TomWrites

TomWrites

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12 Miles Below

Simply Fantastic, and nails the 2cd book

This is one of my favorite novels on this site, and the author did something really hard: in transitioning to the second arc/book they changed the setting and feel dramatically. I was worried, but they pulled it off with aplomb and its only gotten more gripping. Bravo!

Among other things done well: the action is gripping, the magic fascinating and different from the standard here, the characters are deep, and the setting is an absolutely fascinating sci-fi future earth. 


Rigged

Insulin doesn't grow on trees

Overall: A System Apocolypse litRPG story with several welcome twists, starring a main character with a time limit on their life: their insulin supply. I recommend this story to anyone who is a fan of the genre. 

Story: A reasonably standard system comes to Earth, with twists! While monsters and rifts have appeared everywhere on Earth, the system is only taking 1000 people per week to gain superpowers via a litRPG levelling system/tower climbing teleportation adventure. The rest have to try and make do vs superpowered monsters, though some people have come out of the tower with powers to help. The protagonist has diabetes and is generally a shut in, so as the apocolypse unfolds they are holed up at home trying to avoid adventure... until they are selected for the tower.

The system itself seems standard, with the 6 dnd type attributes that increase with hard use, each getting 1 skill associated with them, an unknown at this point but in the status screen class, and perks to screw with everything.

Just as of the last chapter I've read there have been some nice twists, so even though the early chapters are somewhat light on story and conflict, I'm hopeful things will progress well, so 4 stars.

Characters: I'm giving an entire extra star because the main character has diabetes. That stress and danger of the illness informs a lot of their choices and gives them more personality than protagonists in these stories often have. I'm also giving credit for their reaction to leaving their home: that was well written and gave good insight into the character.

However, there is only one character so far at all, which makes it hard to give a high character score. With only one character there is no dialog, no interpersonal tension, no anything related to multiple characters at all.

There are indications there are going to be more characters very soon though, so I'll edit this review to reflect that when it happens.

Style: [Edit] Chapters after this review were posted have been much better! I've upped the score to 4 stars.

Single line paragraphs with short sentences.

Just aren't good to read.

Nope.

This is the biggest and easiest improvement the story could use: just stop pressing the return key and write in paragraphs. There is occasionally an issue with repetition of concepts, the starting few chapters drag on a bit, and it could use more showing and less telling, but overall flow is good without too much filler. Descriptions let me know what is around but they don't drag on, and I'd rate the glorious few chapters with paragraphs as 4 stars in style.

Grammar: Generally solid, with the occasional typo or sentence fragment, but nothing that stopped me from understanding clearly what was going on. 5 stars by the standards here.


Risen

Fractured Mind, Fractured Story

The good: the main character is an evocatively written traumatized lunatic. They have been broken, and the reader feels it. The world has been broken by the superpowers that happened, and the setting shows it.

There is great potential for this story to be special. But...

The bad: The pacing is just as broken as the character.

The first several chapters are attempts at filling in backstory, but they are not well connected or motivated (there's an author's note saying they are required for setup and that the audience should bear with it, which is just admitting that the writing is bad). There are jarring POV changes, the first of which appears to have no connection to the rest of the story. The chapter length and narrative content is way too short for there to be disjointed world building paragraphs at the start of each chapter. The first real character interaction is in chapter 8 and... its not bad per se, but its also not good, because its not really an interaction because its an MC insane monologue (which fits, as the MC is nuts, but its still not actual character interaction).

As of yet the MC is just kind of wandering around being broken, which is fine in a character study kind of way, but while the character is evocative and sympathetic, he's not complex. It really should get on with things or throw some wrenches in. Character studies need progression too, just a different kind than adventure stories, and there hasn't been any of that yet.


The Jade Phoenix Saga (A Cultivation LitRPG Series)

Overall 4.5/5: A solid but standard take on the "hero rising from nothing" trope set in a familiar Xianxia universe. I had a good time reading it. The grammar needs some work, and so far the characters have not been all that fleshed out, but those looking for a comfortable, familiar progression fantasy would do well to give this a read.

Style 4.5/5: While there's nothing especially new here, its a clean and engaging take.

Concept and Setting Style: This seems to have a pretty standard Xianxia setting, with cultivation stages centered around Qi,  core forming, etc, with a very light system on top that gives numerical values to some things and proficiency levels in others (it seems to be purely descriptive so far, with no skill trees the MC must select from or things like that). In the opening city there are rival clans, arrogant young masters, demonic core beasts, wandering mystics, distant sects that the children will go to, and probably a few other staples of the genre as well. While nothing here is strictly new, the characters and plot engage with it in a natural and engaging way that makes me want to know more, and there's nothing wrong with a good genre fiction.

Writing Style: Reasonably engaging, with good pacing. The exposition doesn't take over too much, but at the same time action scenes are punctuated with reaction. I found myself reaching instinctually for the next chapter button as I was reading through, a good sign that the writing style had me engaged. There are some grammatical issues that cause hiccups, but thats its own section.

Story 4/5: This is a fairly early review, but I would say that the "Status Quo" and "Inciting Incident" have both happened, and I found them satisfying, and there is plenty of peril and sect joining about to happen, unless my guesses are way off. My one complaint is that the story so far has was broadly predictable: not in tiny details, but in terms of the broad strokes its pretty easy to tell what is going to happen in the scenes as soon as they start, just because they follow the tropes.

(Is the MC really going to die after heroically sacrificing herself this early in a story? No, she isn't, she's going to get a powerup because of her nobility. I don't care that I saw it coming, it was still satisfying to read.)

