Original HIATUS Action Mystery Psychological Sci-fi Male Lead Reader interactive School Life Secret Identity
Warning This fiction contains:
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  • Profanity

A sci-fi story set in the 32nd century.

John had been lying dormant for two years. He was preparing. For something big. Something that would engulf the entirety of the galaxy.

But he knew it wouldn’t be enough. Whatever he did, it wouldn’t be enough. The Event was inevitable.

So he decided to live as much as he could before the Event. He decides to go big and enrolls himself within the giant that is the Zi school.

But never did he ever think…

The cover was done by the artist bluepencil.

 

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JASONELLIS
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Epic plotting, awesome characters, and what not!

SovereignofAshes
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Highs and Lows of Life in the 32nd Century

Disclaimer: This review was done as part of a review swap.

First Impressions: From the first chapter you’ll find yourself reading what seems to be a young adult ‘slice-of-life’ kind of story, but within moments everything changes. You’re plunged into the main character’s stream-of-consciousness right away, seeing what he sees, experiencing what he experiences, and hearing him describe what his tinkered implants tell him about the world. It feels at once like you’re inside his head, but also like he’s telling you a story in the very moment that everything is happening.

At first blush, the story reminded me a lot of the Dead Space series of video games, only instead of the protagonist fighting space-zombies, it was a more light-hearted, young-adult story filled with adventure and character. The idea of a young man trained at building and tinkering, with a specialization in cybernetics and power-suits reminded me a lot of Isaac Clarke from Dead Space if he were younger, less grizzled, and thrust into a much brighter setting. This young man is searching for his identity and purpose, by tinkering with himself seeking a semblance of perfection, and tinkering with his tools while occasionally screwing up in the process. Another character I thought of would be Amanda Ripley from Alien: Isolation. Instead of seeking out her mother and corporate evils, this character is still finding their purpose and has far less bad luck with xenological entities. Yes, most of my sci-fi intake is survival horror at this time, mea culpa.

Content: The narrative doesn’t hit you with everything all at once and exposition, with regards to the setting, occurs conversationally as the protagonist only gives you exactly what you need to know in any situation. This is an enjoyable, direct, and light read. If you binge on chapters, you’ll find yourself quickly flipping through the story and becoming embroiled in the adventure without any fuss. The conversational style is refreshing and allows your imagination to flare up without constraint. Every new detail revealed from the protagonist slowly builds up until a fleshed-out and realized setting can be seen working in the background.

The story has a lot of twists and turns to it as it goes along. The style of writing seems to address details as soon as the reader wants to ask a question, but then as you go along the story starts to turn on its head. Each surprise helps to further the story and increase reader engagement. You’ll find yourself getting ready to head to school, then things fall apart, you get arrested by androids, then some swash-lasering with space-pirates . . . There’s a lot of action and a lot of potential rearing under the hood of the narrative.

Particulars: The grammar is fairly solid and the author continually revises and updates their work as they go along. I’ve only noticed a few hiccups or errant sentences that could do with a trim or revision. If you’re a more casual reader, you won’t even notice them as you continue through the story. Some movements of commas, some repositioning of sentences, a bit more description, and a pass with editing will fix the story right up to be fully polished.

The story works well as an engaging and relaxing young-adult science-fiction story. The style of writing is to the point and can introduce new readers and more casual readers to its content very easily. Those who enjoy ‘slice-of-life’ stories will find themselves expanding their horizons if they take this story on.

The story could do with a dash more description, and a bit of tightening when it comes to exposition. A lot of the wonder of the setting and the more visceral experiences of the character are lost in the current version of the story. In the first few chapters there are a lot of experiences the protagonist lives through that beg for more description but are sadly glossed over. In some interesting ways this can enhance the story, as the character seems very analytical and focused on data over sensory exploration. If you’re a more left-brained reader, you’ll be right at home.

