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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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Nov
7th
2019

Paul's Thursday Reviews CLXXXII · 9:45pm Nov 7th, 2019

So I begin.

For the next twelve weeks, I will be reading nothing but long stories ranging from 70k to 410k words. Some of it will go to a few review blogs in between, but the vast majority goes to a late-January blog that will be ~1.6 million words in total material. All of this is possible because of the massive lead I built for myself in the last three months. There’s nothing special about the date or blog (that I am aware of), it’s just the date it fell on when I saw I was far enough ahead to do this. It has great benefits though, primarily cutting down on my long-term schedule by over two months. I plan to go for this thing as often as I can to get through all those massive stories faster.

My new story is about 10k words in and still only in the opening stages. I’m thinking I may have to dig into it and cut some parts to get it down to where I want it in terms of wordcount. Not sure if I can pull it off, but the challenge alone will be worth the effort.

Whelp, that’s all for now. Let’s get to the reviews.

Stories for This Week:

SweetieMashMinecraftAdventures YAY! by CristalGalaxy
A Letter To A Friend by 1Bit
Kicking Back by Loganberry
Bowled Over by Baal Bunny
Shychotic by Majin Syeekoh
And That's How Equestria was Made... by Dusty the Royal Janitor
Let Sleeping Gods Lie by Obselescence
Getting Dressed by Jondor
The Daring Adventure of Dentist and Bookworm by RB_
Sunset Shimmer in the Land of Enchantment by Darkstarling

Total Word Count: 74,376

Rating System

Why Haven't You Read These Yet?: 0
Pretty Good: 4
Worth It: 5
Needs Work: 1
None: 0


When Sweetie Belle and Button Mash win a contest, their reward is a chat with a genius video game developer who is creating a tool to send ponies into their own games. An accident leads to the two foals landing in the world of Minecraft, trapped until they can figure out a means of escape.

This was a challenging read for a variety of reasons. For one, CristalGalaxy appears to have zero concept of paragraphs: their definition, their design, or their purpose. Practically every sentence is its own line separate from every other. Then we have incorrect word choices (especially homophones), nonstop Tell with absolutely no Show, frequent narrative shifts without warning or reason, and I’m sure I’m forgetting a few things. Point is, the writing of this story is a mess. And no, “it was written on a phone” is not an excuse. I’ll go so far as to acknowledge that writing a story of this size using just a phone is damn impressive, but that is no reason for the massive number of issues this story presents in its writing alone.

As for the story itself, it’s mostly exactly what you’d think: Sweetie and Button trapped in Minecraft and going through all the common motions of the game, sans fighting the Ender Dragon. Come to think of it, they never fought any Endermen in the story either, although they must have at some point considering they do visit the Nether once and Endermen are mentioned. But there’s nothing wrong with any of this. Really, it’s a story about being in Minecraft, so there’s only way way it could go. Some of the things that happen in-game are in blatant violation to how Minecraft works (I’m talking before the in-story addition of mods), but considering it was written in 2015 it may simply be that CristalGalaxy was writing for an older version of the game.

Then there’s the villain, who is an awful caricature combo of mad scientist/greedy businessman with zero basis in reality. Rather weak, if you ask me. But even more ridiculous is the idea that this guy – who essentially kidnapped two foals and then intentionally, happily left them to die – gets punished with a mere two years in prison, as if that’s supposed to be a punishment at all. I get that Equestria is lax on the whole crime and punishment thing, but this is just stupid.

CristalGalaxy’s idea is decent enough despite its predictability. Where it fails is in a boring villain and a struggling writing style full of beginner mistakes that cannot make any event, no matter its mood, interesting. There are no funny moments, no frightening moments, no romantic moments. Oh, the author puts in scenes that are meant to be all those things and more, but the writing style just can’t support them. The end result is that every event flies by and the character behavior feels like a bunch of overhyped actors blandly reading from a script written by the guy who was temporarily contracted for dirt cheap while the real writers were on strike.

This story saddens me. I’d love to see this idea done justice, this simply didn’t achieve that.

Bookshelf: Needs Work

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
As The Feathers Blow AwayNeeds Work


Alternative Title: Applejack Pines for the Wrong Rara

Applejack stays up during a storm to write a letter to Coloratura. The problem is that she ends up writing a confession, and now she has to decide whether she really wants to send the letter.

