Reviews for Life is a box of chocolates (Anthology)
Jalux chapter 3 . 3/10/2015
Opening: Solid in my opinion, what makes it good is he's so calm and calculated when he's analyzing the bodies. It's a great hook here since you don't actually know what the bodies are and it encourages you to keep reading. It's kind of a twist as you expect them to be humans with the job-seeker line but then it kind of implies they aren't once we realize he's a programmer but then kind of backtracks again when it seems he's programming humans for slavery?

Dialogue: Definitely effective here, it's natural and doesn't sound too forced. I also liked how the characters seemed to have slightly different ways of talking. Finn's youth and childishness does come through, Base sounds a bit more wise and distant. This is something I find people struggle to nail down at times (myself included) and it's good to see how you seemingly have it down here, dialogue is a good part of characterization after all.

Setting: A little iffy on this, I think you focused so much on the narrator's mind and thoughts you neglected to help us understand kind of where he is. Perhaps describe the room a little more, the machine he's using and we have little to no idea what Base and Finn look like in all honesty. I mean yeah Finn is young, girlish and curious looking you say but some people would want more to envision him in my opinion.

Ending: Powerful end line, it's always good to touch on this theme of choices in life and it begs the question of if becoming one of these Promised Ones is akin to death. Base seems to think so but Finn seems uncertain. It's quite a tragic ending as well as you really get to see some of Base's regrets in all this and I think it's quite a good one.
Jalux chapter 2 . 2/20/2015
I think the imagery you did here with the dolls and mannequins were pretty cool, I'd kind of say it fits so well because the everything else is also kind of vague and we have to piece it together. You have a unique style here which I would say is both a boon for hooking readers in but also pushing away people who want a simpler story. I do like how you delve into the narrator's mind though and how it's not always laid out for us. The ending is a little sad I suppose but it makes sense with everything leading up to it and was fairly realistic, they don't always get together.
m. b. whitlock chapter 6 . 2/5/2015
RG EF #6,597

Chapter 6: Companion

“She observed that he looked remarkably calm for a man who had been sticking his fingers in other people's mouths all morning. She didn't know what he—The Picker—was looking for, but she could make a good guess: he was weeding out those with bad teeth.“
What a freaky sequence to start off a story with! I really like it. The ‘people’ are immediately reduced to chattel level (having their teeth checked like domesticated herd animals, i.e. horses or cattle). Great way to establish setting without going into excessive description. :)

You have lots of vivid details that tell us a lot about the setting, especially the culture/society of this fantasy world. Here’s a part I like a lot, this portrait of the ‘Picker’:
“The length of his hair meant he was no servant, soldier or commoner, but the simplicity of the style didn't match what she'd seen of the elaborate and artfully decorated creations that marked noble status.”

Don’t know about your use of ‘they’s’ here:
“Their unfounded unhappiness reminded her of another group of *they’s* in the town she'd left behind.”
I think this sentence might possibly work a little better if you shortened it to, ‘Their unfounded unhappiness reminded her of another group in the town she'd left behind.’ :)

“The lottery winners were further sifted in the capital, tested and judged rigorously until one was selected at last to be the Companion. The Emperor's Companion, no less.”
I like the plot it reminds me of Scheherazade/One Thousand and One Nights, though I bet things will turn out a bit differently. :)

“She was lifted upright. "How did you know?" asked a voice with hidden laughter in it.”
Nice little twist. I guessed it after the description of his deep dark ‘almost black’ blue eyes, esp after that luxurious hair description! ;)

And if he really wants the best of the lot he should be the one to inspect them.

Wow. Very exciting ending:
“The growls and grunts grew inhuman, even as Roja began to change before her shocked eyes.”

Very fun, well crafted story! I enjoyed it a lot. :)


Ventracere chapter 10 . 12/28/2014
Opening: hmmm. At first, when you began I thought this was going to be in second person. Then you go the other direction, back to first person. It's an interesting way of doing things, and if anything's got my interest piqued, it's that little flip (which probably isn't one at all, and I'm just tired). Hahah, to couple that off, this wasn't something I expected. The humor caught me off guard and I laughed. That's an interesting and fresh way to describe PMS and it's sort of a sharp sense of reality/comedy when you drop in "FB hacks". I don't know, it made me smile.

