StenDuring

StenDuring

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The Wings of Storm

Here we have an isekai, I think, probably, almost certainly.

 

This review is valid as of chapter 5.2, or 13 if you just count chunks.

 

Why play a game when you can read yourself into another world, or at least read yourself into dreaming you're in another world?

 

This is the main premise for this story, but I have to admit it's very unclear wether the protagonist actually enters another world or if he merely dreams he's in one. Apart from this, perhaps very important, detail you have a rather standard isekai. Our protagonist knows the inner workings of a world he reads about in a manga, and one way or another he acts in it.

 

We're still in the beginning of the story, and for that reason the world travelled to isn't all that fleshed out. I get the impression of an anachronistic faux medieval fantasy setting, which just means it's the archetypical one encountered in anime or manga of this type.

 

While the adventurers guild is renamed, it's still there for all practical purposes. You even get to pick a class, which firmly places this story in the category of RPG-based fantasy. I wouldn't say litrpg, or even system fantasy, because as of yet there aren't really any such elements introduced.

 

The story grounds itself around one main character, and to further entrench this feeling it's written in the first person point of view in the past tense. Now you'll have to be a little careful when you read the extreme beginning. It's easy to mistake what happens for a horrible mix of first person and third person. but it's just our protagonist reading manga and getting extremely immersed in it.

 

There's an early timeskip that's a little sloppily handled, and the transition between just reading manga and actually entering fantasyland leaves a lot to wish for. I still don't understand exactly when it happens, but then the reminiscing protagonist explicitly states that it all happened bit by bit, so maybe it's supposed to be exactly this unlear. Be that as it may -- as a reader I'm still horribly confused.

 

There's a story set in Japan, one that gradually diminishes, and another set in fantasyland. That one rather obviously takes over more and more. By chapter 5.2 we've experienced one mini adventure which mostly serves as an introduction to the supporting cast. Now we're heading right into the next one, but that arc is still in its inception.

 

The reading experience is, how should I put it, scattered, and that will show in the distribution of the stars.

 

Style: Three stars. I'm going out on a limb here to drop my hammer in this departement. It's either a three star style or a three star story. I'm perfectly aware my assessment could be wrong, but I'm just too confused to accept that everything is fine and dandy.

 

Story: Five stars. As I wrote earlier, it's either or. I've given the story a perfect five stars, but I could just as well have dropped my three stars here and given it a perfect five star style score. The problem is that there's something truly magnificent here, but it's all hidden in a fog of confusion.

 

Grammar: Five stars. Flawless. As in absolutely superb.

 

Character: Four stars. The protagonist is slowly truly coming to life, but the supporting cast is as of yet little more than names.

 

Overall we have a four star aggregated reading experience, and it's going somewhere. Right now it's balancing on the edge of a knife, and it can't stay there. Either the confusion remains, dragging the story down into the abyss, or it's either cleared away or beautifully incorporated as an aspect of the story, in which case it'll climb to new heights. I honestly don't know in which direction this one will go.


The Selection

Adventurers go military in fantasyland

This review is valid as of chapter 56.

 

Here we have a mix of adventure and military fantasy. A little sex and grimdark gore is thrown in for good measure as well. On paper this is a system fantasy, but at least this reader is extremely happy that the system used takes a very bleak backseat.

 

From a structural point of view this story is two stories, and in more than one sense.

To begin with there's a parallell storyline, a then and now involving mostly the same characters. As of chapter 56 it's a little unclear how many years split them apart.

Secondly the internal structure changes drastically after the first main arc is concluded. During that arc we switch between timelines on a chapter by chapter basis, even though those chapters are divided into chunks. After that arc each chapter becomes small story arcs in their own right.

 

The story is told strictly from a first person point of view in the present tense. I personally don't like the use of present tense, but usually I can live with it. In this case it drags the impression of the first arc down for the simple reason that it's jarring to be thrown around several years every five to ten thousand words or so -- and it's still now. At least the part of the story that occurs during the then would have benefited from being told in the past tense.

 

I'm getting the impression we're in a pseudo science fantasy setting. It might not be the author's intention, but unless I read the story with that kind of glasses on my nose a number of anachronisms would do funny crap to my suspension of disbelief. Characters do things in seconds and minutes, and temperature is measured in fahrenheit. Ballistic weapons are called guns, and so on and so forth.

