Reviews for The Things We Kept
PhineasFlynn24 chapter 1 . 1/11
Hello,
I’m from the review game. I’m sorry if this gets long, as I tend to write as I see. To begin, I liked the dialogue between the characters because I can connect to it myself. I also liked the ending because it really drew me back into the story. This story was a generally good read. What you could fix is the short paragraphs, since a paragraph is 4 or more sentences long.
Signed,
PhineasFlynn24
amgoosehjonk chapter 1 . 5/1/2020
Oh, boy, I love this one.

I don't normally read these sorts of stories but this one caught my attention and held it. You did really well. I loved the little tidbits and extra detail that really added that extra punch to the story.

... that said, I do think it felt a little rushed. Especially the whole apocalypse part; it seems less like the story of a girl growing up in the apocalypse and more like a few anecdotes from a girl growing up in the apocalypse. I think it would've done well to be a bit longer and just... add more connection between the events, give it more of a direct plot or storyline.

... but hey. I'm just nitpicking at this point. I loved it. Nice job :)
IrishPanther chapter 1 . 4/4/2020
Honestly, I'm new to reviewing in FictionPress...

The beginning had me intrigued from the get-go. Why do we fight to keep ourselves in this world – such an interesting question, though I’m not too sure at this point why it’s being asked. You did good for hooking me in, as I wanted to know a bit more about these characters, and the answers to the question.

You did a wonderful job of introducing the characters to this story. So, there is a tsunami coming to wreak havoc on a city, and Terry is too into her own world in trying to find Zoe. Tristen doesn’t care for such things, nor does her mother, and they head to this school where Terry runs into Berti, her teacher. Along with Berti, we meet Jared and Giulia. Apparently, doll collecting was a big thing for Terry and Giulia, and Jared being loyal to his friends go and retrieve Zoe but are caught by Berti.

This is where the climax occurs – or at least I believe it is when the bombs come flying down.

The pacing of this story was very well done. Everything happened in such a unique manner, and everything stood out on its own. I was definitely left in suspense wanting to know what happened to the protagonists if they would survive the new afterworld with bombs and a tsunami hitting the town.

The ending wrapped everything up, and answered the question that Berti asked before – and we read on that different people live for different things, that is why we fight to keep ourselves in this world. We’re thrown into the unknown not knowing what to fully expect. Passing on the doll to someone else who had lived in the same world as Terry and wanting to make the world a bit kinder…that really got to me, especially in the times we are facing today.

In terms of SPAG, I saw no true errors, though the beginning of the second sentence had me tripped up a little [We still had the car…in order to fit]. Other than that, everything else was spotless – kudos for you on that!

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this drama fic! The plot was fascinating while the pacing was perfect! I am looking forward to reading more of your work! Take care and happy writing! :)
Ckh chapter 1 . 1/28/2020
Hello from the RG Easy Fix!

While I wasn't too invested at the start, your story slowly drew me in around the middle portion. By then, I was impelled to finish it. Its the little sentences you sprinkle in that help flesh out your war torn world. Flavorful sentences like "...by then, all the experts and their equipment were already dead" lend a playful levity to the otherwise somber tone of your work, making it clear that the worst has already passed. All Terry has left to clutch on to is her remembrance of the old world - not even her beloved doll has any meaning to her now.

Generally speaking, the dialogue was believable and the pacing was tight. I never felt that you unnecessary fluff. All is written here is all that you needed to show. Its commendable, really. I have no issue with the apart, apart from a few sentences I easily brushed past. Overall, this was a solid oneshot. Cheers.

Some suggestions:

“So when Giula and I managed to open a window that hadn’t been boarded up yet…” - You could shorten this sentence by removing the later half. A simple “...Managed to open an unboarded window, Jared hoisted…” will do, though I’m unsure which edit flows better.

“Berti thought we could avoid the fires by going around the hill instead of (up) it…” - Replace up with ascending? ‘Up’ just reads a little awkwardly.

“Wasn’t only (people) picking at the half-eaten bodies…” - Did you mean vultures or animals? Or did I misread the text? While I understand that cannibalism is, in fact, a thing, the word ‘only’ implies something worse than cannibalism; and I can’t really infer that ‘something’. A virulent disease, maybe?

“Well, I stopped (feel) anything for Zoe…” - A simple typo. Just replace feel with feeling.
Tove Harlow chapter 1 . 7/1/2019
This story is beautifully anxiety inducing and though provoking. I don't know quite how you do it, but this made me feel hopeful, sad, anxious, and more aware all at the same time. Very well done.
Bests,
Tove
YasuRan chapter 1 . 3/30/2019
Very good characterization in this piece. While we aren't fed the entire backstory of each character involved in surviving the apocalypse aftermath, the pieces we are given are enough to sustain a clear definition of each. We have Terry the troubled kid, Giulia the seemingly guileless innocent, Jared the rule-abiding kid and Berti the responsible adult.

