Hansel and Gretel Review

Title: Hansel and Gretel                                             Author: Encalve

Source: Hansel and Gretel                                         Character(s): Hansel & Gretel

Rating:  T                                                                 Genre(s): Adventure / Hurt / Comfort

Chapter(s): 1                                                             Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis:  one-shot. A retelling of Hansel and Gretel with a little twist and post-apocalyptic-ish thingies.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10290453/1/Hansel-and-Gretel

 

Welcome Readers, it’s that time of the week for another review.  Today I have a retelling of a classic fairy tale, a post-apocalyptic version of Hansel and Gretel.  Interesting, right?  Well, let’s begin. I am your reviewing host, the Fan Fic Reviewer; here to review the good, the bad, and those that should never exist in fan fiction.

This is the part where I normally give my version of the story but…it’s Hansel and Gretel the story has been told so many times and this version doesn’t really add much to the original.  I will say that “retelling” is a loose term for this story because while some aspects have been altered it doesn’t enhance or change the original story.

I have so many points to make about the story’s weaknesses that I guess I’ll start with the better parts of the story.  The writing is not the worst; it’s not the redeeming quality of the story either, but it’s about the only praiseworthy part of this story.  There are plenty issues with sentence structures, incomplete sentences, tense fluctuations, and grammar, but in comparison to other stories this is not the worst.

Although, writing does not help this story.  Everything is exposition!  There is no emotion, no connection between the story and the Reader, or the characters within the story.  There are situations that should rouse sympathy from the reader but it’s all one dimensional.  For instance, the story has Gretel forced to be a whore to bring in additional income.  As the Reader, I know I should feel bad for Gretel and I should be mad at the stepmother for forcing it upon her.  However, I’m just not invested.  I don’t know the characters and their experiences.  For all I know Gretel could enjoy being a human sex doll.  I assume she doesn’t but with how the story is written I don’t know if that’s true.

Gretel and Hansel’s relationship shows the lack of connection between the characters.  It can be assumed that the siblings are close, but there’s little in the story to back it up.  Hansel could despise Gretel and just be bound by some sense of familial obligation, I don’t know.  The story doesn’t show what kind of relationship the siblings have, only that they are siblings and they stay together throughout the story.  I’m not saying that the writing could have fixed all of this, but it would’ve helped the Reader understand the kind of relationship these siblings share and how they feel about their situation.

Then there’s the setting, according to the synopsis it’s meant to be a post-apocalyptic(ish) world.  I don’t think the apocalypse has taken place before the story.  There are subtle hints that the world has become a bit chaotic, like using ammo casings as oppose to breadcrumbs, but it doesn’t show how or why there are ammo casings around the area.  Is there a gun range nearby?  Is their home often near firefights?  If so, why?  Saying that the setting is “post-apocalyptic” doesn’t tell me why there are so many shells in a secluded area or how Hansel would have known to find some.  How is the setting “post-apocalyptic?”  Because ammo cases on the ground doesn’t necessarily mean “post-apocalyptic.”

Plus, if this is meant to be a “post-apocalyptic” setting then how have things changed to conform to the lifestyle Hansel and Gretel live?  Has humanity returned to bartering, so if the family wants goods then they have to trade for them?  Is that why Gretel was forced to sell her body?  Having this undefined version of “post-apocalyptic” is leading towards more questions and is unnecessary to the story’s narrative.  I think the only thing the “post-apocalyptic” setting did was make it convenient for the passing doctor to have robots to help stitch up Hansel at the end.

Another weakness is the events of the story.  Anyone having heard the original Hansel and Gretel tale knows about the witch’s house made of sweets.  Well, in a retelling I don’t expect it to necessarily be a witch’s house or that it needs to be made of sweets.  What I do expect is that most of the action take place in the house since that’s where the two siblings were supposed to be kept prisoner until they were ready to be baked.  Apparently, my expectations are lofty.

The siblings come upon this cabin in the woods (no candy) and enter it only to come face to face with a hunter who tries to kill them.  The changes of the cabin and hunter (instead of witch) are great and make sense for the type of story being crafted.  However, I think the story did itself a disservice by summarizing the events in the cabin in 2-3 paragraphs.  It is essentially, Hansel and Gretel enter a residence and are attacked by the owner which results in Hansel killing the hunter.