The characters are well-defined and engaging. From the first chapter the personality of the protagonist is clearly known. A young man with ambition that just slightly aims higher than his abilities and common sense. He is a fallible character that seeks to grow (and does) as the story unfolds. As the chapters continue the protagonist seems to let his ambition run wild and hopefully in the later story he can do some growing up. The supporting cast are interesting, engaging, and developed to further the narrative.

There is a lot to the setting that is interesting and unique. As a reader, I hope to see more of it and it acts as a drive to push me further into the story as it goes along. The differences between Alphas and Omegas, the differences between Builders and Warriors, how the society functions, why there are space-pirates in key areas. More description on these would serve to enhance the story, as it is right now, it is a bit frustrating but serves to pull the reader in to find out more.

Conclusion: The Zone has a lot of potential and what is present right now is a solid story with well-crafted characters. The author has taken a lot of time and effort to build an engaging setting and sets of events for their characters. All that is needed is a bit more ‘meat on the bones’ to flesh this story out. A bit more description, a few more passes at revision, and this will be a truly amazing science-fiction story. As it is, it serves very well as a young-adult story with a very analytical character.

If you’re a die-hard science-fiction fan wanting a refreshing new take on the genre, you can’t go wrong with this story. If you’re not that big into science-fiction, this story is a great, relaxing, entry that can introduce you to a world of cybernetics, space battles, and spatial anomalies without having to get too far down the Asimovian rabbit-hole. If you’re more of a literary reader, this would be a great jumping-in point to try some speculative fiction. If you like active-voice, first-person narratives you’ll love this story. If you enjoy being surprised and letting your imagination run loose, this will give you plenty to think about for days after reading.

The story won me over and I’ll continue to follow it with each new release. I’m a big fan of realized settings with lots of potential, this story has them in spades. I’m interested in seeing where the author takes this journey and what choices with the story they’ll make to grow it.

Mightsin
  • Overall Score

 Well done! Can't wait for more.

I really enjoy the story and characters so far (upgrade in hand), and can't wait for more. The World you have created holds so much potential!

The only thing that can be jarring sometimes is the transitions from one character to another. Seems like a formatting thing. I find myself realising that it's not Dan anymore very slowly.

Thanks!

Hephaestus0
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A great story with a lot of potential. Future readers should be warned that this is not a story that runs to the finish line and I do hoop the autor will finish at least the first story arc before dropping it, it would ofcourse be better if the storry is finished but beggars can't be choosers.

christos200
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INTRIGUING SCI-FI NOVEL

This review was done as part of a review swap.

The story is a sci-fi adventure that focuses on a teenage protagonist who trains as a Builder and in the process meets a lot of interesting characters. The style and story are pretty good and the side-characters are, as noted, interesting. The grammar is also good, despite a few typos. All in all this story can easily be recommended to anyone who likes to read sci-fi novels.

Style: I have to admit that at first I was a bit skeptical as I do not usually like first person but you managed to pull it off. You allow the reader to get inside the head of the MC and follow his trail of thought. The sentences are short but that isn't bad; it allows for faster reading. All in all, the narration is entertaining and we can get into the MC's head but at a few points the transition from first person to third can a bit abrupt (an example of this is in chapter 'G', at the end) but this is only a minor inconvenience and not much of a problem.

Story: The story is really good. The beginning is intriguing and the part with the pirates was pretty good, especially the action during his escape. The transition to the school was a bit abrupt but once in the school the MC meets many interesting characters (Dyne, his old friend, Grace, the Mentor, etch) that keep the reader interested in reading more. I also like the use of flashbacks, although the transition to the first one could have been a bit better; It took me some time before realizing I was reading a flashback. The transitions to the other flashbacks though were far better. The worldbuilding is also good and there aren't many info-dumbs. All in all the story is intriguing and keeps the readers' interest.

Grammar: The grammar is very good. Of course there are a few typos and a few cases where there is misuse of tenses but this isn't really a problem as the casual reader will not notice it. The style of writing (stream of consciousness) also excuses some of the word choices, as another reviewer too noted. Compared to a lot of other works of RRL, the grammar is pretty solid so you get a 4.5 from me.

