Coming up next on Problematic Reviews

Coming up next on Problematic Reviews

Friday, March 22, 2013

FiM Fiction Review - Farming In the Icy Inferno

We've seen Spitfire shipped with Dash and Soarin so much that ForlanceAbice’s Farming In the Icy Inferno was really a breath of fresh air. Well thought-out dialogue and great pacing really went hand-in-hand when making this very nicely written story. Sadly, every piece of literature comes with its flaws and this is no exception. Farming In the Icy Inferno comes with some grammar errors and suffers with some character issues. Nevertheless, ForlanceAbice crafted a story that won't stand out to most people but is definitely worth a read. Better formatted review on Google Docs.
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Farming In the Icy Inferno by ForlanceAbice
Incomplete (last updated March 21,2013)
Applejack doesn't have time nor the desire to find and fornicate with some stallion or mare, her duties demanded that she give her all to the future of her livelihood. So she didn't expect anything much one cold morning when a mysterious pegasus crashes into the barn that is undergoing renovation. A very "famous" pegasus to be matter of fact, who flees a most tiresome life, desperate to just settled down and find some simple peace. Both Applejack and this mystery pegasus will find out life is never simple, especially when their fates are intertwined with something most sinister. Read it here.
Tags: SadRomance
Rating: TeenSex
*Description has been edited due to space constraints
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Farming In the Icy Inferno really stood out to me in regards to pacing. The important plot points never felt like they were “swept under the rug” due to rushing nor did they overstay their welcome. The excellent pacing also helped put a lot of weight behind the events occurring outside of the romance. I found this to be really neat because it’s not something we see too often in shipfics. Sometime it’s these factors that should shape the main character’s lives, not the romance.
Spitfire had a lot of development to her character and it all went very well with the foundation the show already established. I enjoyed seeing her character grow but still “make sense” in a way. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for Applejack. She’s probably one of the weakest characters of the show, but Applejack fell out of character a fair share of times in the story. Especially in the early chapters, Applejack’s caring nature fails to be captured and it sticks out like a sore thumb because of how dialogue heavy these chapters can get.
That brings me to another point: the dialogue flows well and feels real most of the time. Yes, some of it can be cringe-worthy and it does exaggerate the moments when Applejack acts out of character, but the dialogue really shines when things start to get a bit tricky in the later chapters. The conversions are well put together and flow very nicely. The romance does just as nicely. The pace makes it more or less realistic and the dialogue only complements the very well built love story.
Now to the aforementioned issues at hand. The grammar issues might seriously bother some people like myself. I spotted a fair amount of errors throughout and I am happy that Forlance is well aware of the problem. He has post a request for pre-readers and editors and I cannot express how much it would help this story. It’s a shame to have something like this burden this story. The second issue is that scenes are not really visualized well. Dialogue heavy stories cannot forget the importance of scene visualization because of it great effect on mood. A scene by the fireplace is a lot more romantic than say... a garbage dump. Now image a fireplace with a beautiful brick hearth with gentle, slow flames surrounded with aromas of a delicious applepie in the oven. Sorry, I’m really hungry right now. Sets the scene a lot better, right?
Farming In the Icy Inferno is a great story with a few easily fixed problems. Applejack’s character is better expressed in the later chapters and grammar issues look to be fixed in the near future. I enjoyed reading Farming In the Icy Inferno and while there is a lack of scene visualization, the romance is well built with excellent pacing and good dialogue. Those of you looking for a medium length Applefire will enjoy this one a lot. This has been Admujica. I'll see you guys next time.
Farming In the Icy Inferno gets a score of: 8 out of 10
Worth reading, small issues but great dialogue and pacing that complement a good romance
Read it here.

