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First Impression Reviews: Episode Five · 4:10am Apr 17th, 2016

Below are two fanfic reviews based purely on the initial impressions provided by the first chapter (or first 3k words.) For an outline of what my reviewing guidelines are, go here. Please do not request reviews!

Never Drift Away by Girls of Canterlot High
Rating: Teen
Tags: Comedy, Equestria Girls, Romance, Slice of Life
Summary: Beauty was always easy for her to understand, but love is a completely different matter. A powerful attraction has come over her as Rarity explores her feelings and begins the adventure to discovering friendship, love, and everything in between! Every lady needs a knight to sweep her off her feet, right? That knight just so happens to wear flannel shirts and a cowboy hat!!! Join everyone's favorite Fashionista as she discovers what it really means to be in love during her fast times at Canterlot High!!!
Grammar: 4/5 - A typo or two here and there. Close repetition of the phrase “try as she might”.

My Thoughts:
Rarijack is certainly above AppleDash in my book, so I was kind of looking forward to this one. I love shipping Rarity, and it’s not because I think she’s some feminine object to peddle around, but because I genuinely enjoy seeing her character being paired with others. Her romantic nature makes for some very interesting chemistry. I like it when a writer can acknowledge her femininity without pigeonholing her to being some stallion-crazy snob. Rarity is my favorite of the Main 6, a sentiment that not many may understand, but I have strived to give my thoughts on the matter. What’s more interesting, is that Applejack is my second favorite pony out of the Main 6. Seeing these two paired together just seems plausible to me. An “opposites attract” kind of thing. I love that in ships.

So how does this one measure up? Well given my preference for character, that’s where I’ll start.

Rarity is written fairly well. I like that she’s still so focused on appearances, but with a very logical and in-depth methodology of how she goes about tackling fashion issues. It paints her as an intelligent and detail-oriented person. There’s an undercurrent of insecurity about her morning preparation for school that makes her feel relatable without feeling too exaggerated or angsty. The cause for the anxiety? Rarity wants to look nice for Applejack. We then launch into an explanation as to “why” Rarity would be interested in someone of the same sex. The real reason? No reason. Just because. It was about here that the story lost me a bit, and here’s why:

I don’t mind Rarity being shipped in an F/F pair. The challenge her character presents in this scenario is that she is confirmed to have heterosexual leanings in the show’s canon. A writer could justify a change in Rarity’s apparent sexual preference by either explaining that she’s bisexual/pansexual/androsexual/whatever would let a person still like boys and girls and <insert gender identity here>, or that she was simply very confused and had it all wrong (“lawl, sry gaiz, i’m lezbian”) because <insert reasons here>. For me? This step is necessary. I need the explanation. The justification. The “why this doesn’t fly in the face of canon” (unless, of course, it’s AU, and it’s EXPLAINED that Rarity’s sexual preference is changed within this universe).

In Never Drift Away? It’s just a, “Oh well, I like girls. No use fighting it.” Not only does this ring false to me, it feels lazy and flat. Rarity would certainly not just take this in stride. That’s just not in her nature. I mean, yes, if we want to quibble about whether or not she’d be “okay with the gays”, I would still argue that the main issue doesn’t even rest there. The main issue, as I see it, is that Rarity is a control freak. She and Twilight Sparkle are both OCD, but while Twilight stresses upon rules and factual accuracy, Rare exhibits a compulsion to express herself visually, and this often extends into a kind of manic need to manifest her identity--her very feminine heteronormative identity--to the world. Now imagine being that control freak who thought she had her very sense of self worked out down to the fabric stitch, and tell me how well she handles it when she realizes she had it all wrong.


So no. I was not enamored with this very glib way of dismissing Rarity’s canon sexual preference, but I soldiered on, because I knew Applejack could still save the day.

Except she didn’t.

I think I mentioned in a review for another story that “less is more” when it comes to AJ’s Oklahoma-Ozark-inspired speech. The author starts out fine with Applejack’s portrayal. She’s down-to-earth, humble, and vaguely masculine (in an attractive way). But as AJ and Rarity’s conversation deepens, I find myself growing more frustrated with the way my favorite country girl is being written. It gets very tiring when my mind has to keep making sense of how this would actually sound:

Now Ah know yer just reachin’ fer straws, Rare.

Or this:

This it? Kitten’s ‘n a man makin’ weird kitten noises?

Like...I get it, author. Applejack has a southern accent. I know this already. But I’m struggling to recreate how you think this southern accent would manifest itself in what is supposed to be a fluid dialogue. I could fill in the blanks myself much more quickly. Here’s how I would approach this situation. Not trying to step on the author’s toes, I just want to illustrate my point:

Now ah know you’re just reaching for straws, Rare.

This it? Kittens and a man making weird kitten noises?

You see how that reads smoother? Does Applejack honestly sound any less country in your heads? I even kept the ‘ah’ in the first quote. And in the second quote? The informal tone created by “This it?”, coupled by the fact that we know it’s AJ speaking, makes it easy to keep the southern accent present in our mind without impeding the understanding of what is actually being said. Suggestion is better than literal depiction. The latter slows down the reading experience unnecessarily.

