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THE APOCALYPSE BLOG

Does a lot right, but doesn’t overcome boring writing.

By DustinM, member

Dec 2, 2009: The Apocalypse Blog is a blog written by the fictional character Faith MacIntyre. The blog is her account of the end of the world as we know it. The blog posts in real time almost everyday and is still running. Because of how much text there is in the story, I have decided to do a review without reading the entire thing. I believe though, that I have read more than enough to give an accurate review.

Plot:

The Apocalypse Blog is exactly what it’s name implies. It is written by a character who is living through what seems to be an apocalypse. The story opens with a women, Faith MacIntyre, diarying the apocalypse of her personal life -Lost friends, and boyfriend. In the middle of her trying to piece herself back together, the actual apocalypse happens.

When I say the Apocalypse, I mean it. Giant bomb, blotched out sky, no government, killer rain, violent roving gangs, and the list goes on and on. Faith, and a haphazard group of survivers she travels with strive to stay alive and find their loved ones from their pre-apocalypse lives. The story is written by Faith as she and her group faces each new and terrible obstacle.

The group involves fire fighters, doctors, kids, and future odd assortments of people. Faith’s moral strength and her spirit’s fortitude make her the unlikely leader of the group.

Unfortunately, external threats are not the only thing they must face. The differing personalities and prejudices are all things the threaten to tear the group apart from the inside. As you can imagine, drug addicts and fire fighters don’t get along great. Faith’s delicate negotiations just barely keeps the group together.

Format:

It is a Standard Blog Fiction-that is- a single blog with a single fictional author. It relies entirely on text, so no pictures or videos. A post is usually between 750 and 1200 words. Their is a new post almost every day(including weekends!). The blog also posts in realtime, so a day for us is a day for the characters. The only peculiar thing about the site is that comments are turned off.

The content is definitely R-rated. There are many violence and horrific scenes as well as limited sexual content.

Pros:

There is a lot to like about this blog fiction. Obviously, the best part is the story. The story presents an ever present ever escalating sets of danger. Whenever Faith thinks she can relax, something awful happens. Either their goal turned out to be fool hardy or someone she depended on dies. Speaking of dieing, there is a lot of that in this story. People are constantly dieing – even people you may not expect. The constant danger adds a great sense of suspense for the reader.

Another great thing is that the characters are flawed. While everyone has their strengths, they also have weaknesses or characteristics that are less than admirable. As a reader, I felt that I was reading about a random selection of real, actual people.

Another great thing is the mood setting descriptions. It works to create a sense of despair when one reads about broken buildings and hollowed out stores. It makes the reader feel like they are walking around in this terrible world.

The sheer amount of writing cannot be ignored. The fact that there is a new post everyday is quite the accomplishment. The volume and consistency is to be applauded.

Finally, they broke the mold when they made this site. The layout of the site is about as flawless as they come. Posts have dates and times, archives are easy to reach, and the text is easy to read. I like the dates and times at the top of the posts. When there are more than 1 post per day, the times of each post are important. Although, I would’ve liked better if the times were below the post titles. For some reason my eyes keep wanting to skip over the date and time of the post. In the future, I will be directing people to this site as an example of how to put together a Blog Fiction site.

Cons:

The Author has done just about everything right except for one thing: the writing. The problem is that it reads like I’m reading a real life diary. That probably sounds like a strange criticism since my definition of Blog Fiction reads in part "diary fiction" so I try to elaborate.

The story doesn’t read in a way that I feel like I am experiencing it. While reading the story, I never once thought, "don’t go in there!" or "why did she do that?". The reason is that it felt more like somebody was telling me what happened which, any editor worth his salt will tell, is a cardinal sin in fiction(show, don’t tell!). In the case of this story it hurt it in three major ways. It takes away a lot of suspense, it adds a cloud of unbelievability, and makes it difficult to relate to the characters.

Uncountable are the number of scenes that could have been exciting if they had been shown instead of told. I’ll just give a few examples. The first example is when the group tries to cross a broken bridge by car. The bridge starts falling and they have to reverse all the way back to the bank before the falling steel catches up to them.

There was a moment when all four wheels were off the ground. My stomach was left in midair as the bridge fell at least a foot, leaving our tyres to catch up. We kept going, as fast as we could, swerving recklessly towards the bank.

