Reviews for F o r c e s
acumashindorballomu chapter 6 . 9/3
I'll be completely honest, although Phillip just got himself in so much more bullshit, and part of it is his fault for actually drinking so much with the town's lowlies at that bar and even doing drugs when he knows he's a goodie-two-shoes, I must confess I'm really starting to hate Stanley. He got under Phillip's skin so well and played him like a really cheap fiddle. He knew how to break him with drugs, he most likely planned to get them both naked in bed so his defenses would be lowered when he woke up, then that confession by the lake at the end was just so he would leave reporter boy 100% without a retort and under his thumb. Even the part with giving him the reins is total bullshit, I know because I've seen abusive manipulators go on long-winded rants either fully praising or fully criticizing their victim and then telling them to do whatever they want with the relationship further, only for them to end up in a position of being indecisive and revert to the usual dominant-submissive thing they had going on. Really, it's such an awful cycle of abuse I've seen both with my parents and some past relationships, that it disgusts me to no end.
Sorry, but if I were in Phillip's shoes, I wouldn't trust a word of that heartfelt confession, I would double up my guard and I would merely play along until the investigation was over. Hopefully he will be smart enough to do the same and will not let his fetish for slight emotional abuse and some sex cloud his mind. I'm keeping my fingers crossed here! But eh, that's probably just the jaded bisexual in me speaking right now.
acumashindorballomu chapter 5 . 9/2
And so the plot thickens! Like a whole lot. It seems that Stanley is indeed a very fixated person, and single-minded, might I add. Once he sets his mind on a goal, he would go out of his way to achieve it, through whatever sneaky means, and consequences be damned. He kind of reminds me of myself, only if I were more unhinged and without remorse. I had expected him to make the first move on Phillip, and this only confirms my fears that he is giving in.
Thankfully the rest of the chapter dealt with him actually doing his job. I like how his boss is actually acting as the voice of reason and helping him rush things, because at the end of the day they have a paper to publish. The same can be said for Claire, she is obviously distraught from everything her family has been enduring, and the same can be said for Phillip, it seems that being close to Stanley really does turn one's life upside down in a major way. Really, it must be very straining to be caught in his cycle of causing shit, getting caught, acting like the sweetest most innocent person, getting free, rinse and repeat. If I were in the place of his parents, I'd probably set aside my biases, look deeper into this, and once I discovered this, I'd have his manipulative ass locked off somewhere far away for good.
But hey, that's just me and my low patience for such bullshit. We'll see what happens next.
acumashindorballomu chapter 4 . 9/2
Sorry it took so long, but I'm finally back, at last! There's two things I want to touch upon in this review. First of all, that date really did hit me more as a masked interrogation, which I guess is good for Phillip since that was his intention from the beginning. Still, he ought to be more careful, for if he falls for Stanley's seductive attitude, not only will he be unprofessional, but he will also put himself in danger. (yes, I still don't trust the guy one bit)
Secondly, I like how you made the college atmosphere genuine and showcased both the more competitive sports side of the guys as well as the more social side of the girls, even if there was only one chick at the cafeteria. Bonus points for having Toby study, to showcase that no matter how much of a dudebro you are, at college you still gotta pass your exams, so extra brownie points to you!
Now for the main comments, it seems that Stanley indeed has blended in at college well, but his outer-social attitude just serves for him to be up to his usual shit: stealing and lying. Phillip's right, a guy as chaotic and bored as him would in no way truly be caring about a tragedy or willing to give a eulogy speech, it's all just another cover to make him look good. From where he stands as a main character, I'm afraid our journalist is in a tight spot: he must stay close to the suspect, not fall for his charming attitude or his bullshit lies AND all the while keep a clear head to continue his investigation. Pretty much a lose-lose situation, but I guess this'll prove if he's really cut for the job or not.
She Who Loves Pineapples II chapter 8 . 8/19
Hi, I’m sorry this review is so late!

