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Both Feet Out Of The Grave

By tkjarrah, author of blacklight

Aug 8, 2016: Short version:

Graves is a cyberpunk-ish fantasy thriller with a tight plot, engaging characters and deep lore, and it feels like it’s gonna be big. Read it.

Long version:

In the world of Graves, humanity live in (a?) floating city (/ies?), with most of the landmass covered by necropolises that house the dead, and . . . other things. The city’s elite live in the glossy upper levels of the city, while the poor slum below. LM4s, those with the ability to channel the power of ghosts, the residual energy left behind by a death, are rounded up and forced into servitude by the government, collared and controlled.

Daria Novotsky is an unregistered LM4, living in the lower levels of the city and hiding her powers, stealing to support her family. But when that brings her into contact with the criminal gang known as the Graves, she finds herself embroiled in their revolutionary plans, and the conspiracies of the city’s rulers.

Graves treats its world-building carefully, never giving the reader anything more than they need to understand what’s going on. Personally, I think it does it well, and found it interesting and engaging, but I can easily understand how some might instead view it as opaque and frustrating. I’m of the opinion that it works, and it kept me invested in the world and eager to discover more. Nevertheless, it does mean that a lot of details about the setting are still unknown, so some of the stuff I wrote up there may not be 100% accurate. For example, there’s a state religion involving broadcasts and the kept (government-owned LM4s) that’s barely been elaborated on, just tantalizingly hanging in the background. If you don’t like that sort of thing, Graves may not be the story for you.

The plot, fittingly for a thriller, really races along. Presumably, the complete aversion to getting even slightly bogged down in exposition or world-building is a big aid to that. It’s got good mystery and suspense, the prose is fantastic, and it twists and turns back and forth in a pleasingly unpredictable manner. The characters are varied and interesting, and while there are quite a few of them, they’re introduced just far enough apart to not be confusing. At the current point in the story (6.11), it’s practically an ensemble cast, but I have no trouble telling them apart.

The writing and editing is top-notch. I didn’t notice a single typo in my entire readthrough, and the presentation of the story is equally slick. In a field where shoddy grammar and formatting can be considered an expected possible hazard, it really stands out to have something this technically flawless.

The story is told in first person, and initially this brought up a concern for me. See, Daria has a boyfriend, named Ric. And Ric is just objectively awful. Due to the narration, though, I couldn’t quite tell if this was deliberate, or if it was a Twilight-esque complete misunderstanding of how characters come off. Minor spoilers, it is eventually proved to be the former, which actually enhanced the experience for me. It was a really good use of first-person perspective.

So overall, I give Graves top marks in all categories, and an overall score of 4 stars, with a possible upgrade to 4.5 or 5 depending on where it goes from here. Go read it.

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An Old Favorite

By Malacai, member

May 2, 2016: I’ve been reading this web serial for a few years now. It was the first, or close to the first, story of this format that I’ve read, and it’s still really entertaining. I’ve even gone and reread it a couple times, and it continues to intrigue.

Style: The story is written in 1st person, which works mostly because the main character is analytical yet spacy. He does go into detail about people’s powers, some wondering, but a lot of stuff that is really nuanced, like emotions and descriptions, he describes them succinctly and matter-of-factly. He does seem to have a slight problem empathizing, but it doesn’t seem to be debilitating. And he doesn’t seem inhuman, just slightly detached.

Story: We’re following the lives of the grandchildren of some WWII superheroes. Thus, we go into having to deal with old villains, creating an identity with respect to their predecessors’, as well as typical teenage stuff of figuring out what they want to do. There’s lots of action, but also fiddly stuff about the structure of a team and how to decide what to do without depending on just heroic instincts. There’s lots of fun, and lots of serious parts without much death or gore. When there is death, it is dealt with seriously and not really dramatized or downplayed.

Grammar: Not much to say here, other than the author doesn’t have many grammar errors, and responds to reader comments on them.

Characters: The characters are very well developed, even if that isn’t that obvious at the beginning. The main character’s lack of introspection and awkwardness in social interactions leads to a slightly slanted view of others, but everyone’s motivations, goals, and personalities shine through their actions and words. Also, they remain consistent, even where they grind against others’.

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No title

By Taulsn, author of Reaper

May 1, 2016: I don’t like romance; it usually leads to tiresome drama, don’t get me wrong there is a lot of romance in A Grey world. I don’t care; it’s relatable, and it doesn’t contain beaten to death tropes. The rest of the world is twenty minutes in the future, with the story spending time between a rather nasty slum, and a rather nasty high school.

Our protagonist and hero Alexis, who spends most of her life being broken down by these environments, starts the story by trying to build herself back up again. She grows and improves only to get promptly kicked back down again, each time harder than the last. Joe Along with being an excellent world builder, and capable of making very realistic characters, is a fucking sadist.

The sadism shows in some rather brutal fight scenes that manage to illustrate both what people are capable of doing to each other, and just how fragile humans can be.

Should you read A Grey World? Yes, yes you should it’s on of my favorite web serials, and that’s unlikely to change. Alexis is my favorite type of protagonist, a doer.

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