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PaulAsaran


Technical Writer from the U.S.A.'s Deep South. Writes horsewords, and reviews both independently and for Seattle's Angels. New reviews posted every Thursday! Writing Motto: "Go Big or Go Home!"

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Jul
20th
2015

Paul's Monday Reviews XX · 12:45pm Jul 20th, 2015

That curious moment when you realize you've been doing something for around five months nonstop.

And I'm not about to stop! We've got a good selection today, folks.

Stories for This Week:

You Cannot Give Up Again by Selbi
Growing Pains by Karrakaz
Rainbow Dash: Re-Animator by JawJoe (request)
Lessons Learned from Loyalty by Whateverdudezb
Pinkie Pie's Foray into Absent-Minded Treason by Desavlos

Rating System

Why Haven't You Read These Yet?: 1
Pretty Good: 3
Worth It: 1
Not Bad: 0
None: 0


It’s a common view in the fandom – at least, as I’ve observed – that once a pony has his or her cutie mark they are immediately awesome at what they do. You Cannot Give Up Again rejects that premise in order to give the reader a moment of encouragement in the face of despair, and I wholeheartedly approve. The story starts with Octavia waiting on a bench outside a concert hall where, unfortunately, she just gave a very lackluster performance. Octavia is depressed and, while overhearing the harsh critique of the ponies leaving the concert, begins to consider giving up on her life’s dream. Then a random, nameless pony arrives to help her out of her slump.

This story is well-conceived, competently written and nicely paced. It is neither exciting nor energetic, but instead acts as a quiet plea for everyone to keep working towards their goals no matter how disheartened they are. Interestingly, Selbi makes no attempt to show whether Octavia proves successful later in her career. Such wasn’t the point, and I liked that decision.

I’d like to point out something negative for Selbi to build on, but I’ve got nothing. The story hit all the right spots without going on any tangents or rushing any scenes, nothing in the writing style stood out to me as wrong, and the story’s message was loud and clear. It didn’t ‘wow’ me, but at the same time it didn’t do anything wrong.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good


This story ended up being nothing like my expectations were based on the description. To give a proper summary would be to offer a ton of spoilers, so I’ll just shorten it to “While foalsitting Sweetie Belle, Twilight gets an idea to make Sweetie a better mage.”

First off, the writing of the story is great. Aside from one or two apparent typos, I have absolutely nothing to complain about. Having almost a half-dozen people pre-read it undoubtedly helped in that regard. The imagery is vivid, the characters perfectly accurate, the voices distinct. Karrakaz did a great job here.

I did take issue with a few points of the story, though:

Why is Sweetie staying at Rarity’s instead of with her parents? It’s a nitpick, but I would have loved to have had some explanation.

Sweetie Belle and Twilight were supposed to both learn a lesson from this story, or so the description states. I don’t really see any evidence of this. I suppose it can be inferred that Sweetie learned something, but Twilight? No indication whatsoever.

In relation to the above, what was the purpose of the story? There’s no visible moral. I mean, yes, the characters made mistakes, but these mistakes weren’t highlighted by the characters themselves, which suggests that nothing was gained from the experience. It makes it look as though the story exists just to force Twilight to undergo a change that she was eventually going to experience anyway… so what’s the point?

And in relation to that, Twilight just underwent a huge transformation that, apparently, is going to be left as permanent. Her reaction? “Ho-hum, just another day.” I get why, in the grand scheme of things, the change isn’t that big a deal, but at the same time I would expect Twilight to have a stronger reaction than that. Twilight is well known for not taking such changes lightly. It’s the one big flaw in Karrakaz characterizations, and it feels like a particularly big one.

Growing Pains is a fun story to read, burgeoned by Karrakaz’s excellent writing and great characterizations. Unfortunately, that’s all there is to the story. I would feel a lot better about it if I didn’t feel like it was written just so that Karrakaz could show Twilight in a new physical form. I’ve always been of the opinion that stories need to have a theme or message to be particularly good, and I’m not seeing either in this one. Even so, I liked it, and I aim to read the sequel soon to see if Karrakaz bothers to make good use of what has been started.

