Collective Thinking

Collective Thinking

by TowerCurator

Warning This fiction contains:
  • Profanity

Dyna Graves grew up thinking she was special. An exception to the average. Not necessarily above her peers, but simply outside their context. However, toward the end of her high school life, she started to realize that nobody was really special. At least not in any fantastical way.

Just as she started trying to figure out what she wanted to do with the rest of her life, she got an invitation. A psychic institute scoped her out, realized her psychic potential, and asked if she would undergo psionic training at the Carroll Institute.

Almost immediately, Dyna realized that she wasn’t quite up to the same level as many of her peers. Surrounded by clairvoyants and mind readers displaying obvious abilities made her own lack of ability all the more apparent.

That was, up until the researchers and scientists of the facility realized that there was a bit more to Dyna Graves than met the eye. After an explosive incident during what should have been a routine experiment, Dyna quickly found herself wrapped up in a world of cutthroat espionage.

The story can also be viewed on my website, https://www.towercurator.com/collective-thinking/. Cover art by Zoern.

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Author
TowerCurator

TowerCurator

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Achievements
4th Anniversary
100 Comments
1,000,000 Views
1,500 Followers
Top List #60
Word Count (17)
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Table of Contents
101 Chapters
Chapter Name Release Date
Home Invasion ago
A New Hope ago
Psychodynamics ago
Compatibility ago
Medical Matters ago
Class Canceled ago
Meditation ago
Artifacts ago
Single-Blind ago
Pastries and Pursuit ago
Help ago
Debriefing ago
A Day Off ago
History ago
Retrospective ago
Your Mind ago
Investigation ago
Sanctuary ago
Protection ago
Plotting ago
Of Doubts and Traitors ago
Altering the Plan ago
Guardian Angel ago
Calm Before the Storm ago
Not a Crazed Gunman ago
Hypnosis ago
Kidnapped ago
The Fastest Available Route ago
Idaho Falls Regional Airport ago
Resonance Cascade ago
Unbound ago
Continuity Engine ago
Warning: Artifact Instantiation Anomaly Detected ago
Amplification Chamber ago
Sane Texts ago
Road Trip ago
Butterflies ago
Close Encounter ago
Attention: Priority Objectives Updated ago
Race to the Target ago
Hospital Stay ago
Makeshift Protection ago
Tick-Tock ago
Evaluation ago
Goggles ago
Search ago
Rescue ago
Driving ago
Crossing the Stage ago
Spatial Anomaly ago
Contained ago
Reinforcements ago
Doctor Teeth ago
The Other Side ago
Thing ago
Static ago
Shadows from the Other Side ago
Assault ago
Looping ago
Sapphire ago
Experimentation ago
Window to the Other Side ago
A Quick Trip to the Store ago
Welcome to Psychodynamics ago
Ticket Escalation ago
Administrator Theta ago
Plain Jane ago
Paranoia ago
A Gift for Cross ago
Measure of Success ago
The First Words ago
Paranormal Investigation ago
Countdown ago
Evasion ago
Chaos ago
Stress ago
Priority Objective ago
Mountain Man ago
Emergency Planning ago
Night Rider ago
Coil Gun ago
Lightning Gun ago
Therapy Session ago
Theta ago
Mission Failure ago
Friendly Appearances ago
Tick-Tock ago
Wedding Crashers ago
Situational Awareness ago
Stolen Information ago
Following the Cracks ago
Impromptu Appointments ago
Encounter Id ago
Guilt ago
Kit and Id ago
Conspiracies ago
Confrontations ago
Proposing an experiment ago
Doorknocker ago
Split ago
Revelations ago

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Reviews
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Berj
Overall

Well written with annoyng MC situation.

Reviewed at: Experimentation

The story is well written and interesting, not a really original concept, but the take on it is nice.

The story, at least for me, suffers from the same problem as the other stories from the same author.

 

On Void Domain, there was no character development. At least not from the characters perspective. When seeing other povs, you could see the character getting stronger, but from the mc own pov, things never changed the whole novel, and that is just talking about character's abilities. Character's growth wise, basically none.

 

On Vacant throne, MC was powerful from the beginning, but kept limiting herself and doing things that made no sense. Don't really remember that much aside from a feeling of frustration when thinking of that novel.