This is exciting stuff, but that paragraph is the only thing the describes how they made it back to the bridge. Imagine if it was a longer and gave a play-by-play of the action. Something like:

The tires were squealing as they went into reverse. I was slammed forward in my seat. I turned around in my seat. We were careening toward an abandoned car. I pointed at the car, "Look out!". Ben swerved the wheel to the left. I was shoved into my seat and my head slammed against the window. I looked up and saw the bridge fall directly in front of us. The front of the car started tipping forward. My stomach dropped. I heard the back wheels spinning in the air. This is it, I thought. Then the car slammed onto something solid and we continued rolling backwards onto the bank.

If this was the only action scene that was told it could be ignored, but almost every action scene is like that.

It’s not just suspense that’s sucked out of the story by summary writing technique. Humor is too. There is an august post that had a potentially humorous passage.

So off we went. Sneaking through the streets, creeping up towards the depot, we were like ninja in cracked boots and rainbow scarves. We were less ninja-like when we fumbled around inside a warehouse, trying to find somewhere to watch the depot from without being seen. It was more like a comedy of shushes and thumps and muttered swearing.

This could’ve been a lot funnier if we had experienced the comedy of shushes and thumps as they happened. Instead we just get a passage about how funny it was. Which is about as funny as your roommate telling you something funny that happened at work. There’s a reason those stories end with "you had to’ve been there".

Other strange scenes are skipped over with a short summary. Check out this excerpt.

When we settled down for the night, I checked on Ben’s injuries. The poor guy had been holding onto Thorpe and then had all of us jumping on him so that he didn’t slip away too. He kept telling me that he was okay; I had to threaten to get the doctor to look at him before he’d let me make sure.

I think he was telling the truth. I didn’t get the chance to check thoroughly – it was dark and Ben was very distracting. I’d never dared to hug him before, because I didn’t want to hurt him, but we did a lot more than that last night. Hurt was the last thing on our minds, lips or bodies. Here he comes with breakfast. I can’t stop smiling.

Wait a second! What is this Seinfeld? I think she just yada-yada’d over sex. Maybe she didn’t want to be graphic, but even the leadup was skipped over. No passionate kiss, or light touch on the leg, nothing. We’re expected to just accept that Faith examining Ben’s wounds lead to sex.

That leads to the other problem. Believability. I read a post about Faith’s group fighting off a gang.

I’ve heard that higher ground was an advantage, but I didn’t realise how much until I saw the fight across the mall. It was so frustrating – I wanted to be over there helping, not wincing in sympathy from such a distance. I caught myself shouting out directions – look out, over there – as that was all I could do. The sharks definitely came off worst this time around – the others drove them off without too many problems.

Really? How did the group (which at that point only had a few healthy adults) fight off a large group of healthy young men. I could believe it, if I was shown how it was done, but instead I’m just told that it happens. This is just an example of nearly a half dozen scenes where we’re told that the group somehow fights off another group. Call me a pessimist, but I don’t buy it.

The final way the telling hurts the story is that it’s very hard to relate to characters when we are only told their actions instead of seeing them. There is a scene where the characters must decide what to do next.

Thorpe asked if we should forget about trying to get across the river and move on to the next marker on our map. I think that’s the first time I ever saw the big fella and the doctor agree about something (Masterson is usually of the ‘why bother?’ attitude).

I asked which one of them was going to tell Dillon that we weren’t going to look for his family because it was a bit difficult. Neither of them had an answer for me; even Masterson didn’t want to break the kid’s hopes like that. If we can face Stripers and fight off sharks, then we can cross a stupid river. That was the end of that idea.

This seems like a conversation worthy of seeing and not summarized. While we do get a sense of how the 3 people approach life, we could’ve seen more if we could’ve witnessed the conversation. I’d like to have seen Faith get upset at the suggestion of abandoning Dillon’s destination. I would’ve liked to have seen the two men cowering at the thought of breaking Dillon’s heart. I would’ve liked to see Faith’s moral fortitude rubbing off on the group. Instead, we’re just told that it happens. We’re not allowed to see the conflict between the three, which means that we, the readers, never have a chance to ask ourselves, "whose side would I be on"?

Conclusion The Apocalypse does a lot of things right. It has great characters, the story is horrific, and the site layout is just perfect. Unfortunately, the writing fails to capitalize on all those great things. When I first started reading my attention was held. However, after dozens of summarized action sequences and arguments, my interest waned and I had to force myself to keep reading. That’s why I would only recommend this site if you’re really into horror or post-apocalyptic stories.

This review was cross posted from http://blog.blogfiction.org

2 of 6 members found this review helpful.
Help us improve!  Register or log in to rate this review.

next »

the_author() rating onrating onrating halfrating offrating off

THE APOCALYPSE BLOG

Does a lot right, but doesn’t overcome boring writing.