Characters 4/5: There are a good number of characters with distinct personalities, though as of yet none are that complex: The MC who is psychologically scarred but tries her hardest and is a bit impatient, the brother who is protective and wants to learn to be a good clan leader, the distant father who 'must' bow to the pressure of the 'shame' that the MCs weakness brings, the distant mother who is protective and strong, but puts the clan's welfare ahead of her personal desires, and a few more I won't spoil. None of these characters are especially 3 dimensional, but they aren't bad either and it can be hard to establish deep characters in just a few chapters.

The MC has undergone some character developement just in the last chapter I read that I won't spoil, but it bodes well for characters to develop in general and not remain static.

There are also antagonistic young masters obsessed with pride. Fine. It's a staple for the genre, even if they have the depth and nuance of a roadkilled armadillo. 

Grammar Score 4/5: The writing has a lot of trouble with consistent tense use in paragraphs, and that can break the immersion and flow pretty badly. There are the occasional typos in terms of spelling, but nothing that makes it unreadable.

it really only gets 4/5 because RR standards are low. That said, there's nothing here that's unfixable: a little bit of work practicing tense usage and breaking bad habits would fix up the majority of the problems.


Rebirth Of Civilization

Overall: 3.5/5

There's nothing objectionable with this story, but there's also nothing notable. Excellent grammar and decent (if generic) style is pulled down hard by the very light story and lack of any characters.

Grammar 5/5:

Well edited and without errors. I have no complaints here, and compared to the usual 4.5's and 5's of rating on RR, I wish I could give it a 7.

Style 4/5:

In a word: fine. Entirely generic, but that can be comfy.

Concept and Setting Style: The setting is a generic fantasy forest with wolves and boars and a boss bear. The system is a generic levels + attributes + skill + class: not quite as basic as they come as the magic has a seperate XP track, but pretty close: you've seen it before. Character is generic Isekai only more bland than usual. The magic has runes and if you move them around you change the effects.

It does delve a little bit into crafting things using what little runes he knows, the materials available, and the power of magical wishful thinking. There hasn't been all that much developement, but I can see it becoming interesting in the future.

Writing Style: The writing style is easy to read, but also doesn't grab attention. Nothing technically wrong with it in terms of grammar, but also not much, well, style. I found myself skimming paragraphs at a time because the individual words weren't particularly interesting. The descriptions are enough to understand whats going on. Its fine.

Its not like the elements of style are bad, but there's little new to find here either.

Story 2/5:

A generic "person" who was in the woods and got transported to a somewhat depopulated fantasty world that has a generic System. By luck they witnessed a caravan get massacred and could salvage everything they needed from it. By luck they fell on top of a book of magic and was able to use the pictures to make some runes and learn how to manipulate mana. They have killed some wolves.

That short description sums up everything thats happened so far. There aren't any threats to him, not really. The only goal with any stakes he's had (find water, shelter, food) were perfectly solved in either the first or second chapter through sheer chance. There's no goals with stakes, no tension, no inciting incident, nothing. There is no story so far.

The only thing of interest is that some magical accident killed ~90% of the planets population, which is why people got grabbed and put there, and maybe what was going on with the caravan, but the MC doesn't seem particularly interested in exploring either.

Character 1.5/5: 

There has been one person so far: He was camping in the woods, played video games in the past, took a semester of Japanese, and failed out of college. He is excited by the idea of magic.

Thats it. I know nothing about his past, his views, why he was in the woods, what he wants, whether he ever had pets, what his skills or interests were, his personality etc etc... He's just a blank slate, more automaton than person, that messes around with things.

A least the MC isn't actively awful, and that count for something, but there basically aren't any characters in the story.


The Living Dragon

Murder Mystery in the Magical Multiverse

This story has a fascinating setting: the Immigrant Realm, a gritty magical city to which magicians, monsters, and desperate immigrants all flock for a new life. It seems to lie in the intersection (more or less) of the Realms: themed worlds of different eras and magical/technological traditions.

Enter the protagonist, Helena, a hot tempered curse slinging battle witch you is about to be behind on her rent, because her particular brand of skills are hard to market. She prefers to blow things up or turn her enemies into small animals, but the police are offering her good money to investigate a murder, so away she goes!

The last book in the series (which is absolutely worth reading) took us to the Black Forest and an 17/18th century Holy Roman Empire-esq setting, where we learned some of Helena's past and met some of her friends. This one (so far!) seems centered on her home city, her antagonistic and prejudiced local police detective, and possibly east asian organized crime.

This is an early review, but it has me hooked so far!


Everybody here is a cultivation idiot.

A satirical take on the Xianxia genre with surprisingly likeable characters, the occasional decently written but not drawn out fight, and blatantly overpowered system cheats. The conceit that everyone has access to the same cheats, but is too idiotic/prideful to figure them out because of the genre of fiction they are in, is a nice deconstruction.

I had a lot more fun reading this than I would normally admit - it started a little bit cringey, but rapidly improved.

[Later edit]

After a while, I found that even though this was on my follows list, I just stopped reading. Its not bad and I encourage everyone to try it, but I found that for me it wasn't offering anything new; just more of the same.


Revolutionary Against The Revolution

Interesting premise, grammar/style needs practice

I saw this while browsing the new fictions page and the premise drew me in. The historical details so far (just 1 chaper) are interesting and provide a nice window into the time period of pre-revolutionary france.

The main character is a typical 'reincarnated but remembers everything' and hasn't really had the opportunity to strike out on their own yet or show much of their personality. This review might just be too early, but so far the character needs some developement.

Grammar is mostly ok, though the punctuation use needs some work (commas in particular). Style/flow is a little rough though: the story is using very short paragraphs which can be jarring, and sometimes the topic shifts within paragraphs in a bit of a strange way.

Overall: not bad at all for a first story and from a non-native speaker of English. I'm going to keep an eye on it and read more chapters! I would guess that it will only improve with more writing and as the plot unfolds.