 

In this novel , it is the same concept as "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya". MC can warp reality, there are countless hints about it, but the MC is incapable of connecting the dots. Might very well be that she doesn't want to connect the dots, but that also makes things annoying to read.

 

Overall, it is very well written and interesting aside from personal bias towards the MC situation, I think I’ll keep it saved and just binge later when lots of chapters have been released.

Kukinks
Overall

Not too bad but really could be better.

Reviewed at: Spatial Anomaly

Personally I dislike this story and the basic reason is simple: Lack of agency.

Our protagonist Dyna (A student/test subject in a facility for psychics with varying abilities ranging from mind control to mind reading) has no psychic ability that is easily shown. She gets contacted by the higher-ups to be tested and she causes an event that sets all the story in motion. 

All of that is fine and dandy, however the problem is that after that event there has never been much agency for Dyna. Two side characters Emerald and Ruby have both had significantly more agency than her and actively have to drag her around to do anything at all. Dyna doubts herself in almost ever interaction even when she has literally just said a chapter ago that she believes something and for me that is frustrating.

This is not even mentioning the plethora of clues about her power such as her artifact (mysterious items that have been overloaded with psionic energy and are able to bend the laws of reality when bonded to a psychic) which she was told was not a real artifact but she believed it was a real artifact and it became one. Or how almost everyone is telling her not to think about things or not to believe in certain things which is seriously blatant. Or how when Dyna believes something will go wrong it literally always does go wrong.

Not only this but the fact that she was literally shown evidence of her bending reality which caused the event in the first place! It's like no one will ever tell her what is going on, she won't put two and two together and figure it out herself, and every thought she has will make it worse and worse. It's absolutely frustrating to read because not only is there no agency but it feels like no matter what anyone does and especially no matter what the protagonist does there is no real meaning because there is little to no progression in the character since she's always going to be scared, always going to doubt herself, and will always be in the dark about everything because she believes in things that come into reality.

If you would like to read this because of its premise that's fine but personally to me there is no real progression here there is no actual story. It doesn't always have to be her growing stronger or her gaining some magical ability of anything. Even her character growth is at best superficial because her core problem is still there: She does not have any agency in her own story. 

It could be worse but it's not... it's not what it could be. It's too drawn out. Too much of the same thing.

The-Anti-Akuma
Overall

It's pretty well written, I did enjoy a few parts.. But the MC just has so much doubt that it's frustrating... And honestly I just have trouble when the MC can't or doesn't manage to do anything with their power for 50K+ Words.

Honestly i'm just getting bored waiting for her to figure our how to do something! Anything!

 

Like Chapter 1 shows OP Ruby and Emerald and everything and then goes to show miss. I can't do anything. And I think that makes it worse, because of the contrast.

From what I can tell, she seems to be some sort of Reality Warper, and my guess is that it works based on what she believes will happen or should happen.. But she doubts everything.. Even the things that she seems to believe, she second guesses.

Dion Sky (Csuite, Skylark)
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

One of the absolute best on Royal Road

Reviewed at: Help

The synopsis doesn't do it justice.

Collective Thinking is an absolute star of a fiction that reads like a cross between The Lost Room, The Matrix, and the Bourne movies. I'm impressed, and I'm not easily impressed. So impressed, in fact, I'm hesitant to label it an urban fantasy action-thriller, even though that's technically what it is. This isn't your typical specimen, and that's what makes it amazing. But lest you worry it will be dry and inaccessible, its fast pace, fascinating originality and creative action means this couldn't be further from the truth. 

What I get from Collective Thinking first and foremost is its engaging mysteries. Main character Dyna is enrolled in the Carroll Institute psychic study and research programme after being scouted, but doesn't have any obvious psychic ability. So at this point, we all know how this will go: she'll have some amazing unforeseen ability, etc etc. What I love is that Collective Thinking 100% understands this, and doesn't dumb it down. Characters know Dyna's special, she knows she's special, but it isn't obvious how. Not only that, but the hints we do get are absolutely fascinating and point towards a looming explanation in the background I'm sure readers will be snapping their fingers and cursing over later, grinning with satisfaction.