By DustinM, member

Dec 2, 2009: The Apocalypse Blog is a blog written by the fictional character Faith MacIntyre. The blog is her account of the end of the world as we know it. The blog posts in real time almost everyday and is still running. Because of how much text there is in the story, I have decided to do a review without reading the entire thing. I believe though, that I have read more than enough to give an accurate review.

Plot:

The Apocalypse Blog is exactly what it’s name implies. It is written by a character who is living through what seems to be an apocalypse. The story opens with a women, Faith MacIntyre, diarying the apocalypse of her personal life -Lost friends, and boyfriend. In the middle of her trying to piece herself back together, the actual apocalypse happens.

When I say the Apocalypse, I mean it. Giant bomb, blotched out sky, no government, killer rain, violent roving gangs, and the list goes on and on. Faith, and a haphazard group of survivers she travels with strive to stay alive and find their loved ones from their pre-apocalypse lives. The story is written by Faith as she and her group faces each new and terrible obstacle.

The group involves fire fighters, doctors, kids, and future odd assortments of people. Faith’s moral strength and her spirit’s fortitude make her the unlikely leader of the group.

Unfortunately, external threats are not the only thing they must face. The differing personalities and prejudices are all things the threaten to tear the group apart from the inside. As you can imagine, drug addicts and fire fighters don’t get along great. Faith’s delicate negotiations just barely keeps the group together.

Format:

It is a Standard Blog Fiction-that is- a single blog with a single fictional author. It relies entirely on text, so no pictures or videos. A post is usually between 750 and 1200 words. Their is a new post almost every day(including weekends!). The blog also posts in realtime, so a day for us is a day for the characters. The only peculiar thing about the site is that comments are turned off.

The content is definitely R-rated. There are many violence and horrific scenes as well as limited sexual content.

Pros:

There is a lot to like about this blog fiction. Obviously, the best part is the story. The story presents an ever present ever escalating sets of danger. Whenever Faith thinks she can relax, something awful happens. Either their goal turned out to be fool hardy or someone she depended on dies. Speaking of dieing, there is a lot of that in this story. People are constantly dieing – even people you may not expect. The constant danger adds a great sense of suspense for the reader.

Another great thing is that the characters are flawed. While everyone has their strengths, they also have weaknesses or characteristics that are less than admirable. As a reader, I felt that I was reading about a random selection of real, actual people.

Another great thing is the mood setting descriptions. It works to create a sense of despair when one reads about broken buildings and hollowed out stores. It makes the reader feel like they are walking around in this terrible world.

The sheer amount of writing cannot be ignored. The fact that there is a new post everyday is quite the accomplishment. The volume and consistency is to be applauded.

Finally, they broke the mold when they made this site. The layout of the site is about as flawless as they come. Posts have dates and times, archives are easy to reach, and the text is easy to read. I like the dates and times at the top of the posts. When there are more than 1 post per day, the times of each post are important. Although, I would’ve liked better if the times were below the post titles. For some reason my eyes keep wanting to skip over the date and time of the post. In the future, I will be directing people to this site as an example of how to put together a Blog Fiction site.

Cons:

The Author has done just about everything right except for one thing: the writing. The problem is that it reads like I’m reading a real life diary. That probably sounds like a strange criticism since my definition of Blog Fiction reads in part "diary fiction" so I try to elaborate.

The story doesn’t read in a way that I feel like I am experiencing it. While reading the story, I never once thought, "don’t go in there!" or "why did she do that?". The reason is that it felt more like somebody was telling me what happened which, any editor worth his salt will tell, is a cardinal sin in fiction(show, don’t tell!). In the case of this story it hurt it in three major ways. It takes away a lot of suspense, it adds a cloud of unbelievability, and makes it difficult to relate to the characters.

Uncountable are the number of scenes that could have been exciting if they had been shown instead of told. I’ll just give a few examples. The first example is when the group tries to cross a broken bridge by car. The bridge starts falling and they have to reverse all the way back to the bank before the falling steel catches up to them.

There was a moment when all four wheels were off the ground. My stomach was left in midair as the bridge fell at least a foot, leaving our tyres to catch up. We kept going, as fast as we could, swerving recklessly towards the bank.

