|Reviews for Life is a box of chocolates (Anthology)|
| Highway Unicorn chapter 3 . 9/15/2014
[Opening] I liked your opening sentence, because for me, I got that distant and almost inhumane vibe from it. "Body number thirty-eight..." Just calling something (I'm going to assume it's human/humanoid-like) 'body' separates it from emotion, feeling, life, basically everything. For me, it almost becomes materialistic in a sense. And as I read on, it becomes clearer and clearer that we may not be dealing exactly with humans.
The following four sentences, however, become a rather bit confusing, but my biggest concern with those four is that "arm" is repeated at least once throughout each. Basically: "arm" becomes repetitive throughout this opening paragraph. A suggestion? Maybe use appendage in place of one of the arms?
[Ending] I'm not sure if this particular ending did it for me personally. I feel like the intention was to leave the readers with this dampened mood, feeling pity for the boy, and even feeling sorry for Base since he has to program these, well, lifeless in a way, people. I personally didn't feel any of that, and I think it's only because it was a very brief scene and I didn't really get enough time to invest in these characters...
[Scene] While this piece is basically one scene, I'll comment on one particular part of the scene, and that is the section where is it basically revealed/implied what the purpose of these "bodies" are. While I always find this to be an interesting subject, I wasn't shocked. I don't know if your intention was to shock the readers by making these bodies used for sex. And I think just stating that the dolls were used for sex is rather down putting in a way. I'm not saying I didn't enjoy this particular section, but I think I would have really liked it if perhaps Base hinted around to the idea of the dolls having other uses, such as emotional purposes, or something like that where the interaction isn't simply just for sex. Ex: Pretending to be a spouse for the time given, or just simply spending time with them since there are lonely people out there that don't require intercourse to feel happy. I got the impression that this was a high organized business, sorta like with the "Stepford Wives" or even "Cloud Atlas," not some random back-alley whore house.
[Dialogue] The dialogue on Finn's part was very believable and rather childish in a manner, given he's still a child, so I really liked that for that reason. He comes across a bit naive, but not too much, as if he knows a bit about what's in store for him, but doesn't actually fully realize the horror behind it.
[Characters] As I stated above, there wasn't enough presented to get me invested with these characters. The one that I probably liked the most would be Finn, because of him being so naive. The one that I think was sorta just thrown in there was Mammy, simply because I don't see the point to him-or really, the point of bringing him up. Without that particular introduction, I could already have told what was the deal with Finn and that basically he was being bred and raised to become a Promised One. Mammy just feels empty in a sense...and you could replace his name with "master" or something and it wouldn't make a difference. I'm neither against nor pro for Base.
[Relationships] I'll comment on Base and Claudine. I know you were implying that Base had feelings, or maybe just simply interest (even lust perhaps) towards Claudine. He is clearly focused on her more than the other bodies...I believe you used this as a way to hint at a Romeo-Juliet type of love, where they can't be together...Although, we don't even know if Claudine is even responsive to Base. Maybe she has zero interest in him, which would kinda eliminated the R&J theory. Even if it's one sided-he can't have her, which reflects upon his character.
[Plot] Yeah, this a little cliche in the whole sex trafficking sense, but I mean, what isn't cliche today? You focused on the other side of it, the programmer's side, which I think is what really made your piece more unique than say compared to "Stepford Wives" or "Cloud Atlas." We got to see the side that has to do this...that has to face that guilt...that has to program these humans *knowing* what is in store for them. And I think you did a nice job at detailing that side. :-)
Overall: I enjoyed reading this. I wasn't shocked, but I enjoyed it.
| Orgaya chapter 3 . 9/14/2014
First, way to start with the number 38... nothing to do with anything, really, it's just that this is a number I for some reason manage to see everywhere I go.
Second, your stories just keep getting better and better. I know I said before that Part-Time was my favorite, but this one definitely takes that spot. You have a very keen ability to create a very confusing and disjointed scenario and then pull it all together seamlessly so that by the ending line, the reader understands perfectly what this has been about.
This was a very disturbing yet tragic story, probably one of the more tragic stories I've read. I like how half way through I was beginning to understand what was going on in terms of what the "bodies" were, and that it was actually obvious from the get-go; yet it required the gradual context you so flawlessly implemented.
