|Reviews for Forest Frenzy|
| Silent Will chapter 23 . 3/14/2016
No big final battle, and instead Pons just gets arrested and will presumably have the crap beaten out of him? That works too! And it’s much more realistic than Marshall being able to take him on all on his own (like I predicted). I could be mistaken, but not seeing the bad guy explicitly go down but knowing that he’s got some bad days ahead of him reminds me of a previous story of yours…I think the character’s name was Reinhardt (or something like that) and I was stunned that his downfall was never shown.
So, final thoughts: I have both praise and criticism. I’ll mention the criticism first, just to get it out of the way. While you did a really good job at easing the reader into the heavy sci-fi territory for the first 75% of the story, the sudden introduction and info dump regarding time travel and the feats that the Drozdovz Emitter could perform were kind of jarring. I’ll be honest: the way it was explained didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, and since I’ve understood people explaining concepts like String Theory to me, I’d like to think that I’m not someone who just has that sort of subject matter go right over his head. Plus I think Megan, Tad and Joey were a bit too accepting of most of the concepts. Megan in particular seemed to understand the concepts almost too well for someone who wasn’t too familiar with them.
Going along with not understanding the concepts 100%...I feel like the time-traveling thing came out of nowhere. The teleporting was fine, because it happened very early on (even if Marshall had no idea what had just happened and he had to convince himself that he just rolled down the hill instead of teleporting) but the time-traveling thing was too sudden. Maybe if something happened earlier on that indicated that Marshall or Megan had traveled through time but it wasn’t explicitly stated, or if Marshall had explained the science behind it early on (perhaps Megan could’ve asked him about it as a way of getting him to hold a conversation with her?) it wouldn’t have made me go, “Wait, what?” like it did. On the topic of Marshall, I found it to be a bit of a stretch for him to be competent enough with the Drozdov Emitter that the Department of National Security wanted to offer him a contract on the spot. You laid the foundation early on that he was a good mechanic, but I didn’t feel there was enough build-up to satisfy that he’s a scientific prodigy, especially since he himself acknowledged more than once that he was “not a physicist.”
Finally, for the criticisms, just some nitpicking regarding the writing itself. I noticed that you were fond of saying that Megan was doing stuff “evilly.” It was used enough to the point that it got repetitive, and the fact that she was just a spunky girl but not actually bad makes the description feel out of place. Maybe terms like “mischievously” or “teasingly” would have been more appropriate, since she apparently didn’t intend to be malicious to him at any point. Also, I noticed that there were a few times when you should have used adverbs but didn’t. That happened semi-often, but the last example comes in the fifth-from-last paragraph when you say, “He wanted to kiss her so bad.” That should be “bad*ly*”. That same mistake popped up a few other times, so it’s something to watch for. Finally, there were numerous typos. For works on Fictionpress typos are pretty easy to accept, but I noticed that yours happened in clusters more often than not. So instead of me thinking, “Whoops, there’s a typing error that slipped passed him,” it gave me the impression, “This chapter was rushed.”
But enough about the bad stuff, because there was plenty in this story that I did like. My favorite part of this story, as I’ve said before, has been your characterizations of our two leads. Both of them developed very well and believably. The dialogue and interactions between them seemed organic, which, as I’m sure you know, is extremely important when you’re writing a story about teleportation and time traveling. It also made the story much more fun to read. I’ll be honest: I’m not a huge sci-fi fan, so if I didn’t care about your characters, this story wouldn’t have been nearly as enjoyable. But your characterization always had me looking forward to wondering how they were going to develop next, and I found myself genuinely liking Marshall (and even Megan, despite her attitude) by the end. So bang-up job with them.
As I hinted in a previous review, I did think they spent a tad too much time walking through the woods. Luckily, since your writing style is fairly quick and to the point, these parts didn’t drag on for too long or hamper the story in any way. And I liked how you had various scenarios (sneaking away from pursuing mercenaries, the thunderstorm, etc.) to show how both Megan and Marshall would handle those situations, as well as how they’d grow from them.
