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What do you do when you don't fit in?
Edwin never really felt many connections to other people, but as a physics student, that was fine. He didn't really need it, anyway. He was content to peel back the mysteries of the universe... not that there were many left to find. Modern-day research was just too well-established, too well-trodden for any single enthusiast to make any significant headway.
But that doesn't apply to other worlds. Not ones where magic and Skills run rampant, where well-defined roles and Classes dominate much of society with little room for novel experimentation from its residents. That kind of world would be perfect for an overeager, newly-minted Alchemist to make his mark.
Things are never that easy, though.
The Way Ahead is a very slice-of-life story following the story of someone trying to find his place in a world that doesn't know what to do with him. Expect lots of science, lots of alchemy, a few sarcastic quips by the System, and lots of exploration involving the world, self-discovery, and above all, science.
After all, further research is always required.
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There are both good and bad traits to this story that I would like to discuss here.
First and foremost, a summary: The good traits are that the system is unique, the characters are distinct, the dialogue is thought and emotion-evoking, the plot is interesting, and the novel is enjoyable to read (at its core).
However, the core issue I have with this novel is related to its length and formatting. The length of the novel compared to the density of events occurring in-universe is far too imbalanced. Typically, we will have one thing happen, such as the main character becoming hungry, but we the reader have to go through at least three to eight paragraphs describing this one change.
It is not described as "He became hungry after walking for two days without food." or "Hours of strenuous hiking over mountains and fighting monsters made him starving." but paragraphs after paragraphs describing how he became hungry, what it feels like to be hungry, his thoughts on how he feels now that he's hungry, how harrowing it was to become hungry, what he could do to not be hungry, and then at least three separate theories on how not to starve to death. To which he will catch himself for rambling, only to continue rambling as he manages to find some strange food and not starve to death. It is as though we are reading a real-time stream of consciousness from this person than a story. We see almost every damn thought and idea.
Now I am ironically rambling on this topic, but my point still stands. Almost 30% of every chapter can be removed and it will not impact clarity whatsoever. And onto formatting, these huge paragraphs of verbal diarrhea make it incredibly difficult to read. Usually you can only see about two or three paragraphs on your screen at once simply because they are so large. Each sentence is stretched as though the author is a high school student trying to get 600 words for his essay. And the sentence structure is often so convoluted that each sentence is layered with meanings to the point that clarity is sharply decreased and your ability as a reader to... well... read the sentence also is impacted.
Besides this, there aren't many problems. It is a good story besides the convolution, and if you enjoy reading the insane formatting, this is probably heaven for you.
P.S. Don't even get me started on how truly and utterly unintelligent the mc is (basically Sheldon Cooper.), not to mention the senseless laws of this super nation.
The story is somewhat interesting, and I like the genre. And it's reasonably well crafted.
But the MC is an idiot, and at this point I'm not sure he's not one of the most Evil people in the story. And the world is a mess. Do all the nobility have skills like Break Will? Just all dwarven nobility?
If the various governments around are totalitarian regimes, with stronger control of their citizens than the worst dystopian fiction, I'm not sure the alchemist harvesting ingredients from human bodies isn't a brave freedom fighter.
Whatever. I give up. Good luck.
I really enjoyed the first half of the story. But after a while the MC's self-esteem issues and terrible social interactions just got on my nerves. And then he makes a lot of choices with his paths and skills that really bothered me. They might lead to something cool later down the road but they really ruined the story for me NOW.
So many paths... but what do they do? No one knows! Even if you think you do random stuff happens. Meh. Also, I agree that the main character is an idiot, and the storyline doesn't flow logically from the character profile. I feel like the author didn't really think out the magic system he's using and is forcing things to keep writing.
It starts of interesting, promising a fairly unique take on a litrpg system, and a main character with a well developed personality.
Unfortunately that personality is hard to read. The MC is anti-social, and can be quite naive at times, even stupid. This isn't a case of gripping tight to the idiot ball, its all in character and makes sense for the MC, but it can still be painful to read. You will have to be willing to accept the MC for who he is if you are to get enjoyment from the story.