At first, with the italics, I was confused as to why they were there... but like the other two stories I have read from you, it isn't just a linear experience. I really enjoyed seeing these two divergent paths come together in the end to illustrate that powerfully moving moment in the end. It's sort of like waking up from a really happy dream and realizing that it was just that. Death is sad, yes, but being forced to see a life that you once had yet can never have again is just gut-wrenching.
I said before that the other two had pacing problems, but that isn't the case here. I think this is because it is based on a single scene, which gives the narration time to let the ideas sink in. I also liked how there's this massive world outside of the room, with many vivid details yet to be explored, but you left them vague because they aren't nearly as important as the emotion the story is trying to accentuate.
Ultimately, this was a perfect story, in my opinion.
| solidprecipitate chapter 9 . 9/13/2014
I like your use of parallelism, that is, starting the each chapter with a statement about what Izzy is or isn't good at. You started with what he was good at, then moved on to what he wasn't good at, as the events of the story took on a tragic turn. It helped convey a sense of things slipping out of Izzy's control.
The plot was well thought out and quite an accurate take on the prompt. I liked how this story went against expectations as a typical boy meets girl romantic comedy, but instead was more of a tragic what-could-have-been tragedy. I liked how you showed how bigotry and misogyny can still cause harm in today's society.
Well written take on the prompt. Best of luck for this month's WCC!
| Orgaya chapter 2 . 9/13/2014
This was awesome. At first I had no idea what was going on, suspecting this to be a random stream of consciousness, but then I caught on that there were two characters in two different scenarios that were actually very similar, and yes, the meaning of the story as you already know.
That's not what actually made it awesome for me, though, and this is going to sound kind of selfish in a weird way - this writing style is very similar to my favorite book, Downtown Owl. In fact, a lot of yours is, but this one specifically because the author typically wrote a stark explanation of something, but then explained it more thoroughly, colorfully, and personally in parentheses. And I really like that kind of style.
So yes, ultimately I really adored this story. I rarely get excited by anything on FictionPress (Christ I am so pretentious), but damn when it hits, it really hits. Great job! Now do more SKB stuff in this style and you can seriously have my penis. I mean... money. Adoration?
| Timbo Slice chapter 9 . 9/12/2014
This was an odd but interesting little piece. One thing I noticed was the story seemed to have this dualism between girls and boys, and what it means to be either or gender in today's society. I liked the repetitive use of the line "he was good at" as it kept the story firmly structured and it ties in well with the dualism thing, how this kid is taking pride in the small things he is good at but has absolutely no clue how to deal with a girl, especially one crying her eyes out on his shoulder.
As far as the two characters go I didn't quite get a feel for there personas but I liked the subtle implications that make you think that there is more to the story, like maybe he was no good at talking to girls because he was gay and liked to watch DVDs with his friends instead or maybe the girls head leaking was supposed to symbolize the worst situation he could've found himself in while being completely unable to save her? You have a very modern, slick style to your writing that makes it fun to read between the lines and figure out the implications on your own.
| Orgaya chapter 9 . 9/11/2014
Uh. Hm. What to say, what to say.
I have to ask, was the final scene what you had in mind when you thought of the prompt? Or just the story in general?
As for the story itself, while it was very good and I enjoyed reading it, it seemed a tad rushed (unless that was intentional). Oddly enough, since I really don't have a big interest in romance stories due mostly to their contrived nature, this is a story I would have liked to see continued. Or at least spread out. And it would have been fun to see Izzy deny her as a life partner to go against any and all obligations.
I'd say SKB is more interesting than Izzy if that was the focus of the story, when really I'm sure there's a deeper significance to the series of events given the X and Y scene and the title itself. And I'm guessing the two main characters (or their circumstances) are both X and Y. Maybe it's just me being too lazy to actually work out the deeper meaning.
All in all, I enjoyed reading this and would have liked to see this as a series rather than a one-shot. Oh, and the third-person perspective works fine; it honestly could work either way.
| Shampoo Suicide chapter 9 . 9/10/2014
Firstly, I want to say I'm a huge fan of the writing I've seen from you. I'm a little jealous, really.