All right, so to start, I’m not sure what Phillip means when he’s telling Claire about his “persuasion thing.” Like, obviously, he’s manipulative/persuasive in general, but that phrasing makes me think Phillip is referring to a specific tactic, so I’m not sure what he means or what Claire thinks he means.

The line about Stanley having been with “even really old” people piqued my amusement and curiosity a little.

The scene with Kelley was really good with how quickly it switched from being something innocuous to straight-up danger zone. That being said… something felt off about Kelley’s behavior. She gave no hint about being scared of Stanley before Phillip brought up the murder, and then she just immediately tells Phillip what she knows without him needing to coax anything out of her? I get that drugs make people irrational but Kelley’s behavior made her feel like less of a person, and more like a plot device.

The bit with Shariar seemed a bit off too – his speech was rushed and sounded rehearsed rather than someone actually being caught off-guard by talking about an ex. Also, if Stanley lost contact with Shariar how did Claire know how to contact him? (Unless Stanley just got tired of Shariar but was pretending to have lost contact for some reason, I guess?) Penelope also talks like she was expecting a reporter to call and ask her about her ex and she’d rehearsed what she was going to say.

I’m glad Phillip is able to put the pieces together when it comes to Stanley’s behavior – no, they aren’t the same, and Stanley isn’t in love, he just thinks it’s an explanation that makes sense. The question of what Stanley actually wants is a different subject altogether – if he DID kill Adam, that’s a very different side to him…

Though, part of me is wondering if it’s actually Stanley’s dad who killed Adam or ordered him killed. There’s some ominous things in this chapter that make me suspect it, like Claire saying she Didn’t know what her dad would do if he found out Phillip was investigating Stanley.
She Who Loves Pineapples II chapter 7 . 8/18
Relationships: Oh man, I am not trusting Stanley's confession at all! He may not be a killer, but he is definitely manipulative, and I think his manipulation has finally gotten through to Phillip. It's almost gaslighting. Phillip knew to expect manipulation, but in the end, Stanley convinced him anyway.

Spelling/grammar:
["There's a gym up there. Some room for recreation, I bet Mum and Dad are up there."] - The comma in this quote should be a semicolon or a period. It doesn't connect to the next clause.
["Your Dad owns a boat company, right?"] - If you say my/your/the/a before a word like dad/mom/president, it's not being used as a title. It shouldn't be capitalized because it's just an ordinary noun.

Characters: Phillip continues to note Stanley's red flags, including automatic answers to things, which gives me hope that he maybe hasn't been totally manipulated yet! I hope he's able to draw the connections that if he can sound sincere while saying he loves a random teacher more than his mother, his sincere-sounding romantic question may also be a lie.

Enjoyment: IDK why, but I really enjoyed the last scene in this chapter. I found the dialog oddly... funny? Stanley is waxing poetic, Phillip is psychoanalyzing him and not responding, and then "But I have an alibi?" "Not a very good one." just made me burst out laughing. All the tension building and then that, IDK, it was just funny. Though it was also the appropriate amount of serious. I think Stanley is totally trying to manipulate Phillip to throw him off the trail, and despite Phillip knowing better, it's totally working. The fact that Stanley does a romantic confession to distract from Phillip's very true point that Stanley's alibi sucks, cements it in my mind.
She Who Loves Pineapples II chapter 6 . 8/18
Opening: I like how you contrast Phillip's expectations with the way Stanley shows up with a cab - seemingly responsible. Is he trying to give a good impression (despite, as Phillip notes, Phillip already knowing about his past)? Genuinely trying to be careful and plan ahead? Being manipulative by trying to act as though he cares about Phillip's safety?
Setting: You use minor characters and setting to illustrate each other - the description of the bar gives clues about the kind of people they'll encounter there, and the behavior of Stanley's friends, such as their suspicion of Phillip, goes on to illustrate the environment. in general, setting was used pretty well here - each new setting gives a new feeling to the scene. for example, the big mirror in the hotel room illustrates Phillip's panicked feeling.
techniques: speaking of the mirror, I think this mirror is maybe a symbol of some sort for his lack of self, especially with how he observes Stanley's blank expression for a second and feels sickened. I think this moment has some kind of foreshadowing significance and it's very compelling.