This is one of those stories that doesn’t assume homosexuality is commonly accepted in Equestria, thus providing us our primary problem for the plot. It’s very short, which is by no means a bad thing, and does a decent job with atmosphere. The one thing that gets to me is that we don’t understand Applejack’s problem until practically the end. It’s clear that a problem exists, but for the longest time it feels more like a problem of Applejack understanding her own feelings rather than the  fear of some social taboo and the shame she feels over it.

Not a bad story on the whole, but nothing particularly original either. A quick sadfic for the sake of sadfics.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Applejack's Day OffNeeds Work


Cloud Kicker has a reputation as a floozy, and it’s completely unfounded. Weary of the regular commentary of her peers and the suggestive invitations of total strangers, she decides to hire an image consultant to fix her reputation. It doesn’t go like she hoped.

This was apparently meant to be a reaction piece to the “Winning Pony” series of stories, except it was based upon false perceptions as Loganberry hadn’t read the story yet before writing this. Even so, it is entertaining to watch as her new consultant makes stupid mistake after stupid mistake, which results in things like thrown pans and threats of immenent doom.

A fun story, to be sure, which easily stands on its own for its humor. By all means, give it a go.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
It Doesn't Matter NowPretty Good
One Hell of a PartyPretty Good


Bowled Over

5,166 Words
By Baal Bunny

Applejack’s favorite mixing bowl once belonged to her mother, and it has a lot of personal significance. So when Starlight accidentally shatters it, she knows she has to do something. But glue won’t fix this, and there is no magic capable of doing what glue does. Panicking, she recruits her friends Spike and Rainbow Dash to find a solution.

This was a delightful story that gradually builds up the craziness, starting light and ending with a night of insanity. It includes everything from Applejack arguing that her trash is the stinkiest to Rarity teaching Fluttershy the mechanics of eyelash fluttering, all wile Starlight tries her level best to keep a calm head and not go tyrannical nutbar on these insane ponies (and dragon). The end result is a valuable new lesson for Starlight on a personal level… and to Twilight on a research level.

As can be expected from Baal Bunny, this was a treat. Well-written, fun, and quick. By all means, give it a go.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good!

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
CollaboratorsWHYRTY?
Doing Well by Doing GoodPretty Good
Grouchisaurus RexPretty Good


Fluttershy meets Pinkie at the market. Then she trips. Then she breaks.

Going by the title and everything we know about Fluttershy, my expectation was for this to be a more… anger-centric break. I figured she’d snap into a stream of insults and ‘truth that hurts’ fury. What we get instead is a strange episode where Fluttershy can’t speak properly and interprets everything everyone says in the wrong ways, such as interpreting Pinkie’s concern for accusation.

None of this is bad. Unexpected, but by no means bad. I don’t know enough about mental disorders to either approve or disapprove of the final conclusion at the hospital, so I’ll leave that bit alone. The ending is, surprisingly, kind of cheerful: “Oh, I’m sick, but that’s okay, life is still good.” Honestly, it’s a refreshing reaction compared to the doom and gloom we usually see in things like this. I also like how Majin changed the formatting, particularly of the dialogue, to indicate how Fluttershy is suddenly seeing the world differently.

Still, there are issues. For one, the story is told a little too quickly. There’s no sense of rising action, of climax, or even of conclusion. It’s more like “this is a thing that happened”. Hardly a story at all, technically speaking.

Majin labels the story as Dark, but it doesn’t feel that way. Oh, yes, mental episodes are nothing to laugh about, but how was Fluttershy feeling when she had her break? Okay, probably scared. Maybe? But the style of the story lacks any atmosphere, and it’s hard to get a bead on any character’s emotional state for the vast majority of it. As someone who has never been in this situation before, I was more bemused by the scenario than anything. For this story to really shine, the audience needs to fully grasp the seriousness of the situation as Fluttershy herself sees it, and we can’t do that as it is unless we’ve been there. Which, I imagine, most of us have not. This would also have put a real highlight to Fluttershy’s final, overall positive reaction and thus emphasized a certain underlying strength.

This isn’t bad as is, but neither is it great. I’d recommend it for the curious and the Flutterfans.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Ave SonataWorth It
The Perfect DayWorth It


This story is, simply put, a headcanon dump. Dusty the Royal Janitor utilizes it to describe exactly what the title says, giving us the creation of Equestria and all things related to it in one long exposition piece. 

It gets a little confusing, mostly because the author decides to explain the origins, purpose, powers, and racial relations of no less than twenty alicorns. By the time you get to alicorn #10 you’ve started to forget who is who. It gets a little hard to follow at times, but luckily the most important ones have easier names to remember (like Materna).