 

Lastly, despite the grimdark gore, this is a fun and action packed read. I've enjoyed the ride this far.

 

Now for the stars.

 

Style is four stars. One star yanked for reasons mentioned above. Add quite a lot of talking heads and it stays yanked.

 

Story is a solid five.

 

Grammar is a five given my ususal addition of half a star to compensate for the average quality of the English language used on this site. At around chapter seventeen the English used drops a notch, but it's never really disturbing.

 

Character is four and a half stars. Five stars for the main character and the supporting cast active in both timelines. Three and a half stars for the rest who never make it above the level of archetypes. Well, the main cast are more important so I'm rounding up.

 

Overall a four and a half star reading experience.


A healthy mind in a healthy body

Take one sixteen hundred year old monk from Rome and insert him in a Japan filled with magic and supernatural beings. What do you get?

 

Some serious slapstick.

 

This review is valid as of chapter 18.

 

This is a supernatural slice of life with a little action thrown in from time to time. We follow a Roman monk recently awakened from insanity as he tries to adapt to everyday life in a magical society in an equally magical city in modern Japan. Did that make any sense?

 

Maybe not, but that's the premise, and we just have to roll with it. As a setup you could do worse as a reader, and it's not really a problem. There are, however, quote a few problems with the story.

 

First of all the pacing is all over the place. When there's action there's no brains, and when there's infodumping you literally get them by the chapter. I didn't know it was possible to make an already slow slice of life grind to a halt.

 

Secondly the English used is a mess. The story is riddled by grammatical errors and non standard dialogue tags. Add oddities with formatting and you have a visually problematic read.

 

Where I left off after eighteen chapters we've progressed from the begining of the story to the early middle part. Character interactions are in place, they have settled into their respective roles and by now they are ready to experience whatever awfulness that author is about to throw at them.

 

The story is written in third person limited point of view in the past tense. It mostly follows the standard for that format, and for the most part we're with the main character. This is done perfectly OK, and I have no complaints here.

 

While huge chunks of the story is allocated to verbose descriptions of the setting it's strangely absent whenever it counts. It's more like I vaguely rebember having been told about this building where the characters walk rather than experiencing them placing one foot ahead of another listening to the echoes of their soles.

 

Now for the stars.

 

Style: Three stars. It's uneven, as in literally uneven. Apart from peculiar formatting and non standard dialogue tags the internal story structure lacks balance. It's like walking from a ball room into a closet and back again.

 

Story: Three stars. Normally story and style should be separated, but the plot suffers badly from uneven pacing. As a reader I'm all too often unaware if I'm eating slice of life or huge info dumps, and I personally enjoy my slice of life, so it's not a problem with slow pacing. There is absolutely no problem with the premise. This story has just about every needed ingredient needed to be a great one, but it fails on delivery.

 

Grammar: Three and a half stars. That's including my addition of half a star to compensate for the poor standards on this site. I can read it, I can understand it, but it's still detracting from my reading experience.

 

Character: Four and a hald star. This is where the story goes right. There's a good mixture of archetypes and personalities, and the characters are different from each other.

 

Lastly, this is a story in desperate need of a heavy edit, almost in the realm of a rewrite. Had it been your average isekai my reaction would have been: nothing to see here, move out, move on, but I have this nagging suspicion this one deserves better.


The Oscillation

You know the drill. Japanese anime style; cute girls with funny hair colour, fluffy ears, tails and strange eyes. It's all here.

 

This review is valid a of chapter fourteen.

 

Now when you're familiar with the setting it's time to mention some minor deviations from the script. Like how this isn't an isekai at all. The game enveloped Earth, literally. Add that the story is set in the US, which in most anime involving military power is the big enemy.

 

There are similarities as well. The US military is depicted in just as positive a light as the JSDF in most anime. The characters really do have access to something akin to a gaming interface to see their abilities.

 

With this mixup of different genres you have a very subdued litRPG going in the superhero direction rather than the isekai Japanese counterpart. There's something distinctly different when it comes to atmosphere. These girls aren't cute, their surroundings aren't cute, and even the supporting cast explicitly inserted by the author to be Japanese style airheaded cute fail at truly being so.