At the same time, the narrative adds complexity to each character, leaving an impression of their worries and fears after Berti's death. The ending was a nice, wistful one, showing us that Terry has matured at this point and hopes to do well by Bert's memory.

Well done!
Nerissa-McC chapter 1 . 3/6/2019
Great story! I cried when Berti died, and then again when Terry gave Zoe away :'( The whole story is very sombre and poignant :'(
Sara K M chapter 1 . 10/5/2018
Hi, I’ve chosen to review “The Things We Kept,” for the Long Review Game.

Your opening poses a good question (“What is it about your life that makes it valuable?”) for the reader to ponder as he/she reads the story. It’s not an easy question to answer, so I like how the narrator doesn’t answer it until the end. Particularly considering this narrator changes her mind on what she should find valuable.

Your voice in this story of a child who is scared and wants her doll and yet doesn’t really understand what is happening, is very clear. As the story progresses, she matures and understands more, but the reader can still feel that it’s the same character. That’s very difficult to do, and you pull it off marvelously. (It’s particualarly clear as she reflects on her doll at the end of the story. “I had to care about Zoe, because I chose Zoe over Tristen, and if I admit that Zoe is what it is – nothing – I have to admit Tristen died thinking I hated him because he made me lose a piece of nothing.)

The rest of the characters are very clear as well. Tristen and the narrator have an argument typical for siblings and ending with her saying something she doesn’t really mean. (“I hate you, Tristen.”)

The mother of the “Terry” feels for her but is too stressed about what might happen to her “live family” to be concerned about Terry’s doll. And of course, she’s had enough of the siblings arguments. Understandable for a mother.

Berti tries to understand a little more about why Zoe is so important to “Terry,” but that doesn’t stop her from being angry when she realized the children have escaped from the shelter. But she tries to take care of them, anyway. Does she see something in them that isn’t there, as “Terry” believes later? Or does she simply see what they could be if they can live and grow? I don’t know, and I don’t think the reader should know. But it’s a good question that this story allows us to consider.

You have some great descriptions in this story. Like “A single scream came from outside, and then it became a chorus of screams, and then it was drowned out once again by the sound of explosions.” “…. we couldn’t miss the orange glow coming from above that kept growing larger.” “…. the charred piles of rubble were like nothing I’d ever seen before.”

There a couple of places that could be improved.

The first is the beginning of “Terry’s” argument with her brother. I know, to a certain extent, children’s arguments often sound confusing, but I think they should make a little more sense than this. “Tristen, stop! Please, just wait for a few minutes! Mom will wake up on her own!” I was crying as a clung to my twin brother’s squirming legs.
And then Tristen proceeds to speak about Terry’s “stupid dolls.” There’s no mention of the mother, why Terry is complaining about the mother, or when the mother got up at all.

Also, the name “Terry” is usually a boy’s name, short for Terrance. “Terri” is for a girl, short for Teresa.

Finally, although I liked your question at the beginning, you wrote it kind of passively. Passive voice, contrary to popular belief among some reviewers, is necessary in writing. However, it should be avoided in your opening paragraph whenever possible. You want that paragraph to be engaging.

Try opening with “What do you live for?” instead of When she was alive, Berti once asked…
Sgt. Hishiro chapter 1 . 8/21/2018
Wow... this is quite intense. I've said it before (though I can't remember where), and I'll say it again - I respect anyone who can write in first person, because I sure as hell can't! The one problem I had with this was that I couldn't tell who was narrating the story at the start, when there was the argument about the doll. But other than that, this is really well written!
Sgt. Hishiro
Antares.Null chapter 1 . 8/17/2018
Very poignant and quite sad.

Curiously, while reading this, I couldn't help but see it like a Miyazaki movie playing out in my head. His movies always keep to very emotional themes and this hit the nail on the head.

I especially liked how it was told like a history; like one character relating their story to another or a group. I've always been fond of that narrative style as well as the relatively minimal dialogue.

Good job.
Encore19 chapter 1 . 7/12/2018
This was a very powerful piece that I enjoyed reading.

Writing: This story was written in past tense, as the main character recalling the events of her past and the harsh conditions of her life. It was very effective for the theme of this piece. You don't write with a lot of flourishy words and descriptions, and I still find it effective writing in communicating emotion and the impact of the events.

Ending: Teresa has clearly battled with guilt over her natural childishness when she was young. She passes the torch on, her doll to another child as a pitiful attempt to create reason in her sad world. Showing kindness in the hopes it'll make the world better. Trying to help a version of her younger self because she wants to heal after what she's been through. It all feels rather hopeless, but what more is in her power to do?