Overall, I am happy to see such a huge amount of worldbuilding, but I can’t help thinking it could have been approached differently. Perhaps as a series of short stories where each of the alicorns gets the same expositiony treatment. That would have given us time to get to know them each independently, making things less confusing, and given the ultimate cataclysm far more weight. In its current form, I’d say it’s only so-so as a story.

This is a story that will greatly appeal to anyone who loves worldbuilding. It may not work for the rest of you, though. Still, if you’d like to understand the origins of the most famous legends of Equestria – Tirek, Chrysalis, Celestia and Luna, the Wendigo, etc. – then you can’t go wrong here.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


Princess Luna has been awake for a whole week, doing nothing except seeking out a potential threat to Equestria. And why? Because her stupid, paranoid sister insists that there is something preparing to attack Canterlot and she herself is too busy preparing for Cadance’s wedding. Well, Luna’s had enough of this crap; nopony will notice or care if she decides to skip a shift or two to get some much needed sleep. Now if only her slumber would stop being interruted by her sister’s false alarm dream alerts and the idiotic new castle staff.

This was an amusing piece that essentially answers the question “What was Princess Luna doing during the Changeling Invasion?” The answer is “Trying to get some me-be-damned sleep!” It’s hard to say if Obselescence intended Luna to be dumb or simply too tired to think straight, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that second one. Either way, it’s an entertaining, low-seriousness piece. 

Feel free to read this if you want to see Luna being a silly – but highly frustrated – pony.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
This Holiday is Going to be PerfectPretty Good
Upon ReflectionPretty Good


Getting Dressed

1,049 Words
By Jondor

In this simple story, Rarity works on getting her marefriend Rainbow Dash ready to go to a costume gala.

There’s not much to say here. It’s little more than Rarity noting how naturally beautiful Rainbow Dash is and feeling lucky to have her. That’s it. End of story. There’s no conflict, no lesson learned, no revelations to be had. It’s a little slice of two mares’ life together. No more, no less.

This may appeal to the romantics out there, but otherwise it’s too plain and too quick to amount to anything. It’s not bad, but neither does it do anything to draw attention to itself.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Pick Me Up At SevenPretty Good
Since When Were You So Playful?Worth It


Due to a happy coincidence, Moondancer and Daring Do know one another. They are, essentially, academic colleagues, and she’s helped Daring once or twice when she was stumped on something or other. But now Daring wants Moondancer to go with her on an adventure near Mt. Aris. Moondancer has her doubts, but Minuette convinces her to give it a go. Of course, had Moondancer been more specific about where she was going and why, Minuette may also have not decided to follow her there. Things only get harder when Daring Do doesn’t show up.

More a friendshipping story than anything, The Daring Adventure of Dentist and Bookworm follows Minuette and Moondancer as they try to find a powerful relic. Yet there’s certainly a bit of adventure thanks to villainous diamond dogs, a thoroughly confusing labyrinth, and a trap or two. The brunt of the story, however, is about Moondancer and Minuette learning a little more about each other and life in general. The primary theme of “there are no heroes, only people” is well-presented and effectively demonstrated by making the whole thing feel less actiony and more slice-of-lifey.

This is a pleasant, mostly laid-back tale that I’m glad to have been lassoed into reading. It certainly deserves more attention than it has.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


The Humane 7 have graduated high school, and Sunset’s starting to wonder how long this feeling of belonging will last when they’re all preparing to live their lives, possibly separately. Wanting to help Sunset get over her worries, the rest of the Rainbooms agree that they all need a vacation to New Mexicolt. Which is great! But it would be better if Rarity weren’t showing signs of guilt for some reason in relation to Sunset and her girlfriend Twilight. Oh, and the weird alien crap that’s going on. No biggie, that.

Despite the alien adventure going on,this story is mostly about the relationship triangle going on with Twilight, Sunset, and Rarity. DarkStarling travels the unusual path here by taking all the things that one would expect to be most important and making them secondary to the social drama. This is never more apparent than at the end, where all the potential action, heroics, and general awesomeness is traded for total vagueness and a focus on Rarity’s mental state. Is this a bad course? Some of you might think so. At worst, the ending may seem rushed. Yet given that the adventure is not the central point of this story, I think it’s okay. Mostly.