It could be argued that the hunter was going to kill Hansel first and Hansel killed the hunter in self-defense.  I would agree but Hansel enters the house without permission and doesn’t make his presence known and that he meant no harm.  Hansel (from the story’s narrative) goes into an “empty” cabin in the woods, alone and armed with an axe.  That’s a recipe for disaster.

Personally, I’m on the hunter’s side and think it was appropriate to attack Hansel in this story.  An unknown man enters the hunter’s home with an axe.  If anything the hunter seems to be the one in danger, not Hansel.  For all I know the hunter had come out of the bathroom only to discover an armed person in his living room and freaked.

Finally, the whole thing about Gretel being whored out is an all right idea, but it didn’t amount to much.  There isn’t a reason for Gretel’s whoring except to be an excuse for a confrontation between Hansel and the stepmom.  This plot would have been an opportunity to bring together Gretel and Hansel’s seemingly separate tales; the Hunter could have purchased Gretel from the settlement and as he brought her back to his place they find Hansel in the cabin.  Gretel pleas for Hansel’s life and the Hunter decides to keep Hansel alive only to be the “main course” for the after consummation celebration (or whatever other reason).  In that kind of story, it ties in elements from the original source, brings a twist, and gives the Reader this survival-horror story.

By the way, if anyone’s a writer, feel free to take the above idea and make it your own.  I hold no copyright over it.

In the end, the idea behind the story (post-apocalyptic, fighting a hunter instead of a witch, and Gretel being forced into prostitution) is good.  It’s a dark idea and it works well within the original source.  However, the execution leaves much to be desired.  The characters are one-dimensional, the setting is forgettable, the writing dry, and the main meat from the original source is reduced to a few paragraphs.

I don’t recommend this story to anyone.  It felt like a waste of time and it doesn’t bring anything new to the tale of Hansel and Gretel.

Stars: 2/10

Memento Vivere Review

Title: Memento Vivere                                             Author: LiberumVersu

Original Source: Bleach                                          Character(s): Orihime I. & Ulquiorra

Rating:  T                                                               Genre(s): Romance & Drama

Chapter(s): 1                                                           Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis:  “Say something.  I’m giving up on you.”  A terminally ill patient meets a lovely vibrant girl.  Can they make a miracle happen?  Ulquihime [Oneshot] AU

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10287547/1/Memento-Vivere

 

Well, this story is very appropriate to follow up on my comments about using lyrics in stories.  Welcome Readers, I am your reviewing host, the Fan Fic Reviewer; here to review the god, the bad, and those that should never exist in fan fiction.  I’m super excited to review this story today.  This story showcases how to use lyrics in fiction; Readers can refer back to my review of The Title Has Yet to Occur to Me and Last Christmas for my (lengthy) rants and remarks on using lyrics in literature.

Admittedly, this is not normally a story I would actively seek out to read because I am not a Bleach fan; I’ve seen episodes from the first season but it just didn’t appeal to me.  This being the case, I actually found this story on FFN’s list of recently updated stories and since it was AU, I figured I’d give it shot.

This is a romance where Orihime accidently enters Ulquiorra’s hospital room while trying to find Ichigo’s room and this – along with information from the nurses — inspires Orihime to visit Ulquiorra regularly.  That’s the story in a nutshell.  There is more that happens closer to the end but the story mostly focuses on Orihime’s visits and her observations of the ill patient.  It’s a cute romance and it plays out to perfection with the pacing, the characters, and the subtleties.  There’s not a lot I can say to criticize the story, but there’s a lot to praise.

Since I don’t have a lot to criticize, I will get my one criticism out of the way.  The story is written in first person POV and is told from Orihime’s perspective, it’s done really well too except for one instance.  There’s a point in the story where Orihime ceases to refer to Ulquiorra as “he” and “him” and starts to refer to him as “you.”  Originally, I thought that this was meant to be symbolic of her feelings for him changing—which I would have been totally okay with—but it’s just for the one part.  After that part, the story goes back to referring to Ulquiorra using “he” and “him.”  If referring to Ulquiorra as “you” is symbolic then it should continue through the remainder of the story.  Instead, it happens in one section then returns to its old habits like nothing happened.

