Yaksher

Yaksher

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Feast or Famine

Sanity is overrated (unlike this story)

As the synopsis says, the MC is well adjusted and totally, entirely sane and stable. Trust her.

This story is very much something that hits a particular niche and it's beautiful within it. It is not for everyone, but the execution is brilliant. The only story I've read on RR like it, that I can remember, is How to Tame Your Princess. If you liked that, stop reading this review and go read the story. If you hated that... well, yeah probably not for you. If you've never heard of it (most people reading this?)... well, that's what the rest of the review is for.

Grammar score: No errors in spelling or grammar or whatever that I've seen, if there are any typos, it's minimal and infrequent.

Style score: The story is written in first person present tense, which is my personal favorite combination when done right, which as far as I've seen, this is. The prose is well done, and the narration reflects the MCs... complete sanity and stability.

Story score: There's not too much to say yet (even at the slightly advanced point from which I'm writing this compared to the chapters on RR), but we appear to be in for a wild ride. The world building is a bit of a mystery so far, however, so I'll just trust in the "Urban Fantasy" tag.

Character score: Character is honestly where this story shines most. Specifically, the main character, since even with my (very limited) foreknowledge, we've only seen two other characters and one of them very indirectly. The main character, however talks to herself, hangs her emotions on a pendulum, and is generally an Experience. She's more than a little edgy, but in a vaguely self-aware way that's intentional on the author's part, and it's fun rather than painful as a result. Morgan as a POV character is a work of art and I highly recommend it.


The Bureau of Isekai Affairs

Maximum nerd MC, brilliant world building!

Alternate review title which didn't fit: "Maximum nerd isekai, but like, in a way that doesn't require making all the natives idiots"

Overall:

This is a rather brilliant take on what I guess could be reasonably called meta-isekai (though the meta aspects are all in the world building rather than narrative, sparing some mind fuckery and existensialism), with a great (and incredibly relateable) main character, amazing world building, and a nice cast of side characters.

A very fun story that relies heavily on worldbuilding in a world full of reasonable people making sense of utterly bullshit rules. The worldbuilding style reminds me of stories like Worth the Candle, Unsong, maybe a bit of SCP Foundation type stuff.

Highly recommend.

Grammar:

I didn't notice anything while reading through, so... full marks?

Style:

As always, a bit of an odd-ball category. Prose-wise, the story is very good, though not exceptional. It's first person, present-tense narration, which I personally like, however in my opinion the narration, while very much reflecting the MC's personality, doesn't really reflect her state of mind at any given time very much, which is a high bar but also why I'm docking half a star. There are exactly 3 authors I've given 5 stars on style to, though.

Character:

Technique-wise, the characters are fairly well-distinguished, though so far the non-MC characters feel a bit flat. Perhaps this'll change with time, but for now, 4.5/5.

I personally love the main character. Since my ability to program makes up a solid third of my personality, the recognizable style of thinking, well-reflected in the narration and way she analyzes problems, is very nice to see and some moments are painfully relatable. Additionally, I'm a total sucker for the "contained under pressure, but of a scattered disaster otherwise" archetype which she embodies.

The side characters are varied, fun, and, perhaps most importantly, not annoying (mostly). It's hard to say much in aggregate and I'm not really willing to go into detail on each one of the major ones (sorry?), so... None of them are stupid, and while we don't know the well enough yet for their personal motivations and whatnot to be clear, we do know enough to see that they're, y'know, reasonable people. My main gripe with the side characters, aside from being a bit flat for now, is that one of them has an accent that feels a bit overdone and is a little annoying to read sometimes (hence the "mostly" above).

Story:

As a warning, the story is slow paced and seems to be fairly slice of life. By chapter 27, less than two days have passed and there's no sign of an over arching plot.

However, being slice of life, the slow pace works and every chapter is engaging.

The focus of the story is on the characters and world, and especially the magic. A lot of time is dedicated to the MC trying to figure out one particular magic system of many, which leads into the worldbuilding.

As mentioned in the overall section, the worldbuilding reminds me of WtC, Unsong, and SCP Foundation in the sense that you have a hodgepodge of seemingly nonsensical phenomena, but rather than them just being unexplained and their interactions being left contradictory or undefined, you have people actually exploring how they work.

The main thing Bureau of Isekai Affairs does to stand out here is the fact that rather than having multiple magic systems that coexist, its countless magic systems overlap.

Very minor spoilers:

People come to the world the story is set in from countless worlds, and sometimes they bring little pieces of their world ("Gifts") with them, which spread in ways consistent that are consistent with the Gifts themselves.

When I say that the systems overlap however, what I mean is that if a guy has an innate ability to shoot fireballs and another person is a hard magic wizard, the fireballs will parse as magic to the hard magic wizard. Meanwhile to a cultivator, the fireballs will read as qi.

