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javert

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We Set the Sky on Fire

It's fun to see shorter works on RR-- this was neat. I love the description of the fireworks, and the hints of a larger world. Would love to see more but this definitely works as a little standalone piece :)

I like the reveal that the devout main character has been having a conversation with a god-slayer-- i think really pushing the drama of that could add to the story 


/* Conflict of Interest */

Granted, with a review at chapter two, there's not a ton to go on in terms of story, but I have to say that I really like the writing style that this has been done in so far. It's interesting and eye-catching without being overwrought, and has a snappiness to it that I appreciate.

Premise is very interesting. I am a sucker for AI-learns-to-be-human stories of any variety haha. My only complaint is that I wish we were given a little bit more backstory-- a chapter or two-- before being dumped directly into "the main character causes the apocalypse, or something like it."

I look forward to seeing this story continue :)


Spark of Brilliance

Review written as of chapter six. This review was written as part of a review swap.

Spark of Brilliance is about a young man named Nathan, whose girlfriend (and presumably whole family) is killed in a mysterious and completely random magical attack on the night before he's about to go off to mage school. Fortunately, this does not deter him from hitching a ride and making his way to school anyway. By chapter six, we haven't yet reached the school, but I assume that it's upcoming very shortly.

Style

This fiction suffers in style a little. Part of that might be chalked up to non-native English speaking author, as evidenced most strongly by egregiously misused expressions such as

“Escort him to the harbor and make sure, he knocks on the correct door. Don't leave him out of your eyes!”

Which is almost certainly meant to be "Don't let him out of your sight!" 

I can forgive that kind of thing, but I highly suggest that the author enlists a native English speaker to do a quick read through to catch future mistakes like that. It's jarring and takes the reader out of the story.

Aside from quirks of language like that, some of the dialogue specifically feels extremely stilted and unnatural. There are many places where contractions should be used, because that's the way that people speak, but the words were fully written out instead.

Varying sentence structure and running chapters through a grammar checker to catch comma splices would also both help.

I like the author's use of description, and I don't find the narration unpleasant-- it just could use a little bit of cleanup. 

Grammar

As with the style category, this is one of those things that's easily fixed by having another set of eyes on the chapters before they're posted. I noticed a lot of misused or missing apostrophies, comma splices, and a couple mis-punctuated dialogues. I mentioned it earlier, but comma splices are also a problem. I also caught a couple random capitalized Nouns-- author might be German. There's also some very weird formatting issues, like there are linebreaks in places there shouldn't be. It's very obvious if you have your text settings on anything less than max width.

It's not anywhere near unreadable, it's just a cleanup issue that is enough to be mildly distracting.

Story

I think the story itself is the strongest part of the story, which is good. Something happens in each chapter, which keeeps the reader feeling likee we're moving along, even though we clearly haven't reached the main location yet (magic school). 

I like the kind of steampunk-esque magic setting, and the obvious clash between Nathan's rural village and the way that city life/more advanced technological spaces are. The worldbuilding is good.

Unfortunately, this is slightly brought down by the fact that in the very first chapter, we're introduced to this huge conflict-- a magic ship comes and deletes Nathan's village off the map-- and then the main character... just... heads off to school. It rachets the tension right up, but then immediately deflates it. Obviously, I'm still very early into the story, so I'm sure the school plot and the magic attack plot will tie back together at some point, but it just rings as wrong to me.

Another quick note that a lot of events that happen while Nathan is in the city feel extremely random and somewhat unnecessary. It might be better if the author trimmed down to just the encounter with the police captain, rather than the whole shopkeeper scene as well.

Character

So, the main character is Nathan, who is clearly young, eager, and talented at magic. Unfortunately, that's about all I can say about him. He's heartbroken about his girlfriend dying in his arms, but he doesn't act like it for more than a chapter or so. He's continuing to go about his business, for the most part without making any real moves to mourn his (presumably) dead family and his (very) dead girlfriend, do anything to figure out who killed them and why, or anything. It's odd and makes it hard for the reader to relate to Nathan.

