Auraptor

Auraptor

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Amongst the Sky

Another alien story on RoyalRoad? And it’s even horror themed? OM-

Okay, let’s just start with the review.

 

Alien invasion stories aren’t easy to write these days, given how strongly they are associated with pulp, but boy does the author pull it off. Believability is a huge stumbling block for a lot of alien invasion literature, with astronomers being oblivious, global culture being unaffected by such an Earth-shaking event and the aliens relying on starship that are basically just boats in space.

This story avoids all these pitfalls. NASA detects the alien spacecrafts well outside the solar system and the horror only builds up from there. Social media as well as various conspiracy theorists react to this discovery exactly as you’d expect them to: By going completely nuts over it. Once the aliens finally take center stage, they aren’t generic ray-gun equipped green men either. Instead, they are threatening, mysterious, unknowable and, well, alien.

In true horror movie fashion, the first five chapters are all about getting to know our teenage characters before everything goes off the rails. It’s probably going to be an effective beginning for those who like Phoenix, Alex or Andy and a slow one for those who don’t.

Personally, I found the cast easy to identify with. My only complaint lies in tone, namely that the character’s behavior is a tad cartoonish. Maybe that was what the author intended, but it clashes with the story’s overall dark and serious tone.

Since this is so subjective, a total score is difficult for me to determine.

I’ve been torn between 4.5 and 5 stars. Overall, I decided that my main complaints (the too cartoonish tone and the too slow beginning) are rather subjective and, given the preponderance of 5 star ratings, they didn’t really bother anyone else. Thus, this story gets five stars, although I still recommend the author to consider the critiques for future stories.


Reborn in Another World as a (Colorless) Demon Prince

"Devilishly brilliant“ ("teuflisch genial“) is an expression we use often in German, so I thought it was an adequate title for this review. This story follows our protagonist Ray. At the start, he fits the unlucky every dude trope to a T, until one day, he encounters a strange butterfly and is reborn as the demon prince Kieran.

 

And what should I say? I like the result. The first chapters do a very good result of making me care for Ray/Kieran (in fact, the first two are arguably my favorite chapters). Yes, he is fairly bland, as some other reviewers have pointed out, but I have zero problems with such characters as long as they face relatable struggles.

Even after being reborn as a prince, his life isn’t as easy as most would imagine royalty to be. The duties of being a prince, the struggles with being a Colorless as well as his interactions with Alexandra and Teal make for very compelling social conflicts that move the story forward.

The author skillfully uses the dual-plot structure which, to those unfamiliar, is a storytelling technique which combines external and internal conflicts to keep the story varied. Most of the story so far focuses on Kieran’s social conflicts with his caretakers while the threat posed by the Corrupted builds up in the meantime. I expect that Kieran will have to prove himself as a proper prince at the climax before he can save his kingdom.

 

That being said, the story is far from perfect. I think the author knows this, so sugarcoating this fact wouldn’t help anyone. I don’t think I can really add anything others haven’t already said about the slow-paced beginning. While that might just be me, I also found the sudden transition from Ray to Kieran jarring. Maybe a line at the end of the second chapter that amounts to "your name is now Kieran“ would have helped a lot. But then again, that’s just me.

I considered giving it 4.5/5 stars. However, I can relate to how frustrating it is to have your story score dragged down for no real reason, so I’ll round up and give five stars.


The Precipice of Power

Being fairly new to RoyalRoad, I'm not familiar with a lot of its genres and Xianxia is one such genre. I've heard many negative things about it, such as how it's all just power fantasy with unlikable protagonists.

Fortunately, this story breaks all these stereotypes.

The characters, be it Kiro with his mistreatment by the clan or Rynn with his forbidden love, all have very human struggles. Even Kiro's talented twin sister Seira has it far from easy, given that she has her very own set of societal expectations to deal with.

This is, I think, going to be one of those cultivation stories, but one where we just want Kiro to become stronger. Right from the beginning, I might add because the author doesn't take very long to get the story started.

The plot is also well-put-together. Multiple POVs are seamlessly woven together through a unifying theme (how the clan treats people on the basis of power). I've seen some people wish for more meat in the worldbuilding which I can kinda understand, but ultimately, I think keeping the story/prose in motion is more important. I'm sure we'll get to know the world as the story goes on.

Finally, I think the author's prose style is perfectly suited for web fiction. Neither confusing, nor patronizingly simple, nor filled with tedious exposition dumps.

Whether you're a diehard Xianxia fan or a newcomer, I think this story has something for all of us.


Nova Terra: Titan

It's been a while since I read this story. I read it on Wattpad well before I even knew what RoyalRoad was (though skimming indicates that the versions are largely the same) and I put it down at around chapter 11.

I admit that this means I'm only familiar with a tiny poriton of the story, though if eleven chapters aren't enough to hook me even remotely, the rest probably isn't that good either.

I admit that I'm gonna sound a bit harsh, harsher than I would be to a less popular author, but given this story's success, it at least doesn't feel like punching down.

Nova Terra: Titan is a sci-fi LitRPG following the life of Xavier, a young man befallen by a condition that increases his size to uncomfortable degrees. Through a virtual reality, he can enter the world of Nova Terra, escaping the uncomfortable realities of the analog world.

I'm not too familiar with the LitRPG genre, so I'm not sure if this story was meant for me, but I have already seen such stories being executed much better.

It already starts in chapter one where we have an untamed info-dumb by the doctor on what Xavier's condition is like (full with the "as you know") and how the nanites in his body work.  This was already a huge red flag right there, since the first chapter is extremely important in hooking the reader. The author even lampshaded how terrible the info-dump was by having the doctor take a breath.
However, I had already read stories where the author didn't know what to do with their exposition and just thus dumped all at the start. In these stories, the rest of the story was at least more readable.

This wasn't such a story. It takes about four chapters to get Xavier into Nova Terra (I've seen LitRPGs accomplish this in one chapter!). All the chapters before were nothing but exposition.

I thought the story would improve once we got to NovaTerra, that we would get some intriguing world worth exploring. Instead, we got a generic LitRPG fantasy setting with all the stock races (elves, halflings and what-have-you).

I don't even remember what happened after Xavier got into NovaTerra other than that he did a few quests whose points I didn't get.

So, yeah, the plot isn't very good (and neither is the world).

How about characterization and prose?

Xavier is, apart from his size, a very bland main character which is something I'm fine with. If the world, the plot and the supporting cast can make up for that. We already covered the world and the plot, so how about the supporting cast? Well, besides Xavier's sesquepedalian doctor, his oversexualized aunt and some mentor in Nova Terra, I honestly don't even remember any of them.

The prose is okay. There aren't any crimes against the English language comitted and it is fairly readable, but nothing too remarkable either. This bit from chapter ten is the only sentence of description that stuck in my mind:

"[T]he trees' long, dark shadows stretched into each other, creating a sinister atmosphere."

Honestly, I don't understand why this became so popular. I mean sure, we have a huge market for LitRPG here. It's just I've seen fics so much better both here and on Wattpad that barely got any reads at all. This certainly isn't the worst fic I've ever read, but one of the most overrated ones.

I agree with just about everything KORST said.