Jun 25, 2013: Note: this review was written on a previous version of World of Courage. It may not be wholly representative of the current version.
It was hard for me to know exactly what to think when I began World of Courage. I have to give credit to the author in that this isn’t a format I’ve ever seen tried in webfiction to tell a story. It’s written entirely in verse, but this isn’t Shakespeare we’re talking about here. Each chapter is about the length of a set of lyrics for a three minute song, complete (in many cases) with refrains. And as if that wasn’t enough, each line generally rhymes with the next.
Although this does seem to be a novel format, I believe there are good reasons it hasn’t been tried before. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to work well with telling a story. There is little in the way of character development and dialogue in each chapter; mostly we’re fed exposition through the chapters as well as the author’s notes. This sort of spare wording works better when set to music, since the music can tell part of the story for you, but in trying to tell a story this way alone, it just seems to fall flat. I read through the first section of the story and on through several chapters of the next, so I have to report that it appears that the author continues with this format throughout this piece.
I find that unfortunate because of the problems I’ve noted above, but also because of the line rhyming. When I was a beginning lyricist, I asked for advice from some more seasoned song writers, and one of the things I was told to avoid at all costs was rhyming on every line. Alternating lines, or alternating two lines without a rhyme and then a rhyme – all of that seems to work out more naturally. Rhyming on every line tends to make your work sound like a nursery rhyme, which can sound sort of ridiculous. Plus, the need to find a rhyme seems to take over a lot of times, to the point where the work is almost led from one rhyme to the next and everything else takes a back seat. I know every-line rhyming is fairly traditional in some genres ( . . . and I found out in one of the author’s notes that this story was originally written as lyrics for a hip-hop/country album, so I’d guess that may be the source of the rhyming scheme), but frankly, it always sounds rather ridiculous to me in songs. Unfortunately, the tendency to sound ridiculous seems worse in written form, in my opinion.
The last thing that I noted that made this one a difficult slog for me is the fact that there is ubiquitous Christianity in the story, of the kind that’s spoon fed to you in most directions you look. For those of you who share this religion and don’t mind all of the references, you may find that fine, however, if you have another faith or none or just don’t appreciate all the spoon feeding, you may find the references as cloying as I did.
I feel I can’t really recommend this story due to the reasons cited above, but for those of you who really like poetry or can’t miss any superhero story, you may wish to check this one out.
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