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A Grey World: An Honest Review

By eventoe, member

Nov 24, 2013: First things first: Site Readability.

In this respect, the story is an immediate suscess. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it is the best site design of any of the web serials I have seen to date. This should not be understated. Many sites have an incredibly beautiful theme, but fail in regards to nagivation and accesibilty. That is not the case here. A Grey World (AGW) sports a simple but elegant design that blends seamlessly into the background and doesn’t detract from the central reading area. The text itself is grey on a darker grey background, which makes for a very easy read. I had no issues at all with tired eyes, even when archive binging. In terms of layout, a central menu is present at the top and navigation is very simple. Exactly as it should be. My only suggestion would be to add a link at the top for new readers to have immediately access to the first chapter. As it is, new readers must either be transported directly to the first chapter via the link on WFG/TWF, or click Table of Contents, and then click 1.01. However, this is a minor nitpick and most readers will find no issue with the current design.

Secondly: The Story

A Grey World follows the life of Alexis, a high school girl who lives in a decrepit part of town, has serious family issues at home, and is intensely bullied at school. After a chance run-in with a robber at a coffee shop, she begins to actively seek out dangerous encounters outside of her "normal life." This eventually turns into a single-handed battle against the drug dealers of her city, in which Alexis is unanimously awesome.

This theme – bullied girl who is shy and lonely, but carries a secret life in which she is badass may seem tired and worn for some. There will undoubtedly be comparisons to Worm. However, there are important differences to note that make A Grey World unique and well worth a read. Below, I outline what I like about AGW and what I think could be improved upon. Following that, there is a summary (which you can skip to if you so desire) and my final rating.

The Good:

  1. The Voice: The first person POV in which the author writes is very intimate. There is a fair amount of inner dialogue and thought form which allows the reader to really feel what Alexis goes through. I think this is one of the major selling points of the story. You can immediately connect with the central character. When she is lonely and depressed, you feel for her. When she is injured, you worry about her safety. Such writing is a rarity. There is a lot of heart in it.

  2. The Writing: There was an article that I read about good writing vs. talented writing. It may even have been linked to from this site’s forum. Suffice it to say, excellent fiction needs good technical writing (true), but it also requires talented, energetic prose. The latter is notable here. AGW starts with writing that is a little rough (maybe rusty is a better word). But it should be stated that the talent of the author is readily apparent from the beginning and it does not take long for Joe to really hit his stride in terms of prose. The most recent chapters are quite well delivered. For me, great writing is writing that I can get caught up in – writing that takes me away from the page, such that each sentence flows into the next and I forget for a time where I am and what I’m doing. There a clear moments of this happening in AGW.

  3. The Action: Not much to say here other than it’s awesome. Most people who discuss this story talk about the fight scenes and there’s a reason for that. They’re very well done.

The Not-As-Good:

  1. The Theme: This has been pointed out before by others, but should be noted here for completeness sake. It meanders. It has been described (very accurately) as a tale that is not quite sure what it wants to be when it grows up – is it a coming of age fic, a hard sci-fi novel, a dark avenger fic? There are disparate elements of each of these strewn throughout the text. Most of this can be chalked up to the fact that Joe did not have an established end-game when he started writing. At the moment, however, we seem to be heading into a more streamlined direction and I have high hopes that things will come together quite well in the end. Loose ends have already started to be tied up, or at least, more fleshed out.

  2. The Setting: Again, pointed out by others (as well as Joe himself.) The story is played out in a futuristic setting in which trips into space are not uncommon and technology is advanced beyond the current time. However, it is not the most fleshed out setting and could use further explanation.

  3. The Cursing: There is a point when cursing stops being dark and edgy and crosses over into the realm of distracting. A Grey World teeters on this edge, if not at times, falls over it. As an author, I understand the allure and have been guilty of the same, myself. When you write in a dark, gritty setting and want to make you POV character edgy and aggressive, curse words are a very easy tool to accomplish this. The occasional F-bomb can go a long way. However, it is easy to get carried away, and this is made even easier by the undisputed flexibility of the word F*%#. I would advise Joe to be careful in this regard. There are other, perhaps better ways, of showing a characters toughness.


Overall, A Grey World succeeds as a web serial. It is consistently updated (twice/week), is written by an author with talent, and fits into a niche that most readers on this forum will find exciting and rewarding. With the conclusion of Worm, many will find that Void fillable, or perhaps, somewhat quenched by AGW. It is not a perfect story, but the issues are minor enough that they do not discredit the tale being told. At the end of the day, a good web serial is a story that takes me away – something that I look forward to reading as new updates emerge. This is what A Grey World gives me. As we move into the future, I have high hopes for this story and the direction Joe is taking it.

A very solid 4-4.5 stars, depending on what you like to read. 4.5 stars for me.

3 of 4 members found this review helpful.
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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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Alexis is the avatar of moxie, but still feels human.

By Farmerbob1, author of Set In Stone

Jun 5, 2014: Alexis feels like a real person. So often, the characters we write, the characters we read, they feel . . . abstract, but here, in this series, we find a character that comes alive. She’s not a superhero, she’s not super smart. She’s got moxie, but she’s got human weaknesses too, some of which will make you cringe with sympathy in the beginning.

Alexis lives in two worlds. One is The Island, a section of the city where the police don’t go, where the economy is heavily based on the black market. What money does come in from the outside is quickly absorbed by the black market. Drugs and prostitution are a large part of the economic foundation, and Alexis’ mother is a full blown addict, useless to Alexis as a role model or guardian. The other is school, off The Island, where there is food, and an education that she needs to fulfill her dream of getting off this miserable mudball, Earth.

When we meet Alexis, she seems to have a mental concept of what a friend is, but it’s something foreign to her. There are no friends in her world, there are threats and non-threats. Beth teaches Alexis about friendship. This causes Alexis a great deal of mental stress as she tries to create a whole new category of person. Threat, non-threat, and friend.

Unfortunately for Alexis and Beth, there are few rainbows in this world. Alexis learns about friendship through liberal applications of physical and mental pain.

Beth was mostly isolated from Alexis’ pain for a long time, but that eventually changes. Now (at the time of this review), Beth is no longer able to safely live outside The Island. Now, Beth lives in Alexis’ world of threats and non-threats in The Island, and she’s teaching Alexis about the next step past friendship. Oh, and how to properly handle firearms too, can’t forget that.

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