Characters: The MC is certainly intriguing. He is ambitious, smart and more interested in his tech than in interacting much with other humans. I like his interactions with Grace; at first she is somewhat irritating the MC but later provides emotional support to him. Dyne is another interesting character that I want to see more of; he is friendly and frank. Lucy is mysterious and could develop into a very interesting character but as we do not know much of her (at least up to the chapter I've read) I cannot comment on her character. The mentor fits well into the classic role of wise teacher and Colby is a good character though he didn't really catch my interest as much as Dyne. So there is a cast of characters that are all engaging, developed and help further the narrative.

Overall: All in all I can say that this novel is one of the better ones at this site and will be a pleasant read for those who like sci-fi. There aren't many such stories in RRL unfortunately. The MC is smart and doesn't behave like an idiot, the side-characters are interesting, the plot intriguing and the style allows the reader to get into the mind of the MC and follow his thoughts. The grammar is solid aside from a few typos. As such it gets a 4.5 from me.

Ashkari
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Reasonably Engaging, But Needs Polish

So, this title was one of those I find somewhat difficult to put all my thoughts together into one score. One of the ones that makes me wish we could score a lot more individual things.

Style: Writing style is pretty good, actually. While I’m not a huge fan of first person typically, the author manages to pull off a pretty believable stream-of-consciousness first person kind of narration that’s reasonably entertaining. The only issue I had was use of backstory flashbacks, which felt like unnecessary infodumps that didn’t really show us anything we couldn’t have learned through other means, and were a bit jarring thanks to the first person narration. However, in the end I decided not to dock points for that, as they’re still written well.

Story: This is one of those sections I wish I could break down further. The setting is solid, and the beginning is pretty intriguing. Unfortunately, once the MC actually gets to the school a number of chapters in, it devolves into a fairly typical ‘MC is a badass’ type of deal. Normally this isn’t an issue, but at some point character consistency seems to go off the rails and there’s a lot of what comes off as showing off for its own sake. I don’t mind super-powered protagonists, but there still needs to be some struggle there. There were also few segments later on that I needed to reread more than once, because I just couldn’t figure out what the author was trying to describe as actually going on, such as the scenes involving Grace and Lucy. Points are also deducted for a fairly large issue with ‘Talking Heads’ syndrome when there’s only two people present.

Grammar: This one’s a little complex, mainly due to the narrative style. When you’re doing stream of consciousness, it makes sense to skip out on a lot of ‘standard’ grammar rules, so things I might normally complain about instead comes off as ‘this is just how the MC thinks’, and it works just fine that way, so I gave it high rating. There’s are a few odd word choices here and there, and the non-polished chapters are a bit if a mess, but it’s nevertheless better than you see on a lot of stories here on RRL, so it gets a 5 too.

Characters: This one was hard to rate, but at the end I had to dock a bunch of points. Things again start  very strongly - the protag seems interesting, the people he meets seem like they have actual lives (even the mookish space pirates he kills have their quirks), and everything is fine. His roomates seem quirky if interesting, he meets  people who seem like they’ve got their own things going... and then things go kinda wierd. Suddenly everyone starts becoming less and less believable the more the MC interacts with them, and everyone’s emotional responses to things are just... strange. Like they were all given interesting backstories and personalities but nobody responds to events the way they ought to. It’s hard to put my finger on it, but many of the MC’s interactions with people just feel really off once you get past his meeting with Colby at the school. Which is too bad, because things were going really well at first.

Overall: I kind of am a bit on the fence, here. In all fairness, the first several chapters really drew me in well. But it kinda went downhill after awhile. In fairness, the author recognizes this to an extent, and mentions cutting back his schedule to work on quality. Should this happen and some polish be added, I could see this being a really excellent, if amateur, read. The story seems like it has some interesting directions it wants to take, and I enjoyed those parts immensely. So a story to keep an eye on, certainly.