 

The closest I can think of, given how this story tries to cater to a number of anime tropes, is Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka, which most definitely isn't cute at all, even though there's no litRPG in it.

 

The entire story as far as it's published now has barely left the beginning. It starts with a global event turning a small minority of the population into humanoids with magical powers and an interface to access said powers. While that interface definitely is there it's toned down to the level where I'm wary of calling this a litRPG at all. It's a little like calling a story military fantasy because the main characters ride with a column of troops a few times in the story.

 

Only a couple of days pass during the first fourteen chapters, which means the main cast has barely begun to know each other. It's bound to create problems in the departement of suspension of disbelief since I suspect the story has reached the point where it's time to have peple who really don't know each other start taking really huge personal risks to protect strangers.

 

I can't see any reason why the buildup couldn't stretch over a couple of weeks, something that would have explained the characters bonding with each other.

 

The story is written in third person limited point of view and in the past tense. With the exception of a couple of backstory flashbacks we only follow one character. Those flashbacks, however, follow another. I'm a little unclear as to what they add to the story more than making the reader feel sorry for one character.

 

Now for the stars.

 

Style: Four and a half stars. Solid, but the two flashbacks should have gone.

 

Story: Four and a half stars. Superb taletelling handy craft, but it's too crammed in time to make believe. Hence I won't hand out a perfect score.

 

Grammar: Five stars. And it's five stars disregarding my usual adding half a star for poor standards on this site.

 

Character: Five stars. The event where I would yank half a star has yet to occur. As of now they're superbly depicted. Another two or three chapers down the line and I suspect they'll be acting way out of character in order to follow the plot.

 

All in all we have a five star story that I'm a little afraid is soon going south in the believability departement.


Fresh Blood

Robinson Crusoe playing space games

This review is valid as of chapter eleven.

 

Take one Robinson Crusoe, add a lizard Friday, mix with some gritty space opera and stir with equal parts coldblooded media industry and virtual reality gaming. What do you get?

 

Two clumsy heroes stranded on a gamified island in space. Now what could possibly go right with this insane scenario? Surprisingly much it turns out.

 

We have our two deapan heroes, or at least two deadpan-doing-at-least-more-than-just-trying-to-survive main characters. They invent stuff, or rather let a machine invent stuff for them, they banter, they do stupid stuff and smart stuff, and in the end it's altogether an amusing read.

 

The stranded on an island in space concept limits the cast. Two characters on the island, plus stuff that tries to eat them. That's it for that setting. The rest of the cast is very much reminiscent of the Helliconia trilogy, but in this case the watching audience on Earth is represented by newscasters.

 

It's gamelit, but it's not the glaring kind of litrpg where status displays interrupt the narrative every page or so. Notably the characters have yet to start comparing levels or anything like that. The status displays are thus far limited to scientific breakthroughs, even though this early in the story their inventing machine has yet to come up with anything as advanced as the wheel.

 

Mostly flawless English and very minor hiccups in the PoV-departement makes for a pleasant read. The small world is well fleshed out as are the characters. The story, in as much as you'd call it a story, revolves around the daily grind for making the place a better place. For that reason the story reads as slice-of-life, granted a stranded on an uninhabited island kind of slice-of-life.

 

I've enjoyed the ride up til now, and now for the stars.

 

Style: Four stars. The jumps between micro-story-arcs are a bit clunky, as are the shifts between main characters and newscasters. I perfectly understand why they're handled as they are, but the clunkyness remains.

 

Story: Five stars. It delivers what it's supposed to deliver. Non OP characters just add to the reading experience.

 

Grammar: Five stars. Mostly flawless. I would have handed out five stars even if this review was written for a site with normal grammar requirements.

 

Character: Five stars. There aren't many, but they are very well done.

 

Overall: Five stars. Since I only yanked one star I'll round up rather than down.

 

Lastly, it's a slow read, but it's an enjoyable one. Just pretend the prologue was never there. It really isn't needed as foreshadowing.


Song of Helheim: Homecoming

This is military fantasy with a splash of explicit sexuality. It is also very good.

 

The story is set in the fantasy version of the Europe of the sixteen hundreds. And it's the Americanised version of such a world with only two nations on the entire continent.