I also found myself wanting to see more of Pons, but only because you wrote him as such a genuinely threatening bad guy. At no point did he succumb to any supervillain stupidity, which is a mistake I’ve seen for many writers who are paid presumably a great deal of money.
Finally, going back to the scientific bits…even though I didn’t understand them as well I probably should have, I could definitely tell that you were thinking the physics through and weren’t making it all up as you went along.
Also, was there something a sequel hook at the end, with the question about who was paying for Pons to get his hands on the Drosdovz Emitter? Here’s the mark of a good self-contained story: I don’t feel like we really missed out on a whole lot by not learning exactly who Pons was working for. It leaves the door open for a sequel (and I know you’re no stranger to those), but it was fine that not every single question was fully answered. That’s also something I’ve seen professional writers struggle with—not knowing which questions to answer and which ones not to—so well done on that front as well.
In summary, I enjoyed this work. It kept me curious about what would happen next, and I think that has to do with your genuinely likable two main characters. If you hadn’t written them as well as you did (flaws and all) I definitely wouldn’t have enjoyed this story as much.
All in all, job very well done! This really seems like a classic “Bob Evans” story at heart, but with more care paid to the characters and pacing than your earlier works. I’d definitely say you’ve gotten better in these last few years!
| Silent Will chapter 20 . 3/9/2016
Evidently I wasn't clear in my last review. I know superconductors are a thing (although I did have to Google them). I was just trying to say that it was surprising to see that there were no aliens, after Marshall very passionately said that the superconductor was doing things that only alien technology (thus far) can do.
I was not expecting Megan and Marshall to be the ones who gave themselves away to Pons. I mean as soon as time travel was introduced, I figured it would’ve come into play somehow as the reason Pons knew who they really were, but I didn’t expect it to actually be their future selves. That was genuinely clever. And, I’ll admit, I’m coming around to Dr. Drozdova. When he’s not being a pompous windbag he can actually be a pretty cool guy.
I appreciated the explanations about what their future/past selves were doing as well. Explanations that summarized those events would be much more helpful for sequences that involve the science behind the theories and events that the Drazdova Emitter is putting into play. I find concepts like those to be much more confusing and worthy of additional clarification rather than future/past selves turning out to be the catalysts behind prior events.
And oh snap! Pons is there at the site of the crash. I’m sure a big final battle is on the horizon now, right where this whole thing started. Let’s see how much our introverted, awkward, conflict-averse, admittedly out-of-shape, only-fired-a-gun-a-few-times-in-his-life protagonist does against someone in charge of a mercenary army. I have faith in Marshall. Crazier things have happened in this story!
| Silent Will chapter 17 . 3/6/2016
My bad, there was something to that brief interment bit after all. (I take it that was the thing you said I was right about in your reply to my last review?) So Pons is evidently a bigger threat than anyone realized, seeing as how he apparently now knows everything, even though he clearly didn’t know the truth about them when Marshall and Megan were first taken in. Although here's something that's confusing me *now*: why didn't Megan and Marshall immediately think there was some connection between Dr. Drozdova, and the Drozdova Emitter that Pons is looking for? Drozdova is a pretty conspicuous and unique name.
Speaking of Drozdova…eh. He seemed like a fun character at first, but after a while I grew tired of him. That's not a criticism of your writing, though, because I think you wrote him well. And considering that Megan and Marshall can’t seem to stand him, I'm guessing that he was meant to be a guy you'd kinda like to smack. In which case, he’s an annoying character done right.
And there were no aliens after all? That’s…actually pretty surprising. So after Marshall’s initial impassioned speech about how there was no other alternative explanation as to how that superconductor could exist, it turns out everyone was wrong the whole time and the UFO was just a plane? Interesting. In that case, how did this machine that can transport people through time and space come into being? I’ll bet Dr. Drozdova knows! (Heck, I’m not unconvinced he’s not actually an alien himself. There was something very off-putting about the way he referred to them as “humans” the first time we saw him.)
So the bad guy’s onto them, and the portals can take people back in time. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what all this is building up to.
| Silent Will chapter 14 . 3/2/2016
Ah! Tad and Joey were alive the whole time. That was a nice little red herring you threw in there.
