Sep 26, 2012: Short Version: The table of contents states this a first draft and I’d agree with that. A first draft with potential. Worth a look if you find the premise interesting (as I do) and have a high tolerance for stories that tell rather than show.
Setup: Amaya Alastor is a Japanese American teen who’s lived her entire life in the US until circumstances force her to move to live with her father in Japan. Adapting to life in another country is hard enough but then she discovers she’s a natural gateway for spirits and things go downhill from there.
The Good: This story has a lot of potential. The premise is interesting and the author has clearly thought her mythology through. The main character is interesting. In your average paranormal you get a bratty main character who has very few real problems but thinks the world is out to get them. Amaya has genuine problems – she’s epileptic and a victim of sexual abuse. What’s more her supernatural problem is more personal and not world ending. Her soul and her friends’ lives may be on the line but so far that’s all. (Of course this is a work in progress so I guess that might change).
The Bad: In the Table of Contents all chapters so far are listed as first draft. In and of itself this isn’t a problem I mention only because I imagine the problems will improve significantly in subsequent rewrites. What problems?
Telling – there’s way too much. The author seems to fear that her audience will know nothing of Japan and thus the narrator takes long digressions to explain things. At another point there’s a long winded explanation about the characters epilepsy which is not needed. These infodumps are boring, unnecessary and break the narrative. This is fiction, not a travelog. Show me what I need to know and leave the rest out. I think it was a direct result of this that I sometimes got confused by the narrative. I glazed over during the infodumps and missed something important.
The author also drops a lot of Japanese words in the story which is quite (British quite) annoying. I know Amaya is thinking in English but she’s mostly speaking in Japanese – there’s no need for it. Several of the characters fall a bit flat as well and I hope they will be given greater depth in the rewrite.
Other: The blurb notes that the story is inspired by Anime and extreme Japanese cinema. Please take that and the content warning seriously.
Will I be reading more? Yes. For all its flaws this story has caught my interest and I want to know what happens next.
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