The opening to this piece is fantastic. I like the first line and the humorous situation that followed, especially because it was unexpected. I thought the discussion of the expectations of the night from various entities was hilarious.
I also enjoyed the technique of repeating "He was really good at" and modifying it in various fashions, I think it tied everything together nicely. There is a lot of focus on being good and what good boy/girl is and I think you explored that really well, especially through the use of that repetition.
The actual story is heartbreaking and wonderful, and you did an excellent job of bringing these two characters differing situations together. I think it's a really interesting subject and not something explored a lot in a Western setting, really.
Izzy is a great character. I love that we got to know so much about him for such a short piece, you did a fantastic job bringing him to life through your descriptions of him and his actions, and what he is and is not good at. I loved the bit at the end where you say Izzy was no good at working out what sobbing girls were saying, just a wonderful line. Great job on this, and good luck in the WCC. Voted for you! :D
| Drizzle chapter 9 . 9/9/2014
I really enjoyed this story. There was a hint of social commentary in it that I rarely see on FP.
I liked that the writing was focused more on conversations and actions rather than dry exposition. I read the story twice and discovered something new about the two character's personalities each time.
I was bit confused by the plot. It would have been nice to have little more background about the kind of society they lived in since it was hinted (moral education classes?) that it's different from ours.
| grumpyturtle chapter 9 . 9/8/2014
Hi! I voted for you in the September WCC! :D
I really like this piece! I haven't read any of its predecessors yet, but I plan on doing so. :)
| Ventracere chapter 9 . 9/7/2014
Opening: Well dang. That wasn't the first sentence that I was expecting at all. Besides the fact that that sentence alone is a /very/ strong hook (er hahaha, sorry, I'll stop), I feel like you did a great job when it came to reversing the roles here. I'll get to that in a minute. On that note, I liked how you took away that conception of what your protagonist is doing after that first sentence.
Scene: I definitely enjoyed how you changed that instead of a man being the "peeping tom" it was actually the woman who was in that role. On that note, I also think it was a little understated how "awkward" it was between he and the woman/girl? She was more of a blink of an eye and miss it, but obviously, your protagonist didn't. I wonder how that's going to play out later in a paragraphs.
Character: I didn't really get a feel for either characters until the end. I have to say I did really like Izzy for the fact of what she was. She seemed to defy the constraints of society and the protagonist himself. In fact, she made the protagonist step out of the box when he was unsure of what to do.
Ending: Merp. I guess all good things come to an end? Turns out what happened between Izzy and your protagonist was no exception. I have to say the abruptness is something that I didn't expect (this one is throwing me in for all these different loops) - did I ever mention how this seems a little bit like "Bridge to Tarabithia"? In the end, Izzy, who gives your protagonist a voice, beyond just a "good boy," she gives him a sense of identity, self. "Good" doesn't just become a societal view of the two of them, instead, it was more of a pact. "...until the words had lost their meaning" seems to signify that what the word "good" isn't all that the protagonist lost.
| Mia52 chapter 9 . 9/7/2014
I really enjoyed this chapter. I also really liked how you started with each new scene with he was really good at something and then gradually came to something he had no experience in dealing with.
I like the dynamics between Izzy and SKB. It's cute and a little quirky. The end was quite a surprise for me. People still do arranged marriages? But I do want to see how they will handle this, though.
| Hedonistic Opportunist chapter 9 . 9/7/2014
Wow, this is comparatively darker to your other pieces - definitely hits closer to home. There's an edge of bitterness and even anger in this piece that made it nay uncomfortable to read. But that doesn't mean I don't like it or enjoy the subject matter: it's just not something I'd want to read when I was feeling down. It would only make me feel worse, because the the things you bring up are here are gritty and honest - and in a way, inescapable because the protagonists are so trapped by the social constraints and expectations heaped onto them (I feel that's something Westerners can relate a little less too, unless they live on the peripheries of what's socially acceptable - I'm just saying 'arranged' marriages isn't something everyone can relate to XD). So, in the line of this, I really liked the theme of fight here: both Izzy and the girl are always on the run/always hiding/always in fear of being caught, which reinforces this theme of the forbidden/makes them both similar to naughty children who don't want others to know that they've been bad. It's a very strong theme, which works so well because you don't have to state everything out loud.
