James Garfield

James Garfield

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Fictions
Reviews
Tales of a Hybrid's Fate [Grimdark, LitRPG]

I stopped to catch my breath after each chapter

So far, the fiction is a brutally severe look at exploitation and hopelessness.  Although the last chapters I read show some hope, this is no light novel or children's story.  Are the named characters-in-power evil, or are the circumstances so nasty that everyone is unavoidably driven to apparent reprehensible behavior?  I'll need to keep reading to find out, and I plan to.

Style:  The presentation is a little different from what I'm used to so far in web novels, and that's a good thing.  The Point-of-View jumps work well, and are diverse enough to keep hidden which characters will have major roles in the further chapters.  The use of "system" prompts is effective and not in-your-face overdone.

Grammar:  Throughout, there are some minor errors, although not to the point that I had any difficulty reading and enjoying the story.  Unlike weaknesses in the other categories, these are much easier to fix with some additional editing.

Story:  Although not for everyone, if you can handle a dark and serious fantasy story, and you appreciate a deconstruction of videogame mechanics taken to their logical and perhaps evil extreme, the story is great.  It reminds me of some of the "evil" things I've done in videogames, glad that the characters I betrayed aren't real, thinking people.  If they are, I'm in trouble...

Character:  The "good" characters are relatable and practically bring tears to my eyes as we get their inner thoughts regarding their plight.  The "bad" characters are almost incomprehensibly evil, but I suspect the reason for that will make sense as I continue to read more of the story.  The only thing I wish was included was a bit more visual description early on.  It's hard for me to understand what the hybrids are like from the first few chapters, although I don't really care what the humans are like so there's no problem there.


Gunsmith Materialmancer - [Modern Firearms Crafting LitRPG]

There are a lot of parallels between me and the protagonist.  Basically, swap me in, have me get run over by a seaman instead of a private, plop me into a fantasy world with special abilities, and wait for me to try to build submarines and aircraft carriers.  Helen has it a bit easier so far because the technology she's trying to replicate, firearms, is smaller and simpler. Still, I'm curious to see if she'll ever work her way up to ultra-modern weapons of war like fighter jets.  Her similarities to me surely colored my view as I read the available chapters of this fiction.  Clearly, this story isn't for everyone.  If you hate the very idea of guns, try something else.  Otherwise, read on.

The first thing to draw me in was actually the cover, which includes an impressive juxtaposition of an anime-style girl, fantasy-style wolf ears, and modern military-style tactical gear.  While some people might find this representation to be a blasphemous abomination, to me it heralds near-infinite possibilities for innovation and creativity within a fantasy story.

The "system" so far is interesting to me.  The part that stands out to me is how modern the supporting characters' understanding of interfaces is due to this system.  Without going into too much detail, the fantasy characters could probably fare decently if they were brought to our world, unlike most fictions I read in this genre.  I'll finish the review with additional thoughts in each category:

Style:  The prose does a good job of communicating to me what the character's motivations are and what they're currently thinking.  The use of dialogue is appropriate.  Some readers might be turned off by the technology namedropping, but I'm quite knowledgeable so it didn't bother me at all.  See other reviews (current and future) to see how other reviewers feel about that.

Grammar:  The area I'd identify for improvement.  Possibly due to translation of some terms, the occasional errors or odd wording are jarring.  I see some evidence of readers providing edit suggestions in the comments so this issue might resolve over time.  I definitely don't recommend turning your nose up if the premise of this fiction interests you.

Story:  It's still early, but Helen has a clear goal and is working towards it.  I'm sure the story will branch out as it goes, but for now she's still in the "little girl learning the basics of how the world works" phase.  Recent chapters hinted at some serious complications coming down the pike, so the stability of her current life might be upset very soon, to the reader's delight or dismay.

Characters:  As I mentioned earlier, I can dearly relate to Helen so I'm a bit biased, but I find her dedication through multiple lives towards her passion to be alluring.  I'm a bit concerned that she might be bringing about all kinds of crazy changes to an innocent world, but we'll need to wait and see.  I won't hold that concern against the author's character score.  The protagonist's interactions with the sister and mother have been believable.  The father and tutors are adding richness to the story and are quickly proving to be three-dimensional themselves.


Horizon of War: An Isekai with Historical Twist

I didn't read Horizon of War; I experienced it.  Although still in the early stages, it's an engaging read with fleshed out characters and a compelling plot true to the age it takes place in.  The author focuses on aspects of life in a medieval world that I would normally gloss over as an author and also intrigues the reader.  It's refreshing to see a main character in this genre that isn't overpowered or arrogant but isn't pathetic either.  He's not a hero (at least, not yet), but he's likable and relatable.  The only area for improvement in my view is discussed below under grammar.  With a round of additional editing (at least for the early chapters) that could easily get bumped up to full marks.

Style:  Immersive.  The author's use of descriptions, transitions, and storytelling pacing make this an enjoyable read that keeps you seeking more.  I didn't identify any mismatches between what I thought the author should be telling us and what was written, as happens in some fictions.

Story:  So far, the plot is engaging and exciting.  I'm eager to learn more, and can't help wondering what type of situation or arrangement our protagonist will find himself in due to his unique background.  Events in this historical world really highlight what life was like and what the powers-that-be had to be worried about during this time period.

Grammar:  The grammar and editing is inconsistent; at times it's smooth.  At others, I notice the occasional error or awkward word.  The errors did not get in the way of following or enjoying the story.  Editing other types of writing is part of my day job so perhaps I'm a bit stricter than most in this area, but it's much easier to fix than weaknesses in the other three categories, so this comment could be overcome by events in the near future.

Character:  Although it's still early, the character development is appropriate and well underway.  As I mentioned in the summary up above, the protagonist is relatable and he's also exactly what this type of medieval world needs to create a compelling story.  The supporting characters have depth appropriate with their roles and how long they've been in the story, so far.  I'm still curious to see how magic/fantasy might play into the protagonist's development, but as of now, there's no magic save for whatever brought him to this new/historical world.  Despite that, the story's working well.