 

Hence the story never has to handle the eternal diplomatic backstabbing that was the bread and butter of the real Europe of the time.

 

We have the usual male lead betrayed and on his road to redemption by means of superior leadership. Yep, it's a trope, but it's quite honestly a good one for this kind of story. Add a female lead with powers of her own instead of merely being his bedroom companion, and you have the setup of two very well written main characters.

 

As of chapter sixteen, which is how far the story had progressed at the time of this review, our hero has turned his ragtag command into a regiment of veterans by means of superior commanding skills. The unit is also firmly entrenched in their first major encounter. This basically means we're just leaving the beginning of the story.

 

Well worth a read. It's well worth a read even if you skip the sex scenes, should those not be your cup of tea.

 

Now for the stars.

 

Style: Four stars. Wavering between third person limited point of view and third person omniscient point of view as an excuse to start head hopping like mad between paragraphs isn't a good enough excuse. One star yanked.

 

Story: Five stars. I did mention this was a very good story.

 

Grammar: Four point five stars. As usual this includes me adding half a star to compensate for Royal Road's subpar requirement in the grammar departement. The story is liberally sprinkled with spelling errors, grammar errors and the occasional homonym inserted for unintended humour value.

 

Character: Five stars. Even the supporting cast come with personalities of their own.

 

Overall: Four point five stars. Style and grammar are the only detractors preventing this story from receiving a perfect five star score.


Fury: Chronicles of the Titanomachy

This review is part of a review swap and valid as of chapter six.

 

Two brothers are transported from modern day to fantasyland. Sounds familiar? It is, but fantasyland is ancient Greece; with magic.

 

It all starts as your usual backstory leading up to where the main character dies and is reincarnated into somewhere. In this case there are two main characters, and the backstory is great, and the main leads don't really die, so I'll dump this one into the transported into another world rather than reincarnated into another world -style of stories.

 

The story is written in double first person point of view, each main character having his own section of the story. I personally abhor multiple FP stories, and while this one does it very well it does nothing to alleviate my dislike of the solution. Third person limited would have been better.

 

That said, it's absolutely fantastic to see how the narrative changes depending on which one of the two characters hold the PoV. Sure, it's kind of stereotypical to have the brains contrasted with the brawn, but six chapters into the story it still works. I have to admit, though, that it could become old after a while.

 

Did I mention six chapters? The story hasn't left the beginning at all. I'd expect it to stay solidly in the beginning for at least another six chapters, but I could be wrong.

 

Now for the stars.

 

Style is a solid four stars. While I most definitely dislike multiple first person point of view narration, in this case it's done very well.

 

Grammar is all but perfect. A no discussion five stars.

 

Story delivers exactly what it promises to do. You want a transported into another world style of story? This is the delivery. Progression follows the growth of the characters and I have no reason to yank any part of the stars. Five stars.

 

Character should be more than archetypes. While the two main characters most definitely have their own personalities they're also firmly bound into their archetypes. Thus they become the supremely most important supporting cast in what's supposed to be a story about themselves. I fully expect them to grow into full five star characters later, or this story will die horribly.

 

Overall I'll assign this, the beginning of the beginning, a four and a half star. This is neither praise nor bashing. I've reviewed tihs story at its inception. It could become a very good read, but it could also go horribly wrong. It's too early to say. For now, stick to it until you know.


The Dark Elto Du Yu Lin

Slowly paced reinc story, Chinese style

This review is part of a review swap.

 

First of all I'll state that this wasn't my cup of tea. Keep this in mind, as even though I'll try to keep my review neutral parts of my subjective reactions are bound to bleed through.

 

Valid as of chapter 28.

 

I'm unfamiliar with the Chinese version of the kind of martial arts stories I grew up with, which usually are based on either a Hollywood version of Japan, or the Japanese manga/anime/LN stories themselves. So I'll simply go with what I read.

 

Chinese style names aplenty, as in everyone has one, no matter what race they are. Observe that race has the same meaning here as in any Tolkien-style story. Visually distinct, but sexually compatible, including offspring.

 

We have a short death-scene, setting up the reincarnation, followed by an equally short sequence of infanthood where we as a reader realise the dead main character has retained at least part of her memories from her previous life.