This becomes especially interesting with metamagics and stuff, and though that has not yet been explored in too much detail, based on what's there so far, I trust it will be.

 

The world appears, thus far, to be very well thought through.

I do worry a bit that the chapters will feel a bit too short individually when not binging, but that is basically inevitable with serials that choose to post frequently rather than once or twice a week.


Reroll

Good story, catastrophic failure of an ending

Drop this at chapter 66. That is my advice. If you pretend the story went on hiatus there, my overall score goes up to like 4.5 and my story score goes up to like 4, maybe 4.5.

Overall: This story is has good writing and the characters are well-developed, even if, as the other reviews say, the MC can be somewhat frustrating. The story itself, well... let's just settle for the review title, I'll return to it later. Now, categories.

Grammar: No issues that I noticed, it's fine, etc.

Style: Style is always a bit of an odd-ball category and a bit hard to judge, but I think it's pretty good. It's third-person limited, which is always a safe choice, and the descriptions are good.

Character: Well, the characters are fairly well-defined and well-developed. However, the main character is very flawed which can make for a frustrating read while the side characters, and this is the main reason I'm taking off a star, are fairly flat. The cast is arguably too broad and for many of them I remembered nothing but their names and maybe powers and even then, the ones that you actually got to know had a tendency to be a little 2-dimensional. It's not awful, but star off.

Story: Oh boy. I'm going to break this into three parts, up to chapter 66, the last arc, and the ending, though I will try to keep all of them relatively spoiler free.

up to 66: This is a solid time loop story about unraveling the mysteries and mechanics of a catastrophe that has clearly been in the works for who knows how long. Naturally, it being a proper time loop without any fuckery about people remembering somehow or other means that it needs to keep unveiling layers of problem after problem to keep going, this is fine, however, the thing that makes me take off a star is that these subsequent problems feel a bit out of nowhere every time, which gets annoying. Nonetheless, I think it's good.

Final arc: This arc, effectively, throws away every thing that has happened up to that point in favor of dropping "twist" after unforeshadowed "twist" in a speedrun to reveal the final confrontation while barely even using the looping power. I nearly dropped the story several times and held on only because the ending was close.

The ending: I don't want to be mean to the author, but quite frankly, this is the worst ending I have ever seen. Worse than GoT season 8. It's a fitting ending for a time loop story in the most twisted way possible: It entirely invalidates everything that happened in the story until that point. It goes several steps beyond Deus Ex Machina.

The weird thing is, this was clearly an ending planned from the start. I'm just... not sure how this ended up the ending.


Hive Minds Give Good Hugs

(I write this review having read up to the Patreon chapter 10)

Overall: Close you eyes and imagine... Cinnamon Bun meets Vigor Mortis. A simulataneously adorable and slightly horrifying story about a very nice girl who has no plans to use her hivemind powers for evil. Bonus points, the abbreviation, HMGGH, is even the sound made by people who are hugged too hard!

Style: The style is great—It's written in first person and present tense and the prose consistently reflects the MC's personality and state of mind. Thundamoo's prose is consistently top tier both here and in Vigor Mortis, easily contending for best on RR.

Character: Where this story truly shines, even if there's literally one sapient character so far. Evelyn just oozes adorkablility. She loves bugs and plays the zerg in Starcraft because they're cute. She invents voices and personalities for her pets. She's precious and deserves all the hugs.

Grammar: A few occasional typos missed by the beta readers aside, perfectly good. I haven't seen any typos that weren't caught by beta readers (by definition :P) and while I'm sure they exist, there aren't many.

Story: This was originally a quest so the story is very exploratory and character driven. It's a survive-and-hopefully-thrive type story of a girl discovering that she's a bug hivemind and trying to survive while avoiding becoming one of the many evil bug hiveminds in science fiction.


Beneath the Dragoneye Moons

A proper healer MC with principles

My overall review is that the story is definitely worth a read. 

This story has several good features, but chief among them is the main character.

Character score (5 stars): She has her flaws, both as a character and as a person, but the author has committed to making her a good person in a world that is largely quite shitty, which is practically unique as far as I've seen. There's stories like Cinanmon Bun (also great), where the main character radiates an aura of wholesome, but the world itself bends to her aura. Beneath the Dragoneye Moons is not like that, and Elaine's commitment to doing good takes effort and has its costs (though the system does reward her for it). I will note, the MC is not a pacifist, so don't worry about that.

The MC acts her biological age and basically the only affect, and the bulk of the story so far has been with her 14 years old, which also makes this one of the very few stories I've seen with a fairly realistic child MC. This may get annoying for some readers, I'm sure. She's easily distracted (though it might just be ADHD lol), kinda clueless, and easily pressured into going along with stupid shit. She's also determined, brave, and principled generally making her a fairly unique, charming MC that's fun to read.

