Reviews for Jackson Gray: Vengeance Bounty
JaveHarron chapter 2 . 3/2/2017
Okay, I liked the introduction you posted, but I have a few comments. Some of the characters do not appear very thoroughly described, nor do some of the hallways. In the absence of detail, I'll just assume Giger-ish biomechanics are the dominant aesthetic here... Just kidding. Anyway, Jackson, Axel, Jester, and Lizzy have the distinctive voices here, but then again, Sadie hasn't had as much time on deck yet, at least. Just curious of your references to "The Expanse" as to being an James SA Corey shout-out or not.
Silent Will chapter 28 . 8/14/2016
Bravo, good sir. I think I ended up liking this story more than Forest Frenzy and Infection. Again, you took a story in a genre I’m not a huge fan of, and you crafted characters, worlds and a story that always left me with at least a minor desire to see what would happen next.

So, like I’ve done in the past, let’s talk some pros and cons. For the cons:

-I still don’t think the time-travelling element was really necessary; in fact, I think it added a whole lot of unnecessary confusion and complications. During the final battle between Axel and Jackson, I didn’t care about the alternate timelines that much, regardless of the fact that it showed us what *could* have been. I never really cared what happened in the other timelines. To me, Axel was a good-enough villain on his own without adding that extra dimension, and it was quite obvious that Jackson could've been quite the bad dude himself had he chosen to pursue that path instead.

-I feel a lot of the minor characters were under-utilized. Obviously Jackson’s old buddies couldn’t stick around for long, and there would’ve been no purpose to the other Nereids getting involved, but it seems like a bit of a missed opportunity. Pretty much all of the minor characters had distinct-enough personalities, or at least played well-enough off the central characters, that seeing them more often would have been cool.

Alright, enough of that. Onto the good stuff:

As I’ve said multiple times, the dynamic you had between Jackson and Axel was *great*. If there’s a person you hate in real life, I honestly would not be surprised if you told me you channeled some of your contempt for them into Axel…it was *that* well-written. While it did get a little repetitive at times, I always enjoyed the scenes where the two of them were together. This dynamic was obviously the heart of the story, and you nailed it perfectly. I’m not ready to say Jackson is my favorite protagonist of yours, but Axel is, hands down, my favorite Bob Evans villain.

Also, as I’ve said for past stories, your pacing was spot-on. Just as I was getting tired of almost non-stop action, you introduced some much slower, character-driven chapters. As soon as *those* started getting old, you jumped back to the main story. Pacing is probably something I still struggle with, but clearly you don’t.

I liked the descriptions you gave for the histories of the space countries, as well as the Nereid people. Definitely a step-up from some past stories where some more background info would have been appreciated.

The narration—especially the fight scenes—were, in my opinion, the best I’ve ever seen from you. The description was vivid, but not overbearing in the least. That final battle in particular was extremely well done and held my attention the whole time. Also, as a bit of a tangent, Jackson taking a third option instead of choosing which side to annihilate was a little predictable. And partway through, I did find myself asking, “Why don’t they just get the cannons to fire on each other?”

So, all in all, this was a great read. At first, I found it a little difficult to believe you wrote “Infection” years ago; but this is clearly superior to it in just about every way, so I can see that much more easily now. Speaking from experience, I know how challenging it can be to write something that’s pushing 90,000 words. So not only do you deserve kudos for having the guts to undertake a project this ambitious in the first place anyway, but you deserve more props for doing it well.

Bravo again!
Silent Will chapter 25 . 8/10/2016
Ah, so at long last, the big confrontation between Axel and Jackson! Also, I must say, I was wondering what significance Drah and Boz were going to have. They seemed way too random and…quirky, shall we say, for them to have just appeared once, hype up this random donut shop, and then have none of it have any sort of bearing on the story.

That standoff between Axel and Jackson was really well-written. I could actually sense the anger and hatefulness in Axel’s voice. I knew there was a reason I liked him as a bad guy! And, as usual, I enjoyed your descriptions of the explosions and the rest of the action pieces.

Quite curious to see how all this will conclude.
Silent Will chapter 22 . 8/7/2016
Oh boy.

Well, for starters, I’d be lying if I said I totally understood the analogy with the orange, or how time-travel works in this story. But from what I’ve gathered, Dillon is Axel from another timeline, and Dillon-Axel was going to die along with his world if Jackson’s plan of attacking Draconia went through? So Axel led the rebellion to stop his home world from getting destroyed…except he actually is a legitimate bad guy now and will cause even more devastation than Jackson would have, and so Jackson still has to stop him?