 

Then follow two main arcs. One with the three year old main character learning how to master her chi-flow, relearning martial arts and getting introduced to the application of magic. The seciond arc concerns her first adventure as a prisoner, still around three or four years old.

 

So we're talking children here, and small ones at that. Her surroundings are six or so year old children. Add parents and older relatives to the other children. They're all living in a nondescript village on one of several continents that constitite the world. Notably not the continent where she spent her previous life.

 

Through flashbacks we're given more and more of her background, and how her prior life ties in with the life she plans for herself this time, and how she, in her earlier incarnation, touched upon the lives of some of the secondary characters.

 

As for disposition we have a few early chapters combining world-building and general infodumping. It's efficient, but also boring as hell to read, but it does the job to set up the rules for the rest of the story. Which is very slow. After chapter twenty eight we've just reached the point where the hero's journey usually start. The first major disturbance is (possibly) over, but the resulting dangers seems likely to force our main character to get moving.

 

Now for the stars.

 

 

Style:

 

The story is told from a third person omniscient point of view. As a reader you'll jump from head to head without any prior warning. I personally don't care for this solution to feed the reader with all the needed information in a minimum of time. However, that dislike of TP omni is subjective.

 

A side-result of the head-hopping is loads of talking heads dialogue. There's just no need for having characters act out their thoughts in order for the POV to make guesses about those unstated thoughts. It also makes the dialogue rather choppy.

 

Dialogue tags are non-standard, sometimes making it hard to understand if it's a dialogue-tag or a character action that follows a line of dialogue. This is a problem.

 

Different languages are tagged differently. Bold and  italics. A problem here is that italics is also used for all flashbacks. Internal monologue is represented by single quotes, which works just fine.

 

Due to the head-hopping there is little reason for splitting the story into chapters, and it mostly reads as a long, perpetually ongoing scene spanning several chapters.

 

There's almost no consistency concerning present or past tense. The story is mostly told in past tense.

 

All in all a perfectly OK 3.5 stars.

 

 

Story:

 

I like slice of life. The first main arc reads slower than the part of LotR befoew they leave the Shire, which is fine for me, but might scare some readers off.

 

The second arc runs as your classic spooky 'prisoner in a fantasy dungeon', complete with an evil overlord, goons and the old prisoner in the next cell. He may be a bit incorporeal, but he still counts. Monte Cristo for the win.

 

All in all a near perfect 4.5 stars.

 

 

Grammar:

 

I have a feeling the author isn't a native English speaker. While the grammar is perfectly servicable the story is generously sprinkled with errors that just can't be chalked down to someone falling asleep during English lessons. The large vocabulary used tells the same tale -- English as a learned but not yet mastered language.

 

All in all a perfectly OK 3.5 stars, including my usual half a star bonus on RRL.

 

 

Character:

 

I find this to be the main weakness of the story. There are archetypes aplenty, even a few stereotypes, but thankfully not many of the latter. The stern old teacher with a heart of gold, the bad friend who just needs to learn humility, the hero on a quest for vengenace, the doting parents, and for a splash of background, the jerk who became a loving husband.

 

They are all consequently applied, but they lack character. To a large degree the third person omniscient point of view is to blame here. As we jump from head to head the narrative voice gets its hands tied. It simply isn't allowed to catch a specific voice belonging to one character, because that would become jarring in the extreme when we're suddenly inside the head of a totally different personality.

 

Also, as TP omni is a quick solution for getting the reader in the know, it also makes for shortcuts which are less appealing. Because we're not imprisoned in one head for the duration of one scene, there is no need for any one character to guess what someone else is thinking -- we're given those thoughts directly. This takes away from character interaction, especially the silent ones.

 

All in all an OK 3 stars.

 

 

The overall score is a solid 4 stars. In the end the story is good, and I personally value story over characters.


Half a Step Away from Love

I ran into this one by accident and started reading just to see if it was some kind of misguided satire. No. Apart from some mild mislabling concerning the tags, this is exacly what it says it is.

 

Valid as of chapter sixteen.

 

Here we have a mischiveously told little gem, so very unlike most of what can be found on RRL. With a female protagonist to boot.

