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Popcorn! Gitcher popcorn here!

By Tartra, author of The Other Kind of Roommate

Jul 24, 2016: The tl;dr is that A Bad Idea is a fun, snappy ride. It’s a great way to pass some time without all the ‘commitment’ of other serials, but unlike other serials, it never goes so far to earn that commitment. This is a casual read for the most casual reader; don’t go in thinking Grapes of Wrath of when we’re getting Saturday Morning Funnies.

The characters are damn fun. Each starts with a one-note personality that works exceptionally well at explaining who they are and leaving them room to grow later – which they take! We’ve got Anne, our pseudo-mad genius too focused on her work to figure out if she’s evil; Shade, a teleporting thief armed with ambition and great sass; plus a host of minor characters (insert Hero frat, insert Villain club, insert the best demon you’ll ever enjoy) who widely vary in importance and overall deadness.

It’s easy to read, and you’ll find yourself making unexpected attachments. The best part is, from the smallest bit player to our lead, everyone gets a fully realized introduction. Not only does that throw you if the author axes them (the deaths are great so it’s worth it), it adds so much to the story’s depth. Even if they die a few clicks later, they die as a person, not as a tick on the ol’ body fodder chart. Wait – I lied: the real best part is that when the narrative switches to following someone else’s POV (mostly we see Anne’s take on things), the sole reason is because they have a fun-as-hell sequence going on. That means we only see these new faces at the height of their entertainment value, not only giving us fantastic scenes, but freeing up the author to cut away whenever to keep things fresh.

What I mean about Saturday Morning Funnies is exactly that. These chapters/scenes/tidbits are maybe eight hundred words, so for those of you who have my kind of attention span (on a scale of Ritalin to goldfish, we go glub-glub), this is awesome! But for those who want to sit down and read something that really lets you sink your teeth in, unfortunately, this isn’t your bag. There’s one seriously unexpected subplot down the way where we get that teeth-sunk feel, but unless you’re already on board with the light-hearted, fast-paced, comic-strip, page-flipping mindset, you won’t get the payoff (happy note: its mood shift is a kick-ass change, and neatly peppered in amongst the light-hearted stuff that keeps coming).

So here’s the bad: because each tidbit is such a neat, crisp, self-contained moment, with its own beginning and middle and end, the ones that fall flat – the ones that don’t seem to ‘end’ – stand out like sore thumbs. I’ve pinpointed which ones these are. When the tidbit ends in the middle of a conversation, it’ll end on a joke or a witty line, but the conversation itself is still going. After so many clicks filled with a definite conclusion for how this Part Whatever advances the plot, it’s mildly annoying when there’s a handful that don’t stick to this format, and that’s where the feeling of dragging on comes in. One arc is where Anne gets recruited into a newly formed club of villains(?); I click on the chapter, and they’re talking. I click on the next, they’re still talking. I click on the one after, and inexplicably, the conversation still isn’t done. With a series like this, one that doesn’t have its hand out for heavy investment on the part of its readers, these are the times where the audience can and does drop off. It rarely happens, but for us Goldfish, when it does, it matters.

All in all, if you’re the type to pick up Angry Birds, Candy Crush, Clash of Titans, or – well, maybe not Pokémon Go, because I understand the amount of attention needed to capture those bastard Weedles – any game on your phone, stop, switch to A Bad Idea, and you’ll have more fun for the same amount of work. Solid four stars.

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Solid Potential… Just Needs A Stronger Story

By Scott Scherr, author of Don't Feed The Dark

Jan 16, 2016: From the beginning, Hotfoot places the reader in the middle of the action through the first person narrative of a young street criminal named Zach Browne who finds himself in the middle of a fight with a superhero. It is clear from the start that Zach has special powers of his own, an ability to control time among other things, as the situation quickly ends poorly for him, landing him before a judge to be sentenced for his crimes. Later, we are introduced to Max King, struggling superhero with a good heart who finds himself in a bad way, resulting in drastic changes in his life.

Of the nineteen chapters I have read so far, Hotfoot alternates between the storylines of these two main characters as they each progress to establish their identities in this society where superpowers are common place.

