|Reviews for Apocalypse Minor|
| Electrumwriter chapter 6 . 5/17
It’s a recurring theme for poor Ben that he seems to be wishing the earth will swallow him up. My favourite image from those of Ben’s despair in the introduction must be that of the darkness swirling into him.
The more mundane setting of the sweetshop sets up a nice contrast. Ben has the misfortune of experiencing an old person’s sense of nostalgia at a young age. It is telling that peanut brittle is triggering. The Chinese curse – “may you live in interesting times” has come true for him. I can attest to what it’s like. You can tell it has come true once you feel nostalgia for the ‘eighties.
So as for characters – besides Ben, it’s really only Val who gets significant screen time in this chapter. I do like her as a character. She seems such a nice and straightforward person. Able to guess (partly) what Ben’s angst is about and actually showing sympathy in a human sort of way. I get the impression though, that Savannah would only like the brutal Mickey Mouse from South Park.
Again, the theme of nostalgia - but it’s heart rending how Ben forces himself to wallow in it by revisiting the old home that is no longer a home and is instead in advanced decay. I like the juxtaposition of the room he’s built Lego train stations and cowboy saloons in, now bare and covered in dirt.
And as for that ending - Wow… just wow… what a cliff hanger! And a bit shocking, though not a complete bolt from the blue.
Whatever else has happened, his fate seems interwoven with Savannah’s.
| Electrumwriter chapter 5 . 5/17
Poor Ben. He is one to reminisce as much as Savannah. That is one reason they might belong together. Another is that they both wish the ground could swallow them up. I see the theme of abandonment by his mother blossoming into his being roped into the Burning Guinevere fraternity.
Character interactions: Riley is an interesting character. He seems quite kindly in wanting to clean Ben up in this way, although my reactions to his society for venting were a little mixed. I like how Ben dwells on Savannah so much at this point, right down to the gorgeous description of her eyes.. I think it is significant that they both prefer a monochrome world. But Ben’s thought processes really do show a lot of interesting description. That of Riley’s teeth was better still – “rocks below a cliff, the risk he hadn’t noticed ‘til he’d gone too far.”
As for the idea of the burning Guinevere ritual – it’s an intriguing use of mythological symbolism and I like Ben’s reservations. They make such good sense given his experiences. I think you could have taken the themes from the legend further and made the effigy Elaine – she raped Lancelot; or Morgan Le Fay – she was a great antagonist. Either of them would make better sense than Guinevere.
It’s cute how in the end he cannot bring himself to chuck away Savannah’s woollen cap. Maybe some readers would say Ben seems a bit stalkerish trying to imagine the touch of her curls from it, but I’d just say he has it very bad for her and Riley burning the cap is not going to change that.
| Electrumwriter chapter 4 . 5/16
For the multi-depth review game!
Starting with chapter four as requested The story is a little dark and the subject matter maybe not quite my thing, but it is compelling to read and your prose is superb, so lucid and elegant. I like the juxtapositions with the third person limited POVs of Ben and Savannah and the strong sense of self from both. I do wonder what will happen to them. Are they happily married now?
So chapter four – the opening does hint that Savannah has some sort of interest in Ben on some level and it’s actually gratifying to see that his crush on her is not as completely hopeless as it first seemed. I like the astral imagery she applies to him.
As for Glenn – “A cardboard king in his flimsy, see-through paper castle.” That says it all.
I like the upbeat way she describes the footballing clique, especially their gold sheen, I’m like a magpie. The best hint at her attraction to Ben is how she wistfully imagines him in the clique, or as she puts it, “part of that galaxy.” A good way to build on the meteor image.
Savannah’s reverie’s are an important part and I like how the details she dredges up about Michael Carter are very telling. He’s described well, but my favourite descriptor would be his eyes gleaming penny-bright. You can’t go wrong with coin adjectives as far as I’m concerned.