Other: I like the chapter title "the confession." It helps build suspense - what kind of confession is going to happen here? A murder confession? A romantic confession? either way, the reader knows to expect a turning point and feels compelled to read on instead of stopping with the last chapter.
She Who Loves Pineapples II chapter 5 . 8/18
Spelling/grammar: Your story has some grammatical mistakes. They are usually minor and don't interfere with comprehension.
["I always wanted to come here with someone beautiful." He said to me...] - "said" is a dialog tag, therefore, there should be a comma after beautiful instead of a period, and "he" should not be capitalized. If you use a dialog tag like said/shouted/asked/cried out/muttered, whatever is inside the quote marks is considered part of the same sentence.

Enjoyment: A few different things were going on in this chapter. I enjoyed Phillip's conversations with Claire and the cops, where he was asking questions about Stanley and trying to put pieces together, to analyze him. It shows his psychological knowledge and the way he's trying to understand Stanley's behavior, and I found it interesting.

Plot: The plot feels a bit stagnant at this point. The part where they're at the museum feels a bit like more of the same (we already know Stanley likes to act cultured but doesn't seem to have opinions of his own) and I would consider combing through for things that could be cut or shortened. Not much develops right now.

Pace: I do think the pact works well. it's slow, but we have Phillip pausing to think and analyze things, and like I said, that works for his character and the genre. Just make sure things are happening too. Something should change in every scene.
She Who Loves Pineapples II chapter 4 . 8/18
Dialog - Stanley's affable, polite, and charming dialog helps show his character in the way he is raised - polite showing he was raised rich, affable showing his way of being able to get along with others, etc. However, as he speaks this way, he also mentions crashing and destroying cars and stuff like that. The contrast is interesting and continues to establish his personality. Phillip's dialog, by contrast, is quite ordinary - which also makes sense, as Phillip is (seemingly) a totally ordinary person

Character: As I said, your dialog is the main way of conveying info about Stanley and Phillip, but I noticed you also show Stanley's potential of being calculating by the fact that he only steals a candybar from the pizza place, instead of, like, having him walk out without paying. He doesn't want to go without pizza, so he makes the owner like him and only misbehaves in an innocuous way that won't get him caught.

Relationships: Stanley and Phillip's relationship with each other seems to be developing slowly. Phillip is focusing his questions on Stanley, but Stanley is asking Phillip questions as well. Just a manipulation tactic? Or is it genuine interest? Even if it's a manipulation tactic, it seems to have some effect, as Phillip seems to have some infatuation for Stanley.

Writing: IMO, your style is appropriate for the story you're telling. Nothing too simple, but nothing too flowery either. You pause to interject with Phillip's thoughts occasionally, which is appropriate for the psychological genre, especially with such an introspective character as Phillip.
She Who Loves Pineapples II chapter 3 . 8/18
I read a little bit ahead, but I'm rereading to write the review.
Opening: To be honest, the opening of this chapter was... a little boring? Rambly, description, nothing happens/Phillip isn't doing anything for four paragraphs. The description of the hotele doesn't lead into anything important or interesting, and his internal monologue is meandering. He thinks about how a drink wouldn't hurt, but then goes straight to "But I won't drink anyway"; he thinks about how he could talk to people for info, but then goes straight to "But I don't need to because I have enough info." Feels like random ideas pouring out from you as a writer, but IMO should be cut when you edit.

Ending: A fitting ending for the chapter - not particularly cliff-hangery but establishes what to expect next chapter, and causes some intrigue. How will this date go? Will it be dangerous?