Scene/Plot? I'm not sure exactly how to describe this, but I like how each one is divided into "doors" and essential periods of time. Each one is different (at least in the beginning) and they're flashbacks. At the same time, you don't necessarily present them as flashbacks, but a way of reliving it. It's an interesting way to describe things like the doors are gateways to the protagonist's memory. Actually. you know what? Things didn't hit me until probably the middle of the fourth door ish ? This is actually a really touching scene, that the unidentified subject keeps sacrificing himself for the speaker.

Character: This is kind of difficult to do, but I like how you go around this in a roundabout way. The speaker is hurting, but through recounting all these doors, we get to see just how much both protagonists are hurting but at the same time care so much for each other. I'm not a fan of how the speaker feels like he is worthless and hurting the other character, but the subject makes up for it. He has a good heart and the speaker knows it. We can see this as you have the speaker continuously saying over and over again how the subject keeps shutting himself in. Love it.

Ending: Ouch. Honestly, I want to see whether or not the subject returns even though this is a one shot. At the same time, the subject has sacrificed so much for the speaker was it even worth it? Then again, you've answered that question here, with the speaker begging, "Now, please, please don't take another wrong turn." That statement alone highlights how much he cares for his counterpart, describing how much he knows the subject has sacrificed for him. It's a stinging statement, and I'm just wondering why the heck did you let him go? It's a pretty perfect line for a heartbreaking one shot.
deadaccount2019 chapter 10 . 12/23/2014
A very belated WCC (Oct 2014) review (life's gone insane the last couple months).

[Opening] I read this back in October, and rereading it now I got the same immediate impression of a drama/angst theme from the first line. Depending on the perspective, this can be either a good or bad thing. On the one hand, it does mean that people not interested in sadder themes probably won't continue on, but on the other it means that those who are looking for such themes are going to know from the get-go that they've found what they're looking for. As a reader, I really appreciated having an idea of the theme early on.

[Pacing] The pacing felt kind of off. Part of this may have to do with how the 'doors' are numbered (the entire thing with Howe felt like either one big door instead of three smaller ones). The focus also seems to jump a bit, starting with three doors occurring very close together, and then taking big time jumps after that. It does feel that there are a lot more doors that need exploration, but I imagine the 2k limit played a big role on that front.

[Plot] Despite the jumpy feel of the pace, the plot definitely comes through. I really enjoyed the brief segues the protagonist has from the recollection of their relationship, such his/her response to the fight between his/her partner and their father. Little moments like that don't necessarily add to the plot, but make it feel more in-depth than just retelling a list of events. The progression also comes across very realistic. I definitely got the sense of someone just kind of weaseling their way into the protagonist's life (reminded me a lot of a former friend, actually), and easily identified with how unwillingness to hurt someone else's feelings created a downward spiral.

[Ending] A very bittersweet end, but it feels appropriate after all the protagonist and their partner has been through. I can't help but wonder if maybe this isn't the first time the protagonist has actually thought about breaking the cycle, but that perhaps he/she couldn't admit it to themself before then. Whether or not he/she had gone through with breaking the cycle, not giving the partner's decision really helped punctuate the uncertainty of the protagonist's current life and helped carry the themes through to the very end.
Dr. Self Destruct chapter 10 . 10/27/2014
Hey there! Congrats on your WCC win! :D

Plot: There were a couple little things that confused me and I wonder if I'm just making too big of a deal out of them or if it's something worth looking into. The first was his father walking in on them. Was he just visiting? Or were they living with him? Because when he said "come live with me" I just assumed that meant "I live by myself" and I thought it was weird his dad would walk into his son's apartment (or house, or wherever he lives) without calling first or at least knocking. But then I thought "he must live with his father" because he said he'd move in with the narrator after that happened, and why would he move out of his own place just because his father walked in on them, you know? So I think a little more clarification is needed, because it pulled me out of the story having to piece all that together myself when the pace is moving so quickly. I think telling your boyfriend that your father is a devoutly religious person who would frown upon this type of relationship is definitely important, haha. The other thing was when he mentions how he rolled down the stairs and fractured his arm. Where'd that come from? lol Felt very random and I'm not sure what purpose it serves because I don't think it comes up again. (Or does it and I missed it?)