Nathan is also the only character we spend significant time with, so it's hard to comment on others. A couple of the side characters have personalities that do shine through their dialogue, which is good, but since they don't stick around in the story, it seems like a bit of a waste.

Overall

In general, I think that Spark of Brilliance shows real promise, and this is a very early review, so don't take anything I say as permanent. I think if the author gets someone to read over what's been written and help edit it, most of the issues that I have could be cleared up very quickly, and I'm sure the story will improve as it goes along.

If you like fantasy stories where exploring the mechanics of the magic system is probably going to be a large part, don't discount this story, I'm sure it will live up to its potential.

Also, just a note to the author: you should probably change your description. Currently, it is extremely generic and could describe basically any fantasy story on the planet. You'll probably get more readers if you put more detail in about the story.


Seeker

A story that can't decide if it's silly or serious

Review written as of chapter 11. This review was written as part of a review swap.

Seeker is an interesting story, I'll give it that. The general premise of the story is that two hyper-powerful magical beings functionally spent 2000 years in hibernation, and emerged into a world where the old ways of gods and magic are mostly dead, and technology and science rule. I like that premise. Unfortunately, the story doesn't quite live up to its full potential.

Style

The writing style is... fine. The author spends a lot of time trying to describe magical/religious/mystical events with grandeur, but it comes off as clunky rather than poetic. The prologue chapter contains some of the worst examples of this, so if you don't mind that, you'll probably enjoy the rest of the story.

Grammar

There are occasional typos and grammar mistakes, including things like wrong apostrophes and mis-punctuated dialogue. It's not a huge deal. If you're not a nitpicker, you won't notice anything wrong.

Character

Character is one of the biggest areas in which this story falls a little flat. The problem here is that there are two main characters, Angelica and Galileo, who are generally unlikable.

Angelica (really could not have picked a more on the nose name!) is supposed to be the "good" and "nice" character, I believe, because we're supposed to feel sorry for her for spending 2000 years basically in solitary confinement, with her limbs ripped off. The reader feels pity for that, but when one of the first things Angelica does after being freed is do some mass murder, that lessens the pity just a little bit

Galileo is straight up a self-centered jerk. If the goal is to hate him from page one, then yep, success at that.

Because they are more powerful than everyone around them, both Angelica and Galileo spend a lot of time looking down on everyone around them. While understandable, it's annoying. It has the unfortunate effect of making it hard for the side characters (who have real potential to be interesting!) to shine, because at every second the POV character is going "they're so much less than me for xyz reason." 

Story

So here's where the other two big problems come up for me.

The first one is that Seeker can't decide if it wants to be silly or serious. Angelica's POV segments are presented very seriously, and the narration reflects that. On the other hand, you have Galileo working a retail shift and hating it, dicking around on the internet for hours and hours, clicking on scam links because he doesn't understand what they are, and competing in a chess tournament. It's a weird tonal dissonance, and it's not helped by the fact that...

The overarching plot hasn't shown up yet. I don't understand what the conflict is in this story, what the character's goals are, or why anything is happening. Angelica, maybe, you could claim she has the goal of bringing religion and maybe the gods back to the world, and there's maybe some kind of organization that opposes this. But Galileo? He seems content to just futz around and badly learn how guns work. I think the conflicts and goals need to be more clearly stated and show up earlier in the story, in order to help the reader stay invested.

Overall

I think Seeker has a lot of promise in its concept, but I think the author needs to commit to various things: tone, conflict, and the way that the characters are meant to be related to by the audience. It's worth reading and is not bad, but slightly hard to stay invested without a major plot showing up yet.


Illusion/Core

Review written as of Black Smoke 1 (ch11).

I like this story- I think it has real potential, though it's probably too early to tell how it will go. The split between the two different types of magic is interesting, and who isn't a sucker for talented highschoolers having magic adventures? The author is also pretty good at writing action scenes, which makes this an engaging read.