Now that my criticism is out of the way, I can shower the story with praise.  Let’s start with the progression of time. This story is well paced to illustrate a passage of time, highlighting key visits and summarizing the time between these visits so that Readers don’t feel like they missed anything.  There are references to other events that are going on (Ichigo released from the hospital after a couple weeks, holiday vacations, and when the next semester of school starts) that show the progression of time and help illustrate this relationship Orihimie builds with this stranger.

The other aspect about the pacing that I like is the emotional pacing.  Orihime isn’t head over heels for Ulquiorra after first meeting him.  Initially, he intimidates Orihime before she decides to be the ill-tempered patient’s constant visitor so he’s not lonely.  As things progress, she slowly begins to develop an attraction to him that is emotional and physical.  There’s more in the ups and downs, the doubts and resignations, the hopes and elations, but that’s for the story to detail not the Reviewer.  It’s a nicely paced emotional journey.

Next up, Ulquiorra’s character growth.  Let me put this into perspective, Ulquiorra doesn’t speak a word to Orihime and the story doesn’t follow him so (until the end) there’s nothing from his POV.  Yet, through Orihime’s narration and the subtleties there is so much growth to his character.  The man goes from being resigned to his death to wanting to live and willing to take a risk on a procedure that has an 80% fatality chance.  He goes from refusing to form bonds with others to nurturing a very special bond with Orihime.  It’s fantastic!

The subtleties play a key role in building Ulquiorra’s character.  From the books he reads to his eyes to his actions.  The books he reads are very telling of his state of mind in the beginning; Things Fall Apart, Les Miserbales, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, and The Fault in Our Stars.  It’s nice because it lets the Reader and Orihime get a glimpse into his mental state of mind before Orihime truly starts to affect his life.  His eyes change throughout the story, from glaring, staring calmly, and showing great sadness; it’s has a powerful impact.  Then there are his actions like pretending to read but never making it past the starting page, entering his phone number into Orihime’s phone, taking Orihime’s hand, or brushing her hair.  All the little things just help to create this silent, romantic hero.

Finally, I have to address the incorporation of lyrics into the story. The song chosen is “Say Something” by A Great Big World and I don’t think the entire song is included in the story but select parts (chorus and verses) that help to shape the story.  The lyrics act more as indicators for when the scene changes or time jumps ahead and reflects the events in the story.  There is no one singing and it’s not background music, just a few lines here and there to set the mood.  Really, well done!

This story does a lot of things right and it develops into a very sweet romance.  It plays out like a movie but the pacing helps to make if feel less forced and a more natural romance.  The characters are well crafted and despite not having dialogue Ulquiorra is a very well developed character with a huge emotional journey.  Then the use of subtitles helps to flesh out the characters and develop this adorable romance.

I highly recommend this story and I think people should go check it out, especially romance fans.  Even if Readers have never seen or read Bleach, it doesn’t matter because this story has nothing to do with the original source and is a great AU adaptation.  I certainly don’t feel like I lost anything by not having seen much of the series.

What are you guys doing still reading this?  Go check out the story.  I’ll have another review up on Friday.

Stars: 10/10

The Title Has Yet to Occur to Me Review

Title: The Title Has Yet to Occur to Me                                    Author: Miss Misled-Bloodshed

Original Source: Johnny the Homicidal Maniac                      Character(s):  Nny

Rating: T                                                                               Genre(s): Parody / Humor

Chapter(s): 1                                                                          Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis:  Johnny is having a lovely day torturing someone, when pop culture decides to be a bitch…

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10255723/1/The-Title-Has-Yet-To-Occur-To-Me

 

Welcome Readers, to another fan fic to review.  This time around it’s a short story featuring the homicidal comic of my high school years, Johnny the Homicidal Maniac.  I am your reviewing host, the Fan Fic Reviewer, here to review the good, the bad, and those that should never exist in fan fiction.