Also, a high-five to Marshall. The kid’s finally coming into his own. I don’t want to say he’s done a complete 180 since the start of the story, but he’s definitely getting there. Maybe like a 135? As much of a pain in the neck she’s been, I gotta give props to Megan for being able to break down his barriers so well. Speaking of Megan, I liked seeing this weaker and more tender side to her as well. Her fear of lightning didn’t just feel like a tacked-on flaw to give her fake depth, and the way she expressed it (and later expressed her gratitude) was pretty believable. I think it sums her up perfectly to have her somewhat ashamedly thanking him one second, and then ragging on him the next. She would totally do that.
But again I’m a little confused about the whole “capture and escape” bit. I’m sure something that happened at the camp/prison will become relevant later (like introducing the characters) but for them to get caught and then escape somewhat quickly just had me going “Wait, what was the point of that?” It just felt like a bit of a speed bump, but like I said, something from those bits could very well become relevant later on. I doubt you would’ve taken a chapter or two to have a plot development that wouldn’t make a difference.
So, now our duo’s a quartet, I’m guessing. If two teenagers were no match for an entire army of mercenaries, maybe four will be!
| Silent Will chapter 11 . 2/28/2016
Pons is my favorite type of villain: strong and intimidating, but still coming across as impeccably pleasant even when you know he’s anything but. Or maybe he genuinely believed the spill happened, and some greater-scope villain is actually pulling *his* legs? Maybe he’s someone else’s “pawn”? His name is almost indicative of that, or that could just be me looking too much into it.
Anyway, something about these last couple of chapters confused me. When Marshall goes into that spiel about how the portals are unlike anything we’re capable of creating, and he concludes that it must have been aliens, he doesn’t seem too stunned to reach that conclusion. I can understand the logic he followed to reach that conclusion, but I would think his reaction would be more akin to, “Holy crap, I think it’s aliens!” He just takes it in too much stride, like “Hmm, I guess we’re dealing with extraterrestrials here.” Plus he dismisses that notion the next day, to the point that he’s rolling his eyes when people in the concentration camp are proposing that theory. I’m all for a character being uncertain (in fact, that uncertainty could make the story quite interesting when it’s written well) but, unless I’m missing something, Marshall seemed more like he was flip-flopping on a major freaking discovery without a clear explanation as to why he's changing his mind.
On the plus side, I really like the pacing you’ve got going on here. Just as Marshall and Megan sneaking through the woods was getting old, you shook things up by having them get captured and held hostage. But their situation is pretty exciting, so let's see where it goes. And I still like the dynamic you’ve got going on between our two leads. It feels very believable. And like with the parts with them sneaking around, the conversations between them never go on too long and the ways that they’re constantly reinterpreting one another’s actions is fascinating.
Also, about the two people who were found dead in the wilderness…my money’s on it being Tad and Megan’s brother.
Now let’s see how bad Pons turns out to be.
P.S. I looked at the pictures you linked in your DeviantArt profile. I must say, you are quite the talented photographer.
| Silent Will chapter 8 . 2/25/2016
[For starters, I wouldn't exactly say I'm *identifying* with Marshall. Like I said before, he's not someone I'd want to have a beer with, nor do I think I have a lot in common with him. I do, however, understand his frustrations from dealing with someone who's being a deliberate pain in the neck. Anyway...]
I really like the dynamic you've written between Marshall and Megan. Maybe I’m looking too much into it, but it looks like Marshall’s finally growing a little as a character. In this chapter we saw him actually dictate a plan of action based on how he read the soldiers’ movements (I allude to how Megan asked how long they’d sit there, and he replied immediately, “Not long. Let them stew over whatever that Pons guy was talking about. They should fall back into their routine.”)
I guess that that verifies my thoughts from earlier, about how Marshall isn’t the type of guy you want to have to count on in a situation like this one. Heck, he even admitted (to himself) that he's not hero material. I like that, though. It certainly makes him a more realistic and interesting character.