FiM Fiction Review - The Happiness and Peace of Mind Committee

You can't judge a book by it cover. Nor can you judge it from the prologue. Reviewing FlanChan’s The Happiness and Peace of Mind Committee is something that has taken a lot of thought, not only because of how short it is but also where I can the see the plot and its problems going. Although FlanChan’s concept of a constantly-happy utopian Equestria is promising, the conflict introduces itself weakly and present a story which unless done carefully, could ruin this story for me. 
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The Happiness and Peace of Mind Committee by FlanChan
Incomplete (last updated March 7, 2013)
"Are you happy? You know it’s your duty, right? Do as you're expected!”
Twilight Sparkle lives with her friends in a technologically advanced utopia, where the happiness of everypony is guaranteed. There are no fights, no heartbreak, and no troubles of the past. Everypony lives in bliss.
Twilight and her friends need to rebel. Read it here.
Tags: DarkAdventureAlternate Universe
Rating: Teen
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I will address this very briefly because, after all, it is the prologue and I do not expect the story to continue presenting itself in diary-style. The diary writing style of the prologue was an appropriate way to introduce the main conflict, but I feel that it was poorly executed in regards to characterization. You would expect there to be personality and strong emotions in a diary. I don't know about you guys but that’s how I write in my journal. Don’t judge. Although, one thing I have to give it credit for is the mood it sets with the writer’s amnesia. I felt that something was really wrong throughout the prologue. This where The Happiness and Peace of Mind Committee really shines. Twilight’s character is depicted well because the only thing she remembers is the thing most important to her: her friends. It’s genius how not only does this amnesia set the mood, but also shows Twi’s character.
This might be the weakest point for the exposition: the storytelling is flat out linear because it takes on storytelling as telling a story. Okay, wait. That might sound confusing. Fact is, the prologue doesn't show us a story, instead it tells a story. This can be fixed by adding character into the writing or just by introducing the conflict by different means.
It’s quite an interesting choice that most of the serious and despicable changes to Equestria have already been revealed. To me, this means the story will have to revolve around the main cast. In this case, I am overjoyed to see that story is going to explore the rebellious character, or lack of, of the Mane6. Of course, this is going to depend on FlanChan ability to capture the characters of the Mane6.
To be honest, I look forward to what FlanChan is going to do with this. My main concern is how well the Mane6 are going to be in character but I really hope it doesn’t act as a burden to this pretty far fetched concept. Character development, not only of the Mane6 but of the OC, could easily trip and fall if not done correctly. In other words, I have my hopes up for it but The Happiness and Peace of Mind Committee has an incredibly weak introduction with rather linear storytelling, but is going in the direction. As of now, it really matter how well FlanChan can build off of this weak foundation. Keep calm and carry on, right? Sorry for the short review this time. I really didn’t have much to say this time. This has been Admujica, I’ll see you guys next time.
The Happiness and Peace of Mind Committee gets a: 6 out of 10
Weak introduction with linear storytelling but an ambitious take on the Mane6’s characters
Read it here.

Other Reviews

This story has been reviewed by The Equestrian Critics Society.
Author: FlanChan
Reviewed by: Blankscape
The idea of a technologically advanced Equestria has been done before, but regardless of its original and suspenseful twist of a cliché premise, not much else can be said as anything of significant note has yet to happen. As it stands now, FlanChan needs to create a proper prologue and leave the synopsis in the cover page.
Score: 3/10

