Title: Red Moon Glow Author: Relena for President
Source: Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Characters: Heero Y. & Relena P.
Rating: T Genres: Romance/Sci-Fi
Chapter(s): 24 Status: Complete
Synopsis: A.C. 212. Foreign Minister Relena Darlian has dedicated much of her youth and career to terraforming Mars, but endures nothing but public criticism over the lagging project. Her love life isn’t exactly progressing, either. Will she and Heero ever get on the same page, or will they remain stuck in on-again off-again limbo? And is there someone else waiting in the wings?
Welcome Readers, we’re going to start the week off strong with a story that is exceptionally well done but still makes me mad. I went ahead and checked out the story because I thought it was a love triangle between Heero Yuy > Relena Peacecraft > Trowa Barton and while the result – I feel – is not what I expected, I kept reading it because the story is engaging. Ladies and gentlemen, 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.
I’ll start by saying that the author’s synopsis is not exactly what the story delivers. Based, on that synopsis I thought this was going to be a story where Relena works on the stressful terraforming project and seeks some release from her infatuation, Heero Yuy. Instead of bringing Relena relief, he makes her more stressed as they cycle through their on-off relationship. During the project though she meets the “someone else waiting in the wings” (an Original Character or another pilot) who starts to show her that there are other people who can make her happy in a relationship. This kicks Heero into gear and becomes a story of these two options presenting themselves to Relena while she struggles professionally. That’s what I expected.
Now, what the story is about is a pregnant Relena trying to contact the father of her unborn child – Heero – while he’s out on a super, secret mission. The synopsis is correct in that Relena is dealing with the ever discontent and criticism of the Mars terraforming project but the bulk majority of the story centers on Relena trying to tell Heero she’s pregnant. She tries to call his burner cell, contact Lady Une and get him a message that way, try to get her bodyguards Duo and Trowa to open up about the secret mission, etc.
I’m not mad that my expectation is not met; actually, I prefer it when a story presents something I am not expecting. What has me hot under the collar about this story is the “And is there someone else waiting in the wings?” portion. I will go into detail about this glaring – in my opinion – weakness and other faults in the story later. First, I would like to touch upon all the story’s strengths; the story, the limitations of POV, and the general writing.
This is a truly engaging story. I found the story of Relena having to reorganize her priorities and life to make room for her expecting child, and her determination to get a message to Heero compelling. There is so much drama happening in both plots! The two plots do not compete against each other and one doesn’t overshadow the other, instead they are intertwined. There are moments of the story when she’s working, others when she starts to plan transitioning her assistant to take over when the baby comes, and moments when she’s frustrated that she can’t contact Heero. It all plays together well and makes the story engaging.
This story truly understands POV and remembers that since its following Relena there are certain tidbits that Relena will not be privy to – other characters’ feelings or thoughts. However, some of those tidbits can be picked up by the Readers. Trowa’s crush on Relena is one example of something Relena is unaware of but through subtleties in the details and other characters dropping hints, Readers are able to pick up on Trowa’s feelings. Another example is the secret mission that Heero is assigned during the story. Relena knows nothing about the mission other than Heero can’t be reached and he’s in deep cover; however, she knows that her bodyguards know more than they let on so tries to get information from them.
There is only one instance when the story forgets about the POV limitations and that is between chapters 18 and 19. At the end of chapter 18, Relena forces Trowa and Duo to sit down with her and tell her everything about Heero’s mission. In chapter 19, the meeting has taken place and now they are proceeding with a rescue plan, but whatever was revealed to Relena during that meeting is not revealed to the Reader. This is the only time in the story when the lead character knows more about what’s going on than the Reader. It makes the story feel a bit disjointed for a bit but after a few chapters Reader’s catch up to what Relena knows again.
Beyond that one instance, the POV is solid and reflects the proper limitations when following a character who has limited in-knowledge to what’s going on with Heero’s mission.
Finally, the writing in general is terrific. This is a great story that doesn’t overburden its Readers with too many details, it written fairly linear with some clear flashbacks, and has Relena carry the story. The writing is mature and shows a great understanding of what it means to have a working character (i.e. a character with a job) – something that most stories tend to forget. It also speaks to what it means to be a working woman expecting a child; it’s not just simply planning for the baby and taking care of yourself but also planning a transition period and figuring out how to tell people, especially when you’re “single.”
The writing for this story is truly amazing and part of the reason the story can hold a Reader’s attention for 24 chapters.
Now on to my complaints about the story. I will preface this portion of the review with: All these “weaknesses” are based on my opinions. For some readers these will not be weaknesses and will not affect how they feel about the story. For me though, these failings are what brought the story down for me and make me unable to give this story a glowing review.
Let’s start with that “And is there someone else waiting in the wings?” hint from the synopsis. Yeah, that hint of a love triangle is what attracted me want to this story in the first place and…it plays absolutely no part in the story. None; zero; nada; zilch. I could go on but that would be a waste of space.
