|Reviews for Life is a box of chocolates (Anthology)|
| BradytheJust chapter 2 . 7/25/2016
A different story from you, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. It really makes you think about having a dual life, especially one that's different from the life you show the world.
I liked how you built up the suspense of the dual life and how the MC found herself having to keep a secret every time she saw him. "Looking straight ahead through each other..." That line really sums up the story,
Nice job. :)
| WaterBudget chapter 2 . 4/14/2016
AGH, the moment when the characters almost make a connection and then end up looking through each other at school is amazingly depressing. I was hoping the two might speak to one another, but this way is closer to reality. Seems like a commentary on the roles we play in life, and it's thought-provoking without being preachy.
The format is different than your usual but useful in portraying the background of the characters quickly so we can sympathize with them. The writing itself is on point, with many evocative descriptions. I especially liked the descriptions of the boy's clothing and the girl's physical features: shows how aware of each other they were.
An interesting piece! It restores my faith in short stories, which usually leave me unsatisfied.
| Electrumquill chapter 6 . 1/22/2016
I like that you acknowledge it when you use a generic setting :p A sense of humour is a necessary part of writing, I feel.
This selection process is rigorous, even though it leads to a booby prize. I wonder why candidates suppose that a different dress would help them…? Anyway, in a Medieval setting, oral hygiene is a factor that would really narrow the numbers down.
The protagonist is certainly a selfless girl, putting the welfare of her extended family before her own. It helps the readers care about what happens to her.
That the emperor is not particular about the gender of his companion would suggest that he would prefer women who are in that phase where their figures are boyish. Like the protagonist again.
OK, that question about a monstrous transformation is ominous, as is the olfactory test with the clothing :o
I agree that powder and rouge have to be applied well to work. It’s a pity none of your characters thought of green bodypaint – that enhances any woman’s looks a great deal.
OK, good twist with the Picker. That is the one twist that I had not expected to happen from the start.
Oh my, looks like your protagonist got lucky and Roja was disingenuous not to mention that there was both a prize and a booby prize!
| LuckycoolHawk9 chapter 6 . 1/20/2016
I really liked how the main character saw his advancements as a game because it shows her affections towards him and also brings an interesting dynamic to Shyan's character. I also really liked how she watched him kill his companion because it showed how everything was connected and also showed her true reaction to her response which was truth. I also really liked the ending because it shows how she doesn't know what she is and is ambigious even to her fate which is displayed perfectly too.
| m. b. whitlock chapter 7 . 1/20/2016
RG EF Rule #8,212
Like the reasons why he chooses Io:
“They started sleeping together the day Euan came to the home. He chose Io's bed because Io was the smallest, so there would be more room for the tangle of arms and legs that were always spilling out from his sleeves and cuffs.”
Good way to convey a lot of character and setting information organically.
“Act Two: The damsel”
At this point as I am reading this I am pulled out if the story by your ‘five act’ thing. The flow was totally working. I don’t know if you need these separations. You use just a simple break. It would accomplish the same thing but with fewer alarm bells, you know?
Does this take place in the 80s? A camcorder?:
“He turned off the camcorder and surveyed his handiwork.”
This has a very creepy overtone:
“He would do anything to hear that cry.”
I can’t tell whether he is abusing Io or not. If he is, he is one sh*t *ss cause he’s been doing it since he was a young kid and she was a younger much smaller more vulnerable kid. Do you want meet think this?
Don’t quite get the end… I am disturbed though. Success. ;)
| Whirlymerle chapter 3 . 1/15/2016
I like the opening because I thought it was an interesting and accessible way to introduce this futuristic society that requires bodies to be perfect. However, at times I got confused about who was who. I initially thought that there are three people of note, the body, the young man, and “Base.” Then I thought that maybe the Body 38’s name is Base. I think you can clear up the confusion potentially by mentioning that his name is Base in the line he is introduced, instead of sticking in base in the dialogue and saying that’s his name in a roundabout way via “self motivation.”
So my favorite part is definitely the part in italics. Just looking over the story after I’ve read it, I believe the entire love story (if one can call it that) is told in the italics sections, and I think that’s really impressive. The part in the present that talks about Base’s interactions with the bodies and the kid nicely makes the story complex, but I feel like the italic sections really make up the heart of it, and I think that’s really neat.
| Whirlymerle chapter 2 . 1/10/2016
Hi from the RG Depth!
I really appreciate your willingness to experiment with technique in this piece. I like how the italicized parts give your two main characters reasons for something, while the parts in parentheses expand upon the reasons. It’s a really interesting presentation, and the way you tell the story through that had me hooked.
I think your writing flows well. One line that did stick out a little is “that’s grade school to the Americanized world.” Are either of your characters linked to the Americanized world somehow? I understand that perhaps many people in your audience are, but personally, I didn’t like the feeling of the narrative breaking the fourth wall here (unless there’s another reason that I missed). I wanted to feel immersed in the world of your story rather than have the story adjust to my understanding.