Characters: I liked how you showed the differing characters and flaws of the three children and their teacher. I liked how they had their own clearly defined natures and shortcomings, their own reasons for wanting to be alive. Or rather, their own things they were living for. It brought depth to the piece.

Setting: They all lived in some sad, worry-torn country and era. All of the natural disasters and manmade disasters were appropriately devastating, creating a sad image of grand-scale desolation. It is in theme with the grand-scale ideas about life and what makes it worth living, which Teresa wondered about throughout the piece.

Great job on this! Thought-provoking and emotional
God Speaking chapter 1 . 2/23/2018
Splendid story.
It has a genius premise- being set in the apocalypse opens up tons of storytelling potential and not to mention the wealth of emotional opportunities to play our hearts. The story does not overstay its welcome and manages to make compelling characters in the brief but meaningful moments it is told in. I also like the moral you imparted on the reader, which somehow works spectacularly with the dreary atmosphere you've built that better expresses the full weight of the lesson.
Electrumquill chapter 1 . 2/12/2018
I think that post-apocalyptic worlds make an interesting genre. My idea is that an author should decide what causes the apocalypse first. Is it realistic (biological warfare which could have some survivors) semi-realistic (nuclear warfare which realistically would kill everyone) or completely fantastic (zombies or something even more dreamlike).

I think you’ve settled on semi-realistic.

Then of course there is the POV. How real should it be and how pedestrian or otherwise? I like this approach, where it captures one vignette that is a turning point. It’s a realistic touch as well. What little girl would willingly abandon her doll? And she would not have any real clue what the end of the world really meant, so the doll would indeed occupy her entire horizon. Great touch at the end as well. There is a huge generation gap in this world, where Terry’s generation can remember before the apocalypse, but the little girl who receives Zoe has no concept of the world as it should have been. So yes, even a disfigured doll would be a treasure as far as she is concerned.

Good juggling of perspectives with Terry and Jared. What value is preserving knowledge? Should survival be risked in an effort to ensure that future generations don't end up savages and clods?

The final question about an apocalyptic setting is how devastating is the apocalypse. I infer from this that it is something that only decimated the population – lots of people surviving does mean a problem with disorder, looting, scarcity of goods etc. It effects the whole tone.

I remember I had a nightmare once about there being an apocalypse leaving only twenty-two other people on Earth. That kind of nightmare vision is Beckettian nihilism. In case this helps with your apocalyptic writing, experts now think the bare minimum population that could actually grow again is one consisting of twenty men and sixty women. Any less than that and there would be no hope of humanity making a resurgence.
lizardbreath914 chapter 1 . 1/20/2018
Okay, not bad. I think the narrative was strongest when describing the impact of the disaster/attack. The concept of a hurricane hitting shortly after a tsunami isn't that far from the realm of plausibility, or at least it doesn't reach Roland Emmerich's 2012 levels of ridiculous. Another strong point is Berti. She's remarkably fleshed out for a 3k short story, doting on these kids but reasonably tired of their shenanigans.

If I were your editor, I would recommend cutting the in-medias-res opening and shifting it to the middle. At this point, I don't know Berti or any of these kids, so it's harder to get invested in the drama. That could be improved by starting the story where it begins and moving what used to be the intro to its proper place in the timeline.

Seven out of ten, would trust Berti with my life.
M3rcy chapter 1 . 1/5/2018
Hello, here from the review game easy fix.
First of, what I liked was definitely the writing story and the plot overall. I felt that the writing was smooth and flowed well, the characters were good enough for what their purpose in the story was and the plot line and ending was good. I liked how Berti realized that the three of them were just human, even though they were children, as we often have an idealized view on children being innocent. But kids are still little people with insecurities and fears just like us. So I liked that part of it.
I liked Berti, but I feel Terry got it wrong in why her teacher wanted to live. From a child's perspective, especially a kid that lived during the apocalypse, she was already broken, so her view on people became a little distort. I believed Berti did live for them, but because she loved them or grew to love them. And we all have our dark sides and light sides.

Now what I didn't like... which is only a small nitpick but I think I need to say this because this story could've even been better even though it is very good.
It moves too quickly. Not that it isn't paced well, because it is. But just that a story like this would need to be told in maybe twenty thousand words at the least, to get the whole sacrifice and pain and angst of all that had happened. I just never grew attached because I needed more time with the characters in a story like this. It was just too grand an idea to make so short.

I think you did execute it well, and the ending was good. The whole story was good. But make this 15,000 or 20,000... and really dig into each character's relationships and bonds (because it feels like an epic tragedy compacted into a quick story) and then you could've really left an impact and really brought the characters more to life.

But as it is, I really did enjoy it for just a snippet of what an apocalypse story from a child's perspective could be like. And I think you did a bang up job with what constraints you limited yourself too, making this an enjoyable read and a mostly satisfying one for me, the reader and reviewer.

~M3rcy
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