency to overthing about Confusion.

She makes friends with Rose, a girl who reveals in chaos and is a terrible person to be friends with, but she does have her own issues, even if they're not always shown until later.

In conclusion, if you're looking for something different that is both dark and fun, I highly recommend this story.

mask19
Overall

I really want to like this story, but it's all over the place. For instance I stopped reading at this chapter because it went through 2 time skips with no transition. I want to go on a journey, but there are too many jumps. In one paragraph she's in school after an injury and in the next she's at her parents house. It's a good premise, but I feel like it's missing whole chunks in the actual writing. 

If the "volume 2 is better" review is true, I really suggest going back and editing past chapters

Ethernet Storyhunter
Overall

This story feels like cyberized cultivaters built there own hell Salem's lot. A la blood blockade battlefront.

The beginning feels normal. Goes off the rails gets lost looses an arm. Lands alongside a trouble magnet. Cultuvation is not really what this seems to be about. 

This story seems to be about a girl who does not want to be where she is trying to survive. Dispite everything she gains power on accident. Trying to stay out of trouble she gets into it. 

Keep her head down? Reaction attack's a drone that she thinks is insulting her.

No current plot currently except survive school and gtfo

Sebi_89
Overall

Full disclosure: I was one of the beta readers of this novel. I know how much energy the author put into their work. And the product really represents the birds creative work ethic: A little chaotic, sometimes funny, sometimes sad but always entertaining.
I look very much forward to where the story will lead and wish all the best to the bird.

Nameless32
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

I've always been of the opinion that RR needs more cyberpunk stories. Cyberpunk and cultivation stories?!?! You bet I'm in. Don't let that cultivation tag scare you away, either, because Lemongrass is probably the furthest from those overplayed cultivation tropes out of any of the cultivation stories on this site. 

Lemongrass is the story of, to drastically simplify it, a natural-born cultivator in a cyberpunk world full of artificially-modified cultivators. Meadow Song is a small-town peasantgirl™ who gets whisked away to the big city for cultivator academy. 

Throughout the first few chapters, we see her gradual integration into the city and cultivator school and get introduced to a couple of quirky (and not total dickhead!) side characters. The setting and the MC's voice are definite strengths of this story, and Birb does a great job of combining old cultivator-speak with modern (well, futuristic) slang. The first chapter really set the scene for me, and it's only goes up from here.

The prose (and by extension, the pacing) does tend to go a little fast sometimes, but it's definitely nothing too bad, and as someone who has the same writing flaws, I can't particularly fault Birb for this. 

Also, gremmer iz okey. 5/5