Coming up next on Problematic Reviews

Coming up next on Problematic Reviews

Sunday, October 13, 2013

FiM Fiction Review - Twilight Sparkle: Night Shift

I would say this is a fitting piece with Halloween around the corner. Think of it like this: Abraham the Vampire Slayer has a child with Fringe and Fringe cheats on Abraham the Vampire Slayer with My Little Pony. The fetuses joined in the womb and created this story. Did I mention I'm horribly sleep deprived? JawJoe's Twilight Sparkle: Night Shift is quite the adventure filled with conspiracy involving horrific monsters and dark magic. Twilight Sparkle has to use her wits and magic to not only defeat these terrifying creatures of the night, but also track down the mare behind them. Night Shift is a decent story that does it's job well. It's episodic style is attractive and the conflict is interesting and  progresses nicely. Dialogue can get a bit rough in the slower conversations; not flowing naturally in many places. Most scenes are visualized excellently and play into the fear factor well. Although there aren't any glaring issues on the surface, Night Shift has no shortage of problems. Onward to the review!

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Twilight Sparkle: Night Shift by JawJoe
Incomplete (Last Updated: 29 September 2013)

You might think that Equestrian nights are but serene exhibitions of Luna's work on the sky. You may believe that you can just lay out on the grass and admire the beautiful stars as a warm evening breeze caresses your mane. And you would be wrong.

Equestria is a magical place, and where there is magic, there is chaos. Dead rising from their graves, inanimate objects coming to life, monsters escaping the Everfree, strange apparitions making your foal cry in her room. Sounds familiar? No? Then I'm doing my job right.

I'm Twilight Sparkle, and I work the Night Shift. Read it here.

Tags: Dark, Adventure - Rating: Teen, Gore
67,856 words total

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The most notable element in Twilight Sparkle: Night Shift would probably be its episodic pace in which it has an overall arc but is mostly driven by smaller side-conflicts. I found it quite attractive because of the way it keeps the story interesting by introducing the world bit by bit but keeps the reader invested. This world building keeps the story fresh and slowly but surely gives you some insight into future plot points. One easily made complaint against this system is that some “episode” arcs are neat and well paced but others feel rushed and messy. The contrast between the two-parters and the shorter chapters is obvious in too many cases. For example, in the fourth chapter a new character, story element, and monster are introduced. It's great for story progression but the same thing happens in the sixth chapter as a new mini-arc takes the spotlight. You can see the much better built dialogue and scene visuals in the two-parter when compared to the shorter chapter four. Not every chapter needs to be a two-parter, but important plot points and elements should never be forced into a poorly paced chapter. 

As said earlier, some character introductions are rushed and characterization needs some polish but overall I would say that Night Shift does well in regards to characters. It's a small cast, consisting of Twilight Sparkle, the Mane 6 for a few scenes, Luna, and a couple of original and background characters. Twilight Sparkle is different than her canon counterpart and while it may seem awkward at first, Night Shift dives deeper into the events between the Season Two finale of My Little Pony and the present-day (following the story's version) later on to justify these changes. These world building elements don't break the flow of the story and tie into the story nicely. I enjoyed watching the story progress as the back story was revealed. Twilight's character unfortunately suffers from some character inconsistencies from time to time but that is forgiven when compared to some of the development she sees. Her self-conflicts are spotlighted well and capture the dark tone of the story. 

The original character, Omen, doesn't see much action himself but has a fun and interesting personality behind him. While he's not a very well-built character, he does his job excellently to push the story along. There are two background ponies featured in Night Shift: Vinyl and Octavia. While I enjoyed having them featured because they fit the fanon perceptions of themselves, they felt a bit overdone. In the few chapters they appear, Vinyl and Octavia engage in a bland squabble that doesn't have any weight to it. Not to mention the conflict is introduced and resolved in less than half a chapter and does nothing to push the story along. In the end of the day, Night Shift's cast pulls on through but not without hitting a few bumps on the way. 

On the same note, overall story progresses splendidly! Every mini-arcs feels like you're getting closer to the truth and when the climax rolls around, you can easily see how everything comes together. I can't wait to see how Twilight deals with the smaller conflicts as well as the main arc in the second part.

Contrasting the characters, dialogue was solid at best. While it felt organic for the most part, it has its hiccups in which conversions don't flow smoothly. This is caused by the author making some odd line choices such as using “what?” or “how?” in a slowly paced scene. When you have “what” bumping into an explanatory scene with lots of long lines dialogue, it's an immersion breaker. The same goes the other way around when long pieces of dialogue interrupt the action; although this happens on few occasions compared to the former.

Scene visualization was unexpectedly excellent as the darker and more frightening scenes set their tone. I was unfortunately reading in the dark when reading about the terrifying monsters JawJoe had in store for me. You're left in a sort of limbo before the monster appears as you wait in anticipation of what's waiting in the shadows for Twilight. You know something's out there and it is effective as hell at scaring the reader to death. Even when the monster does show up, the fear factor doesn't go always because the exposition doesn't go “oh hey look it's a scary monster! Run away guys!” No. It makes sure to describe everything intimidating about it. I can recall turning off my Kindle, being left in absolute darkness and nearly sh***ing myself.

Overall, JawJoe left his story to cook just the right amount of time before taking it out of the oven. While he forgot to spray the pan in some cases, Twilight Sparkle: Night Shift is not a bad story by any stretch of the imagination. Scene visualization will manage to scare or even excite some of you for the action that follows. Dialogue and characterization is rough in a few characters but by no means lousy. If you would like a 60,000 word story to pass your Halloween with a little something spooky, I recommend you check Night Shift out. This story is a contestant in Stories Back From the Read! If you enjoyed it yourself, make sure to vote for it when the polls open! Just the the banner to vote. Thanks for reading and this has been Admujica. Have a great week everypony.

Twilight Sparkle: Night Shift gets a score of: 7.5 out of 10 – Solid
With solid dialogue and characters behind a well done plot line, I suggest you pick it up if you're into monster slayer stories
Read it here.

Follow me on Twitter: @Admujica2

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