Love triangles are hard to write. I’ve tried and failed in my own writings. The key is to a good love triangle is that both options have to be viable. No one is going to believe that there is a love triangle taking place when only 1 of the 2 parties receives the attention. For example, did anyone watching the Twilight movies ever believe for an instant that Bella would end up with Jacob instead of Edward? No. Many fans hoped and that’s why there’s fan fiction for it, but no one believed the story would deviate from the Bella / Edward romance. That is an example of how not to write a love triangle.
Unfortunately, this story seems to have taken its cues from Twilight because while I see the signs for a possible love triangle, the story never acts on it. The love triangle is meant to be Heero à Relena ß Trowa but the only part of that triangle that comes through is the Relena / Heero romance. Admittedly, Trowa’s feelings for Relena do come through despite the story being told from Relena’s view, but it’s useless because Relena shows no romantic interest in Trowa. Trowa is doomed to the friend zone – at best.
See the one of the ways to make sure that a love triangle works is to have the person at the center of it (i.e. Relena) be conflicted between the two suitors (Heero and Trowa). In this story, there is no conflict, there is no temptation; she is dead set on Heero. The only people who dares to suggest that there could be something between her and Trowa are other characters (friends, family, etc.). Any time one of those characters bring it up to Relena it gets swept away and Relena goes back to pining after Heero. Every time Relena notices something with Trowa, she compares it to something about Heero; mannerisms, speech, aura/sensations. She doesn’t see Trowa as Trowa; she keeps seeing anything that is Heero in Trowa.
This is why this love triangle just doesn’t work!
The “love triangle” is by far the weakest part of the story and the number one remedy I can think of is to eliminate the love triangle altogether. Seriously, it doesn’t move the story. The main driving points of the story are: Relena’s pregnancy, Heero x Relena romance, and Mars terraforming. The love triangle is not necessary for any of those items. In fact, if it had been left out entirely, I probably would have enjoyed this story more. Since I was expecting the love triangle I kept hoping for progress there on Relena’s half and none came so I ended up feeling cheated.
That’s my major complaint about the story but I’ll touch on a couple smaller ones. Like the flashbacks and the romance with Heero.
Inherently flashbacks are not bad. In fact, flashbacks can help enhance the story. This one has a mixture of flashbacks that enhance the story and ones that are filler. Some of them are good for showing the relationship between Heero and Relena in the past but then there are a couple that do nothing except fill space. For instance, there is one flashback that Relena relates to Hilde about a night when Relena snuck into Heero’s cabin on the Mars trip and she read a book to him before they had sex. It could be argued that the conversation they had was meant to be insightful about Heero’s feelings toward children and marriage, but that could’ve been accomplished without the flashback.
Then there was another flashback from when they were training to go to Mars and it’s the stolen moments of affection and sex between Heero and Relena. It doesn’t do much except showcase how much sex Heero and Relena have when their relationship is “on.” If anything flashbacks like this one should have been used to help illustrate how important the Terraforming project is and the commitment Relena has to the project.
One flashback that is never featured but should’ve since the event is mentioned a couple times; Noin’s miscarriage. It’s brought up as a traumatic event and something that Relena feels partial blame for happening, but it’s never featured in the Mars flashbacks. Plenty of Relena and Heero sexy times are featured in the flashbacks, but not this one horrible event. Maybe it really isn’t necessary for the story but it would have been far more interesting than the flashbacks of Heero and Relena having sex.
Finally, the romance with Heero is a bit stale. Heero is a hard character to write and this story does do a pretty good job, but the interactions between Heero and Relena makes me feel like it’s an abusive relationship. Not physically abusive but emotionally. Heero purposely has Relena tell him why she’s been trying to contact him even though he already knows that she’s pregnant. He purposely doesn’t have anyone give her some sort of message that he’s alright after he’s captured. It’s explained away as having been “too risky,” but his actions (inactions) lead to a pregnant Relena being put in danger anyways.
Then there’s just the fact that the relationship is constantly either on or off. When it’s on, Relena and Heero seem to fuck like rabbits, and when it’s off then they are jealous lovers from afar. They do discuss their relationship and their life goals, but their differences seem to either separate them for a time or melt away for sex. If Relena had not been pregnant at the end of the story, I don’t think Heero would’ve jumped into marrying her.
This is just how the relationship comes off to me. It’s not necessarily a horrible relationship but it’s one that leaves me in doubt that either party should be married. *Shrugs* This is just my opinion though. To another Reader this might be the greatest romance.
In the end, the story is great; I think there are some glaring flaws and they could be easily removed by eliminating the “love triangle,” but even those can’t hide the fact that this story can easily pull in Readers. Would I recommend it? Yes. Despite my grievances I would still recommend this story to anyone looking for a great Gundam Wing story and one that has a strong leading woman.