This is exciting stuff, but that paragraph is the only thing the describes how they made it back to the bridge. Imagine if it was a longer and gave a play-by-play of the action. Something like:

The tires were squealing as they went into reverse. I was slammed forward in my seat. I turned around in my seat. We were careening toward an abandoned car. I pointed at the car, "Look out!". Ben swerved the wheel to the left. I was shoved into my seat and my head slammed against the window. I looked up and saw the bridge fall directly in front of us. The front of the car started tipping forward. My stomach dropped. I heard the back wheels spinning in the air. This is it, I thought. Then the car slammed onto something solid and we continued rolling backwards onto the bank.

If this was the only action scene that was told it could be ignored, but almost every action scene is like that.

It’s not just suspense that’s sucked out of the story by summary writing technique. Humor is too. There is an august post that had a potentially humorous passage.

So off we went. Sneaking through the streets, creeping up towards the depot, we were like ninja in cracked boots and rainbow scarves. We were less ninja-like when we fumbled around inside a warehouse, trying to find somewhere to watch the depot from without being seen. It was more like a comedy of shushes and thumps and muttered swearing.

This could’ve been a lot funnier if we had experienced the comedy of shushes and thumps as they happened. Instead we just get a passage about how funny it was. Which is about as funny as your roommate telling you something funny that happened at work. There’s a reason those stories end with "you had to’ve been there".

Other strange scenes are skipped over with a short summary. Check out this excerpt.

When we settled down for the night, I checked on Ben’s injuries. The poor guy had been holding onto Thorpe and then had all of us jumping on him so that he didn’t slip away too. He kept telling me that he was okay; I had to threaten to get the doctor to look at him before he’d let me make sure.

I think he was telling the truth. I didn’t get the chance to check thoroughly – it was dark and Ben was very distracting. I’d never dared to hug him before, because I didn’t want to hurt him, but we did a lot more than that last night. Hurt was the last thing on our minds, lips or bodies. Here he comes with breakfast. I can’t stop smiling.

Wait a second! What is this Seinfeld? I think she just yada-yada’d over sex. Maybe she didn’t want to be graphic, but even the leadup was skipped over. No passionate kiss, or light touch on the leg, nothing. We’re expected to just accept that Faith examining Ben’s wounds lead to sex.

That leads to the other problem. Believability. I read a post about Faith’s group fighting off a gang.

I’ve heard that higher ground was an advantage, but I didn’t realise how much until I saw the fight across the mall. It was so frustrating – I wanted to be over there helping, not wincing in sympathy from such a distance. I caught myself shouting out directions – look out, over there – as that was all I could do. The sharks definitely came off worst this time around – the others drove them off without too many problems.

Really? How did the group (which at that point only had a few healthy adults) fight off a large group of healthy young men. I could believe it, if I was shown how it was done, but instead I’m just told that it happens. This is just an example of nearly a half dozen scenes where we’re told that the group somehow fights off another group. Call me a pessimist, but I don’t buy it.

The final way the telling hurts the story is that it’s very hard to relate to characters when we are only told their actions instead of seeing them. There is a scene where the characters must decide what to do next.

Thorpe asked if we should forget about trying to get across the river and move on to the next marker on our map. I think that’s the first time I ever saw the big fella and the doctor agree about something (Masterson is usually of the ‘why bother?’ attitude).

I asked which one of them was going to tell Dillon that we weren’t going to look for his family because it was a bit difficult. Neither of them had an answer for me; even Masterson didn’t want to break the kid’s hopes like that. If we can face Stripers and fight off sharks, then we can cross a stupid river. That was the end of that idea.

This seems like a conversation worthy of seeing and not summarized. While we do get a sense of how the 3 people approach life, we could’ve seen more if we could’ve witnessed the conversation. I’d like to have seen Faith get upset at the suggestion of abandoning Dillon’s destination. I would’ve liked to have seen the two men cowering at the thought of breaking Dillon’s heart. I would’ve liked to see Faith’s moral fortitude rubbing off on the group. Instead, we’re just told that it happens. We’re not allowed to see the conflict between the three, which means that we, the readers, never have a chance to ask ourselves, "whose side would I be on"?

Conclusion The Apocalypse does a lot of things right. It has great characters, the story is horrific, and the site layout is just perfect. Unfortunately, the writing fails to capitalize on all those great things. When I first started reading my attention was held. However, after dozens of summarized action sequences and arguments, my interest waned and I had to force myself to keep reading. That’s why I would only recommend this site if you’re really into horror or post-apocalyptic stories.

This review was cross posted from http://blog.blogfiction.org

2 of 6 members found this review helpful.
Help us improve!  Register or log in to rate this review.

next »