The author can write. Now let’s see if the author can write for a reason.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good


JawJoe asked me to read a lot of his stories, and I have done so. I’ve been through the reality-defying (in a bad way) Harmony’s End, the dark-fest, over-the-top Twilight Sparkle: Night Shift, the delightfully creative Queen of Queens and even helped with the gloomy I Want to Take the Wings off, but I Can’t. At this point I have a pretty solid idea of his writing style and methods. I kept Rainbow Dash: Re-Animator for nearly the end because, frankly, it didn’t look too interesting.

This story is exactly what the title suggests. Essentially, when Twilight is unsatisfied with Celestia’s response to her queries about immortality, she decides to perform experiments on life preservation. For reasons that make a lot more sense than you’d think, she asks Rainbow Dash to be her research assistant, and this works quite well. Then Rainbow Dash slips up on a certain potion that Twilight self-tests, with fatal consequences. Plagued with guilt for having unintentionally killed her friend, Rainbow decides to pursue the one avenue of research strictly forbidden by Twilight: the re-animation of dead matter.

Then Sweetie Belle catches her in the act.

As I said, when this started I found the entire concept questionable. Rainbow Dash, a scientist? And Sweetie, to whom she has a minimal relationship even in the show, as her assistant? These alone had me doubting. I also feared that the story would fall along the lines of Twilight Sparkle: Night Shift or Harmony’s End and resolve its issues with absurd logic and over-the-top nonsense.

I didn’t get any of that.

This time, JawJoe did almost everything right. I’m not even remotely joking here; the plot is perfectly paced, the story is delightfully well organized, the characters are interesting and believable. Rainbow’s rapid spiral into madness and Sweetie’s desperation and fear are palpable. With the exception of the scene in which Twilight died, this is the first story by JawJoe that actually felt emotionally effective. I did not want to stop reading, and that’s not something I say often.

Most of JawJoe’s stories are certainly worthy of praise, but they are also all flawed in one way or another. Although it lacks the sheer creativity of Queen of Queens or the intense horror of concept in Twilight Sparkle: Night Shift, in terms of just being a well-crafted story I must say that this is the single best thing JawJoe has ever written.

Bookshelf: Why Haven’t You Read These Yet?


This is one of those stories that easily catches the eye. From the moment I first saw it, I was intrigued; the Mane 6 as semi-immortal demigods dispensing wisdom all across Equestria? Yes, please. I wouldn’t mind writing something like that myself, although ATM I’m fine thinking of them as mortal avatars. The real question in my mind was whether or not Whateverdudezb could make it work.

I’m happy to say that the answer is “yes.”

There are some definite issues with the story’s writing style. The biggest problem is the author’s unfortunate habit of using telly, obvious narrative language. For example:

"Be there? Be there!? That's it!?" he sounded furious, and his eyes were heated as he looked at her, "I don't believe this!

Apparently Whateverdudezb thought that the dialogue didn’t make Bourdon’s anger apparent enough and had to repeat the fact in the narrative. Twice. This is sloppy, redundant and plagues the entire story from start to finish. If anything brought this story down, it’s this.

Other than that, this is an excellent and thoroughly imaginative tale that I had a lot of fun with. Rainbow is still that lazy, sloppy mare we all know and love, but she’s also grown in ways both physical and mental. To see her living almost like a deity amidst the clouds actually made me proud of her, and it is apparent from both her junk collection to her manner of dealing with Bourbon that she hasn’t lost touch with regular ponies, even if they literally worship her as the matron demigoddess of loyalty. Whateverdudezb did a great job showing a true-to-show Rainbow Dash who just happens to be a lot more awesome than she once was.

Although I do have one question: if ponies are called to her by a vision whenever they have a desperate need for her help, how are earth ponies and unicorns supposed to get to her cloud temple home? I mean, I suppose there are airships, but what about those with no means for that kind of thing?

Regardless, I quite enjoyed this story. Rainbow Dash was great, her typical manner of imparting wisdom felt very accurate, and the whole thing is delightfully creative. After seeing this and the hints provided in-story of the rest of the Mane six, I am very eager to see what the author will do with the sequels.