But I notice she reminisces more about Ben when retreating into herself and sees Glenn and that lots as being like carrion birds. It does not need stating that she is right. It’s so feeble that they feel the need to gloat about the reasons why Ben was given over to the state.
I like the whole theme of her mental retreat evoking retro cinema. Certain outdated mediums do have a charm of their own, take vinyl records, they have a unique quality of sound.
Her self-detachment at the end of this chapter is certainly well written. A desire for the earth to swallow her up expressed in a charming, almost poetic way. Nice juxtaposition.
Onto the next chapter
| alltheeagles chapter 1 . 9/16/2015
Oh, that detailed and (painfully) accurate account of unrequited love… poor thrust-into-alienation guy. I like your writing, it’s sharp and you have a distinct style of your own, but I can’t help feeling that there’s rather a lot of typical-this and typical-that going on. Whether this trueness to types is a good or bad depends on where this story goes next, I guess. On the subject of types, I like the way you categorise them, as movers and fumblers and watchers etc. We all do that, I think, we put people into categories and then we recategorise them as their behaviour changes or we get to know them better. So anyway, by the end of the chapter, I’m definitely not in a sunny mood, but that’s actually a compliment because it means you’ve affected my emotions with your writing.
| m. b. whitlock chapter 1 . 4/20/2015
So, I really enjoyed this. Ben is a very compelling character. Savannah appears to be his Beatrice or even his Dulcinea – a big reason why he wants her is because she is unattainable. I wonder if he ever will get his girl… Definitely draws my interest and makes me want to read more. :)
I also think you do such a great job exploring Ben’s interior world. He has a well-developed, original voice and a truly unique take on the world around him.
Here are a few notes:
What a powerful opening! I really like the way you describe what the protagonist is experiencing. Especially like this last line of the paragraph:
“When this cleared, he could finally hear the cackles dying and when the red mist disappeared from his vision, he could see the light of the late afternoon sun glinting off the steel-toed boot before him.”
Now I’m wondering who the boot belongs too. :)
This is lovely:
“One by one, they began to fade, each swaggering brute one by one until all that echoed in his drumming cranium was the velvet-soft tread of her sneakers.”
Really like how you use sound to distinguish Savannah from the guys.
Like how you give us the sense that this has been the protagonist’s life for some time:
“This was how Savannah said goodbye.
And this was when he'd lie flat on his back and stare at nothing.”
I guess Riley is the guy who just beat Ben up?:
“"A match made in teenage wasteland Hell." Riley had drawled nonchalantly on occasion of his first thorough beating.”
Okay, got it. He’s just Ben’s friend.
Beautifully resonant image here:
“'Savannah' was one of those names, even etched in graphite on lined paper.”
I can totally imagine Ben’s schoolboy eyes following the pencil drawn curves of the letters of her name. Cool. :D
Little confused by this description of Riley:
“Ben noted how utterly feminine the guy must appear with his *ramrod straight hair* and sharp chin jutting out from beneath the orange mess.”
Reads to me like Riley’s hair is both a mess and “ramrod straight”…?
“The thing about Riley *is* that he was a watcher.”
Think that “is” should be a ‘was’. :) Otherwise you are going into present tense suddenly…
Really like this thought progression:
“They made him think of swings in gardens. Gardens reminded him that he hated mowing lawns. Lawns made him remember that he was supposed to have been one of those carefree souls running around and playing peek-a-boo behind the trees.”
Really good ending:
“Sleep was making his eyes itch. He wanted to listen to the radio and watch a few hours of mindless TV to take his mind off her. The worst thing about Dream Savannah was that she made him dare to expect the impossible out of her.”