For as much as I loved JTHM in high school, it had never occurred to me to go check out the fan fiction for the comic.  Admittedly, I happened upon this one because I was going through FFN’s list of new uploads.  The title made me skeptical about the contents; it kind of made me think I was rolling a D-20.  I could get a critical success and end up reading an amazing story.  Or I could end up rolling a critical fail and have discovered the abominations of all fan fiction.  Either way, I took the gamble and…it was alright.  Not amazing but far from terrible.

The story is Nny torturing a hapless victim who made the common mistake of slighting the maniac and during the torture session the radio changes from playing classical music to pop (Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty to Me”).  Irritated by the noise coming from the machine, Nny tries to change the station (or turn the radio off) but to no avail.  He must endure the song “Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction as he destroys the radio bit by bit.

I know there’s the whole set up for a Robot Chicken type scenario where Nny could track down the band and murder all the members, but that doesn’t happen.  Instead, Nny learns from his torture victim that the group is coming to the town soon.  Finishing off his victim, Nny goes to prepare his tools for another massacre.

This one-shot is pretty short so I’m a bit limited on what is available to talk about, but I do have a few items I’d like to address.

What this story does really well is reflect the comic’s story telling style; erratic.  Switching from exposition to action; Nny torturing to Nny being tortured; the sudden ending with a quesi-cliffhanger.  I don’t actually enjoy this style of writing, but there are cases – such as this – where this style works.  It works because it’s in line with the original source’s writing style.  I don’t think it would have worked if the original source was written more like Neil Gaiman’s Sandman.

In addition to the erratic style, the story doesn’t take itself too seriously.  This is great because a story based off JTHM should not take itself serious.  It’s combine these (not so graphic) torture scenes with Nny engaging in conversation with his victim about One Direction.  Nny’s efforts to make the music stop are comically over the top and cartoonish that it’s just fun to read and imagine it happening.

The only issues I have with the story are its brevity and inclusion of song lyrics.  I do not think that this should be a multi-chapter story, keeping it a one-shot is perfect, but it still felt very short.  I almost would have preferred it starting at the point when the hapless victim insults Nny and ends up disappearing.  Or the story going on a little further to Nny actually preparing himself to go to the One Direction concert.  Adding a bit more to the beginning or to the end would’ve help give this one-shot fullness.  Right now it kind of feels like a few pages of the comic that are missing the surrounding pages that start and end this misadventure.

As for the song lyrics, I understand that some authors like to use them in stories and there are times when they can be helpful.  However, as a general rule of thumb, I like to avoid them.  Unless the lyrics truly add something to the story being told, don’t include them.  In this case they didn’t add much other than length.

Overall, this one-shot is pretty entertaining and I don’t feel like I rolled a critical fail by reading it.  Readers, if you’re looking for a quick story with a sense of humor and you don’t mind the dark humor of JTHM then give the story a read.  It’s quick and feels a bit like an anti-One Direction fan’s fantasy.

Stars: 6.5/10

A Garden of Roses Review

Title: A Garden of Roses                                                Author: Enchanted Daisy

Original Source: Teen Titans                                          Character(s): Raven & Robin

Rating: T                                                                      Genre(s): Romance / Drama

Chapter(s): 6                                                            Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis: [RaexRob] She was alone and institutionalized.  Only one achingly familiar doctor could help her…

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/2059219/1/A-Garden-of-Roses

 

Welcome Readers to another fan fic review.  I am your reviewing host, the Fan Fic Review; I review the good, the bad, and those that should never exist in fan fiction.  I kind of stumbled on this story while searching for alternate universe “Teen Titan” fan fiction.  The synopsis didn’t give me much but I had figured that it was worth a shot.

The premise is Raven wakes up and to find herself in an alternate world where superpowers and superheroes don’t exist.  Due to her public meltdown in a police station, she is institutionalized where she is surrounded by familiar faces in new roles.  Unfortunately, even if the faces and names are familiar she is not familiar to them.  I like the premise and it has promise to be a psychological drama-romance.  However, the story doesn’t quite live up to the premise.