With that, I know what my verdict is for this story…

Final Verdict: I can’t recommend this one. I know this is a well liked story in the Rarijack camp, but I just can’t get into it. The grave misstep with Rarity’s character, and Applejack’s exhausting speech is just too much for me. It’s kind of unfortunate, because I could see that this author has quite a bit of potential--they have good flow, a decent narrative voice, and their editing is fairly good. I’m rather disappointed this didn’t work out.

A Diamond and a Tether by PatchworkPoltergeist
Rating: Everyone
Tags: Drama, Human, Slice of Life
Summary: Heiress Lucy Burdock knows life has a way of surprising you.
For example, she wasn't expecting a little pink pony for her birthday. She certainly didn't expect it to start talking, either. It was cute at first, but it kinda feels more like taking care of a little kid than a pony. Lucy's never really been great with kids... but she can make it work!
Can't she?
Grammar: 5/5 - I saw nothing wrong at all.

My Thoughts:
Ah… Yes…

I believe I mentioned in episode three that there would be stories on this list from my early days of FimFiction--stories that I would not have added recently given what I know now. This is one of those. It’s not that there’s anything creepy, or sleazy, or reprehensible about it. It’s just tagged Human. I have almost no interest in HiE or “a pony as a human pet” stories. I’m saying this without having read a single one. I know that sounds unfair, but when half the ones I come across are Human/Pony romances, or humans being superior to ponies (either as allies or enemies) I don’t really feel all that bad about it. Even My Little Dashie didn’t really wow me, and that’s probably the most popular human-pony thing in the fandom.

But A Diamond and a Tether is on the list! I said I’d read everything on the list. (sigh)

So starting it out, I was pleased to find there was a good rhythm to the dialogue. The characterizations feel solid and are fluidly presented. The trouble was...I wasn’t sure if I’d like any of the characters. Sometimes, a story can read like Mozart and still feel like Gwar on reverse with a hangover. Then Diamond Tiara is introduced, and guh… She’s so cute and innocent! The trouble is, this is a story tagged Drama, and judging by the description, it looks to tug on my heartstrings. I’ve already stated in past reviews that while I like catharsis, that doesn’t include being made to feel sad when all is said and done. This feels like a setup for a disaster. Lucy is such a vain, prissy, selfish snob. Brian is a tool.

The author does a good job of dancing along a tightrope. There was a genuine moment where I thought I would cry (like seriously, tears were pricking at the corners of my eyes) then all of a sudden I was weakly chuckling at a humorous moment between Diamond Tiara and Maria, Lucy’s maid. It feels a bit like whiplash, and I applaud the author for getting me to do that in just the span of a few seconds, but yeesh. This is not what I’m looking for right now. Y’know what though…?

Final Verdict: I recommmend this one. Yeah, I know. Strange, since I won’t continue reading it, but I have to admit that this story is very well-written. Maybe I can come back to it later when it doesn’t hit so close to home. One thing is for sure, I think this has opened some new doors for me. Sure, Human stories tend to be a mixed bag, but if I can find any others out there of this level of quality, I think a few just might make it onto my favorites shelf. (If you guys can recommend any, I’ll give ‘em a shot later. I think I already have a few more to go on my list)

Current To-Read Count: 173/184

NOTE: My bookshelf suddenly dropped down one story, and I don’t know why. Maybe an author removed one of the works I had marked to-read? Whatever the case, I know the issue wasn’t on my end, so my list has dropped down an additional story.

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Comments ( 6 )

As someone who read the Diamond Tiara story in its entirety, I heartily recommend it.

3876312 does it end well? I hate sad endings. I can do bittersweet if it's more sweet than bitter, if that makes any sense.

3876316 It ends with Diamond Tiara having become the entitled jerk we all know from Season 1 due to being treated like a pet and not a daughter, Filthy Rich and Twilight Sparkle showing up to take her away, and a tearful but ultimately healthy departure between DT and her owner.

TLDR: Bittersweet.

3876338 ah, OK... I still need to be in the right mood to read something like that, but it's certainly something I can finish and enjoy.

Thanks for explaining!

I have to agree with you and it's a problem that writers seem to brush off. Perhaps it's a bit of bias, but given how the show's pretty much stated she just likes guys, it's hard for me to think of her with another girl. If was to be done, it would have to be several chapters of just getting that far, so yeah, just not a fan of lesbian Rarity.

Great work on analyzing the fics. Just love these.


You know, once upon a time, I had grown tired of reading "coming out" fics, or "realization" fics for homosexual stories. Now? I'm almost kind of missing them. Not that I want sexual preference to be something to be agonized over, but because (particularly for fanfiction) it's kind of necessary when you're basically rewriting a major canon detail. :facehoof:

Anyway, I posted another set of reviews. I tackle Fallout: Equestria - Project Horizons of all things.

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