Scene: The scene where Phillip speaks to his dad is an interesting way of elaborating on Phillip's mental problem. We can see the brusque and rough way his dad speaks, and then that helps illustrate the actual problems Phillip faces, which he thinks about next.

Character: So, Phillip's self-diagnosis is explained as "inverted narcissism" - having little sense of self, as opposed to an inflated sense of self. I like how you describe his reaction to abuse as feeling "like he's a sock that fits snugly." It shows how he feels like an accessory to another person rather than anything useful of his own - but also shows how that would feel comfortable to him. It's sad. However, he expresses some discomfort with this feeling, I've noticed, and envy about people who don't have his condition - which seems to contradict his earlier-stated decision not to seek therapy, because he thinks he's fine as he is.
acumashindorballomu chapter 3 . 8/17
Now this was a cool chapter! What I really enjoyed was the ground work that Phillip did. getting as many points of view as possible in regards to Stanley. You built his profile really well, the guy really comes off as a two-faced thieving scum who knows how to sweet talk and trick you into getting robbed or that he will change, but such people are truly ill, they will never change.
And speaking of "never changing", it seems that our protagonist Phillip is unfortunate enough to have grown with an overbearing controlling father. As someone who still has to deal with such a father, all I can say is that I empathize with him, and that the only solution is indeed to agree with him and then do whatever you want. Still, this background has definitely impacted his psyche, since it basically rendered him as the bottom uke who gives no shit about actual romance and emotions, who is attracted only to bad boys, no different from the common shallow bimbo chick, I'm sad to say.
Something makes me think that Stanley may have smelled the same thing and may have pulled some strings to get out on an early parole merely to arrange this date. It's most likely a trap set up for our protagonist, but he strikes me as a pretty smart and self aware individual, so maybe he will see through whatever this freak is planning for him. But that's something for later. Oh, and hopefully we will get to see more detective sides of this story, as I always enjoy a good murder mystery.
She Who Loves Pineapples II chapter 2 . 8/16
So this chapter satisfies some of the questions I had about the previous question, such as why Claire would cooperate with potentially giving her brother a reputation as a murderer. Why Stanley is agreeing to speak to a "third-rate newspaper." Etc. We also have some more hints to, but no blatant reference to, Philip's mysterious self-diagnosis. Personally I'm still leaning towards schizoid for that one. It would explain his lack of personal investment in people, and detachment - though perhaps I'm wrong and he's just a masochist?

Anyway, onto a more specific review -

["Well obviously I did my research"] - Punctuation - depending on how Claire says this, there should at very least by a comma after "well"

["...I'm happy to help any way I can." I spoke up.] "Spoke up" is a dialogue tag, so his sentence should end with a comma and not a period.

["Yes," a congenial nod.] And this is the opposite problem of above. "A congenial nod" is not a dialog tag so it should be punctuated as a completely separate sentence than what's in the dialogue: ["Yes." A congenial nod.]

[At this point it became clear these people wanted to use me for some objective.] Was this not already clear?

...Stanley's rant about small towns doesn't sound like an answer to Phillip's question (about why Stanley stole the car.) In fact, the more he goes on about his wants, the less his actions of stealing cars make sense. This is fine, if you're trying to show Stanley's impulsive or chaotic nature, however the fact that it's never ACKNOWLEDGED that the question goes unanswered feels weird.

Also, Stanley fits the stereotype of a "charming, impulsive psychopath" really well - considering Phillip's psychological studies, one would think he would immediately peg him as that. Also, considering how psychology has never really managed to come up with an agreed-upon definition of psychopath, its difference from sociopath, how the labels tie to ASPD - it would be interesting to see what Phillip's thoughts are on the whole debate.