Whateverdudezb, you better write one for each of them, you hear me? I’ll be reading the sequel before too long.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good


Alternative title: “Do Pinkie-Flavored Cupcakes Taste Like Bubblegum?”

This is one of those stories that suggests one thing and gives you something entirely different. Even so, one promise came true: it was certainly silly. That’s the good part, really. Desavlos’ uses a flowing, witty writing style that left me smiling from beginning to end, starting with the discovery that Celestia is anything but a morning pony and ending with the twist. All things told, the story was a lot of fun to read. Problem is, the whole story is off by a wide margin. The title and story description make it abundantly clear what this story is about and then?

The story isn’t about that at all.

Talk about disappointing. Everything you see before reading the story tells you one thing, then you read 3,500 words of story that has nothing to do whatsoever with what you were promised. It’s all just one big (but admittedly amusing) lead up to a really dumb and unexplained twist that somehow is supposed to warrant being in the focus of the title, chapter title and story description. Sorry, but no.

The story is still entertaining to read, though, and I definitely enjoyed it. I’m just wholeheartedly opposed to Desavlos’s chosen direction with it. I was expecting a story about Pinkie’s crime and resulting punishment, not about Celestia deciding she needed a break from her royal duties. I get that there’s this whole concept of writing stories just for a specific gag ending, and I’m okay with that, but I don’t think the author should have mislead us so heavily.

Oh well. Still worth it.

Bookshelf: Worth It


Stories for Next Week:

7 x 13 = 28, DUH! by sonicfan05
I Want a Throne by Fire Gazer the Alchemist
A Child's Ponderings by little big pony (Re-Read)
Smile, Smile, Smile by punzil504
Good Morning, Beautiful by scoots2


Liked these reviews? Check out some others:

Paul's Monday Reviews XII
Paul's Monday Reviews XIII
Paul's Tuesday Reviews I – "I'm Not Dead" Edition
Paul's Monday Reviews XIV
Paul's Monday Reviews XV
Paul's Monday Reviews XVI
Paul's Monday Reviews XVII
Paul's Monday Reviews XVIII
Paul's tuesday Reviews II – "Where did the Time Go?" Edition
Paul's Monday Reviews XIX

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Comments ( 5 )

Reanimator, huh?

God, I wish I could write as well as he does.

Whateverdudezb, you better write one for each of them, you hear me? I’ll be reading the sequel before too long.

That's what we are all hoping for. Up to three of them and some side-stories. Plus the one about Twilight Sparkle dying in a history book. As for non-winged ponies, I think it's one of the side stories that has her affecting ponies in a town she passes through. So she doesn't spend all her time in her flying palace.

Always good to see another review of one's story, whatever the criticism or praise, and I'm glad to say that this one brought a smile to my face.

I'll admit that Lessons Learned from Loyalty had some tell-y language, it was the first in the series so hopefully you'll find that I've improved in the next installments, but I will vehemently defend that it is better to be over-descriptive in a work of literature than it is to be under-descriptive.

On the matter of how earth ponies and unicorns were supposed to reach Loyalty (a question I've been ready to answer since the story's submission, yet strangely after almost a year it's only now that it's been asked), if a nonflying pony needed to reach her then Tank would have instinctively set down on top of a mountain or some other similarly hard-to-reach-but-still-plausibly-traversable terrain that would have equally tested their conviction to see their problem through.

All-in-all, great review. I hope to see more.

It's heartwarming to see someone reviewing a story I deemed absolutely uninteresting, seeing how it only got around fifty likes. It makes me wonder how you discovered it in the first place, if I got to be honest with ya.

Anyway, thanks for the nice words! :pinkiesmile:

3253942
We brainstormed for his novel today. Dude's damn imaginative.

3255044
Seriously? I'm the first to bring this up? Huh. Okay, then.

3255925
I'm honestly not sure how I found you. The story's been on my RiL for months, just waiting to reach the top. I'm sure that'll be the story for almost every author I review for the first time.

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