Other characters are also interesting, consistent, and individual.

Grammar score (5 stars): No issues?

Style socre (4.5 stars): There's nothing wrong with the prose, it doesn't feel choppy or unnatural or whatever. It's also nothing exceptional so I'm knocking off half a star.

Story (5 stars): It's what it says on the tin - adventure, dinosaurs, epic moments, almost being eaten, etc. The loot aspect is a bit lacking, but it shows up every now and then. The world building is interesting and the system is much more thought out than almost any I've encountered short of Delve's.


The Calamitous Bob

A Masterpiece of Snark and Magic

From the author of the best story (in my opinion, etc) on RR, Journey of Black and Red, another amazing story.

As a note, I am writing this review as a patron of Mecanimus's Patreon, which has up to chapter 59 currently posted, so while I'm technically reviewing "on chapter 6", I have actually read the story :P 

The short of it is that this is an excellent story that I highly suggest for not just anyone who likes isekai or litRPG, but anyone who can tolerate it. The long of it...

Style: It's Mecanimus. The prose is a joy to read, with excellent descriptions and flair. The tone of the story is pretty jovial, for the most part, but it's not slapstick or a parody, the story takes itself seriously. Additionally, the writing is very dense (though perhaps slightly less so than JB&R) in the sense that though the chapters aren't that long, they never leave you feeling like nothing happened.

Grammar: I mean, no problems? No persistent or repeated issues. Occasional typos, sure, but they're relatively infrequent.

Story: Despite the name, I would not describe The Calamitous Bob as a comedy. It includes plenty of humor but it is humor placed on top of a story, not a story driven by painful or "comedic" misunderstandings and slapstick. Expect earned, satisfying progression (it is a litRPG), a talented MC well suited to their initial hellish environment, long term plans, and, well... it's in the title. The story takes a very exploratory/non-expository approach to worldbuilding, but it seems consistent, well-designed, and pretty cool. Mecanimus also goes pretty light on litRPG elements, which is a matter of preference, but progress happens more through training and actual breakthroughs then just mindless repetition and XP for killing things.

Character: The main cast consists of a French army medic driven by pride, a psychotic terminator made of bone, ancient technology, and malevolance, a tiny vicious dragonling becoming less tiny and more vicious at what might be an alarming rate, and [Redacted]. Characters outside of the MC have goals, desires, etc. The cast is varied (though perhaps not that varied) and consistent, and I love them all.

Overall, this is one of my favorite stories, ever, and an examplar of the litRPG and isekai genres without falling for any of the standard pitfalls. I highly, highly suggest it!


In the Shadow of Heaven [ORIGINAL VERSION]

I'm not very good at reviews, and moreover, I'm not very good at saying good things about what I review (I'm more inclined to point out the negatives), so this won't be too long. I'll preface it by saying this currently one of my favorite stories on this site and I also believe it's one of the better-written ones.

I guess I'll go over the scoring categories.

Style: The prose is good, the dialogue seems pretty natural. Good enough to deserve 5 stars on this site even if it's not exceptional.

Grammar: I can't remember noticing a single issue with the grammar reading this. I'm sure some exists, but it's minor at most.

Story: The story seems to be well thought out, there's actual progression, direction, etc, which immediately puts it leagues ahead of the vast majority of content on this site. The main issue for me with this story is that it's slow. There were many times when I just wanted things to happen already. This is the only thing keeping me from giving this story 5 stars overall. I think the main reason for it feeling so slow is because there are many parallel threads, especially in Act 2.

Characters: The characters are consistent and individual. They have progression. They behave realistically, or at least believably. No Mary Sue, characters other than the MC are actually characters as well, etc. 

The setting is interesting and, as far as SciFi goes, highly consistent. I also enjoy the fact that rather than blatantly violating the laws of physics at random points and then following them at others, the story breaks the laws of physics in specific, consistent ways and generally follows them outside that.  There are some things about the setting that are a bit confusing and left unexplained (as of chapter 94 anyway), but it's generally good.

Overall, I'd give it 5 stars all around if not for the pacing.

I'll leave off with praise for the author for their consistent bi-weekly updates. (Whelp, that didn't age well lmao)


Katalepsis

Surprisingly Wholesome Cosmic Horror

Style: The prose here is ridiculously good. Like, "best I've ever seen" level. I mean, just read the first sentence:
"On the day I met Raine, the first thing I did was jerk awake in bed and vomit nightmares into my lap."
I've never seen a more engaging opening sentence, anywhere, I don't think.

Grammar: There might be a handful of errors occasionally, but I never really noticed anything and it's very infrequent.