Thursday, March 14, 2013

FiM Fiction Review - White Box

Well, SimCity proved to be a complete failure so I spent much of my week on Youtube and watching the launcher tell me Servers Busy: Please wait a hundred more hours. Of course, much of that time stared at me from that comfortable place on my bookmarks bar like a lost cat longing for attention. I think all of you can guess what was the first thing I saw: an unread story that has 10,000+ views. This should be a piece of cake. So let’s get reviewing shall we? 
Chromosome’s White Box is nothing short of a masterpiece. For being a short story that shouldn't bring much investment when it comes to character development (due to time constraints), this story hooked me from the start with its excellent writing style and winning narration. Even with its considerably large plot holes, White Box was an incredibly touching and thought provoking experience. Here is why this story made me shed some liquid pride.
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White Box by Chromosome
Complete (last updated April 18, 2012)
My name is Canvas. I remember because I wrote it in the corner of the white box. It takes twelve steps to get from the cot to the wall. And the lights hurt my eyes. Read it here.
Tags: Tragedy
Rating: Teen
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White Box is an interesting take on insanity or more accurately, lack of knowledge. The whole drive behind it is questioning why the character thinks the way he does. What is most fascinating is how well the narrative immerses me into Canvas’s head. Canvas, more precisely his thoughts, narrate the story and it makes the narrative legitimately from his point of view. In fact, the narrative is probably the highest point in this story. Not to mention how his thoughts flow really well and feel incredibly natural. Since the story is mostly thought driven, I was surprised when I found myself not asking about details of actions or environments.
This first-person, thought-driven setup takes on a few issue and succeeds past my expectations, because of how simple everything seems at first. To me, it was shaping up to a really simple-minded approach to Canvas’s character. I shocked when it did the complete opposite. I found that White Box was so brilliantly set up to later so us just how much he develops as a character! In addition, it delivers one hell-of-a-punch when things got intense near the end.
The pacing was excellently done and it became apparent when the climax felt like a train hit me. The build up was excellent and there weren't any parts that felt rushed or overstayed their welcome. Twilight’s appearance was spot on and Chromosome put her in a place we have never seen before: what she will do when she sees other ponies doing wrong deeds. Twi stayed true to her character and reacted just as she would in the show. This is pretty amazing considering how we've never seen such a situation canonized.
Unfortunately, White Box has a big flaw to it. As mentioned in the beginning of my review, this story has some plot holes. Although it wraps up nicely, several questions are left unanswered. A fair share of things were not explained and left me wondering if there was more. I consider this major problem because  White Box doesn't have any excuse to continue the main conflict.
There are not enough words in the modern English dictionary to express how much I recommend this story. To summarize, mind-blowing narrative, incredible character development, excellent pacing, and an intense climax came together to make a real masterpiece. White Box is must-read for anyone looking to a short, touching story. Thank you Chromosome. This was Admujica, see you guys next time.
White Box gets a rating of: 9 out of 10
Read it here. (Click it NOW!)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

FiM Fiction Review - March to the Scaffold

It’s judgement day for Chrysalis as the invader of the royal city of Canterlot is brought to stand trial for her crimes. Yes, ladies and gentleman, Chrysalis is about to pay her dues to Celestia for her failed invasion. Will the princesses have her executed? Will she be imprisoned for life? Will she be forced into slavery or something? Maybe she'll become Celestia’s pet changeling? Maybe I need to stop reading ship-fics, but that’s beside the point. Honestly, Foxy Kimichi’s March to the Scaffold really surprised me. Lets take a look at why. 
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March to the Scaffold by Foxy Kimichi
Complete (last updated Feb. 24, 2013)
Chrysalis is brought to Canterlot to stand trial for her failed invasion.  Thinking her fate is sealed, she is determined to be defiant to the very end. Loosely based on March to the Scaffold, the 4th movement of the musical piece Symphonie Fantastique by Hector Berlioz. Read it here.
Tags: RomanceSadDark
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March to the Scaffold opens with Chrysalis, now in the hand’s of Equestria’s Royal Army, paying a visit to Canterlot. As we saw in the Season Two finale, her invasion failed miserably. Apparently Celestia was willing to send her soldiers to finish off the changeling army and hale Chrysalis’s sorry ass back for punishment. To be honest, I didn't have high hopes for this story. Chrysalis's fate something that would definitely be interesting to hear about. I always had a head canon for Chrysalis taking her own life after the fall of her kingdom. It was dark but at least it was a bit less predictable than the opening of this story. It is predictable, no question about it, but that’s where the less expected plot twists begin. March to the Scaffold does an excellent job with storytelling and almost never suffers from being cheesy or boring.
Of course, you can't tell a good story with bad characters. Chrysalis and Mortar each deliver fantastic performances with lines that don't make me cringe like I usually do with stories that have the “Romance” tag. What impressed me even more is that March to the Scaffold made me cheer on a complete jerk. Truth be told, Chrysalis was a very unlikeable character, but I'm sure I wasn't not the only one that ended up hoping that things will work out for her in the end. Mortar was just as great. He is a down to earth character that is very easy to connect to. Nothing really dramatic or out-of-the-ordinary in the characterization department, but that’s exactly what makes me feel so much for Chrysalis and Mortar.
I also have to address the source of inspiration and it’s influence on pacing. March to the Scaffold is loosely based on March to the Scaffold, the 4th movement of the musical piece Symphonie Fantastique by Hector Berlioz and other classical music pieces. Although music is a great and classy inspiration for literature, and vice versa, it can have some negative effects on the pacing. I know, I know. I pounded on Lethe about pacing too, but many can agree it’s one of or the most essential mechanics in a story. The pacing was perfect until the later chapters. They drag on, making the end feel like there should have been more. There’s a sweet spot with pacing. Too long and you'll bore people to death. Too short and the events lack weight. March to the Scaffold was close but no cigar.
Foxy Kimchi did a wonderful job and March to the Scaffold could have gotten a 9 out of 10 if it weren't for this little issue at the end. This one was a real joy to read and I look forward to what he does next. With a large audience and a big hitter under his belt, the possibilities are endless. Thanks Foxy and I hope to see you in the future. This has been Admujica, see you next time.
March to the Scaffold gets a rating of: 8.5 out of 10
EQD worthy, Absolutely worth reading
Read it here.

