Hope Floats Review

Title: Hope Floats                                                          Author: Femme Malheureuse

Source: Pride & Prejudice                                         Genres: NA

Character(s): Caroline Bingley, Louisa Hurst, Darcy           Rating: NA

Chapter(s): 1                                                           Status: Complete

Synopsis: Her petticoat six inches deep in much, and the gown which had been let down to hide it not doing its office.  Yet Mr. Darcy could only note the frowsy country chit’s ‘brightened eyes.’  What’s a girl to do to focus Mr. Darcy’s attention where it really belongs?

https://www.dwiggie.com/derby/femme1.htm

 

Welcome Readers, today I present to you a Pride & Prejudice fan fic of a different sort.  Normally I tend to read the alternate universe or a retelling from Darcy or Bingley’s view, but this time I figured I’d give Caroline Bingley some love.  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 not what I was expecting and I think the story kind of pulled a “psych!” on me about half way through.  See, I thought this was going to be a one-shot tie-in to the novel where Caroline deludes herself into thinking that somehow she has a chance with Darcy.  With how the story builds up I thought the author was going to make use of the scene from the novel where Caroline and Darcy are out walking and come upon Louisa and Elizabeth.  It’s a small scene that closes chapter 10 of the novel and it’s ignored in every other iteration so I thought the story was going to use that set up and give it some sort of twist that gives Caroline hope that Darcy might be interested in her.  Alas, that is not the case.

What the story entails is: Elizabeth comes to Netherfield to care for her ill sister.  The Bingley sisters notice how Darcy’s attentions turn to the country girl and start to plan how to redirect his attention to Caroline.  At Louisa’s urging, Caroline learns the walking path Elizabeth prefers to walk and follows Elizabeth the next morning.  The plan was to avoid Elizabeth and Darcy meeting each other, alone, and to make Darcy notice Caroline’s eyes that would “brightened by the exercise.”  However, the walk does not go as planned.

That’s the brief version of the story.  I don’t want to give away the twist so I’m stopping here with the synopsis.  However, there is more involved.

This story is less about how “Hope Floats” and more about how a series of unfortunate events builds bridges between two (three) families.  It’s really a story where the original ending happens a lot sooner than in the original novel.  That’s all.

I’m not a fan of stories likes this where things are altered just to bring about the ending sooner.  I don’t mind it when the fan fic makes the original story longer, I just hate it when it cuts it short.  This is a personal gripe and it comes from the fact that everything that happens in Pride & Prejudice needs that year; the character growth, the romance, etc.  All of that needed that year to really grow and endure.  So when a fan fic tries to shorten that journey and bring the ending around a lot closer, it feels hollow.  After all, the characters don’t evolve since the situations that contributed to their evolution do not take place and the foundations for the romance are weakened.

I’m just saying in the original novel Bingley is still in love with Jane after being apart for 9 months, Darcy’s love for Elizabeth not only endures but evolves, Elizabeth recognizes her flaws and mistakes, Darcy is shown the error of his ways (no, he wasn’t just shy!  Read the damn book.), and Mr. Bennet learns the results of taking the hands off approach to raising 5 girls.  All these things get thrown out the window when a fan fic shortens the story and ends it prematurely.

Again, that is a personal gripe.  For other people, this may not be an issue.

The meat of the story with Caroline trying to regain Darcy’s attention is fine in theory but it’s implemented poorly.  She fails but it’s not in the way that Readers would think, and the twist ruins any future attempts to sway Darcy.

I would have liked this story better if it had been written differently.  If it had been about “Hope Floats” – such a misleading title – and Caroline’s attempts to gain Darcy’s affections.  As it is there is nothing wrong with the writing, just the story itself.  It’s not even the story itself – at least not entirely – it’s how this story is paired with the title “Hope Floats” and the synopsis, because those two parts do not connect to what the story contains.  A different title and synopsis that reflected the actual story would make it better; or, at least not make it feel like I just got swerved.