Let me start with the few points about the story that are done well.  The parallel characters and their new roles are great with some of the cast becoming staff at the institution and others becoming patients.  It helps to tie the two worlds together and the new roles suit the different characters.  The only issue I had with the new roles was Robin’s “professional” relationship with his patients.  It felt less like a doctor-patient relationship and like the type of relationship Hollywood B movies present.

The writing is also decent, some grammar errors but nothing that takes the Reader out of the story.  However, it’s not nearly as engaging as it should be for the premise.  Which leads me into the story’s weak points.

Pacing, pacing.  This story started off fine with the pacing but then it ramped up like it felt the need to fit everything into a few days.  I think it totaled three days, during which Raven is institutionalized, she meets all the alternate versions of people she knew, Robin falls for Raven (his crazy patient), and Raven convinces Robin that she’s not crazy.  It’s a lot that happens during this short time and it’s a bit of a detriment to the story; it makes everything feel contrived.

Another weak point, in my mind, is that Slade is built up to be the villain but he doesn’t do much.  His bark is worse than his bite.  I think almost all his interactions with Robin were limited to “keep it professional” warnings.  Robin never receives any form of disciplinary action (write up, license removal, job loss, etc.); it would have been a relief if Slade had actively interfered with Raven’s treatment (overdosing her medication, prescribing the wrong medications, overruling Robin’s treatment decisions, etc.).  The fact that he isn’t a threat cheapens the story.

Finally, my biggest grievance with the story is the ending.  The story leads to this climatic showdown between Dr. Slade and Dr. Robin over Raven’s sanity and doctoral ethics, but nothing happens.  This climax leads to Raven waking up to find it was all a dream.  I’m upset about this ending.  I wish that it had done a Sucker Punch type of ending where I question which reality was the real reality. Not to say that the movie’s ending made a lick of sense but it doesn’t upset me like this story’s ending.

Now, how could this story be improved?  Well, slow down the pacing and space it out so that it takes place over several months.  Have this be a slow build; a natural build.  This will allow more time to build a romance between Robin and Raven; rebuild in Raven’s case.  Plus, it would provide internal conflict as Robin is ethically conflicted about his feelings for Raven and Raven struggles to be so close to her love without being able to tell him the truth.  These things would help the story take shape and become complex.

Next, the story should have Robin not believe Raven’s story and instead think of “logical” excuses as to why she knows details about his life.  This is part of that slow build process, and it would help to show Robin going from not believing Raven’s story to believing her.  For good measure, improving this part of the story can help the romance aspect; Raven can get upset that Robin’s not believing her and keep finding new details for him to investigate and contradict.  Meanwhile, Robin could be forced to delve deeper into the institution and its staff, particularly Slade; alternative, he could find some evidence that supports Raven’s stories.

Finally, change that ending.  The ending is so horrendous that it has to be rewritten.  I’m for this alternate world to be a figment of Raven’s imagination or one hell of a hallucination brought upon by some sort of drug Slade pumps into her veins.  That kind of ending I’m all for, but I’m not for the “it was all a dream” ending where she wakes up to the comfort of her bed.  Have Raven wake up to realize that she was legitimately in danger the whole time that she was stuck in this alternate world.  Waking up to that comfort just makes all the psychological, emotional trauma she goes through seem irrelevant because she was never in danger.

I can’t say that I would recommend the story in its current form.  The premise is cool but the story doesn’t live up to it.  If the story underwent heavy revising and editing, I might recommend it to Readers.  However, I can’t recommend it based on what it could be, I can only make recommendations based on the current state.  In the current state, I cannot recommend this story to other Readers.

I will challenge others to take this premise and write a better story.  I know it can be done and I look forward to reading a better version of this story.

Stars: 5/10

The Admirer Review

Title: The Admirer                                                   Author: Wicked Child

Source: Gundam Wing/AC                                      Character(s): Relena P. & Quatre W.