FiM Fiction Review - Lethe

Rainbow Dash losing her memories with a TwiDash twist? I could get into this. Perservation’s really did a good job here. Lethe has an enthralling plot and revolves around some deep concepts when you put some thought into it. Not to mention that Preservation really knows how to use a thesaurus and it shows. I really enjoyed this story and was truly impressed by it. Lets take a look at this beauty, shall we? 
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Lethe by Preservation
Complete (last updated Oct. 12, 2012)
Following an unknown incident on the border of the Everfree Forest, Twilight and Rainbow set out to discover the cause of the pegasus' amnesia and restore her memory. Yet the vehicle of her amnesia is linked not only to their past, but to an ancient magic, lost to the world a thousand years ago. Read it here.
Tags: RomanceDarkCrossoverAdventureAlternate Universe
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Since my reviews focus on the mechanical elements of a piece of literature, not so much appeal and creativity, I can't help but to start off by mentioning how phenomenal the vocabulary used in this story is. It’s easy to notice just how much effort went into making a well-worded, thought-provoking story within the first few paragraphs. Not to mention that the heavy use of such words put down an excellent amount of foreshadowing and mood. Although it is not the vocabulary that impressed me, but how it is presented. It’s not how beautiful the words were that made the piece shine, but how Preservation used them. Take this sentence for example: Observing the countryside, the stream made its way to the town of Ponyville, gently caressing the outer bounds of the bordering farmland before, finally, it trickled guilty into the Everfree Forest. It’s absolutely mind-blowing how much of the scenery is stuffed into one sentence! Not only that but, how notice how the adjectives give the “stream” a personality. This is an excellent example of experienced writing. It doesn't really show that this is Preservation’s first fanfic does it?
As we all know, great words don't mean great stories. I have to admit, the first chapter was hinting at a bad review. The early events of Lethe were really spoiled by bad pacing. The events went from-scene-to-scene-to-scene and in the end, lacked weight. Although the pacing was certainly not a problem later in the story, I quickly forgot the first chapter. Lethe could have definitely been flawless aside from this pacing issue. With that, it was really impressive when awesome wording, excellent pacing, and mood-setting scene description came together in the later chapters.
Aside from the pacing issue in the first chapter and the excellent vocabulary, I don’t have much to say about Lethe. Characterization of Twilight and Rainbow Dash was mediocre, but given the situation, their actions and thoughts were very realistic. The dialogue was mediocre as well. Not to mention how the story jumps around a lot in the second chapter. It’s not too noticeable; and is probably due to my short attention span; but the second chapter became very confusing when the scenes start and end very abruptly. A lot of of Lethe was mediocre, but it excelled in many aspects and I definitely recommend it to those of you who are looking for a sort-of-short story to read.
Lethe gets a rating of: 8 out of 10
Read it here.