My recommendation is…I guess check it out.  The story itself isn’t so bad other than my personal gripe and that it has nothing to do with the title or synopsis.  Other than that, the story is fine.  It’s written well and is entertaining (to an extent).  So…yeah, if any Austen fan is interested in checking out the story they should.

On a personal level, I think a story about Caroline’s attempts to sway Darcy would be interesting to read, especially if it was written as a comedy.  This story just isn’t what I was looking for in a Caroline-centric story.

 

Stars: 5/10

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Love Found in Radio Review

Title:  Love Found in Radio                               Author: BrokenBlackCat

Source: Clover/Heart no Kuni no Alice                 Character(s): Alice L., Elliot M., Ace

Rating:  T                                                  Genre(s): Humor / Romance

Chapter(s): 1                                                Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis: Alice works in a radio station and there, she comes across a male asking for help in love. She tries to help him but somehow, along the way, she feels like she knows the guy. What’s she going to do now?

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10553686/1/Love-Found-in-Radio

 

Welcome Readers, it’s Friday so it’s time for another fan fic review.  I kind of feel bad for reviewing this story because the author is obviously writing in their second (or third or fourth) language, and a native speaker never reviewed the story before it was posted.  Still, as I’ve said before, nothing is off limits for me to read and review, so I will review the story as it is regardless if the author is writing in his/hers second language.  I’m done postponing, let’s get this show on the road.  I am the Fan Fic Reviewer; here to review the good, the bad, and those that should never exist in fan fiction.  Let’s dive in!

The synopsis is accurate.  College student Alice works part time at a radio station and she gets a caller named “Elli” who is looking for advice on how to take his relationship with a girl friend to the next level.  The advice Alice gives backfires on “Elli” so he keeps calling in for more advice until one day she realizes that “Elli” has been her friend Elliot March the entire time.

See, when I first read the synopsis I was thinking something along the lines of the movie “Cats & Dogs;” I figured Alice was going to give this caller advice, he’d seek her out to thank her and they would start to fall in love.  That’s not this story.  This story is…it’s bare bones.  I’ll address the different weaknesses that make this story paper thin.

First off, the characters.  I know that in the video games and mangas Alice tends to be a bland character because she’s meant to represent the every girl; girls who play the games are meant to imagine that they are Alice and get to project their personalities and fantasies onto her.  However, when it comes to fan fiction, Alice should have some sort of characterization, some personality.  The only thing Alice had going for her in this story is that she’s oblivious.

Elliot and Ace have zero personality too.  The only things known about Elliot and Ace are that they are both Alice’s friends and they are in love (?) with her.  I put in the question mark because while the dialogue between Elliot and Ace suggest that both men have romantic interests in Alice, the only one putting any effort to woo her is Elliot.  I’m trying to find more things to help build my case, but the story doesn’t offer much.  There is minimal interaction between Alice and the boys.  At one point they meet up before class and exchange pleasantries, but that’s about it.  They don’t seem to hang out together and neither Elliot nor Ace really try to make a move on Alice when they are together.  It’s all feels superficial.

Next up, the storytelling is a skeleton.  The story knows how it wants to end and that it wants the interaction between Elliot and Alice to be through radio, but beyond that the story seems lost.  Everything comes back around to the radio show and Alice giving romance advice to Elliot, but when anything happens outside the radio then the story flounders.  It’s a fine start but it really should have been fleshed out; include interactions between Elliot and Alice, have Elliot mention that he heard Alice on the radio, have Ace make some moves on Alice to urge Elliot on, and have these characters be college students.

Remember, these characters are meant to be college students in this story but they don’t seem to act like students.  The college aspect of these characters feels like a coop-out, like the story just felt like it had to make these characters some sort of students without making them live out the student life.  If the story had used that college status to make the characters interact and act out the romantic advice that Alice provides, then it would have helped to create the romance and give the characters some depth.