Relationship: I think the most powerful thing about this piece is how authentic it feels when it comes to relationships. It also says a lot about the narrator with how he treats relationships, and I know people like him exist out there everywhere. The type of person with low self-esteem who can't understand why someone would love them, so they keep giving people easy ways out of their relationship in case they want to take it.

Character: The narrator is definitely insecure about something, and I'm wondering what it is. How he became this way. People aren't usually born this insecure and with such low self-esteem, so I'm wondering if it's something to do with his family. Or maybe a past relationship. I would have liked some more focus on that aspect, the narrator's struggle to deal with relationships due to something that happened in the past. Some more explanation. I think there's untapped potential in that regard, and if you do return to this in the future, I'd urge you to dig deeper because as real and profound as this relationship already is, you can totally add more layers. Not having a word limit will really help this piece (and you) stretch its wings. :)

Writing: There were some really lovely metaphors and similes throughout the piece. I think my favorite was how he compared himself to a recreational smoker and his friend was a three-packs-a-day hack, haha. It's just really unique and fresh and it describes their relationship in an interesting way. I totally know what he's talking about. I also like how you described Ms. Howe's PMS as having a sharp edge. Really nice use of personification. The only thing I'd look for when you come back to sentence level edit is you have a lot of unneeded pronouns, mostly "that," which can be eliminated.

Hope you found this review helpful, and congrats again on your WCC win!
Shampoo Suicide chapter 10 . 10/27/2014
I truly loved this piece. The opening was quite engaging and beautiful, I like the way you say the question was breathed as if he was afraid of the answer. Fantastically written. The following paragraph was funny/charming, a nice meet-cute that sets us up for the eventual heartbreak wonderfully.

I like your strategic use of italics as well, it makes the specific lines stand out and seem very meaningful to the overall arc of this short tale. I like that both the narrator and the person being spoken to have their italic lines as well, it's like reading thoughts as well as dialogue which gives it a hazy, memory like feeling. I enjoyed that sort of tone very much.

The plot is beautiful and heartbreaking, as I mentioned before, which is a specialization of yours and you excel at it here and always. I really love this take on the prompt, it's quite fitting but still not too obvious.

The writing, particularly your descriptions, is outstanding. I really love the ending lines especially, about telling lies and the way you structured that bit. The last lines are killer and a wonderful knot to tie this piece up with. It's quite memorable too, I actually read this when you first posted it and was pleased to see that I could recall the last part quite vividly. Definitely made an impact. Congrats again on a well deserved win!
YasuRan chapter 9 . 10/25/2014
Congrats on the WCC win! Here's your review:

Quite a dark take on a perky song. The concept of 'good' is so twisted that when hell does break loose in the end, it actually turns out bleaker than expected. It was unexpected, but still tied in to the prompt in that both protagonists have had enough of the damage their good reputations have earned them, resulting in the yearning for destruction hinted at in the song lyrics. I wasn't expecting this type of story to come out of an Avril Lavigne song so good on you on taking that risk.

The characters made for an interesting duo, though they weren't as fleshed out as I would've liked. Very little is implied about the girl's personality and background except her status as a model student with a hidden broken home-life so she comes off more as someone you'd read about in an article, but not someone very relatable. Then again, given the context of a surprise arranged marriage, I suppose that makes sense from Izzy's perspective. He doesn't know anything about her beyond her reputation and likewise does she about him. It makes the prospect all the more frightening.