I have a few minor criticisms, but they don't kill enjoyment of the story- they're just areas in which the author can improve. The first and largest issue is in clumsy infodumps; they're frequent in the first few chapters and they take the reader out of the story. The author tries to integrate them naturally (ie with a news story, with a character giving instruction), but it doesn't quite work. The author also chooses some odd times to describe things in detail. Pacing/structure is also a little off. It would probably make the story flow better to combine the illusion test and awakening into one event, rather than two back to back. It would give the illusion test more impact, imo.

Didn't notice any jarring grammar mistakes.

Overall, a very promising start! I look forward to seeing how the characters grow as the story develops.


Magitist

Great worldbuilding, lacking in other aspects

Overall thoughts

The worldbuilding in this story is interesting, but you do have to put up with a MC who (at least up to chapter 7) is way OP in terms of how much he is able to "break" the world. As one other reviewer, Beyogi, says, it's classical rational fic fare. 

Story

The worldbuilding is by far the best part of the story. There's intriguing threads about the way the land is governed and the way that magic works in the world, and it's honestly worth reading for that. It seems like the author developed a fantasy world, then went "great, how do I break this as much as possible as quickly as possible?". I am interested in seeing what the larger plot turns out to be, as I'm not sure if by chapter 7 if we have even hit the inciting incident. The story could develop a lot of different ways and I'm willing to stick it out to see where it goes.

I /think/ the reincarnation is just the gimmick to make the story start- I doubt that this will become a multiple reincarnation story, but it might become a "how do I get back to my own universe" type story. If you don't like reincarnation stories, you might still enjoy this one because it's not... obtrusive.

In terms of the protagonist's use of "science", it's not explained super well, but if you just want to turn your brain off for a while and pretend like it's reasonable for a guy to write a magical computer program that he uses as a home security system, well, it's fine. I have nothing against stories where the magic system gets broken to pieces by a smart protagonist- I think it can be really fun- and I just wish that this was developed more. If we were shown on screen trial and error, or actual scientific method performing experiments rather than just trying things and being good at them, I think it would work a lot better. 

I really want to know like, if the conceit of the story is that the MC is able to do all of these magical feats because he doesn't have the cultural blinders on telling him he can't, what caused the magic system to develop like this in the first place? And why has it stuck around? And why hasn't anyone else tried to break it or apply "rational" thought to it at all? I'm hopeful that these questions will be answered later.

Character

Eh. There's not a lot to say here. The MC is fairly bland, and I think the story would be more interesting if he were honest with the other characters about his knowledge and abilities. Right now, some of the dramatic tension is coming from "oh, he's just a kid he doesn't know anything", "but I /feel/ like he understands everything I say", "I understand everything you say, and also a lot more".

Having the MC hold himself so aloof from the other characters prevents them from really developing as people. For example, we get the picture of his mother as like, overly loving and hypochondriacal, but in forcing her to interact with the MC as an infant/four year old/seven year old/etc, we don't get to see her as anything other than an obstacle and annoyance. 

That's why one of the most interesting relationships so far was his "tutor", who learned all about his abilities. They had a contentious relationship, and it's unfortunate that she left the story for the time being. I somehow think we'll see her again, since more effort was put into developing her relationship with the MC than anyone else!

Style

There is a world of improvement between the first chapter and the seventh. In the first chapter, the author was struck by a strong case of thesaurus disease, and every sentence was crammed full of as many unnecessarily complex words as possible. It was so rough I almost stopped reading. By the seventh chapter, things definitely improved and I'm glad that I stuck it out.

Dialogue is alright, especially when the adults talk. When the MC decides to talk it's kinda pretentious sounding, but I mean, I guess I'm not sure what else I expected. Descriptions of things aren't super detailed, but it's not distracting.

Grammar

No obvious or glaring mistakes that distract from the story.

 


Polyglot: Historia Online

Review written as of chapter 6

I love pretty much everything about this story so far. It's very well written, and it has an interesting setting and premise that makes it stand out from the crowd of other LitRPG stories. Even the "outside of the game" world is interesting, as the players are on Mars.