Finally, the grammar is horrible.  I know that this story is not written in the author’s native language but poor grammar and sentence structure is horribly distracting.  This story should have been reviewed by a native English speaker before being posted to help clean up the grammar.  Having someone vet the grammar wouldn’t have made the story better per say, but it would have made it easier to read.  I almost gave up on the story because I couldn’t stand the horrible grammar.

I can say that I do not recommend this story to anyone.  No matter how much of an Alice in the Country of – fan a Reader is, this story is not worth the time.  There are better stories out there to read.  I will, however, encourage if anyone is a writer to write a better version of this story.  Beyond that, don’t bother with this story.

 

Stars: 1/10

Seek Not to Alter Me Review

Title: Seek Not to Alter Me                                         Author: Lorata

Source: Much Ado About Nothing                             Character(s): Beatrice & Don John

Rating:  K+ (PG)                                                       Genre(s): General

Chapter(s): 1                                                             Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis: (Beatrice slitted her eyes at him. “You’re talking about my friends.” / He took another long drag of his cigarette. “Am I?”) It’s the big school dance, and Beatrice is utterly fed up with everyone. Worst of all, the punch isn’t even alcoholic. Beatrice/Don John UST. Modern AU, high school setting, because I have no idea why this isn’t a teen movie yet. Yuletide 2013.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10021799/1/Seek-Not-to-Alter-Me

Welcome Readers, it’s been a stressful week for me and my husband as he takes steps to find a new job.  So to help combat this stress, I felt the need to read some Shakespearean fan fiction.  I found quite a few but I didn’t want to further my stress by reading fan fiction on the tragedies and the historical plays; no, I went for the comedies.  I actually went to my favorite comedy, “Much Ado About Nothing.”  To me “Much Ado About Nothing” is more about the wit than the romances; who really cares about Claudio and Hero getting together?  Not me, I care more about the war of words between Beatrice and Benedict, and less about if they finally get together.

This particular fan fic I found is a modern, high school version taking place during a school dance (i.e. the masquerade).  Beatrice stands aloof from the rest of the crowd until she cannot stand the dance anymore and retreats for fresh air.  In the parking lot she runs into John and they strike up an interesting conversation.

That is the gist of the story but the meat of it is in the conversation between John and Beatrice which showcases the flaws of the characters.  Pedro’s necessity to insincerely include his bastard brother builds John’s resentment towards him.  Hero’s lack of independence makes her the trophy girlfriend for any guy (she wasn’t dating yet).  Claudio’s insecurities make him jealous and pressure him to try and be someone he isn’t (taking an art class to show his “sensitive side”).  How Benedict treats Beatrice signifies that he doesn’t actually care about her, he just likes to have the last word.

It’s quite insightful.  Not just about the characters John and Beatrice provide commentary on, but also about each other.  Why is John such an ass?  Why is Beatrice very vocal about not wanting a boyfriend?  How constrained does Beatrice feel being the principal’s niece?  These are the things that are explored in the conversation.

The conversation is also leads to a very chemistry-driven scene that leaves me rethinking my normal sentiment (Beatrice and Benedict make an awesome couple) and wishing that this story was longer with a John x Beatrice romance.  I had never considered a John x Beatrice coupling before but after reading this story I really want to see it.  Who needs Benedict when there’s this story’s version of John who shows more chemistry with Beatrice than most versions of Benedict?

I honestly don’t think I ever read a story where I was so disappointed that these characters didn’t at least kiss—and this isn’t even really a romance!

Otherwise, the story is short and concise.  Despite its brevity, it gives the Reader the necessary information in order to form parallels between play and story without being longwinded.  The information given doesn’t feel out of place and it doesn’t disrupt the flow of the story.  It has the correct balance between telling this story and nodding to the original source.  The characters are a bit 2D, but that’s to be expected from such a short story.  Even though the characters are 2D they are well crafted and have translated well into the high school setting.