So of course I'm immediately intrigued. I have pet theories. I like having pet theories. Fun and engagement: check.

It also helps that the grammar is immaculate. I didn't notice any typos or awkward wording at all. I'm actually kind of shocked. We're already in top story territory based on that factor alone. Stylistic flow - also perfect. It's all great even by professional standards. If you want to learn how to write well, use this story as reference. Enough said.

As for the plot and characters, both are superb. The plot takes crowning glory so far with its plethora of unusual mysteries and intriguing questions, zero dross in between. But its characters aren't far behind, with the snarky institutional rivalry among scientists, administrators and artificer secret agents making me laugh unironically as they manipulate students and get up to the kind of hijinks the real world would consider horrendously unethical (and also probably let slide when it suited them). My god, are they endlessly fun to read about.

This review wouldn't be complete without mentioning artifacts, because they take central stage here. Much of the plot so far revolves around these mysterious objects and their mystical interactions with the world and the psychics who use them. For those who know The Lost Room, it's that, but better. We get a deeper dive into the research actually being done on the items, the organisational culture of the Carroll institute, and all those nitty-gritty questions you always wished similar TV shows and movies spent more time on. And it does this without sacrificing any of the action. The balance is perfect.

In short, Collective Thinking somehow managed to take all my favourite story elements and distil them into one glorious addictive bundle. Based on this start, it's my top story of the last couple of years (against some stiff competition), and I will definitely be reading more.

ezlord
Overall

The first few chapters hooks you. You think mc is some badass who is meant to have a badass artifact but instead she picks up a fake and for all her potential for the last 30 chapters she has done little more than stage tricks. The plot is somewhat interesting, engaging enough, there is a good level of mystery and questions to be answered. However all of this is mired by the fact that our coming of age protaganist has a pea sized brain compared to a 10 year old. In fact if the mc was removed from the story it would be significantly more enjoyable. Most charecters are reflective of some troupe especially the 10 year old who exhibits the mental intelligence of a late teen. Overall it needs lot of improvement. My only hope is that she gets that cone hat artifact instead of her fake junk

KoboldPatrol
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Strange but interesting, very mysterious

Reviewed at: Retrospective

(as of chapter 'Retrospective', i.e. the 15th one)

Dyna clearly has some kind of psychic powers, but nobody knows which kind. It's certainly not one of the known ones, else she wouldn't fail all the tests to find out. When the Carroll Institute (the prime place for all stuff psychic/psionic, a combination of research facility and "mysterious organization headquarters" and psionic college) uses one of the stranger tests on her, something reacts and Dyna's life changes drastically. Even when seen from the baseline of "yer a wizard, Harry" she just had accustomed herself to. 

So far, this story seems to be a mix of a paranormal (i.e. mind powers, not ghosts) mystery thriller – centered on the MC trying to find out what is going on with herself – and an action story, although I'm not sure whether that will still be the case going forward. Right now, there are lots of open questions. To be honest, the early chapters almost made me drop the story. The narration started with a weird action scene and the people there were not introduced at all, chapter one even followed people who had no discernible connection to what I knew from the story blurb. The following chapters introduced the main character, but still lacked so much basic background information that I only powered through because of the good ratings. It became a little clearer later. 

Style/Story/Grammar: The story is told in third-person style from multiple points of view. The main character is Dyna, but there are also various POVs from the scientists and some other psychics. Descriptions and word choice are good; we clearly learn what the person of the respective point of view does, what they think and what they experience. World building is a bit scant, so far we only know that psychic powers are real but a recent discovery, and that the Carroll Institute is the best place for dealing with them. The pacing is quick, there's lots of stuff happening in a short time with not much downtime for the MC. Grammar is very good, almost flawless. 

Characters: Dyna is a young woman who is somehow special in a psychic sense, but doesn't know what kind of special, as the institute she's attending has not found out yet (I'm guessing 'name of story'). She is shown in a realistic way, with reactions and traits appropriate for her age and a little insecurity as the main character trait. I think she is written very well. The people from the institute we met are a mix of scientists (one clearly mad) and CIA agents, each with clear differences in their personality and their approach. I can't say much more because of spoilers, but we quickly learn that the two people from chapter one are psions as well and that they do some secret agent stuff; my first impression of the younger one is "weird Mary Sue" because of the way she is introduced ("mega-capable but crazy 10-year-old" is a red flag), I hope she will be turned into a real person later. 

