Aug 30, 2013: On the forums, Liss Thomas said she thought her summary was bad. I’d actually say it was pretty great. I mean, talk about a concept! Time travel, saving extinct species, explosions: that’s cool stuff.
Unfortunately, I found the summary more appealing than what was inside. I’m pretty sure this serial is part of some exercise? Right before the first sentence of the story proper, there’s a link to a webpage called "Creative Copy Challenge #328," which lists ten random words that writers are supposed to use in a small block of text. These ten words appear in the first chapter of the serial, bolded. This continues through the first five chapters (as far as I read), leading to somewhat forced sentences.
For instance, in the second chapter we get the protagonist surrounded by gladiators in an arena. She narrates, "Gladiators as big as Sumos stalk toward me brandishing their maces and swords." What purpose does that metaphor serve—other than to use the word "Sumos" in a completely irrelevant setting? The second chapter suffered from this more than most, illustrated by the appearance of "An orchestra [that] plays along" as she fights the combatants in the Coliseum. I don’t think orchestras were usually found in Coliseums. And if this is some time-travel hijinks, maybe the orchestra deserved more than a single sentence? The fact that these forced words are bolded only adds to their distracting nature.
The whole serial was somewhat of a jumble, with the first chapter featuring a woman (Delphina’s mother, as described in the summary) throwing herself into the ocean; the second featuring Delphina fighting off gladiators; and the third showing Delphina briefly talking to her fellow "time bouncers" (the people who travel back in time to save extinct animals), only to switch scenes and talk to her father, whom she blames for her mother’s turning into a mermaid (No, I’m not entirely sure how she turned into a mermaid, either).
Each of these scenes is less than five hundred words, and it’s just too much in too short a time. To give a brief disclaimer, I write a serial featuring a ton of characters and really short chapters, so I’m actually in favor of this sort of storytelling. But I’m constantly struggling to make the whole thing work as a unit, and I didn’t sense that sense of cohesion here. The whole serial suffered as a result. In addition, I found the images slightly distracting. On the bright side, though there weren’t next/previous buttons, there was a nice table of contents at the bottom of every page to make for easy navigation.
All in all, I don’t mean to beat up on this serial too much. It’s ambitious, and that’s a good thing. I just think the writer needs some more practice before they can achieve their goals.
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