The story itself starts rough. Well, it starts fine, then it enters a short slave arc. Then some minor stuff, before the point where I think the majority of readers will drop the story, the bandit arc. I'd recommend skipping the chapters from where he leaves the friendly adventurer, to until he wanders into the forest outside Vinstead.
If you get past this arc, the story really picks up, and becomes the story that was promised. An investigation of a new, interesting system with an non combat focused MC. Here his personality gets to be shown without being detrimental to the story itself. His social troubles becomes something the reader can empathise with now that he's not screwing himself over by jumping to conclusions at every opportunity.
I've decided to rate overall as if the bandit arc didn't exist, except in the story rating.
I have been following this story for more than 3 months now, 73 odd chapters. I really gave it a long thought on how to give a proper review without hurting the author. As I wrote the review in my mind, my rants became longer and longer till I decided it would be better not to put it down physically in this review form.
Instead I will borrow two quotes from my favourite author PG Wodehouse to express my feelings succinctly.
On what I feel after following this novel for so long expecting something to happen:
"...experienced the sort of abysmal soul-sadness which afflicts one of Tolstoy's Russian peasants when, after putting in a heavy day's work strangling his father, beating his wife, and dropping the baby into the city's reservoir, he turns to the cupboards, only to find the vodka bottle empty"
And generally how this story progresses:
"This Vladimir Brusiloff to whom I have referred was the famous Russian novelist. . . . Vladimir specialized in gray studies of hopeless misery, where nothing happened till page three hundred and eighty, when the moujik decided to commit suicide. . . ."
This story isn't about the setup mentioned in the synopsis. Oh, that is a part of the story but only a small part. When it is present, it is usually about how willfully ignorant the MC is being. Despite being proven wrong significantly more often than not, the MC never let go of the idea that the scientific knowledge he has from Earth is the only correct path. This may change in subsequent chapters that I haven't read but the attitude shown by the MC where science is concerned is the exact wrong attitude to have. He epitomizes the worst characteristics among scientists.
In addition to the MC chaffing my hide, I was not a fan of the story being different than the synopsis. It isn't bad, but what I read was really just another magic academy story from a different perspective. Not my cup of tea.
What started out great has slowly drifted into what feels like filler content. There's no need for constant action, but there's something wrong when you have paragraphs on paragraphs of introspection and unnecessary detail. Another reviewer mentioned that it had gotten to the point where one could skip paragraphs and miss out on nothing, it seems to have progressed to the point where entire chapters can be dodged with little to no loss of story content.
This was read up to chapter 24 until it become too much to read.
For a setting with such high potential, it is incredibly disappointing how stupidly naive and trusting the MC is when dealing with people. While his first interaction can be excused as a lack of knowledge, the fact that he does it again with the second group of people he meets marks him as irredeemable and utterly lacking as a main character and person in general in comparison to how this story could have gone.
Basically, it is a case of a typical all INT and no WIS build, as in all knowledge and no common sense. Sadly, I do not think it is something could be remedied given the character and motivation of the Main Character, who seems want further interaction with the people and society of this world, vs experimenting in secret and alone to understand the physical and magical rules of this world in uninterrupted peace and quiet.
Even the plan of choice to escape was disappointing since he used alchemical means to get out physically when he has the Realm Traveler path instead to fill out and potentially gain a teleportation skill, which could’ve been a way to even return to earth.
I really really want to love this story. I love the concept and I think the world and magic system is super interesting. However the MC completely ruins the entire story.
I understand he has intentional flaws, the main one being his social awkwardness, but this does not make it any less infuriating when he just decides he's never going to listen to anything that's going on around him. This just creates pointless drama and fake problems because he "realized they were talking and he wasn't listening to anything they were saying" over and over and over again
It's like one of those TV shows where the characters are jwust intentionally not communicating to create problems for the show to deal with. Completely pointless and just frustrating. Unfortunately going to be dropping this, which is a shame because I was absolutely devouring it up to this point.