What I mean to that is that you merely allude to Izzy's homosexuality or the girl's promiscuity. I like that it's not explicitly ever made clear, because it keeps the piece tasteful, and also just shows that it's yet another aspect of their personalities, not what wholly defines them. By keeping those 'naughtier' (because it's debatable, very strongly debatable if those are in itself 'naughty' or yet alone bad things - I don't believe it) under wraps, you also show that they are both good students and lost teenagers who are just trying to find their places in the world. It's hard and the end implies that they don't find it, but it's still admirable and very relatable.
I liked the writing in this - it's definitely grittier than your other stuff, but not so heavy as to make someone feel too depressed.
| Shampoo Suicide chapter 3 . 9/4/2014
Opening: What a great opening line. I love the mathematical precision of this opening, and how attention grabbing it is. The repetition of 'unremarkable' was, quite contrary, very remarkable. I'm a huge fan of this opening paragraph.
Technique: I love the story told in the italics intertwined with watching this man at his job and how the two fit together. I think you did a fabulous job weaving the narratives. For example, in the beginning how you followed fit right in with She doesn't fit in was spectacular.
As a random aside, I love the title and think it's a perfect fit.
Character: I love how much we learn about Claudia, as seen through his eyes anyway, and that's aided by your use of the third person which I see here you were practicing. I think you fully fleshed out how he sees/adores/is obsessed with, almost, her.
Enjoyment: Don't know if you could tell from the review, but I love this piece. You have a really, to me, unique style and a great deal of talent!
| IronicPuppies chapter 8 . 9/4/2014
I think the most intriguing part of this piece was the relationship between the narrator and this woman he is talking about. In particular, after a second reading I'm not even sure I understand if there is a woman at all. At first I thought there was a particular girl that the narrator had been stalking and she left for fear of her safety, but it also seems possible that there isn't really any particular girl at all, and this person just forms these intense attachments to completely random women, and the fact that I can't really tell is really what makes this a great piece.
Along those lines, I must praise the writing itself. Although it's clear there is something wrong with the narrator, certain passages are strangely endearing anyway. The description of how the girl capitalizes words just by pronouncing them that way, for example, sounds like such an intimate detail of their relationship. Somehow despite the creepy tone of the piece, the narrator's voice still manages to elicit my empathy.
I was a bit confused on the setting. It's clear they're on a monorail, and I think that's plenty to establish the setting, but then there are multiple mentions of Asian tourists and I'm not sure what for. Either I'm missing something important (are they in a theme park or something?) or this is an extraneous detail. When the tourists are mentioned I'm momentarily pulled out of the atmosphere of the rest of the piece.
Finally, that is a great ending. It is simultaneously terrifying and yet I had a little smirk, because at least this crazy person is happy for a moment before they're rushed away by security. Nice job, and congrats on the WCC win.
| Domus Vocis chapter 2 . 9/1/2014
Writing: You've got a really good grasp on diction here, because while your syntax is a bit strange (see Technique), I think your work choices are pretty good. I've read some stories where a writer uses too much words that are fanciful and get in the way, but you clearly know when to use the right words and when not to. I guess my favorite quote would be 'set in motion the flight of the incarcerated mass of developing personalities'. It just has a nice ring to it :D
Technique: I got to give you credit for trying something different. I don't think I've ever seen this style of writing ever used in anything. Even the parentheses in here feels a bit odd. However, I'll give you credit for having it set up like this mainly because it allows the story to have something unique to it. However, if I did have a complaint, it would be that it makes the story a bit confusing when the reader starts out. Maybe it could be improved by a few edits or at the very least a description above this story.
HIM & HER: These are pretty decent characters. They're not an average person, but they still have the easiness and personalities of real people. I also love how you make them work off one another, having one glance at the other, making them believe the other doesn't think about them when they clearly are. This kind of thing happens a bit in real life and I love the way you've wrote it. I can't really think of anything else to say.
Ending: I just love the ending line of this short story. 'They passed each other, not touching, not speaking; looking straight ahead through each other with stony eyes.' It leaves an impact on the reader on how close and yet so far our main characters are from each other. Speaking of which, here's my problem with it: do you have to use 'each other' twice in the same sentence?
Either way, keep up the good work! :)