ManeReader

ManeReader

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Reviews
Lucinda the Shifter

The best and worst of 'coming of age'

This is an interesting story. It's very well written, but for some reason the way the story flows makes it hard to want to 'turn the page'. Again, it's well written so it isn't a matter of quality. Whether it's the needless use of overly lengthy sentences or the somewhat generic fantastical tone or some combination of word choice and sentence structure, the flow of the story just doesn't jive with me. What's being said is interesting but how its being communicated is less so. 

Never noticed any grammatical mishaps. 

Coming of age stories present a curious situation, character growth becomes easy while side characters become difficult (more on the latter later). Character growth gets easier because it's the story. Who Lucinda becomes and how she becomes that person, is the story. It's personal and based on internal conflicts rather than external ones. Of course external conflicts exist, but their role is more as fuel for more interesting internal ones. The author does this very well, both presenting interesting conflicts and allowing Lucinda tackle them in ways that are engaging. I'm not that big on LitRPG, but the genre is probably the best when character growth is a key element of the story. It definitely works to this story's favor. (Obviously if you just like LitRPG, this features the standard elements. I'm not the best at judging the quality or originality of 'systems' tho)

On the character side of things. I don't think I like a single character besides the MC. Her mentor turn fling dude, dude is decent, but even he could use a bit of work. This is a common issue in coming of age stories, how do you write the side characters? How do you make then full fleshed individuals when 1. Much of the screen time needs to be spent on the MC and their growth 2. If they feature in the early stages of the story, they have to in some way be shaping that growth. Whether it's through direct support, or presenting a challenge the MC can solve relatively quickly. and 3. Young character's tend to lack the ability to exert influence on others, so interactions with the MC become one dimensional. While the author, for the most part, dodges the third issue the other two issues are unaddressed. That leaves characters with very little time to accomplish a very specific goal before quickly being shunned to the back of our minds. Even as the story progresses, most side characters merely exist to service Lucinda's story rather than be individuals in their own right. 

Overall, it's a good coming of age story that features both the best and worst of its subgenre.


Capo: Rise of a Gang Lord

This is a very well written story. There are very few grammar or style issues to complain about. The characters are good to great. You won't like all of them, but they each offer something when they're given screen time. Even when they feel formulaic, they still remain engaging. Francis (His name may be Frank, but I call him Ajax) stands out as the most interesting, a strangely uncommon thing these days. Based on the first few chapters, how his charcater develops during the long road to kingpin will be a treat. 

The problem is. The concept of the story. 

It's fairly new and fresh, but like our good friend Joe, it feels inherently less interesting to me. I gave it a shot because I used to hate urban fantasy, but then Super Minion came along and smashed that opinion. The good writing in Capo: Rise of a Gang Lord  manages to keep me engaged, but the story never really pulls me in. I love the focus on cash, I have an unhealthy obsession with hoarding money when I play games, but story-wise thats the only thing that keeping me going. 

Of course, if you read the words 'Gamelit set in a GTA-style world' and get excited rather than skeptical then my statements won't apply to you. If that concept strikes a cord, I'd recommend. 


Albion Live

An Interesting But Young Novel

Before I go further into the review I want to note that I'm not a fan of 'in a game' narratives. I like livng worlds free of the convenience of simply logging off. Because of that, its difficult for me to give this story a high score.

 

Now, to the actual review: The story is fairly young, there are only 8 chapters and some of them are quite short. Because of this, there isn't much to critique. The authors writing style is smooth. It doesn't flow perfectly, there are some parts you kind of have to slog through, but thats only on the occasion. The MC doesn't have much to him, but as I said the story is young so there is plenty of time for improvement on that front. Being that the story is giving off strong 'slice-of-life' vibes, I'm not sure what to expect plot wise. I personally don't have a problem with this. I don't prescribe to the idea that there must always be a sense of urgency in a narrative. I'm fairly interested in just seeing more of what the MC can do in Albion. We've only seen the basics of the game so far, but there is a house system that intrigues me. I want to see to see what the author does with it (I'm hoping they're not just guilds with a different name.).

 

If, unlike me, novels set in games are you bread and butter then this might be worth your attention. 


Nice Guy Syndrome

This is a story based in the 'real' world. There is no fantasy, no magic, no futuristic technology, no system(s). None of the common elements seen on RRL are present here. What is present is a warm, funny tale about a college kid trying to find his manhood (or rather trying to figure out how to use it). We aren't many chapters in, so I'll refrain from giving a full review, but what we have so far does very well with that simple premise.

  

Because there are no crazy shenanigans taking us away from the MC we're forced to spend a lot of time with him and his thoughts. This has so far proven to be great and....not so much. Comedy is a key factor here, if the jokes land the often ridiculous nature of our MC is easily overlooked. If they don't land, you're left cringing. Lucky, there are usually more hits than misses. The MC himself is...passable. As someone who was/is both a dork and socially competent, I often find his almost complete ineptness more cringy than funny. His highly detailed, delusional imaginings are forced to make up for it. They do that job pretty well, they're my favorite part by a country mile. Unfortunately, at times even those fall short. They are prone to extending the joke far too long. That actually extends to most of the authors writing. They routinely over describe/explain fairly simple things. It feels like a description that should take only two sentences takes a whole paragraph. Inversely, I may just be a fan of brevity. (There is also a romance tag here, but we've only seen hints so there's not much to discuss on that front.)

  

Overall I'd say if you're looking for a story that strays from the RRL norm while providing more than a few laughs, this is worth checking out.

I somehow ended up writing a full review.


Life: New Game +

This is so much better than I thought it would be. Its not long enough to give it a proper review, but I'm quite thoroughly enjoying the ride. It has a style very similar to my own, there are a number of perspective switches and I love it. More authors need to get on the wave. 

If I have to complain about something its that there are some very odd grammar mistakes. They don't occur often, but when they do they're such obvious things its sometimes jarring. 


Time.Travel()

Style: Its written from first person and I'm not often a fan of that, but the author makes it work well enough. The sentences and paragraphs flows nicely, but at times they feel like theres a bit too much fluff. Its not verbosity for the sake of verbosity, but I skipped a few sentences here and there. Its probably just a personal thing but I often interally say "Yeah I get it, now get to the good stuff". 

 

Story: It started off feeling somewhat meh. I felt palpable Steins:Gate/Re:Zero influences. I'm happy to say the story developes in a way that is far fresher than the first few chapters imply. I'll leave this short to avoid spoilers, but this is the novels selling point. 

 

Grammar: I'm the last one to talk about this, but some mistakes are noticable so I have to take a star off. 

 

Charcater: Honestly. I don't really like any of the characters. Thats not to say they're badly written, they're just not my cup of ravioli. Our MC, John, doesn't make me feel anything. This is somewhat of a serious detriment being that its writtern in first person, but what he does and why he does it/them is intersting enough to forgive. There are a few other charcters that are given notable screen time, but they don't leave much of an impact either. As I said previously, you'd defintely read this for the story not the characters. 

 

Overall: I'd say check it out. Its pretty good. Get to Chapter 6 before you drop it. 

 

 


At Wit's End

Author Thinks He's A Boy Genius

 Pfft. He might be. 

I'd give this a Sheen out of Carl. Would bang Cindy again.

 

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[English Translation]

I was going to give this a serious review, but I don't have anything to say that the other reviews didn't already cover. Plus, why be serious when you can make Jimmy Neutron references? 

For my actual thoughts, mix Alex's review and Vanilla's review.