There are so many different topics that a story like this can touch on. First of all, the entire setting is fraught with conflict. It's implied in game that the Americas have just been "opened up" and that all player characters come from Europe (unless I'm misinterpreting) [and in the last campaign, Morocco/Northern Africa/the middle east?]. There are a lot of implications to this that would be interesting to explore. Even just the moral quandaries of recreating historical atrocities again, but for funsies this time. It's one thing to play a strategy game a la Civilization, but what type of person gravitates toward a game where they can play an Inquisitor or Conquistador?

It is also fascinating to have a bunch of people playing out historical events on Earth, where they themselves are outside of that- what's it like to play around in Earth history as someone who's living on Mars? Do you feel any attachment to it? Nostalgia? Or is it just a diversion from being on a planet without any life, where you can't even go outside. Good stuff.

Also there's the usual "are the NPCs actually alive" business which can be fun if done right.

My only gripe is that the characters are pretty flat. The main character is the only one with much of a personality- and that just involves wanting to grief other players and get rich quick (level up). That's fun and I'm sure it will get better as the story goes on, but the characters are the weak point over the first few chapters.

Anyway I'm loving this story and I'm looking forward to seeing how it develops! It has real potential to be great. I may update this review in the future after more chapters have come out.


A.I.

Could be the start of something interesting

Here is the premise of the story as of chapter 10, since the story summary doesn't say it: some sort of artifically intelligent magical construct is granted to a poor young boy as he is on the verge of death. This construct allows him to heal his own wounds, and construct technology that has been invented in other, more advanced, worlds that are ruled over by the same higher being who granted him his power. He may want to use this power to heal his sick mother and find his missing father.

It's a fairly interesting concept to begin with, and I think it could be developed into something really cool.

Unfortunately, the story is slightly bogged down by choppy writing style and grammar mistakes. It gets a little better as it goes on. It's definitely not unreadable, it just could use some cleanup. The dialogue is also unrealistic, especially considering that the main character is six. The way he talks and is talked to does not sound like a six year old.

The worldbuilding has a few interesting details that were mentioned, so has real potential if it is developed further. Since it's the beginning of the story, I have a lot of questions about the world, which is a good thing. So long as those questions are answered in later chapters, I'll be quite happy.

It's still a short story, and I'm hopeful that it will improve and grow in the future. 


The Legend of Randidly Ghosthound

TL;DR: LoRG is a story that is worth backreading if you have 30 hours to kill, don't mind the litrpg genre, and want a story that keeps moving forward. I don't recommend picking it up anywhere in the middle.

LoRG has above average writing, characters that have decent story arcs, and a plot that does a good job not getting bogged down in one place for too long. The main flaws of the story are due to the nature of serial fiction in general: there are some plot threads that don't seem to go anywhere, because the MC is always slightly OP the story constantly has to be upping the ante, and the 'arc' nature of serials leaves different pieces of the story feeling disconnected. Overall a 4/5, it's better than the sum of its parts.

Longer Review

Style

The writing is better than average in terms of sentence flow and readability, and there's no strong authorial voice in the narration. The story is in third person, with switches in POV occasionally. It's nothing to write home about, but it gets the job done.

Biggest issue here is the omnipresent text walls of characters listing off their skills and how many points they have in each. It's a feature of the genre but honestly, whenever I see anything like 'Randidly checked his skill sheet' I immediately scroll past it.

Grammar

There are occasional spelling mistakes, maybe one or two per chapter. Punctuation is always fine. My only major issue with grammar is the author insists on using numerals in sentences rather than writing out the numbers. This is fine when talking about skill points or other game mechanics, but it's not ideal for things like "The 3 men walked down the path." Not a major issue.

Character

This is the area that I have the most problems with the story. Overall, the characters aren't bad, there are just some character types that tend to reappear over and over.

In terms of Randidly, the main character, if you don't like a MC who kinda hates being around other people, then don't read this story. He doesn't have a ton of other character flaws, and most of the time it feels a little like he can do no wrong. His most annoying trait is probably the occasional waffling about the value of human life. Different story arcs seem to place different value on it. It's very weird.