Anyway, Phillip's mom is interesting, and his reference to her as a narcissist are a good way to show the way he likes to psychoanalyze people. If she's a narcissist, and Phillip's neuroatypical condition seems to have stemmed from his childhood, I wonder what her narcissism's role in that could be. I am looking forward to finding out more about this.
acumashindorballomu chapter 2 . 8/13
Although you kept telling me this chapter would impress me, I dare say that... it has not left as big of an impression as I expected. I mean, sure, there were fun parts in it, but I have yet to be blown out of the water. Then again, I guess that's because my mind is already pretty fucked up, but that's besides the point.
In a way it is rather scummy that the police are using Phillip and the newspaper he is working for as a tool to expose Stanley's criminal behavior to the world, where his influential parents could no longer protect him as easily. Then again, I might also blame Phillip for playing along, but I guess curiosity is what drove him. His interaction with Stanley gave me serious Silence of the Lambs flashbacks, where Hannibal Lecter lured Clarice in a pleasant conversation, only to immediately jump at her psyche like a wild animal as soon as she gave him enough info to work with. Although Stanley did neither of what I have just mentioned, the way he can make his intentions seem genuinely good is a clear sign that he is a definite sociopath not to be messed around with.
Although Phillip seems to have some experience in dealing with such people, due to past relationships and his own troubled past, he still seems a bit too curious and also charmed by Stanley's attitude, that he may be a potential victim. Even if the true reason of Adam Creson's death remains unknown, I would do anything but further get involved with some as off as Stanley. I guess this is the factor that adds to the story's thriller aspect. I will have to see how it further evolves before I can get a precise idea as to where you're headed with this.
So what I blown away? No, just left very intrigued.
acumashindorballomu chapter 1 . 8/11
Well, this seems different from your usual fare. In the sense that this time around we have a journalist playing detective and investigating a murder mystery, rather than the typical abusive gay relationship with supernatural twists here and there. But then again, our protagonist only hinted at a past abusive relationship, and even then, Phillip does seem to rationalize plenty of his emotions, possibly due to his knowledge of psychology, but as soon in the beginning scene, he does have a desire of belonging.

Regardless, you set up the atmosphere of that small city really well, things do seem rather creepy and set up for a thriller detective story. My only complaint may be that he out of the blue immediately met with Stanley's sister, who is willing to take him to the guy. I know it's for plot convenience and you only have 10 chapters to work with, but still, there could have been a bit more buildup. :P

Anyway, I'll see how this roller coaster ride keeps going. Hopefully you'll surprise me, like you always do.
She Who Loves Pineapples II chapter 1 . 8/11
Hey, thank you so much for all your excellent reviews on Tidbits! I'll say this here, because I'm too lazy to use the review reply feature.

Anyway, this is an EXCELLENT start and probably my favorite of all of your works I've read so far! You show Phillip's nature in a very subtle way in the first scene where he's just listening to Tom and not really invested - he seems like he's being sympathetic, but when we look at his own head we see he's just slightly calculating about it.

As far as Phillip's mysterious psychological condition that slightly resembles psychopathy but isn't because he feels empathy - I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that he has schizoid personality disorder.

George is an interesting character too - passionate, but quite likely a bit TOO passionate to be going out on limbs about his murder suspects who don't have any violent history! I'm curious about why Stanley would go along with being interviewed, and your ending line (as well as Claire's slightly odd matter-of-fact behavior) makes me curious about him.

Nice chapter!
heyitsstupidme chapter 10 . 8/7
Hi there, thanks for writing this story! I found it very interesting to read, even though I usually tend to be drawn to more lighthearted storylines. I enjoyed your writing style and the fact that I never really knew what would happen next. Even though it became clear pretty early on that Stanley is very manipulative, I wasn't sure how Phillip would react to him and handle the situation. The scene which stuck with me as very disconcerning is the moment Phillip comes back into the hotel room after his night with Stanley and sees him putting his "mask" back on. That's why I am happy about the way it ended for Phillip, even though it wasn't a typical happy ending.
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