Story: Rather than what one might expect from the summary and tags (or at least what I expected), I would not actually describe this story as all that "dark" (hence the title of "suprisingly wholesome cosmic horror") and definitely not grimdark. Balancing failures and successes, exploration of the unknowable and cute romance, the story just sucks you in. There's an overarching goal and progress and also side plots and what not. No plot holes that I've noticed either.

Character: Despite the cast being almost entirely made up of teenage lesbians, it somehow manages to have some of the most varied and distinct characters I've seen. Heather, shy and scared but good at dealing with pressure, often taking command. Raine, the loyal but violent and sociopathic knight errant. And many others, all consistently themselves, with character development and their own traits. They are almost all gay though and the entire main cast is female, which isn't really a flaw but might bother some people.

Overall: This is now like... top two for my favorite stories on RR (the other being Journey of Black and Red). It has some of the best prose I've seen pretty much anywhere, characters and relationships that I'm a total sucker for (I'm a big fan of the mess by default, cool under pressure type MC as well as hurt-comfort stuff lol), and generally does so many things well and nothing poorly.


Lever Action

A Magitech Mecha Western - Raven does it again

Overall: It's looking to be a fun story, with the polished writing and relatively light tone you would expect from one of Raven's (Cinamon Bun, Lovecrafted, Stray Cat Strut, Fluff, etc.) stories. If a story featuring magitech mechas mixed with a western sounds appealing, this story seems, thus-far, to deliver. I'm looking forward to future chapters. If you've enjoyed any of Raven's works (especially Stray Cat Strut), this is definitely worth a shot!

Style: The story is written in actual first person—you can very much see the main character's personality in the way it's narrated. Something that particularly stood out to me as an example was "fist-sized hole through a plate of good steel as thick as your thumb was long". Obviously, this could be specified in centimeters or inches, but that's not how people talk, and you can definitely feel the rough western in the style.

Grammar: This one is pretty self-explanatory. I've seen a typo here and there, but generally very good.

Story: As I typically do, I'm considering world-building part of the story and so far it looks very interesting. As the author says, it's a "fantasy western", which in this case means mixing typical fantasy elements—goblins, elves, magic—with the rough frontiers of a western and magitech. I can't speak to how consistent or thought through it is yet, but it definitely has personality and I'm excited to learn more about the world and see where it goes. The tone feels pretty light so far and with Raven's history, I think it's a fairly safe assumption it'll stay that way—this isn't really a positive or negative in general, but might be one way or the other for some people. The actual story seems like a pretty straight forward "escort mission with detours", but it has direction and serves more as a backdrop for character interaction and adventure, it seems so far.

Character: The characters are fun, engaging, and have continuous and identifiable personalities, so I'm not sure what else you can ask for. They're not charicatures either.


Azalea

An excellent and unique LitRPG. Give it a shot.

I'll preface this review with two things. One, I'm writing this review as of chapter 9, which is a mere 64 pages into the author's first story, meaning rapid improvement is to be expected. And two, this review is largely addressed to the author rather than potential readers.

UPDATE (as of chapter 16): Rapid improvement has been achieved! I'll leave the original review content, mostly because I'm too lazy to rewrite this entire review right now, I'll spoiler the parts that no longer apply (though, I suppose they still apply to the earlier chapters so it makes sense for them to stay).

Starting with the overall score: I like the story, simple as that. It's different in ways that make it not repetitive, but keeps the things you like about typical LitRPGs. It has magic seperate from "the system said so" and no health or stamina pools. The main character is a high-mobility, relatively fragile direct attacker, which I personally haven't seen in any other good litRPGs (though I can't proclaim to have read every litRPG on this site). World building seems self-consistent so far, and while the stuff directly interacted with has been relatively mundane, there seems to be neat stuff around the edges.

It does in many ways remind of the stories the author mentioned taking inspiration from (especially He Who Fights With Monsters and Azarinth Healer, as well as possibly the Nightingale one, since I haven't read that). The order of scores was descending order prior to the update.

Grammar: If there was something wrong with the grammar in the later chapters, I missed it. Chapter 9 review (rating 4.5)

 

Story: (hasn't changed with the review update) It's an isekai webnovel. So far it seems like an adventure slice of life, which is always nice. It's a bit too early for things to really start happening, but there have been some inklings of things to come. One issue I have is that some things happened for the sake of them happening, and not because they made sense, (chapter 6)

 

Characters: The characters aren't particularly exceptional, but they have personalities and they act according to them. Author's changed to third person limited, which makes the main character much easier to relate to. Chapter 9 review (rating 3.5) 

 

Style: Originally, I gave the style quite a harsh review, citing summary-esque writing, mediocre prose, inconsistent pacing, and general poor immersion. None of those apply anymore. At this point, while the prose and phrasing could use a little work, the style's perfectly fine. Chapter 9 review (rating 2.5)