At one point in the story, Randidly's 

Spoiler: Spoiler

mentions that he is autistic. That isn't really explored in the story until the later part (I'm posting this review when the story is ~530 chapters along), and aside from that one comment, it's not explored explicitly, but it's an interesting lens to read the character through. I hope it is developed more as the story progresses.

Randidly isn't the most engaging MC, and yes, he has an absurd name that's commented on in the story multiple times, but he's fine. 

The other characters in the story can be really hit or miss. Secondary characters get a fair amount of character development most of the time, but tertiary characters tend to get reduced to 'this person moves the plot along just because' or 'this person is comedic relief'. There's also an annoying tendency to completely drop side characters story lines, and the reader can only hope they come back later to tie up their plot line.

Several characters also do heel-face turns or face-heel turns on the drop of a hat, which makes their prior motivations unclear and their future actions hard to predict. 

The gender split of characters in the story is pretty good. Female characters do mostly tend to fall somewhere on the venn diagram consisting of the three circles "coldly competent", "sexy", or "(funny) child". It's not the biggest issue in the world, but the same character types do show up over and over again. Randidly has a string of half romances with many of the adult, not truly evil, women in the story. There's a new one almost every arc, and it's always weird. Again, not a massive issue, just a repeated theme. There's also several 'this character is so sexy no one can resist her... except Randidly' moments with Raina in the early arcs and Tatiana in the latest one.

Overall, the characters are fine. Some have better story arcs and more engaging personalities than others, but due to the sheer number of characters you're bound to find one or two that you'll like.

Also like half the people in this story have weird names. That may actually be a dealbreaker if stuff like that really messes with your immersion.

Story

The best thing about this plot is that it's always moving forward. There's almost always a new challenge on the horizon, or another problem to work through. The pacing is honestly pretty good, despite the semi-frequent 'let's stop and train for a while' mini-arcs. Due to the nature of serial fiction and the litrpg genre, there's a need for the MC to constantly increase in (in this case literal) power level, but LoRG does a pretty good job of matching Randidly's powerlevel to the story.

I don't want to go into too many details about the plot because of spoilers, but the plot increases in complexity the longer it goes on. I suspect that this is due to the author not having the clearest idea of the overall narrative when they started writing (again, that's a classic serial fiction thing). This has led to plot points from the beginning of the story being somewhat awkwardly tied back into later chapters. Many smaller plot points also get dropped or forgotten about, sometimes to reappear later, sometimes not. Overall, the main story is well constructed, but sideplots are a gamble on if they'll be resolved.

Arcs are pretty defined, to the point where it can seem abrupt when one begins or ends. The Shal's world arc, while it's pretty good, is a major offender here (Randidly is transported there suddenly and equally suddenly transported awayat the end, with many, many plot threads left unfinished). 

There are four main arcs: the beginning of the story and the founding of various places in the Zone, Shal's world, return to Randidly's zone, and the latest arc where zones join up on New Earth. The beginning is probably the weakest arc, and Shal's world is probably the most tightly written and self contained. Reading other reviews, it looks like people are somewhat upset at the new arc because it introduces a slew of new characters. Just to be clear Randidly does not go away in the latest arc, he is still the main character and the major POV character in the story. From an author's note in one chapter it implied the story was going to focus entirely on new characters but that does not seem to have happened, at least at the time of writing this review (ch 538). I certainly hope that this continues. I don't mind the introduction of new characters, but sticking with Randidly is good, especially since there are many, many lingering problems that he was trying to solve. 

Overall

In general, LoRG is better than the sum of its parts. While there are plenty of things to nitpick (which I clearly have haha), it is just plain fun to read. When I got really into reading it, I couldn't put it down, and I was pretty devastated when I caught up to the current chapter. There are plenty of exciting, touching, and funny moments scattered through the whole story. Definitely worth the time investment if you're looking for something long to read.

Thank you to puddles for writing it, I've really enjoyed it thus far and hope that I continue to do so.