What really lets this story shine is the characters, each of whom get their own little moment to shine, even when the spotlight is almost never on them. Rainbow, Applejack, Pinkie, and Fluttershy are all present yet largely take a back seat. This doesn’t stop them from getting cool moments, such as Fluttershy cooing to a scorpion and Applejack throwing in some truly stellar countryisms. Sunset, Twilight, and Rarity take center stage though, from SunLight dealing with relationship issues through work or Rarity demonstrating her own private geekery in the art world. Really, all three of them have the most delightful moments of adorkableness.

Alas, issues do arise. The ending is the most prominent, as I’m sure many people will be put off by its abrupt nature and total lack of gravitas. There’s also an abundance of typos and slip-ups, such as sentences missing words, suggesting the author had an intention in mind but failed to write it all out. A proofreader would come in handy. There’s also an unfortunate habit on Darstarling’s part to rely on dialogue with minimal narrative input or, annoyingly, giving that narrative input too late for it to be effective. One of my pet peeves is an author consistently giving us dialogue, and then giving narrative input into the mood of that dialogue after it’s passed such that what the reader read is completely inconsistent with the intention.

The narrative voice is also a bit chaotic. It can be hard to tell whose perspective we’re in at any given moment. So one minute we’re in Sunset’s head and then wait why are we in Rarity’s when did that transition happen argh I’m so confused!

Overall, I’d say the positives outweigh the negatives for this one. It’s got its frustrating moments, but the sheer “yes” I have for the characters and their interactions give this the edge it needs to succeed. If you’re interested in some relationship triangles, tons of SunLight adorkableness, and Rarity joining in on that fun for a change, then by all means give this one a go.

Now if only Darkstarling would finish the sequel...

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


Stories for Next Week:

Inner Glory by Erindor
Magic on the Rocks by Violet CLM
The Majestic Tale of a Noble Hunter by Carapace
Why Celestia is a Big Dum Dum by Aqua Drops
Holder's Boulder by Horse Voice
A Party For...Divorce? by lord_steak
Bus Stop by HazamaBrony
The Orchard by ForgottenDreams
[untitled] by Glimglam
The Sesquiannual Meeting of the League of Evildoing Villains Intending Terrible Yields by Show Stopper


Recent Review Map:

Paul's Thursday Reviews CLXXVII
Paul's Thursday Reviews CLXXVIII
Paul's Thursday Reviews CLXXIX
Paul's Thursday Reviews CLXXX
Paul's Thursday Reviews CLXXXI
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Paul's Thursday Reviews CLXXXIII
Paul's Thursday Reviews CLXXXIV
Paul's Thursday Reviews CLXXXV
Paul's Thursday Reviews CLXXXVI
Paul's Thursday Reviews CLXXXVII

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Comments ( 8 )
RB_

Thank you for the review! I'm glad you enjoyed Bookworm. :twilightsmile: It's one of my favourite things I've written.

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

Bowled Over was really fantastic. Up there with things like The Wrong Fork. :D

Haven't read any of these. :applecry:

5151938
What? Though hath failed me, sir! Or I have failed thee. Not clear which, but someone hath failed someone. Permit my indignant posturing, confound it!

Thank you very much for the Kicking Back review! It's a silly little thing and was intended to be, but I'm glad the humour still worked for you all these years on. :twilightsmile:

This was apparently meant to be a reaction piece to the “Winning Pony” series of stories, except it was based upon false perceptions as Loganberry hadn’t read the story yet before writing this.

More or less right. It was mostly a reaction to the common fandom perception (including, but not limited to, mine) of Cloud Kicker's personality in those stories. When I finally read Winning Pony it was quite amusing to see the difference!

Woah, hey! I think I've been inactive on this site for two years :))
Thank you so much for the review! I was still a budding teenager when I got in the fandom and randomly decided to write this fic about Minecraft and two MLP characters.
I really appreciate the criticism, although I'm glad I didn't receive it when I was younger, I'm pretty sure I would have gotten hurt or discouraged by your harsh words. Remember, sometimes only kids are behind stories and don't know the concept of constructive criticism ;)
Nevertheless, I couldn't agree more with everything you've said, I can't even bear to reread the first chapter I find it so cringe and terribly written. I'm only keeping it around so I can see how much I've improved.
I still appreciate the fact that you took the time to read all of it and write a lengthy review, so thank you very much! <3

5182979

I'm only keeping it around so I can see how much I've improved.

Yes. This. All the this. I've always thoroughly encouraged this kind of thing, because nothing demonstrates how far we've come in life than getting to look back on our past mistakes.

Glad to see you're taking it so well, and you are very welcome for the review.

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