I really like your vivid writing. The part where the boy is draped over the mannequin is really well done and memorable, and considering that it’s a view that draws the girls over to him, I think the scene is particularly well evoked here.
In terms of plot, if I interpreted correctly, girl sees boy in some adult cosplay shop (?) and then realizes that the person that fascinated she and her friends was a boy in her class? Even though they never end up talking or explicitly recognizing the fact. I would like to know a bit more about what exactly this guy is being paid to do. Maybe it’s obvious and I’m just ignorant (I know, I’m complaining about grade school in the same review). I’m just really curious about his job.
| Sjoorm chapter 5 . 1/10/2016
First, I would like to say that I generally appreciate your writing, you are a great writer. But this piece just didn't hit a home run for me like the others did. Was this one written longer before the others? It feels jerky, one moment your descriptions will be concise, mature and tolerable, then the next it is almost juvenile, for lack of a better description. I'm not sure if that's because of a slight writers slump during the writing of this, you rushed it, or you were just practicing present tense, but it just didn't read well for me at all.
Your opening was great, it dropped me right in the middle of a conversation between two of the three main characters, and even if I didn't know what they were talking about yet, I WANTED to know.
Scene: I felt the scenes were a bit lacking in description, but I can clearly gather they are somewhere very dark, perhaps a cavern or tunnel. I'd suggest spending some time describing their surroundings.
Mach was kind of an empty character for me. We don't really know who he is, what he looks like or otherwise from what you've told of him in the story. I mean, he clearly cares for Jay, but beyond that he has little depth, something I find worrisome when he is part of a triad of MC's.
Most of your dialogue was internal, but I felt it was kind of lacklustre. She seems kind of juvenile (Jay) and I just couldn't bring myself to like her as a character. Her internal "battles" against the Golden One were a little too drawn out, to the point where near the end I was thinking "She's fighting him inside here AGAIN!?' which is clearly something you don't want to make a reader feel in a story. Besides that, I believe you are trying to convey the fact that the Golden One is almost animalistic (or robotic?) in nature, but you can show the reader that in better ways than just slapping a few words together into a broken sentence and removing the spaces. Using just one word a sentence to convey its needs can work if you wish it to seem animal (the choice I would go with) or, to make it seem more robotic you could have G.O talk very formal or polite (the choice I would avoid as this is supposed to be an almost alien being within their bodies).
The writing is kind of average in my opinion, and it made me feel like I was reading a mediocre student fanfic rather than a real story and it kind of disappoints (especially since I know what kind of thought provoking pieces you're capable of). At about a quarter of the way through your story (or even sooner) you begin inserting portions of your paragraphs as past tense rather than the present tense you are using for this whole story. It detracts from really immersing myself in the story as it happens almost every single paragraph, and there are too many instances for me to name all in one review (stopping short of writing you a novella for this review, I would instead just suggest that you read through your whole story to catch these bugs). Besides that, you have some odd word choices at times (most of the time it is just having to reverse phrases like "far enough away" instead of "far away enough" to make the story ready easier) such as "an ominously motionless heap". You can remove the " ominous" bit, we know it's ominous already as he might be dead. These kinds of instances are rare however, and aren't a huge issue to me like your tense mixup is, so there isn't a real reason for me to go on a witch hunt for them all.
Your ending was clear, to the point, and it didn't really leave anything up to the reader to imagine as they are sitting there, drained of energy and waiting out their deaths. You stated this a paragraph or two earlier, so it is not ambiguous in the slightest, and while I do prefer endings that a reader may kind of guess at, I can understand the need to shy away from those in a one shot.
I don't want this review to sound overly harsh, as it wasn't too bad of a story, I just know what you are capable of and would really like you to take a look at this story again for a major revision. Thanks for the read and keep up the writing.
| Victoria Best chapter 5 . 1/9/2016
This was wonderful. I really applaud you for creating something so original and powerful. The ending was upsetting, but I felt it was the right ending for the story. I think if one had died without the other, that would have been an even sadder ending, because throughout the novel you show us how this couple cannot possibly live without each other, and so that ending would have destroyed the survivor.
Great job for showing their relationship. It never felt telling - it was detailed subtly and never fully explained, yet I could still see the intensity of their love for each other. The things she does for him, for example, proved that love, such as eating the sacrifice for the Golden One. That section was written excellently, really showing her horror, yet also her desperation to save him. Another part that showed her love for him was the line, "Mach is going to live." There was so much relief contained in that one sentence.
Some lovely writing in this, such as "the words hung like alarm signals," and the way you describe her clawing at her hair and shaking maniacally. Certainly showed her abrupt plunge into madness as she realises what is happening.
The structure was also unique but effective, and felt almost like reading poetry.