In closing, I think the only things I can say about this story are that it’s interesting and provides a new perspective on character romances.  I do recommend the story for interested Readers and no one has to understand Shakespeare in order to understand the story (hurray!).  Just know, it may end up creating John x Beatrice fans.

Stars: 10/10

Field Training Review

Title: Field Training                              Author: Mordinette

Source: Mass Effect                              Character(s): Shepard (F), Garrus V., Jondum Bau

Rating:  M                                            Genre(s): Romance / Humor / Adventure

Chapter(s): 33                                       Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis: Spectre training was easy. Putting up with her turian teammate during their group lessons was less so. AU story with Shepard, Garrus, Jondum Bau, and as many characters from the Mass Effect universe as I can fit in.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10167828/1/Field-Training

 

Welcome Readers, it’s that time of the week again and I have a story that I am very excited to review.  I figured that I’ve been reviewing a lot of one-shots lately and I would like to change things up by reviewing a lengthy story.  So I went digging around and I found this amazing alternate universe (AU) Mass Effect fic.  Let’s get this review going!  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.

My synopsis of the story goes like this: Spectre Jondum Bau decides to take two candidates under his wing: Shepard and Garrus.  The two candidates do not hit it off at first but through a series of missions they begin to develop a bond of comradery and maybe romance.

Despite the author’s synopsis of the story centering on Shepard, I would argue that it focuses on Jondum and the group’s missions just as much as Shepard.  Bau directs the story, what missions occur and the political sphere; however, Garrus and Shepard add in their own spices to the missions through the plans, temporary companions (Rex, Tali, etc.), and their interactions.  The story is very much about the journey, not the destination.

I have a lot to praise about this story; it’s storytelling, the use of characters, and the romance.  It all works very well in this story.  While, I do have a lot to praise, I do have one complaint and that’s the characterization of Shepard.  I’ll address this in more detail near the end but the characterization of Shepard is the weakest aspect of the whole story.

First things first, this story does a great job of remembering that it does not need to adhere to the ME storyline, it just needs to use it as inspiration.  There are many stories I see labeled “AU” but instead of crafting a unique story using the original source as a springboard they only change one aspect of the original story.  This takes the missions and characters from Mass Effect and ME2 (mostly ME2) and decides to use them as inspiration.  For example, Zaeed’s personal mission on Zorya against the Blue Suns is used as an early mission for Spectre training.  While sneaking towards the base, the Spectre team encounters Zaeed and Jack in their pursuit of Santiago.  The two groups do not cooperate but instead split as Zaeed and Jack go after Santiago and Jondum, Shepard, and Garrus save the civilians.  The mission does not play out exactly like in the game but definitely takes its inspiration from it.

Next up, how the characters are used in this story is done really well.  Shepard and Garrus may carry the romance of the story, Bau moves the story.  The many cameo appearances help to support and build out the missions.  Wrex and Mordin join the team for several chapters and a couple of missions, Kasumi and Thane make a reluctant alliance with the team, and Liara makes an appearance pre-Shadow Broker.  The cameos do not drag or stop the story, instead they help move the missions forward either in preparations or in actually carrying out the missions.  Plus, some of these cameos help to introduce the next mission.

There is not a character wasted or an introduction that over stays its welcome.  Enough background and information is given on each supporting character to give the Reader an idea of how the character fits into the story without being overwhelming.

Finally, the romance has a strong build and is sustained.  Normally romances are about getting to that relationship starting point or to the next phase of a relationship (dating to engagement).  This story though has Shepard and Garrus get together and sustain their relationship.  It doesn’t have them blow up into a fight or misunderstanding just to get back together, but it has them work together to achieve success.

