ARC. Survival Online

Frustratingly Realistic MC, Fallen World

In order of "worst" to "best" aspects of this fiction:

Character: The MC is likely what an average person would do under huge stress.  He makes bad decisions, other people pay for these decisions.  This is realistic which is less fun to read than the typical power fantasy, but it's a good change of pace.  There are many side characters, but they are fairly flat.  The MC will be frustrating if you are expecting optimal decisions with great results during severe conditions and massive stress. 

Grammar: Decent enough, but needs work.  There are typically errors in every chapter, but there are not so many as to be constantly jarring or extremely distracting to people who are not (like me) grammar obsessed.  A bit more than you'd expect in published work, but above average.  Author is open to fixes, even after the work is completed, so still interested in making the story as clean as possible, which is another plus.

Style: Probably my biggest complaint on the style is that this is more a system apocolypse style fiction, so I'm not 100% clear on why the word "online" is in the title, even 79 chapters in.  Otherwise it's clean and crisp styling, using third person writing mostly following the MC.

Story: This fiction is realistic enough to be painful to "watch" some of the expected outcomes come from the bad decisions.  I like that, but I can understand that it may not be what everyone looks for in their fictions.  Less escapist fiction, with an almost reality styling, making and doubling down on bad decisions means experiencing bad consequences, and sometimes other people pay that price, too.  Possibly the most bothersome aspect if you prefer fiction to have only good stuff happen to the good guys. 



Legendary Farmer

Rough start, but great story

TL;DR: Prologue payoff takes a long time.  IF that might bother you, skip it and read from chapter 1, but DO read this tale.

Let me start with the worst thing I can say about this story.  The initial return for the prologue is more than 28 chapters into the book, and it's pretty minor there.  Mostly, it consists of more hints about further developments in the future.  This may bother you... if so, just skip the prologue.  You can go back and read it later.  It's NOT vital to the rest of the story, except to note that it's about a game world where the initial Aspen chapters wouldn't make that clear.  OK, that handled, lets get into the great stuff. 

Style: This gets ding'd a half-star for the long gap between prologue and tie-in.  Otherwise, the prose is nicely mixed word choice, with scattered humor and some dad-jokes (which some may not like, but as a dad, I appreciate.)  Also like that I can share this one with my kiddos, which is far less common than I'd like.

Story:  Engrossing.  There are no gotcha twists to the plot.  There's a bunch of stuff left unsaid but clearly implied, and there's a nice mix of mystery and mundane.  There's action, but also some calm, peaceful moments.  Several touching scenes, and even the classic training montage.  These standard elements are skillfully interwoven into a delightful whole.

Grammar:  Super clean.  Not like hey, it's good for Royal Road, but rather published quality.  I routinely find errors in published novels, and the worst thing I've found in this one was a spacing issue that was a preference item more than an error.

Character:  Some side characters are not fully fleshed out, but the main cast is all well done, distinct, and human (even the non-human ones).  Character dialogue is consistent.  The one RL villian is a completely tropish bully, which lands a bit 2d relative to the rest of the cast, which are otherwise excellent work.

The Humble Life of a Skill Trainer

Great Premise, Adequate ending, Completed

Starts out Fantastic five-star kind of story, second half is more rambling and vague, not as good.  Still a pretty entertaining read.  Definitely worth a binge read, since the whole story is complete, and you don't have to wait for parts to get published.  Don't let the hiatus fool you. 

Oh Great, I Was Reincarnated as a Farmer.

This is a stub.  I went in knowing it's a stub, so I'm not mad like some of the other reviewers.  Better a stub than a story randomly hiatus'ing.

The story is decent.  It's entertaining.  The character has some serious flaws (impulse control, no negotiation skills, stupidly stubborn levels of stubborn stupidity) and for having a luck of 11, still manages to mostly luck his way through with some serious plot armor, just like his role model, Kevin McAllister.  Almost everything else is 2d.  Familiar is pretty much only there as a snarky way to impart world-knowledge to the reader (and the MC).  So is the mayor.  And the sage.  And the monsters.  Story is 4.0 stars. Characters are 3.0, grammar is 4.5, style is 3.5. 

Of Men and Dragons, Book 2

Still no real dragons. So misleading.

If you're looking for actual dragons, they still only have Angela, so far.  It's early days, but I'll be updating this as the story progresses.  So, I guess you can hold out hope that the dragons will be showing up sometime.  

Grammar:  Very minor issues here and there.  Nothing major.  Typo rate slightly more frequent than the level of professionally edited and published work, but quality is well above typical indie published work for sale.  Author is also fast to fix any errors that readers notice.  

Style:  Did I mention that it's book two?  It's got the same styling as book one.  So, if you didn't like book one, you probably won't like this one.  Honestly, if you didn't like book one, you're probably not even reading this.  Sheer sillyness!  (If you did like book one, fine, I guess you can read this, but there's a story inside, and this is just a review, why are you still here, go read!).  

Story:  It would be hard to understand what's going on if you just joined us and skipped book one.  Might consider adding a "story thus far" section, but for now, the simple answer is: Please see book one, come back when you are done.  Otherwise, the story so far is continuing apace.  The first few chapters are a bit less active than the conclusion of book one, but that's expected.

Character:  Yup, he didn't kill any off in the interim.  They're all here, minus a few raiders, who will generally be mourned by few, and missed by no readers at all.  Same issues as the first one.  There are some tropes (somewhat moody, self-doubting MC might be the single biggest one) but they are used well. Growth can be seen on many of the characters.  


TL;DR:  Don't read if you have no patience.  You'll catch up to now, and then it's a week between chapters.