Alright, so, in principle, I wouldn’t say this was a bad twist. In fact, it actually looked like this was going in a great direction—after spending the entire story learning to vicariously hate Axel through Jackson, I caught myself thinking, ‘Oh, shit, Jackson’s actually been the one in the wrong this whole time. But I still hate Axel! Who am I supposed to cheer for? What should I hope happens?’ It would’ve provided an *amazing* moral dilemma. So for this chapter to conclude with Axel still being the bad guy and Jackson still having to track him down (albeit with more at stake than before) seems like a real missed opportunity, considering everything we’ve learned in this last chapter.

Also, the same gripe I had with “Forest Frenzy” is present here: the time-traveling revelation was too sudden. Unless I’m forgetting something, time-travel never came up once in this story until now. I don’t remember it even being mentioned as a hypothetical. I think the story would’ve been just fine as unofficial-bounty-hunter-out-for-personal-vengeance-on-old-enemy-who-is-also-a-traitor without getting time travel involved.

But regardless of how confused I am in wake of this chapter, I do look forward to seeing this much-awaited rematch between Jackson and Axel. It’ll be interesting to see how these revelations affect Jackson from here on out.
Silent Will chapter 19 . 8/3/2016
So Maddy’s just up and leaving her home life, huh? That did seem a little sudden, though I guess there was adequate-enough foreshadowing with her talking about how beautiful the galaxy is and how lucky Jackson was to be able to see it for part of his work.

I think you’ve done a good job showing Jackson gradually acclimating to Maddy’s presence on the ship (especially since, as you said, he would’ve given her a one-way trip to an airlock if this happened a month earlier) and showing Maddy getting used to life aboard a spaceship. Laying some groundwork for both of those transformations would definitely have been needed, and the way you wrote it sounded very organic and realistic. (Mitch and Maddie sound like besties already)

I do think these more character-based chapters are going on a tad bit on the long side. But, knowing your other work, you always seem to have a pretty good idea about when to turn attention back to the story after taking a diversion to focus on its characters. So I’m sure the fun talks about what is and isn’t underwear will be coming to an end pretty shortly.

Maddy saved Jackson’s life after that last disastrous encounter with Axel…now let’s see how good she is an encounter with Axel, herself.
Silent Will chapter 16 . 7/31/2016
Whoo, Maddy’s a badass. If I identified someone as a “merk” I’m not sure I’d be so eager to rip into them like she did, even if the “merk” in question was undergoing physical therapy after having pretty much his entire body and everything in it utterly destroyed.

I also like how well you developed the Nereid civilization* while also incorporating a few elements from Greek mythology into them. (Then again, if an aquatic being is going to show up and save the hero from certain death, an explanation would definitely be called for.) I’m curious as to what role the Nereid will be playing—in particular, that bitchy Corrine. I can’t imagine you would introduce an entirely new civilization, along with a character who has a rather strong personality, and then do nothing with them once Jackson has fully recovered from his injuries. Perhaps a love interest, or at least some assistance in the upcoming hunt for Axel?

No major complaints over these last few chapters. They were a nice breather after the intensity of the last couple of chapters.

*Yes, I realize it probably sounds contradictory for me to say I liked how you developed an entire fictional civilization in wake of what I wrote to you. Even though the promise of a story with a new and fully-developed world wouldn't spark much of an interest from me on its own, I can still appreciate it when someone does a good job creating/showing it.
Silent Will chapter 13 . 7/27/2016
Somehow I got the sense that the scene aboard the yacht in chapter 12 would end with Axel revealing that he was fully aware of Jackson’s presence the whole time. As an aside, that whole sequence—particularly the end, with Jackson being knocked over the side of the railing and plummeting into the water—was extremely well-written. (The little skirmish that’s left Jackson a little toasty at the end of this chapter was good too, though!)

Something I’m beginning to notice, though: as opposed to your other stories when I wish we saw more of the villains, this time, I feel like Axel’s getting a bit too much action time. This is compounded by the fact that his scenes almost always seem to go the same way: he says something nasty to Jackson, there’s an altercation, Jackson gets his butt kicked while Axel walks away cackling. I know there’s no point in giving this advice now because you’ve finished posting the story, but at this point I’m starting to crave variety. Macormak and Arkinson seem like very capable antagonists as well, and we’ve seen very little of them over these last couple of chapters.