Wonderful atmosphere throughout this and a compelling character journey too. Great stuff!
| Hedonistic Opportunist chapter 4 . 11/1/2014
# Labyrinth review 4 :3
You still have such a subtle way of describing the most terrible events. I am not sure I could have continued reading this tonight, because wow, poor Savannah. All this time, she thought she was holding the reins, and now the tables are being turned on her, and she’s getting ‘punished’ for thinking that she was so strong (which she did not deserve, no one ever does). I like how you portray her moments during that moment – I like how she just flees into a sort of mind palace where she can think of happier think and does not have to confront the current reality. It’s horrifying though that she is forced to confront it when she is pinned to the ground and torn out of her reverie. Anyhow, I think that was a very good scene: very realistic in terms of how people deal with trauma/impending traumatic events. I also like how she is defensive of Ben internally, her thoughts always revolving around him even when he isn’t with her. It shows that he does have an effect her and that she knows that those boys who are bullying him are not good people.
I also think that this chapter was beautiful in terms of references and how you built it around various thoughts Savannah has lurked in her head. It made for an interesting technique and also worked well with your introspective style. I think your writing is effortlessly elegant, with everything flowing beautifully and the imagery being gorgeous.
| Hedonistic Opportunist chapter 3 . 11/1/2014
# Labyrinth review three :3
Again, so much there to this than meets the eye, and I feel really bad for not being able to give you the analytical review you deserve. But it’s interesting to see how each chapter fleshes the character out a bit more: we go from getting a passive Ben to a Ben who’s more passive-aggressive and secretly judgemental. What scares me the most is how he considers his second best day to be the one where he showed cruelty and malicious towards another child who bullied him. I know that it was probably because he was bullied it so much, but it’s still unsettling, because it shows how thin the line is between fear and pure hatred. And I personally got the feeling that he had nothing but hatred flowing through his veins at that moment. It was a very chilly and well-written scene.
In the same vein, I like that scene right after the introduction where he observes the kids around him, and secretly seems to judge them for sleeping around. It’s quite interesting, I think. I also like the conversation between him and Savannah, because of what it reveals: it’s kind of disquieting that he could abandoned by his father. It really explains why he’s still hanging onto Savannah; she’s one of the few constants in his life – in a world where you are no worth much, you would cling to the only face that is familiar to you quite naturally.
| Hedonistic Opportunist chapter 2 . 11/1/2014
# Labyrinth review two :3
I find your writing to be subtle in a refreshing way. It’s seemingly straightforward on the surface, but the deeper you get into this, the more you realise that you have to read between the lines. I think a second re-read might be necessary for this chapter, because you say a lot between metaphors and pretty imagery. And I think that makes things more interesting to think about, to analyse. I really like how fluid your writing is, and how easily it reads. There was a lot of effort poured into this, and it tells – but never so that your writing seems too fabricated or stilted. It still flows very naturally, but without being clumsy.
I like how you depict Savannah here too: she’s quite complex and wounded, embittered beyond repair nearly, and you can tell that she sees herself as a James Dean archetype too. Her vulnerability shines through, and you can tell how she’s just looking for a place to live, to be understood. I find it quite interesting that she sees her transition from a hopeful young girl to this more enlightened creature as a progress or a necessary step. I really wonder how she could be healed. It’s also interesting that she’s aware of Ben, but chooses to ignore him, because he’s a coward/disappointed her at some point.
As I said, I probably need to re-read, but so far I really like the atmosphere of this fic, with all its clever references.
| Hedonistic Opportunist chapter 1 . 11/1/2014
Labyrinth review # 1 (I am ‘Jitterbug Blues’, at least one half of it :3 – the one who claimed the Labyrinth review trade for this :3).
I do like the tone of this chapter; it’s kind of different from what you usually expect or find in a YA novel – it’s sort of picturesque and verbose, with some really imaginative wording here and there. I especially like how you bring in a lot of atmosphere to your writing; it really makes Ben’s emotions a lot clearer and easier to relate to. I especially like how he copes with his resignation and happiness over living a new life in the last segment of this chapter. I think it’s something anyone who has been bullied can related to.