 

The story is told from the first person point of view, in the voice of the cheeky Inessa, lady in waiting for ducchess Mireya. Inessa is a young woman with a beautiful and brilliant head firmly screwed on to her body, and she uses it ruthlessly to help her duchess out of one tricky problem after another.

 

The story is also told right, the way first person stories should be told. It's only ever one first person narrator. No magic POV-shifts where the reader becomes me, myself and I with several different minds.

 

Add a wide array of well rounded side characters, including the main antagonist, who also doubles as Inessa's love interest. He has a head just as brilliant as she, and to further add to the quality of the story, from time to time he outsmarts her in the most humiliating way possible. No invincible OP MC here.

 

The 'historical' tag should go. The setting is mosty in a palace in a faux European kingdom. The supposed time period is a bit unclear, but somewhere between late 18th century to late 19th century is my guess. Anyway, magic is a known entity, as well as a pantheon of gods, which immediately outrules 'historical'.

 

Notably a bit lighter on the romance aspect than the cover would have you believe. The heroine is very much brilliant brains and very little starstruck with love.

 

I'd also prefer to see the 'comedy' tag added, because the story is generously sprinkled with a witty humour that sometimes winks at you and deliberately regresses into outright slapstick.

 

Chapters are long. The sixteen here take us well past two main story-arcs, past a third, outside the palace, and ends that one cleanly.

 

So for the distribution of stars.

 

Overall a near perfect 4.5 stars. A gem, truly a gem.

 

Style is a near solid 3.5 stars. While mostly an enjoyable read the impression gets dragged down by the strangest handling of dialogue tags I've run into for a very long time.

 

Story is a solid four stars. While clothes and accesories are indeed important attributes to this kind of story, reading paragraphs in a row about the latest dresses is like watching paint dry. Apart from this type of overexposure to description we have a wonderful blend of romance and light hearted adventure.

 

Grammar is a near perfect 4.5 stars. Not only are the dialogue tags peculiar, to say the least, but very often the construction used is simply not compatible with standard English. I've added my half a star to compensate for RRLs average rating levels when it comes to grammar. Apart from dialogue tags the story is a pleasure to read from a grammatical point of view.

 

Character, oh the characters. A perfect five stars, as befits a story like this. From the clash of minds by two characters disturbed by the lingering affection during their internal war, to the true side characters. All have their own personalities, and more often than not a mix of good and bad sides.

 

All in all, if you feel like taking a break from reincarnation and VR, and go for some lighthearted girly goodies, don't wait. Read and enjoy.


DIVE

DIVE floats on story and submerges on character

This review is part of a review swap.

 

First i need to say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading DIVE.

 

Second that I give five stars to something I find excellent, including the 'sub-stars'.

 

Third that the author explicitly have asked for a review that will serve as a tool for creating an even better story. Thus what I write here will be harsher than the stars I have given. Observe that the stars mirror my experience of reading the story.

 

Now on to the review, valid up to and including chapter 97.

 

DIVE is ongoing, and it's still very long. My guess is anywhere between 150 K and 200 K words. It took me four reading sessions to finish what is published, and trust me, I wouldn't binge anything this size on a computer screen unless I liked what I read.

 

DIVE is a standard VRMMORPG, fantasy setting, story with an OP male MC. Not the trapped inside a game, but the MC can log in and log out at will. There's even a miniscule outside-the-game story. It's important for the story, but it also runs at a substantially lower quality than the 'real' story. The little 'outside' -story would be given an OK three stars and no more.

 

DIVE is told in third person limited, and first person, and third person limited. This because DIVE relies on reader input, including polls, acting on comments and a few reader contests managed by the author.

 

We follow VoiceOfReason, or Brenton in real life, who wins access to the greatest invention since sliced bread, and starts playing the first auto-adaptible VR-game in the world. I'm guessing the real-life setting is in the relatively near future, anything from ten to forty years in the future.

 

Brenton is your ordinary special snowflake; give the boy a rather hard time growing up and he has a perfect excuse to void just about every moral and ethical normative value-system that makes a person acceptable in society. In short he's a whining arsehole. You punch him in his face, he stabs you from behind, burns down your house, kills your cat and commits grand larcency to have your mother go permanently bancrupt -- and it's only fair because his father left his family.

 

In short, there's a good reason we put these people in jail and throw away the key.