There was only one I didn't like, "It is the strangest, hardest, most disgusting thing I can do." I didn't think that sentence conveyed the traumatised state she is in. It sounds a little too matter-of-fact for the situation, if that makes sense. Also, I also found it unnatural that the first adjective she used was "strange" when I think all of the emphasis should be on the disgusting, horrifying aspect of it. Maybe tweak it somewhat so it builds more on her horror.
Otherwise, this was another solid chapter.
Thanks for the read and keep reading!
| Sjoorm chapter 4 . 1/9/2016
Opening - It was decent, and it did its job. I wanted to know what the message said, so I kept reading. There was no fancy description or eloquent language, it was short and got right to the point, which I liked.
Dialogue - It flowed quite nicely, considering the dialogue was never face to face. I enjoyed the way he reasoned with himself over what he should be typing back to his chat partner (this is something you can't really see in normal dialogue, as replies have to be fast in person) and I didn't feel like anything was forced or awkward. It was obvious they had known each other a long time.
Characters - There wasn't a whole lot of character development, I can barely even picture them so I'm guessing they are both just average males and M (possibly) is quite attractive. But beyond that, there is no detail of them, or their personalities for that matter. They are essentially blank slates, which seems to be kind of what you go for in the short stories I have read thus far.
Spelling/grammer - There wasn't a whole lot, but you did misspell "naughty" as "noughty" near the end of a paragraph.
Relationships - I did touch on this earlier in "dialogue" but it is very clear that these two have known each other for a long time. Everything seems credible, and there is obviously a wedge that has been driven between them now, a lot of emotional pain.
Ending - I kind of wanted to know exactly why this guy was running from his chat partner. I really wanted to know what exactly the big problem was for. Though the ending is kind of ambiguous and a large cliff hanger, it is still satisfying as the character has now ended his relationship with this chat partner and subsequently ended the story.
It was a pretty good story, but the only thing I can add is that I was a little confused at the line breaks on if the character had changed in between each new break or if it was always the same. I know it says they are describing legacy98 in the first one, but partway through I became confused as it sounded like the first character. Dunno if that's just me, but keep up the good work!
| Sjoorm chapter 3 . 1/5/2016
Wow, that was almost disturbing. You have a knack for creating romantic stories that aren't as romantic as they seem. Does this man "kill" Claudia's personality on purpose, jealous of how many men she stays with, or is it actually a freak accident?
In your sixth italicized paragraph, nearing the end of it you break present tense (like the other italicized paragraphs) and instead use past tense. In addition, when you begin talking of the musical instrument you use "produces" instead of "produced".
Really good story overall though, look forward to reading the rest :)
| Victoria Best chapter 4 . 1/5/2016
I think what you've got here is a really interesting idea. Two people who really don't know much about each other, not even their names or faces, only that they seem to get along. I enjoyed watching their relationship develop throughout the piece and the ending was a pleasant surprise - I thought you were going to go for a 'heartbreak' ending after the harsh message from legacy98, so it was great to see them rekindle their friendship. The ending was perfect; it was sweet, but without veering into the realms of sentimentality, and it felt realistic, with the two staying true to their slightly 'awkward' and self-conscious personalities, and not saying anything that would have been too emotional and therefore out-of-character.
This piece was actually quite psychological, which was fascinating to read, in the parts where OneCentShort must deduce what legacy98 is thinking through the text alone. I liked when he deduced, "The second line was damage control." This was great to enable us to delve right into the mind and thought processes of the character, which was necessary to help us to attatch a face to this otherwise faceless character. I found myself also playing along, trying to work out the character's thoughts and emotions through his text. In fact, I would have loved to have seen a couple more lines like this because I think it really added both complexity and originality and, in a story like this, you could certainly get away with it.
Some gorgeous pieces of writing in this, such as, "one more lie waiting to be untold," and "uncluttered, the way his mind seldom was." Really lovely lines!
"The occasion / the next day." I'm not a hundred per cent sure, but I think "the next day" should have its own paragraph to seperate it from the day before and make the writing feel smoother.
"Coloured his solitary existence." This felt like a bit of a 'telling' line. I don't think it's necessary anyway because we understand that this is the case throughout the piece in the emotions he feels when receiving his messages and writing back to him and the measures he goes to in order to speak to him (potentially risking losing his job). By all means put something here in its place, but something that isn't so telling, and I personally think you don't need this as we have inferred this already.
"Care bear." This is more of a personal preference, but I think Care Bears are a little outdated to use as a reference. Also, I understand you were trying to implement this to add humour, and it worked in this respect, but I found it too unrealistic that he would have this profile picture and so drew away from the impact of the story.
Finally, I'm not so sure what the relevance of the section between "he was always blond" up until "apparently he wasn't" is. It just slowed the story down a bit for me and I found myself drifting. I just think it added anything to it other than introduce M, who I also didn't feel was entirely relevant.