I also like that he has the looks of a nerd, but isn’t one – not that nerds cannot be attractive, or that attractiveness is the most important aspect of a person (totally not, but high school is cruel). I find that you write out this unrequited love for Savannah quite well, though the question begs why he doesn’t just move on. It’s clear that she wants nothing to do with him, and it’s even clearer that he would be better off not thinking about her. On the other hand, I do like how you write out his emotions of her; they are clear and still very self-aware: he does know that Savannah is just someone he idealises, rather than anything else. Still, the brain is a powerful tool, and it’s hard to disconnect.
I like your writing a lot too.
| Orgaya chapter 1 . 9/21/2014
If Ben really does try out for football then he really is kind of an idiot. Sympathetic, of course, since I think we've all been in his shoes at some point (to anyone on the other end of that exchange, go fuck yourself). What I admire about him, though, is that he isn't trying to get attention or fit in with the "cool kids", he's just trying to get the attention of one girl; the same girl he grew up with. A very tragic story indeed.
Riley is awesome. I've always liked the Sams in stories, the ones who know how much of an idiot their friend is but will stick with them anyway because they are confident enough in themselves to know who is a decent person. And Ben, while still in need of a reality check, is a decent person. I like that despite constantly being beaten up, he shrugs it off so he can walk with his friend. Not without the typical chiding, of course.
Savannah is a bitch. Seriously, she couldn't utter a single "hi" to him? What a pretentious asshole. Obviously this is going to lead into some story arc where Ben learns she isn't as great as he imagined, which will be very satisfying when he is the one that rejects her in the end. Or... he will just accept her because he's nuts. Or she won't ever accept him and Ben will turn into a psychopath. Hey, maybe this is a school shooting story, I dunno!
Ultimately, good start to a very sympathetic story.
| Cheddar-Graham chapter 1 . 8/2/2014
For the Review Game (Easy Fix)
I like how you set up the contrast between Ben and Savannah. They are both extremes of a type, the golden girl and the downtrodden loser, and yet they are not so caricatured that they become unrecognisable or impossible to identify with. I like as well the relationship between Riley and Ben – it’s believable and very down to earth, but it doesn’t stink of bromance, which I have a personal dislike for. All in all, I think you’ve set the stage nicely for the promised drama of this piece!
| Jalux chapter 1 . 7/15/2014
I think having such an action packed start with the main character getting vividly beaten half to death serves as an excellent opening hook because while it's not original it definitely makes you wonder why he's getting beaten and his reaction to it only makes it more interesting. The writing as well is very solid, I like the level of detail you out in everything, helps with setting the scene. But yeah I definitely think you have a strong plot here, of course it's still early but the first chapter definitely manages to spark interest and create questions that need to be answered.
| Jitterbug Blues chapter 3 . 4/30/2014
I liked that bit about the boy with the tally he kept on girls' virginities – somehow that hooked me in. I also found that your writing in the opening was very vivid, and strong. Another thing I noticed is you use rules of threes very well; I spotted at least two in the opening alone. And it's good because strong writing, I believe, is always one way to capture a reader’s attention.
I really enjoy the little details in your writing, especially when it comes to little musings on the part of Ben; they're kind of whimsical, but pretty and thought-provoking (also highlighting how thoughtful Ben is). I think you really manage to paint a scene with your details too, happening to also catch little quirks on part of the characters. I also enjoy how breezy your prose is most of the time, though some passages do get a little heavier, especially towards the end. For the most part though, I think your writing is really pretty, making it pleasure to read. In particular, I liked the scene between Savannah and Ben, especially at the beginning with him observing her, just because I felt that the way he contemplated her, and the setting surrounding her was very atmospheric and vibrant. The scene with the Red Rover game, while it didn't do as much for me emotionally, was a lot of fun to read, and the set-up at the end of it for the next scene worked very well.
