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MUSIC MASTERS

Like a Text-based Cartoon

By Rhodeworks, author of Not All Heroes

Aug 15, 2018: Music Masters is an interesting little story with some experimental ideas revolving around the usage of new media to enhance storytelling. It has a bright energy and a simple concept: music gives superpowers. Some of it works, some of it doesn’t, but it does do quite well in a few particular ways. So, let’s dive in.

Music Masters—henceforth, MM—follows a young man named Michael Kay has he finds himself immersed in a world where music is a literal source of power. From there, things get rapidly more complex as he is drawn into a musical maelstrom of a world, meeting a wide cast of characters, getting into fights and hijinks and so on.

The big thing that I noticed about MM was its sense of tone. Music Masters nails the feel of one of those morning cartoons from the early 2000s. Part of this comes from the artwork but most of it comes from the bright, optimistic tone that Hejin57 is able to evoke. This story comes from the heart of someone who truly loves music and you can really feel it. The usage of musical links in the text is a nice touch but some might think it’s too much or too distracting. Either way, it’s there for a reason.

Michael Kay and the rest of the cast are all fairly archetypal. This makes them easily understood, of course, and helps that ‘cartoon feel.’ They tend to bounce off each other pretty well with their own views, perspectives, and goals. If there’s a problem with the characters, is that there’s a lot of them and, initially, it can be hard to remember who is who and how they relate to some of the other characters and the plots as they get introduced at a fairly rapid pace.

I wasn’t struck by any particularly glaring problems throughout MM, but there were a few issues that I noted. There’s some clunky sentencing throughout, generally an issue of phrasing or word choice. And that in and of itself is related to the more noticeable issue I had with MM, which is something called ‘unpacking.’

It’s something I picked up from Chuck Palahniuk. Essentially, it’s the use of words like thought/wondered and other ‘thinking’ verbs to short-cut describing that interior thought process, but I also like to see it as describing things too quickly. MM’s pacing can flow very quickly, and I think a lot of it is to how quickly some things fly by Michael and the others. Sometimes, it’s handled a bit too quickly. But there are also parts where the story would be better served by summing things up with a few sentences and moving on. The quick pace of the story makes it all the more obvious when it has stopped for exposition.

I think MM’s later chapters got better at this and I think a strength of MM is that it has a steady plateau of consistent quality that occasionally spikes higher.

The other issue I had with MM was the use of descriptive phrases instead of a character’s name. For example, the story likes to sum up Michael as ‘the afro-haired boy’. It’s the sort of thing that puts a distance between Michael and the reader, and I don’t think MM is the kind of work that benefits from that distance. We want to be in Michael’s dancing shoes, to feel the rhythm he feels (or any of the other viewpoint characters, for that matter).

All in all, it’s a nice, easy read with a wonderful sense of fun and energy. Give it a shot and you might just fall into the groove. Who knows, maybe you’ll be exposed to some new music along the way!

4 of 4 members found this review helpful.
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MUSIC MASTERS

Colorful Sound

By Elliot Moors, author of Super!

Jan 3, 2019: Music Masters is a story that is bright and full of life. It is wacky and out there, all in a good way.

The story follows the exploits of Michael Kay and his newfound friends as he gains abilities from the music he listens to. Half magic, half superpowers, they struggle against various villains to protect themselves and foil evil organizations.

It’s a simple premise, and the author manages to get a lot of mileage out of it, creating new and unique abilities spanning many different genres of music, all of which are tailored to the individual character.

It’s got a feel of classic superhero fiction, mixed with a nice helping of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.

The prose is serviceable. It feels a bit barebones at times, and certain fight scenes can fall flat, but it certainly does its job.

The characters are simple, and their relationships to one another are easy to parse. The tone is light and fresh throughout, although I haven’t gotten started on CD 2, the second part of the story, so that may yet change.

What elevates this story for me isn’t the concept, or the characters, or the descriptions, or any single thing about the execution. For me, it is the obvious passion with which the author applies himself to this project. From the character illustrations (of which there are many), to the meticulously inserted links to every song played throughout the story (of which there are even more) to the consistency in characterization and attention to continuity throughout, as well as the colorful covers, the story simply sings with the vision of the author.

It’s greater than the sum of its parts. There is certainly room for improvement, and I’m excited to see the author develop in the future, but right now it is a story well worth the read.

Is it a story I would recommend to everyone? No.

However, Music Masters has a special place in my heart. As someone who finds it hard to get through an entire book cover to cover at the best of times, the fact that I keep coming back to this story says a lot.

So, I would like to recommend this story for anyone who is up for a grand, sparkling, colorful adventure, all of which serve to celebrate, what else, music!

3 of 3 members found this review helpful.
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MUSIC MASTERS

Saturday Morning Breakfast Serial

By Megajoule, author of The Warlock Ruthless

Dec 24, 2018: Music Masters, as has been pointed out, strikes me like a Saturday Morning cartoon. It has the same vibrancy and lighthearted tone (albeit not completely) as shows like Xiaolin Showdown. There are some technical issues that hamper the experience but overall it is a pretty enjoyable read.

Music Masters follows Michael Kay and his friends as they enter a world where, as should be obvious from the title, music gives people powers. I hesitate to say either superpowers or magic, as the powers tend to fall somewhere in the middle of that spectrum (and really, what’s the difference?) this is where MM is at its best: the powers are creative, the worldbuilding is clever and mono-thematic around the idea of music powers. This is something very important to me and I really appreciate it here in MM. it’s a simple and solid idea that gives the text a LOT of mileage. From instruments that are bonded to people, to songs giving effects, to groups of Masters getting together like bands would, it’s all very strongly centered on that.

The characters can be quite goofy, perhaps even cheesy, but they are generally very fun. Michael and Kim have a good balance that is fun, and you can see why Michael ends up gathering newcomers to his little group.

There are some hiccups that hurt the experience. Generally it is easy to read grammar wise but some sentences were rough. It could benefit from an edit, it feels, but not overly so. I admit the omniscient third person view was very difficult for me to initially get over, and I think that it would be stronger if the chapters followed one POV. There were a few that almost completely did follow one POV (such as a chapter with Arashi that I really enjoyed). Some phrases were clunky (as Rhodeworks pointed out, there are too many times that names are traded out for descriptive phrases like "the Afro-headed boy").

Overall though, this didn’t prevent me from enjoying Music Masters enough to recommend it. I always think that if a story evokes a certain feeling in me, that I will definitely enjoy it. Music Masters accomplishes that in spades with its cartoon aesthetic that takes me back to lazy Saturday mornings and bowls of cereal.

2 of 2 members found this review helpful.
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