Just something is nagging at me, and it’s a complaint you had with my old work: the dialogue. Maybe it’s because you and I grew up in totally different parts of the States, and people like me from the northeast are typically more—“forward”, shall we say—than people in the Midwest. But when Marshall told Megan, “A lady should present herself with decency” I thought that sounded like something a stuffy old-person would say instead of a 16-year old boy who’s clearly shown interest in girls. There were other moments when I thought Marshall wasn’t talking like someone his age would, but that’s the example that stood out the most. And like I said, maybe it’s just my upbringing. (Or maybe that's just his character.)
Anyway, we’re finally getting a glimpse at some of those soldiers/mercenaries. I get the feeling Pons and John are going to cause quite a few problems for our main characters later on. Also, I don’t think Marshall’s hunch that they might be after the superconductor is too far off (that was my first thought as well). But maybe there’s a twist in store?
| Silent Will chapter 5 . 2/21/2016
Poor Marshall. Everyone disappears and Megan somehow manages to stick around? I think I’ve reached the point now when I don’t like her. At first she struck me as someone who was basically likable despite having a rough sense of humor; now she just strikes me as someone really annoying with a horrible attitude.
Also, both of them happen to have superconductors? And after finding those superconductors, some unmarked tough guys just show up and take everyone away? And it happened around the exact same time when Tad is insisting her saw a UFO? I’m sure none of that is coincidence. Let’s see how all of this ties together.
One suggestion for future stories: explain pieces of technology. I’m not particularly savvy when it comes to machine parts, so an explanation about what a superconductor is (beyond Marshall’s vague guess that it might have been a cooling agent) would’ve been appreciated. Having Carl ask for an explanation about the function of a superconductor would’ve been more helpful instead of having him just shrug it off with “sounds expensive.”
Anyway, it looks like things are going to pick up from here on out. The reluctant city-slicker and the obnoxious babe are now going on a mission to find out what’s up with those shady soldiers. I’m not sure I’d be so eager to jump into this adventure, but at least you acknowledged how risky it is by having Marshall explain that it would be better to hold out at the campsite and (presumably) wait for help to come around.
Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing what these two uncover.
| Silent Will chapter 2 . 2/17/2016
I realize you finished this story months ago, so I’ll hold back on suggestions about what direction I think you should take the story or what you should include, because those comments would serve no purpose. So it’s entirely possible I’ll want clarification on something in an early chapter and then find out it’s revealed in a later one.
Here are my first thoughts: interesting setup. The idea of two kids in high school being forced to work for a few weeks at a camp didn’t sound at all like any of your other works that I read years ago (until the mention of possible UFO sightings in chapter 2, of course). I’m certain the military and these aliens will become relevant soon enough, and I’m wondering who will be the “good” guys and who will turn out to be “bad.” (Assuming it’s that simple, of course.)
I’m also intrigued by your characters so far. I wouldn’t be surprised if the jolly folks like Jim or David turn out to be hiding something. I like the characterization of Marshall—you really captured the sensation of a highly reluctant, annoyed teenager who just wants to get the experience over with. Tad’s definitely the one I’d rather hang out with, though. (No offense, Marshall.) I like how you were able to set up the contrast between a loner, introverted mechanic type and an outgoing, creative and artistic type without going overboard on the descriptions. I still would’ve liked a little bit more, though. Like, what is Marshall’s build? If he’s skinny and weak (or fat and easily-winded) he’s not going to be the favorite in a battle with someone in the military or a hostile alien. (His introversion certainly wouldn’t make him a strong leader either, unless of course he’s going to have an arc where he transforms into someone much more assertive.)
And I really don’t know how I feel about Megan. I mean, I think I like her…sort of? By that I mean, I think she seems like a nice person who just has a rough sense of humor. But, then again, she’s saying stuff “evilly”? Either she’s going to be an edgy love interest, or that’s one of the least subtle setups to someone being a problem for Marshall down the road.
Either way, it’s a good start. I only saw a few typos and I already empathize with Marshall quite a bit. I hope these couple of weeks go by without him getting too sunburned or being vaporized by an extra-terrestrial.
| mandymoocha chapter 7 . 7/3/2015
Enjoying the story so far ... but at this point it's reminding me of the book (and subsequent series) Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden when all the townspeople and outlying farmers were taken into custody and put in a camp ... and their teenaged children came back from camping to find out what happened