Genre: Romance                                                     Chapter(s): 1

Rating: K / PG                                                         Status: Complete

Synopsis: She’s slowly fading away and he can only watch from the sidelines with the hope that he can help bring her back because he loves her even if she belongs to someone else.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/1282011/1/The-Admirer

 

Hello Readers, it’s that time of the week where I take a look at another piece of fan fiction and supply my review.  I am your reviewing host, the Fan Fic Reviewer; reviewing the good, the bad, and those that should never exist in fan fiction.  Today I’m heading back to the fandom that peaked my interest in fan fiction: Gundam Wing.  I don’t know what it is, but I always seem to come back to this fandom; maybe it’s because nearly every day a story is added or updated, maybe because I keep hoping to find more stories of non-cannon couples, or it’s that horrible habit that I just can’t kick.  Whatever the reason, I keep coming back to these fan fics in hopes to find something new.  Loo and behold, I found a story to review!

 

In the simplest terms, this is a one-shot about Quatre and Relena coming together as a couple.  Everything is written from Quatre’s point of view as he guides the Reader through his 20-year friendship and infatuation with Relena.  Quatre analyzes Relena’s relationship with Heero and how his own infatuation with her has affected his life (divorce, fantasizing about her during sex, etc.).  Most of the story is told reflective as Quatre highlights some of the major or touching moments during their friendship where he’s struggled with his infatuation.  The story starts to slow down and show their evolving relationship when Relena asks to stay with Quatre while Heero is away on a mission.

 

I’m a bit conflicted on how to approach reviewing this story because how it is presented is not…traditional.  All stories have the three major components: beginning, middle, and end.  This story builds up a good foundation for the Reader during the reflective exposition but then the middle is kind of glossed over and the end shines.  Oddly though, I don’t feel I missed out on the middle, despite it being glossed over.  Hence my confliction, the story obvious missed some components for shaping the story yet it doesn’t bother me.

 

I’ll come back around to this near the end.  For now, let’s focus on the good and bad parts of the story.

 

One part about this story that I really appreciate is that vicariously the story shows Relena’s struggles in having a relationship with Heero.  The story never switches to her point of view but she reveals bits of information in her conversations with Quatre and her body language.  At one point she disclosed how Heero doesn’t believe in doing unnecessary things (marriage, kids, and eventually sex and affection) while those are things that Relena wants from a relationship.  It’s a nice scene and really helps to depict how over time Relena becomes disenchanted with her relationship.  It is a slow build to this point as Quatre’s exposition points out that 7 years prior to the story (they were 28 years old then) Relena was still in the Happiness stage of her relationship with Heero; nothing could go wrong, she still glowed with happiness, etc.  This is part of the story’s appeal to me; this delicate decline in the relationship feels real.

 

The other thing this story executes well is never forgetting whose POV it’s written from and the limitations of that POV.  This is something I will find in other stories and I’m happy I didn’t find it in this one.  Instead, the story is keenly aware that it’s told from Quatre’s point of view and his view is limited to what he knows and experiences.  For example, as the Reader I could see where the ending was heading and that everything was lining up for Relena to end up with Quatre; however, Quatre as the narrator didn’t – refused – to see that.  In fact, Quatre purposefully puts himself in the mindset of not analyzing Relena’s actions, words, or motivations in terms of himself (she’s not doing this because/for me).  He does this to avoid setting his hopes too high only to be banished to the friend zone.  I appreciate that the story recognizes that Quatre in this story thinks this way and thus will have blinders on, making him unable to see that Relena is clearly leaving Heero for him.

 

Initially I was going to say that this story’s weakness is the glossed over middle, but I’ve realized that this isn’t a weakness.  It’s part of the design in telling this story.  There isn’t the details and scenes where Quatre is slowly making Relena fall in love with him, because they didn’t need to be there.  This isn’t a story about two characters falling in love, it’s about one character finally getting the girl he thought he could never have.  That is how this story is shaped.  There didn’t need to be these little romantic scenes because the narrator was already in love; he just needed to realize that his feelings were returned.

 

In the end, I would recommend this story.  It’s a cute one-shot and a bit different than other romance stories where the guy gets the girl.  So long as Readers aren’t expecting the story to detail these characters falling in love, I think Readers will enjoy the story as it is; one man’s struggle to be more than a friend to his infatuation.

 

 

Stars: 9/10