Maybe you’re saving them for something grand? I know you said Axel was going to be the main bad guy, but I can't help but feel that those other two knuckleheads are going to end up becoming important later on.
Silent Will chapter 10 . 7/24/2016
I had forgotten mermaids would be involved in this—a lot has happened in these first ten chapters. I can see why this turned out to be such a long story, considering we have the past narrative to go through as well as the present one where Jackson is hunting down everyone who apparently ruined his life in the past (in ways I’m looking forward to reading).

Also, I must say that past-Jackson is doing a great job at keeping his emotions under control while Axel keeps stealing everybody out from under him. Mitch swears? Outside of Futurama, I’ve never heard of a robot who does that.

Sorry, don’t have a whole lot of thoughts on these chapters, but I do like the direction you’re heading with the characters. And like I said during “Forest Frenzy”—a strong cast of characters is a great asset for stories where the setting is difficult to relate to.
Silent Will chapter 7 . 7/20/2016
Macormak, Axel, and now Arkinson…seems like there’s no shortage of pricks in this story.

I liked the insights that you gave into Jackson’s life as a bounty hunter, as well as how other people look upon people of Jackson’s kind.

The constant jumps between the past and the present are getting a little confusing. I think it has to do with the fact that the same characters are prominent in both “segments” (for lack of a better word), and even though the circumstances are obviously very different, I do feel like my mind has to switch gears a bit in order to remember what events were happening in which time period.

Overall, though, I’m still very much enjoying this. I’m waiting to see what Axel has planned and why he seems so obsessed with knowing each detail about Jackson’s life.
Silent Will chapter 4 . 7/11/2016
Axel really is a bastard. I think I’m going to enjoy both him and Macormak. If your objective was to make both of them completely unlikable, you have succeeded quite well. (And Lizzy’s cheating on Jackson with Axel? I thought the hero was supposed to steal the villain’s girl, not the other way around!)

Also, I was quite happy to read that whole explanation about the Perseus and Orion factions. It was getting to the point when I was *really* hoping for some of the history of these two groups, and you explained it clearly and efficiently.

My one complaint regarding the narration is that it seemed a bit too conversational at time. Hearing characters say that people “got their asses kicked” would be perfect; when an omniscient third-person narrator says it, it feels out of place. Phrases like “terrible obliteration” (which I loved, by the way!) would be more appropriate.

Either way, you’ve set up two very unlikable antagonists right at the start, and I am quite looking forward to seeing how Jackson either conquers or converts them on his way to defeating the true bad guy in this story. (It’s way too early for you to reveal the *actual* main bad guy, right? Or is my thinking too formulaic?)
Silent Will chapter 1 . 7/6/2016
Certainly an attention-grabbing first chapter! Jackson seems like a classic anti-hero with a troubled past, and Axel seems like a really interesting, energetic, entertaining antagonist who is a genuine threat. Not going to lie: I’m already looking forward to seeing Jackson and Axel come face-to-face again, especially as their very obvious histories get teased out. (At least, that’s what it sounds like will happen, but who knows, maybe Axel will get killed in an explosion offstage or something.)

A few thoughts, though. While reading this opening chapter, I found myself confused for a couple of reasons. First of all, there’s our protagonist, Jackson. As I was reading, I found myself thinking things like, “Who is this guy? What’s his appearance? Age? Background? Military experience?” And there were other questions like, “Who or what is Jarkko? Or Axel? Why is Jackson hunting them down?” Obviously you don’t want to give away too much in the first chapter, nor dump a ton of exposition on the reader the moment they start reading. But as someone who has never been a fan of sci-fi, little explanations would’ve made the opening chapter a bit more digestible. Also, as an aside, I get that Mitch is an AI program, but from the writing, Mitch sounds more like a person (like the very conversational dialogue, or the fact that Mitch is referred to as “he”), which was a little bit jarring.

But I’m sure many of these questions will be answered once the story opens up a little bit. Let’s see how well (or badly) things go for Jackson from here.
mbabaoye chapter 1 . 2/8/2016
Great start. Strong writing. As one sci-fi author to another I must admit to being intrigued :)
Theccious chapter 1 . 12/8/2015
Woah, this story is BRILLIANT, in my opinion, from chapter one it's already taking off like a shot, and talk about a cliffhanger, loving it!