All in all, while I'm still not sure where this story will lead, it introduced some very interesting concepts. Especially the artifacts, magic items with a very strange way of working that is different for each user. I might not be as enthusiastic about the story as the other reviewers seem to be, but I'm looking forward to learn more. 

Apnea
Overall

Psychics and Mystery done correctly

Reviewed at: Retrospective

I have been absolutely loving this story so far. I generally don't review, but here goes:
Firstly, I don't really believe in summaries, and I feel they never do any story much justice. Even so, this one generally does what is asked of it.
The real enjoyment doesn't come from reading the summary, of course. As soon as I clicked the first chapter, I basically couldn't stop reading. The various foreshadowed plot points, the exceptionally well-done psychic abilities, and a collection of fun and/or lovable characters with personalities that feel realistic, if a little exaggerated.
Only time will tell if this story culminates into an amazing read, but it's got a ton of potential, and I truly admire the way it's written. Very few errors grammatically that I could tell, though I'm not someone who knows a great amount about advanced sentence structure, or whether something would be technically correct. I've never not understood what was trying to be conveyed, and though I don't have a very active imagination, TowerCurator's descriptions are accurate enough that I can actually imagine what's going on.

I am extremely excited to read more, and will look forward to every update.
If you're still reading this, you're not reading the story, so go do that.

InverseIota
Overall

Self-discovery paranormal thriller

Reviewed at: A Day Off

Whew, what a start.

Protagonist Dyna Graves is a student at the Carroll Institute, a center for psionic training and research. Unlike many of the other psychics/psionics she is unable to manifest her abilities through the normal course work, lectures, and training. Once she takes a certain test however, things kick into high gear as Dyna discovers more and more about herself and the world she has been thrown into.

I love the inspiration this story takes to create a really unique setting. There are healthy doses from the SCP Foundation and Control when it comes to the research/discovery focused chapters. And some nods to the Matrix help establish the relationship between Dyna and some of her peers and mentors.

Immediately I see several things I like in novel beginnings. There is no info dump world building to overwhelm the reader, we learn about the setting through the Dyna’s thoughts and interactions. There are plenty of questions to keep the reader hungry for more (both about Dyna, her powers, and the larger world), but they are all manageable in scope and it doesn’t feel like they won’t be answered. And the supporting characters all have distinct personalities, some of which we can tell by the first couple sentences of interaction.

Very excited to see where this goes.

bradyman50
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

I'm terrible at writing reviews, but here goes.

I really enjoyed it so far. It's a little confusing at first, but most good books are. Personally I'm tired of reading books where the entire plot is spoonfed to you in the first 5 chapters like at the beggining of some generic isekai and all that's left is to find out how many girls the MC will end up dating. By chapter 10 you get a pretty good idea of what's going on, but there is still plenty of mystery for the MC and the reader.

I really like the style, Ponas Niekas already mentioned that the setting has a similar feel to the author's prevfious works while remaining distinct and I completely agree. 

I didn't notice any grammatical errors, but after years of reading on this sight I skim over all but the most egregious. There were no immersion--breaking errors or any other issues that distracted me from the story.

It's a little early to say too much about the story, and we haven't seen too much of the characters, but ( without getting too spoilery) we've got an interesting main character that loves horror movies, just starting to come into her powers while struggling with the amazing abilities that everyone around her possesses  and abuses, and an interesting cast of side characters. I'd go into more detail, but we haven't learned too much about them yet and I'll probably forget to update this and don't want to say anything wrong or misleading.

hajakuja
Overall

This story is a mix of Fringe + Legion + SCP Foundation. And its awesome. Its a mystery with increasing depth. The Magic system seem pretty well thought out and a bit different from other RR stories though nothing groundbreaking. 

The story so far is typical mystery, though masterfully written, and I'm hoping it becomes even more engaging as it goes on. 

No major gripes about grammar though it has the usual issues that come with web serials and low to no edditing. There are almost no typos, at least a very low number of them. 

The charcters could be a bit less generic, with the exception of a little girl who is awesome.