Speaking of the twist in the story, I really like how you depicted it. Too often, I've seen the arranged marriage trope played for laughs and it's blatantly obvious that the two parties will settle for a comfortably happy ending despite the awkwardness. You've taken the opposite, more realistic route and depicted the sheer terror of such a situation, especially for someone so young and full of academic potential. The tragic ending is an ironic twist on the prompt and definitely leaves an impression.

Lastly, I'm also gonna give you props for a well-edited story. No typos, spelling mistakes, or formatting issues. It looks clean and is easy to read. The flow of the story is also smooth with well-timed transitions between scenes. Given the complexities hidden within the narrative, it helps a lot to have short, snappy scenes which are linked together with the opening lines, all relating to being good at something. Excellent work.
Highway Unicorn chapter 4 . 10/18/2014
Again, congrats on winning the October 2014 WCC! :D

[Opening] After reading the entirety of this piece, I really enjoyed the opening because, to me, it's as if you're setting up the narrator's excitement over this IMing. He doesn't want to bother figuring out dates and times or how long ago he did something, no; on his mind is only legacy98 and I thought you did a great job at implying his urges and pure utter excitement over doing such a thing without directly stating so to the readers! :)

[Setting/Characters] I'm not sure which of the two this falls under (setting or characters) but I'd like to comment on the narrator, and more importantly, why you choose to go with giving the POV of this character rather than the other. I was very surprised to see that the narration was done through the older male's POV because, usually, when we're dealing with such subjects, we have a tendency to get the younger person's (or should I say, child/victim?) side of the story. But in your piece, we get the older male's side, his reactions, his urges and excitement, and I really liked how you portrayed it. You created a character who is cautious about what he's doing (keeping his desktop clean, waiting until everybody was gone, etc.) This character knows he's playing a dangerous game, and I like that were able to successfully create this what appears to be normal pedobear-creeper.

Plus, I think it adds to the overall creep factor that he's pretending to be a chick, but it also makes it more believable.

[Technique] I absolutely loved the usage of "click" throughout this piece because each time it was used, the creep/suspense factor was amped up. It also speaks to the narrator's obsession with this IM as well, I believe. He's doing whatever he needs to do for work, and then BAM, that click happens and he's quick to respond. Later on, he's doing something else, the click happens and he is quick to read and respond. It's almost like an experiment, where the scientist makes a click which alerts the mouse to go after the cheese (if that makes sense xD). I think that was a great technique to use for a piece such as this!

[Ending] This ending tied up everything I got confused on during this piece. It revealed a lot of information within a few sentences. I liked that you were able to show that this "leagacy98" dude is just a naive kid, who thinks he's chatting up this chick and revealing personal information without dragging it out. And that itself is a powerful statement on how kids are today with online relationships. We never know who we're talking to on the other side. And it's so dangerous, and I think you also expressed that essence in the ending as well.

"Now he just shrugged." This, to me, shows the narrator's inability to care over the boy's emotions, almost as if he's distancing himself from that aspect. That adds onto the reality of this character.

Anyway, overall, a wonderful read! And a creepy one at that. Makes me shiver over the thought about who I could have had possibly talked to via IM when dealing with strangers. o_o
Orgaya chapter 10 . 10/12/2014
The way this story devolves reminds me a lot of the conversations I have with my co-author/lady friend. We went on for several days about the delusions of society's romantic notions and how people tend not to see who they are really in love with - only a projection of what they want. It's only when the other realizes that they can't change what they've walked into that they understand their mistake.

This piece rather hit a little too close to home for me, given that I am actually working a minimum wage job and living without having three decent meals a day. Obviously that wasn't the point of the story, but I do understand how that is. I'm guessing they were laying in bed, one with a fractured arm and both hungry.

I don't really have much more to say on it, except, well, either the main character is incredibly passive about everything or the other character was just so delusional that he refused to see any other option other than a defined romance. Or both. Probably both. Stuff like this usually takes two.
YasuRan chapter 10 . 10/11/2014
Excellent. Unique twist on the prompt in that the narrator never wanted to be saved in the first place. The figurative knight in shining armor is too wrapped up in his own illusions of himself that he fails to see how this misplaced romantic idealism isn't enough to support a healthy relationship. The narrator is no damsel in distress and really resents being forced into that role. It represents a different type of misogyny, less violent or combative but no less demeaning to the female side.

