The Thinking Man's Guide to Destroying the World
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February 7th, 2011 (4:08 PM).
Miz en Scène
As for Puck talking about Home Alone - I'm afraid I don't quite get how that's going too far. I'm pretty certain Puck's seen it, since he's basically a reservoir of popular-culture-based jokes in the same sort of way that I am. (read: Puck is a shameless self-insert.)
It just seems out of place because, so far, he’s only referenced British culture. Still, with an explanatory word of God like that, who am I to argue?
With that said, on to the review:
You know what? I just can’t stop reading this. I’m not even doing this solely for the reviewing challenge anymore. (I’m still going to add this to my reviews list, though.) I’m now reading this because I enjoy reading it, and it’s the best damn thing I’ve read in a long while. And, with your frequent update schedule, I think I’ll even be a frequent reader/reviewer and such.
To begin with, Chapter 12, while not as comedy inclined as your previous chapters, compensates it nicely with the inclusion of an exciting suspense seen, complete with bad plans and blood. It was written nicely, the writing flowed incredibly well, and while I cannot claim that the writing allowed me to visualise the scene as vividly as before, it still managed to make at least a smidgeon of sense. And throughout, despite being a thriller scene, you still managed to retain the lackadaisical narrative that your readers have come to know and love from your previous chapters without straying too far into the overdramatic. By this I mean, the narrative doesn’t slow down and take its time to describe the scene in excruciating detail, it bulldozes right through to reach a satisfying conclusion without and dilly-dally in between. A style befit Douglas Adams surely. Which reminds me, how is it that you’ve not referenced Douglas Adams? Inconceivable! Nevertheless, I’m not here to tell you how to write your story and what plot elements you should or should not include; I’m just here to provide moral support and critique where need be.
Right, for the next part, lend me your ears as I talk about characterization, particularly the characterization for your main characters which don’t act as the funny man to Puck, Sapphire, and Kester’s straight man, if you would regard their antiques as being straight man-esque. Firstly Puck. Puck, on his own, is an incredibly versatile character which, as you say, acts as an incredible repository of pop-culture and classical references that fuels the quotational humor you’ve been cultivating so far. Not that there’s anything wrong with quotational humor (in fact
and most family comedies are notorious for this), but you can’t (and I’m addressing any other potential comedy writers here) rely solely on it because there will always be a number of people who will not ‘get the reference’. I’m not saying that you over abuse quotational humor, in fact you use it sparingly, instead choosing to use the far more effective situational humor, but I say this because I write reviews for the benefit of the public as much as for the benefit of my client. Also, if I’ve not made this explicit, quotational humor in this context refers to referential, pop-culture humor. It’s just a term I borrowed from a book I was reading.
Next, we’ll talk about Kester. Kester seems to be the most normal of the lot, the most rational, the archetype straight man, and
Arthur Dent of the entire series. The fact that he is
Arthur Dent makes him the most relatable character, maintaining a link with the sense of realism and avoiding the piece from straying too far into the realm of the absurd to warrant ridicule instead of praise. This is meant mostly as an appraisal of his characterization and how far you’ve managed to cultivate it so far, but also acts as a warning in case Kester suddenly does something completely out-of-character for comedic effect. If not handled properly and you do fall into this trap, Kester will cease to be the loveable, logical Arthur Dent and you may end up offending a number of people by turning your protagonist into another store of gags and stupidity. A comedy needs its straight man after all. Sapphire’s actually less credible than Kester at this point due to certain events following through from a previous chapter, namely setting fire to the building. I’ll explain more in the next paragraph.
On Sapphire. When you first introduced Sapphire as a seventeen year old, you made it clear to the reader that she was the loveable, headstrong tomboy from the Manga that I’ve seen repeated in a number of other fics featuring Sapphire or any derivative of her design. At first, you were consistent with this depiction and you were content to let the character run unchecked because, well, she is a canon character so she does have a predetermined personality. However, a disturbing trend I’ve begun to notice is her antipathy towards non-Pokémon (possible love interests notwithstanding), and her vicious (as in Aristotelian ethics vicious as opposed to virtuous, continent, or incontinent) behaviour with regards to her treatment of the idiots (funny man) which surround her ‘adventures’. I use the term ‘vicious’ here lightly because she’s not entirely vicious, but neither is she wholly incontinent. Since you don’t often delve into her mind, the reader (me) is left unaware as to her true intent most of the times. Understandable since she’s not the main character, but it also makes it difficult to judge whether she is either incontinent or just plain vicious. Her vicious behaviour is most noticeable in her callous treatment of Kester as a Pokémon instead of a fellow human being. Yes, it carries comedic value, but it degrades her character because she acts a tad too cruel at times. You intersperse this cruelty with certain moments of compassion, however, and that’s enough to compensate her moral compass so that she’s not entirely evil. Now, with regards to the latest few chapters, her unthinking behaviour, which might pass as headstrong, seems a bit OOC to me for the sole reason that she’s not really the one to act so foolishly. I accept that since it may be too late to change it now, but, with regards to her vicious temperament, this latest chapter took the cake.
“One night in the dorms, while she was asleep, I superglued her eyes and mouth shut.”
Here, you’ve presented her as wholly vicious and really quite OOC. Not only does she show no remorse, she worries on whether or not help will be offered to her. There’s absolutely no moral conflict here. Kester’s right to be ashamed, and I suspect even the audience is a tad uncomfortable. Hell, even I’m uncomfortable with how she’s acting.
Especially with this:
“You’re going to go in there, paralyse her and her father, if they’re in, and poke around in her dad’s office to see if you can find out anything about the goods.”
This is a complete, blatant disregard for human life. I see it as a nail in the coffin for Sapphire’s current characterization, and she’s become lost to the audience. Not only does this have no comedic value, not even for a sadist (which I am), it degrades her character, and showcases a more vicious side to her that I’m not sure I completely like. No longer is she the loveable straight man, partner, or foil, she’s now just another side character with extreme follies of her own. Again, let me reiterate that this is disturbing.
Anyway, this concludes my review. Whether or not you choose to accept my advice (if you can extrapolate it from my analysis) on Sapphire is up to you, and I’m quite happy for you to proceed as planned. It’s just that it’s a bit jarring to see Sapphire acting so viciously here. So yeah, good job, I will be reading more.
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Miz en Scène
Joined Sep 2008
Miz en Scène
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