Shepard and Garrus start off as almost teenagers trying to one-man up each other but then they begin to develop a mutual respect for each other.  Eventually, they do become attracted to each other and the story makes it clear that Garrus is not attracted to humans (vice versa for Shepard) but he’s attracted to Shepard.  Important distinction.  The hints of attraction begin with basic banter then it becomes inquiries about each other’s abilities (Shepard’s flexibility, Shepard’s curiosity about Garrus’ body); basic things that eventually two individuals of different species would probably wonder.  Then it continues to grow as they start admiring each other’s bodies and start having physical contact (not intentionally sexual).  Eventually it culminates during a mission when they need to share heat and Garrus’ curiosity leads to an exploration of Shepard’s body.

Eventually this all leads to sex scenes.  So, I know from the lore and games about some of basic Turian body functions but this is probably the first story I’ve read that actually addressed a lot of the body differences for sex.  It is fascinating!  I know it sounds like it would be a massive turn off for the sex scenes but they’re hot even with some of these added details.  Seriously, they are “take a cold shower after reading” type of hot.

Alright, now that I’m done praising the story I do need to address the characterization of Shepard.  Shepard is a hot head biotic who like to charge in first, think later and eat a lot of food.  My impression of Shepard while reading the story is that she’d make a good soldier but not a good leader.  Spectres are meant to operate (mostly alone) and be able to lead when working with others, but Shepard seemed more eager to tell others to go fuck themselves and alienate potential allies; especially during a scene with Liara.  It just felt like this Shepard should not be a Spectre; she definitely was not made out to be the badass leader from the games.  If anything, Garrus and Bau are more badass and competent than Shepard.

This is just my opinion though; other Readers may enjoy this characterization of Shepard, but I felt like she didn’t live up to the nomination of Spectre.  She felt like the odd one of the group.

My recommendation is for Readers interested in Mass Effect and looking for a great Garrus x Shepard romance, check out the story.  It’s a solid story and it was a great journey.  I highly recommend it for fans despite any flaws.

 

Stars: 9/10

Harmonic Connection Review

Title:  Harmonic Connection                                           Author: Chiranodoss

Source: Escaflowne                                                         Character(s): Hitomi K. & Van F.

Rating:  T                                                                        Genre(s): Drama

Chapter(s): 8                                                                    Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis:  AU She is a sheltered, classical cellist and he is an untrained guitarist in a rock band. One night these two musicians meet, and compose a living harmony that not only separates them but ultimately reunites them.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/3931110/1/Harmonic-Connection

 

Welcome Readers, I went diving into the FFN archives trying to find an older story that I had read a long time ago and wanted to review.  Alas, I didn’t find that story but I did come across this alternate universe (AU) one that had caught my eye; I kind of wish I had ignored it.  Well, onwards and upwards! 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 story is not what I was expecting based on the synopsis.  What I expected was these two musicians from different ends of the spectrum to meet and create an on-the-fly composition where her classical trained sound contrasted to his untrained, raw sound.  Then this accidental composition brings them together as they both go their separate ways and try to recreate that spark that ignited the first time.  However, in the end they find that the spark requires them and their contrasting styles.

What story delivers is two musicians meet one night and are separated because of Hitomi’s domineering – almost abusive – father and bad timing.  Bad timing places a key component here because for about nine months both Hitomi and Van wait at this fountain where they were supposed to meet up, yet they never encounter each other.  Time passes and Hitomi is pregnant with Van’s love child but when she goes into premature labor her father gives the child up for adoption.  Ten years after the story begins, Van and Hitomi are reunited and find their son.  Happily ever after!

This story feels like a poorly written version of a Lifetime movie; the drama is as bland as it’s over the top, any regards for laws and medical practices are non-existence, and the plot is lost in the shuffle of events.  The best part of the story is what drew me in, the synopsis.  Otherwise, the writing, the romance, and the general “plot” leave a lot to be desired.

The writing feels amateurish; a lot of grammatical mistakes and the storytelling is choppy.  The characters are undeveloped, the setting undefined, and the relationships paper thin.  It is clear that the focus was to have two musicians have a child after a one night and fate brings the separated family together.  This focus leaves little room for character development and with that development the interactions between the characters are one-dimensional.