Otherwise this was a really excellent piece of writing, with an interesting, complex plot, great, depth-y characters, and gorgeous writing, and I am hooked on your anthology! All the pieces are just so perfect. I can't wait to see what couple you have lined up for us next! :D
Thanks for this awesome read. Keep writing!
| Murphy Chapelwood chapter 14 . 1/3/2016
I read all the summaries, and since these are independent short-stories I figured I'd just pick one. I hope that's what you wanted.
Writing: Overall the writing is very good. There are couple instances where I think a few too many words were used in a sentence. Here are two examples.
Like "She'd considered doing likewise, but decided against it." Could be just "She decided against doing likewise."
And "Studying wasn't difficult for her, had never been, but it was also not particularly interesting - Twentieth Century History was rather low down the list of subjects that she liked, though she did believe generally in learning from the past." Could be just "She believe in learning from the past, and studying had never been difficult for her, but Twentieth Century History was low down the list of her favored subjects." It only shaves about twelve words off, so I don't know. I definitely would take a second look at words like "particularly, rather, generally" as they are all very vaguely qualitative, and you are writing a character that comes across decisive.
Setting: I appreciate these kinds of stories that take me to real places where there's something so foreign about the culture that it comes across as magical in a way. I like that you don't do much hand-holding through this process. Just enough to convey the meaning of the story, but with room left over for readers to do their own individual research if that's their thing.
Relationships: It's a short story, but you manage to construct a lengthy history between Gege and Yng. You chose very well the incidental moments of their shared past to make their relationship endearing. Also, however brief, the father's interrogation style of communicating echoes back to Yng mentioning her friends think she is abnormal, but hand-waves it off because she is in actuality being mature.
Enjoyment: Outside of stylistic differences, I thoroughly enjoyed this. I review so few short stories, that getting to the see the beginning and ending of something has been nice. You threw a good curve ball with their whole meeting, and I first thought Gege was going to get her something, the fried fritters or perhaps a ring, but when the Nokia didn't register his call, and then the whole day of the dead setting, and the title, and his behavior it sunk in what had happened. Still, even calling it there, it still managed to have a impactful ending that felt satisfying.
| Victoria Best chapter 3 . 1/1/2016
Wow, this was pretty intense. I know you are planning on having every chapter as a one-shot, but I think you have enough original material here to write a full-length novel with. It is a fascinating, well-developed world with certainly some fascinating ideas, such as his role in tweaking the bodies. So yeah, it just seems like an idea that you could really work with and turn into something spectacular, like the next Hunger Games.
This story was just so moving. Even though we don't see Claudia and Base together properly, I can still clearly see the grief he feels for her. That's powerful writing, being able to convey emotion so clearly without explicitly telling us or needing to show us. The line, "He has all of Claudia again. All that's left." Wow. That was a moving sentence and again clearly showed his love for her.
Shocking that Claudia was considered property at the time of her death.
The ending was also powerful and, like with the first one-shot, bordered almost on philosophy. I hope we get to see these elements in every one-shot.
The writing was strong. The only thing I would say is that I didn't get what a Promised One was. A whore, basically? I would have loved another line or two explaining this and a better explanation than the one given ("it's not whoring because it's not personal") as to why it is seen as a good role, considering the fact that Finn is excited to become one.
Otherwise I really enjoyed this. Keep writing!
| Victoria Best chapter 2 . 1/1/2016
Aww, this was quite sad. I honestly expected them to at least say something to each other, but no. They just sort of drift past each other, like ghosts to each other.
That last moment was brief but powerful. Just a glimpse of these two characters we have been following coming together, just for a second. Throughout the story I could see the 'social status' side of things coming into play here. She is clearly one of the giggly, popular girls (or at least pretends to be) and he just wants to keep his head down, get the grades he needs and then leave. These are two people whose worlds are vastly different, but would probably, underneath all that fake exterior, be good for each other and balance each other out and there was definitely an attraction between them. It was sad that they didn't even look at each other at the end. I get the feeling that because their lives are so different and they are so set in their daily routines (hinted in the way you presented this all as their separate daily routines) they would not stray outside of this in a way. It is great that this story scratched further than just a simple love story, and became a meaningful life story, especially with lines such as, "Released their true selves." This was such a powerful sentence, adding meaning to the story and depth.
I loved the description of his eyes being "unseeing and untouching" and then the fact that you go back to this same image, "Stony eyes," at the end of the story.
The structure was certainly unique. Very clever to have "he does this" and "he does that" with brackets after adding more information. I liked that, right at the end, you changed the structure up completely with "the final bell rang." I don't think I have seen anything like this before, and it was certainly well executed.
Great start, unique idea and well-written, and I would love to read more! You've got me hooked. Thanks for the read and keep writing!