Hmmm on the other hand though, the plot is a bit slow-moving; I don’t necessarily mind, since I think the dip into the past is just as important as EVENTS. I do think that some readers might notice the lack of progress, but I don’t want to tell you how to write your story. As for myself, I enjoyed those little character moments between Savannah and Ben, because they flesh them out, and also promise more interactions in the future. I look forward to when they will finally interact - not one-liners from Savannah, or longing glances from Ben, but a real conversation that hopefully, hopefully, won't get interrupted by a nasty prank this time.
| Jitterbug Blues chapter 2 . 4/30/2014
I was definitely not expecting that shift in POV, but I didn't mind it at all. It was good to get this more intimate look into Savannah's character, and making us privy to her inner thoughts really softened the initially harsh impression I had of her. Not that this chapter is all roses and fairy dust, oh no, but it puts her in a more sympathetic light. Nice use of pop culture at the very beginning, too. I've seen this done elsewhere before where it seemed awkward, but here it just seemed to work.
On that note, it was comforting to see that maybe Ben's relationship with Savannah isn't as one-sided and hopeless as it had initially seemed. It's still very uneven, and Savannah is aware that he puts her on a pedestal, but it's not quite so bad as the first chapter had made it seem. Her relationship with Val seems to emphasize how guarded she is, the part where she thinks "just because Val offered her shelter didn't mean she was ready to shed her own skin for her". It's actually rather sad.
The writing is a pleasure to read as always - lyrical, at times whimsical, but all of it flowing well despite arresting metaphors and introspection. At times it gets a bit heavy, but your word choice is beautiful so I don't even really mind it.
The last section, with the references to their days at the orphanage, was very sweet and sad. The very last sentence was a neat little punctuation mark to these first two chapters so far. I'm wondering if next time we will come back to Ben, or if there's yet another introductory chapter waiting. They say it takes three to establish a pattern, so I'll wait for the next chapter to see how it goes. The ending of this one doesn't leave one scrambling for more, but does give a satisfying sense of closure, albeit a temporary one.
| Jitterbug Blues chapter 1 . 4/30/2014
I've always been a fan of openings that bring you right into the heat of the action, and this reminded me of why. Right out of the gate you give us this visceral description of the protagonist (not named yet, which I think was a good call) getting beaten to a pulp. It's certainly not an optimistic start, but it's one that draws you in nonetheless. To have it followed up with the description of the setting (instead of vice-versa) worked better for me, in my opinion.
So, Ben: he's a character that at once elicits feelings of both sympathy and frustration. There's a part of you that wants to go 'just get over her already', but at the same time you realize he's acutely aware of his problem; there's just not that much he can bring himself to do about it. I would hesitate to call his attitude completely defeatist because he does seem to hope for better things; he's just not really expecting them to drop from the sky into his lap, or even to come to him any time soon. Anyway, that's not to say that I don't like his character. He's interesting. We spend the whole first chapter in his head, and the way he compartmentalizes people - movers, lookers, watchers, etc. - including himself is clever, and speaks to how he views the world and the people around him. I didn't get as much of a feel for the other characters; admittedly, I found it a bit jarring when you would drop new names mid-sentence, but I'd remember this was Ben's head, so it makes sense. You leave enough context for us to figure it out anyway.
Writing-wise, you have a lot of figures of speech scattered here and there that I really enjoyed. '...Sugar, spice, and scraps from the ragbags...' was particularly a favorite of mine. What's more, your writing is very fluid (is that the right term? I'm not sure if that's the right term) in the sense that you go from descriptive one sentence to deep and jaded and introspective the next, and the transition never feels awkward.
Nice touch with the ending there, turning the usual trope of people whose lives are miserable looking forward to sleep and dreaming on its head. Even in his dreams he just can't catch a break, huh? I like how I have no idea what's going to happen next. Is he going to get his wish? Is he going to get beaten up again, and rehash today and everyday? Is the world going to end? That being said, it did effectively pull me in to want to read more, even though it's not a cliffhanger, so good job!