 

DIVE revolves around getting new skills and abilities, with painstaking care taken to show exactly how these attributes evolve and contribute to each other. The game DIVE is a far cry from World of Warcraft, or at least as long as the MC is concerned. Gaining levels are central to just everyone else, but the MC is explicitly both horribly underlevelled and OP, because the game is rigged to make him OP.

 

Notably Brenton whines and squeals every time a desperately needed bugfix is installed that prevents him from going totally haywire due to broken game mechanics. BECAUSE THEY'RE AFTER ME, etc, etc.

 

We're presented with a strawman reason why a global corporate dragon allows Brenton to run rampant in the game. Notably his dear mother and tolerated aunt can do whatever they want with the multi-billion creation without corporate management coming down with the hammer of God on their heads.

 

The story is divided into a few arcs. First comes  huge arc where Voice (Brenton's short name in the game) learns the game and how to play around with his skills and abilities. After that two shorter arcs where he first explores the world and later builds himself a powerbase.

 

There are numerous secondary characters, both players as well as NPC-characters, but as Voice would have said: who gives a shit -- they're just discardable tools for enhancing Voice's pesonal glory and power. Well, at least until you try to rape anyone. Rape is bad. Voice goes ballistic whenever rape is an issue. He'll nuke a region if there's an attempted rape. Killing, maiming, torturing, sacrificing, deceiving, genocide  and mentally raping people is fine though; probably because those are happy pastimes for Voice himself.

 

So for the distribution of the stars.

 

Despite everything I've written thus far. The overall experience is a near perfect 4.5 stars. Voice is a disgusting pig, but he's a well-written disgusting pig who goes on doing his disgusting stuff in a very enjoyable manner.

 

Style is a more than OK 3.5 stars. We're talking a perfectly acceptable vocabulary, an easy to read English, and a good disposition of the content.

 

Undisciplined handling of POV drags the experience down. While the story follows one character at a time, all too often we're given the thoughts of a different character, sometimes in the same paragraph, which suddenly starts a ping-pong match of head hopping of the worst degree.

 

I'm personally not too fond of author-reader interaction barely discernable from the story, but in web-fiction this is something that creates a connection between author and reader. Just chalk it down to this revieweing old coot if your don't agree.

 

As a result of the reader-interaction the story swaps from third person to first person halfway into the story -- and later back again. This is a big no-no for me. Stick to one style of POV.

 

It becomes extra confusing when the story runs in FP and the need to feed readers with information results in small chunks of third person narations. First person is an important choice to make. It means the reader gets to know what the narrator knows, and no more. If the reader has to know more, then third person is the way to go.

 

Story is a near perfect 4.5 stars. It's just that enjoyable a read.

 

Grammar is a solid four stars. I'm not giving my normal 0.5 extra star as I usually do on RRL. It's a matter of seconds to run text through a spell and grammar -checker in any word-processor on the market, including the free ones. The errors are outright stupid -- and totally unnessescary. I'm probably applying a few of them myself right now writing this review, because I type it directly into the RRL web-interface. There's no excuse doing it when uploading a story here.

 

Character, oh well, character is an almost OK 2.5 stars -- and it gained a bonus 0.5 stars because most of the side-characters are presented at a solid 4 star level. Voice, however, is an atrocity. He IS a character, or else the one star hammer would come flying, but anything above a poor two star ranking is a no-go.

 

Anything that responds by going on a crusade becasue someone forgot to give him his Christmas candy is a thoroughly bad character, and I'm not talking about the evil kind of bad here. Voice is supposed to be an adult, but he behaves like a three year old throwing a tantrum. Admittedly a genius three year old. Voice never fails to impersonate any four letter acronym given to a kid who wasn't told to shut the hell up and get a grip of himself. In DIVE he takes revenge on everyone who never bothered him in real life, because in DIVE Voice can prey on the weak. He never stops doing that, and every time he does it's accompanied by a less than weak excuse it's acceptable because he's such a special snowflake.

 

All in all I give the overall experience a 4.5 stars because for me, personally, plot is king. If I had lived for reading fantastic characters rather than fantastic plot, then I would have hammered the overall experience down to an almost OK 2.5 stars. But I don't, because for me plot is indeed king.