In some ways, the writing reminds me how I used to write adults when I was in middle and high school; the amount of cussing, how they hurl insults at each other, the interactions (lovers, father-daughter, etc.), and lack of care towards each other.  It all mirrors how I used to write adult characters because that how I perceived them and adult situations.  Even the ending is the type of ending I used to write, everything wraps up nicely; no care for legalities, no care for psychological or emotional damage, and no horrible repercussions.  It’s a fantasy ending within this story that has a modern setting.

Then there’s the barely there romance.  I keep a healthy level of disbelief when I read stories so I’m not a cynic about love-at-first-sight but when it’s things like this then I just can’t buy the romance.  Van and Hitomi find their way to the roof (separately) and bond over music; Van shares this childhood belief he had and how he grew up and ended up on a roof talking to himself.  Hitomi points out that she’s there to talk to and that’s the romance spark.  These two strangers go from shooting the breeze on the roof to banging just because Hitomi is willing to listen to Van.  Personally, I need a bit more than that if I’m to believe that they’re “in love.”

After that one night, despite how much these characters “love” each other; they do very little to try and find each other.  Neither of them returns to the party where they met to ask other party goers for information about each other.  If Van had done so his inquires would probably have led to Yukari and Yukari to Hitomi.  If Hitomi had Yukari ask around about Van, she probably would’ve found out where his band plays.  Either way, the characters probably would’ve been able to find each other if they had done some investigation.  Sure, Hitomi and Van didn’t exchange last names or phone numbers, but Van knows she’s a cellist, given the crowd that Van is described to hang out with I doubt that many are cellists.  Plus, her apartment appears to be for the wealthy, so she’s a rich cellist; he might get a short list if he did a Google search for rich cellists named Hitomi.

Finally, after 10 years of pining after each other, Van and Hitomi reunite and all becomes right in the world.  They share very brief reasons as to why they couldn’t find each other and forgive all.  It’s very touching and all, but after 10 years there’s going to be a lot of resentment and hurt feelings mixed in with that love; no way that wouldn’t come through somehow.  Plus, their reunion is punctuated by Van finding out he’s a dad and having their 10-year-old son join them.  The stars can and do align but this is way too much.

Speaking of the son, I guess the son is the plot of the story because he is the “living harmony that not only separates them but ultimately reunites them,” but the story isn’t written as such.  If the plot was to truly center on the son, then the chapters that depict events before the son’s role in the story are irrelevant.  Why should it matter how Hitomi and Van met or how the child was conceived?  After the ten-year time skip the son takes control of the story and its events; leaving the orphanage, finding Dryden and becoming a street performer, going to a music exclusive school for a while, ending up back on the street, and reuniting with his parents.

That’s the true plot of this story, a young boy holding out on the dream of finding his parents.  Yet, this plot is lost among the set up and the bouncing between Hitomi and Van’s lives.  It is written more like an Oliver Twist narrative but at least there is a narrative, conflict, rising action, and such with the son’s story; it’s more than Van and Hitomi’s romance story.  If the story had just focused on the son’s story and cleaned up the ending, the fan fic would have been better – not good, just better than what it is currently.

My recommendations for this story would be to fix the plot.  If it’s meant to be about the son finding his parents, then take out the excess parts about Van and Hitomi’s romance.  However, if the story is meant to be about these star-crossed lovers then write the story for these lovers.  As it is, the story starts off going in the direction of the star-crossed lovers but morphs into being a story about a child finding his parents.  There needs to be consistency.

I also recommend that the story go through a few beta-readers to fix the grammar and flow of the story.  Bad grammar distracts from the story and the choppy sentences messes with the flow, they distract from the story that readers are meant to immerse themselves in.

Would I recommend this story to readers?  Not really.  It’s more of an example of what not to do than it is a story to engage in.  I would recommend if anyone is a writer, to write a better story using the catchy synopsis that the author used because that synopsis is absolutely the best part of the fan fic.

 

Stars: 3/10