The story is fun, the characters are complex, and the grammar is excellent.  The worst part is that the releases are slow, and some of them seem to not go anywhere.  I personally like the slower pace of the chapters, and I'm happy to be getting the story.  If spending time on a chapter that seems to not have a big change for the world is a problem for you, then you'll be frustrated with this one.

The Most Overpowered Floofer

Petey is a super-loveable floof-ball.


Story:  This is just a fun, floofy adventure with Petey and his desire to love everyone.  It's not deep.  It's not literary genius.  It's happy, fun, loveable, plot armored, floof-speed ahead fiction.  It's a playful romp full of joy and happiness.  It's the dog pretty much even dog haters have to love.

Style: It's quirky, but well written.  Flow is smooth, pacing is excellent.  Petey speak is a bit different, but that's actually part of the charm.  The Petey portions are fun, and other's interactions with each other hold together well.  There are some bits where Petey-speak is a bit much, but not enough to detract significantly from the overall experience of the story.

Grammar:  Few to no mistakes.  If there are mistakes, Petey will lick them and then we have to redefine the grammar based on Petey.  Petey makes grammar do what he wants.  Seriously, though, nothing major to complain about here.

Character: There are several tropes, there are several shallow characters, but there aren't many that are purely props or just there for doggy biscuits, except the gods who give all the biscuits to the loveable Petey.   Characters have evolved in the story, even Petey. 

One Billion Players

Decent story, many rough edges

Early days, hard to give lots of review here, but you requested one:

Story: Story start is a bit cavalier.  Might offend anyone with Covid losses in their family/friends.  Decent pacing so far.  Minor info-dump bit in the front end, but those don't bother me.

Character: Only 1. He's got flaws and strengths, some denial, so that rings pretty real.  No side characters exist outside of props (dead parents, unconcious sister). 

Grammar: Many errors.  Strongly recommend use of external grammar checking tool.

Style: 1st to 3rd shift halfway through chapter one was a bit unexpected, might rework first part of intro?  Several formatting issues.

The Bellflower Malady

Good story and characters, but technical flaws

This story has adventure, friendship, sacrifice, confusion, and fun.  Absolutely worth reading for those aspects.  There are many technical issues with grammar and style that mar the story, so if those are big "story killers" for you, you might want to look elsewhere.

Story:  It opens with waiting in a line, but quickly segues into some drama and some action.  There's some glimpses of some backstory of dad off for the war, but somehow there aren't MORE dads and moms off for the war, so that falls a bit flat.  Despite that, you still want to know what's going to happen, so the story is quite engaging from the start.

Character: The MC is a bit all over the place during the prologue in terms of sad/too shy to talk/not so shy as to not run off into the woods chasing the person she was too shy to talk to. Since she's supposed to be a kid, that's not entirely out of place.  Mom, one the other hand is supposedly afraid to leave the house, but somehow she doesn't have any issues with taking her kid to a different city with tons of strangers around and hanging out in line for some ritual.  She's also fine with encouraging her daughter to be adventuresome.  The backstory of the MC and her mother seems not to match their in-story behaviors and therefore appears to just be there for the pathos, weakening the impact on characterization and making them a bit less real.  Characterization still stands out as reasonably good.

Grammar:  Errors in almost every paragraph.  Punctuation is sometimes missing or misplaced.  Subject verb agreement is mostly correct, and when incorrect it is typically in dialogue where people might misuse it anyway.  Several words are misspelled in every chapter, typically homophone errors.  Run-ons and fragments are fairly common, but author is aware and wants to fix these, when given help.

Style: Word choices are confusing at times. Several early sentences using repetitive imagery, sometimes even the same word in the same sentence.  There are missing words from the occasional sentence, leaving those sentences confusing, incomplete, and/or interrupted. (This has been mostly addressed by edits)

Edited as story matured, improved grammar and style.

The Farmer

Good story, decent characters, rest needs work

TL;DR.  IF you have a high tolerance for grammatical errors and repetitive word choice, this fiction is good.

 Starting at the bottom and working our way up:

Style:  Word choice is limited. The buff man is buff.  The bald man is bald. The sentences are at least not constantly passive voice, so there's a positive bit.

Grammar:  Punctuation is routinely missing or in error, starting from the very first line of the fiction.  Spelling errors are present but not frequent, but run-ons and fragments are used liberally.  Verb tenses are mixed randomly within paragraphs and sometimes within sentences.  Words are routinely missing from sentences. 

The following paragraph displays most of the issues with regard to grammar AND style.
"Despite living alone, he handles everything that is happening in his farm. From field work to taking care of the animals. In which he doesn’t have a lot."
Of the three sentences, the first is the best, merely stylistically odd, with the use of Despite rendering the sentence into nonsense.  If you live alone, you have to do everything for yourself, because you live alone, not despite it.  The next two sentences are both fragments.  The last one is both confusing and a fragment.  I was literally unable to find a single paragraph without mistakes in the first two chapters.  I could not tolerate reading further at this point.

Characters didn't have much chance to show off, but they weren't completely flat either.  Tropes were used, with "greedy merchant" and 'humble but wise farmer' both making appearances in the first chapter.  Despite this, they did seem to have more than just placeholder value.

Story premise interests me.  I have some issues with regard to how much land an acre is (not much in farming terms), but perhaps an acre is magically fertile on this peninsula resulting in enough food to fill a not large cart with assorted heavy barrels of produce weekly, so I could let that slip.  Otherwise it would be a fun read, if I didn't get a headache from the style and grammar issues.