The strengths of this story: I found the character development of both Zach and Max fairly sound as I was easily able to get to know them (on the surface, at least). I especially enjoyed Zach’s sarcastic sense of humor as he often cracked jokes at his own expense showing how much harder it was to be an ex-con with superpowers, reduced to this world’s version of ‘community service’ for supervillains on parole, than it was to be the hero.

And then there is the strong relationship between Max, and his older brother, Harry, also a superhero, that adds a real ‘human’ element to their story that I thought grounded this tale very well.

There is plenty of action with some very imaginative fight scenes between heroes and villains with various powers. I also found it interesting that even with superhuman abilities, special suits are created to augment characters powers by giving them advantages over more powerful foes.

It is very clear at this point, that the author has spent a great deal of time pondering this fascinating environment where villains and heroes abound, giving them almost ‘gang-like’ similarities.

This, however, is where I found some issues with the story. It is not so clear to this reader. Because the pace moves along very quickly, with one fight scene quickly leading to the next, I was often wishing Zach would use his ability to ‘slow down time’ long enough for the author to elaborate on the many concepts, history and ideas that are injected into this story, like ‘rapid-fire’ battle sentences with vague explanations, so that I could have a better understanding as to how this superpower-driven world came to be, who is who, and what exactly is happening. I often felt lost in regards to the bigger picture, feeling like the action sequences were dominating the potential for deeper storytelling. And that is what Hotfoot lacks presently. I am hopeful that a stronger story will emerge beyond the battles and take this superpower driven story to another level. The raw potential is already there.

Aside from this, there are numerous typos that are frequent enough to interrupt the flow of the read, but most are easy fixes. Also, there are many instances of dialogue exchanges sharing the same paragraphs that made it hard at times to know who was speaking to who, causing me to stop often and regain my bearings.

All in all, a highly imaginative, action-oriented, humorous-at-times story in need of some editing which leaves me hoping for something more, because I still enjoyed reading it. But it risks falling into a predictable pattern if the story is too dependent on the fight sequences alone.

Because Hotfoot is a serial, and perhaps still in the early stages, I plan on revisiting this story to see how it develops. I hope it surprises the hell out of me allowing me to upgrade my rating.

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Showing promise but in need of polish

By Deadpansmirk, author of Desert Steel

Dec 3, 2015: This review is part of a review swap, but I did my best to be impartial.

Hotfoot is a web serial following two characters, the superhero Maximum and the supervillain Zach.

The good: characters have good potential, and show at least some distinctness in traits and personality. The premise shows promise, the union of two disparate characters always making for some interesting conflict. The progression of the plot seems well paced, neither too fast or slow. Side plots that seem interesting are emerging, although whether they will be followed up on remains to be seen. There are some comments and reviews mentioning weird phrasings and formatting issues. The author appears to be listening and has fixed those, and I have seen no other formatting issues. Zach’s power, called chronokinetic, is essentially a control of time, but it is used in really cool and interesting ways you wouldn’t originally think of.

The bad: This work has a lot of typos, although they’re mostly minor, and you should have no problem understanding what’s happening. However, the issue is that each typo disrupts the flow of reading and pulls you out of the story. This damages what should be an interesting action scene or an important conversation. There are also points where facts change, which can make things confusing. A character is introduced as Dutch and then is described as speaking Danish, which sent me back a chapter to see what I’d missed. Another thing that wouldn’t hurt would be a clarification on settings during action scenes, as it can be a bit confusing figuring out where the fight is taking place. The website also needs work, as navigation between pages took a while to figure out. The next chapter link is called ‘newer post’ and is located in a small font below the comments, and the table of contents is a scroll bar arranged by month of post, which is unhelpful.

Conclusion: There’s something here to enjoy, and if its premise is your cup of tea it might be enough for you to get into it. However, the good is marred by typos, inconsistencies, bad website layout and a few oddly worded sentences. The author seems to be listening to advice and improving and removing mistakes, so if you’re put off now this might be worth coming back to later, once a layer of polish has been added. I’ll update if when this polish comes about.

Update: The serial has been shifted to wordpress, so chapter navigation has improved.

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