At the same time though, I like how the narrator doesn't entirely hate him as evidenced in the first few lies she tells him in the end. She cares for him enough to want to be better off on his own, far away from her. It's nice to that level of self-awareness in a crumbling relationship.

Nice work and best of luck in the WCC!
Highway Unicorn chapter 10 . 10/10/2014
Alright, what I got from this (and this is probably way off) is that the narrator wants what is best for the other. I got the feeling that the narrator isn't happy with the life they're living, or at least, feels that something more can happen for them. "You mean nothing at all to me...I was just using you all along..." The narrator states these as lies, so while that implies that there is feeling towards this character, the narrator wants to break things off.

And I think the reason as to why is because he/she (I'm thinking it's a he since the word "sin" was heavily used during a particular part, implying perhaps a homosexual relationship since it is a common stereotype to say that religious people find that sort of relationship a sin...) wants something more for the other.

I really enjoyed that this was done in the recollection sense while at the same time addressing another. I felt that it was a great way to really bring out the emotion behind the speaker's words, and well, there was quite the bit of emotion in this piece.

I get the impression that the narrator is facing a battle he doesn't think he can win, and sadly that battle is taking a toll of the relationship.

Good luck with the WCC!
Hedonistic Opportunist chapter 10 . 10/9/2014
Wow, I'd usually re-read a piece like this a second time, but this was so powerful that I just wanted to give you my impression of mine at once (at ...3.19 am, but eh, I'm doing some work-related stuff). This is one of those writings where I'm not sure if you are writing about yourself, or whether you are projecting your feelings and experiences onto your characters - even if they aren't directly related to what you did in RL or not. It doesn't really matter either way, because those are some of your more honest and actually thought-provoking pieces. I just think that you have a style that, in such cases, comes across as very honest and also detached, but also fascinating. I like how the narrator here tries to detach themselves - nearly desperately - but still so obviously comes across as being deeply shattered and touched by the experiences here. I like that this piece isn't melodramatic at all, but just a very raw and even bitter investigation of an introverted, reserved person thinking/musing back on a failed relationship. It rings true to me. It might not apply to what I feel or would do in a situation like this, but I can respect what you wrote here.

This isn't the most critical or even helpful review, but I liked this - I honestly did. I feel like this is a cleansing and powerful piece. Good work :3
Orgaya chapter 6 . 9/18/2014
You really do have a knack for creating unsettling scenarios. Probably because of the sheer bluntness of them. I've also noticed that your lead characters are rather jaded - they rarely ever try to change the fate of their situation and instead just make the best of it. A good attitude to have, but rather depressing, which can make for an interesting read if done right.

One thing though that I've begun to notice over time is that while I understand your preference for focusing on the story solely through one character's perspective, sometimes it gets a little TOO singular; by this, I mean, the events sometimes only unfold for the main character, but not for the reader. Or at least just for me. Sure, the lead understands the context, but we have to piece it together from scraps, and sometimes there aren't enough. Again, though, at least for me. This essentially applies to the beginning and end of this story. We jump straight into the thick of things, and then in the end, I'm not entirely sure I understand what happened.

Overall, though, interesting premise.
Orgaya chapter 4 . 9/18/2014
Well. Correct me if I'm wrong, but... is this guy a pedophile? I mean, I saw two ages and there were two characters, one being 16 and the other 27... at least that's what I gathered. If so, creepy. Regardless, though, it reminds me of that one Light Novel series called Durarara, as there are a lot of sections where it would just switch to full on chatrooms. I don't know what it is, but it's always an interesting way of storytelling. It is literally all dialogue with no physical descriptions, so maybe that's the appeal for me.

I also appreciate the self-consciousness from the 16 year old, who is unable to say anything mushy. Although, be a dude, I will say that it is FAR easier saying these things to a woman, because if you do that with a guy it just makes things awkward.

Anyway. Interesting piece.
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