Obbl wrote:One critique I have is that you talk about how the story "cut
off right before the climax," but this is an unfair critique of any story which has been split into more than one book. Even if you don't know how many books there will be, you do know it's more than this one. Claiming problems with the story spending so much time building up events that the ending does not bring to fruition only serves to make you seem unaware of how multi-part stories are built, since clearly events will need to be set up which will not resolve until the final book (whatever number that ends up being). You do go on to say that you wish more would have happened in this book, but your intent is muddied here by mixing one critique which is completely moot with another which could actually be important to consider.
I base my reviewing format on IGN's reviews. They avoid being prescriptive and telling what should be done instead focusing on larger aspects because at the end of the day I am one reader with his own set of opinions and in the grand scheme it doesn't matter what I want
. I tried to avoiding workshopping originally but since you asked here goes. If I were to give one piece of prescriptive advise and going back to your first critique it would be this. Even though Rick technically
ended the book correctly as far as checking all the boxes, it did not feel natural or satisfying. For example, if Rick Riodan ended The Lightning Thief
with Percy getting the lightning bolt but not returning to Zeus until the second book it would essentially feel like what Rick Griffin is doing here. I believe that the story should have ended with them hacking the trinity and flying off in the unknown and letting the events of the second book start from there. That would be a much more natural and well-earned stopping place because the entire point of this novel from the prologue was centered around this one task that was not even completed by the end. But AGAIN I don't know where Rick is going with this story so it is hard for me to say. I will admit that the original statement was strictly my opinion on how it should not have ended. BUT it could be true to say depending on the reception of a larger pool of readers. At the end of the day it is what the readers want that truly matters because as an author we need them to continue to read our work.
Let me put this another way since this is the biggest problem I find with the novel as a whole. Rick can do two things basically. One being that a few chapters in they finally hack the trinity and escape the Krakun's control for the moment. Why couldn't this be done in this book? Option two being that Rick spend the entirety of the second book coming up with new ways of prolonging the trinity's hacking but that would involve another entire book of absurd tasks and busy work. Even if the trinity is never hacked (Which I doubt because then this entire book was worthless) and Rick finds a different way of the Geroo to acquire some fragment of freedom than even then it would still follow these same paths. Why wasn't it done in this book or why did it take so long instead of using that time for anything else? Going back to Percy Jackson, each book was divided into missions. When the mission was complete the story ended and the next one began with a new crisis. This book began with a mission and ended with that mission only being partly completed. It's like the midseason finale of a show but not the season finale which one would expect a book to represent an entire season not just half of a season. Another way of looking at this is why wasn't this simply Part 1 and then Part 2 being the remainder of the events leading to their escape but still both being in the same book. The book itself was not even that long.
Obbl wrote:The biggest critique I have is that despite all the pearls of wisdom, it's actually difficult to see what anyone should take from this aside from the obvious. For example "Make your characters relatable" is not so much a pearl of wisdom as it is a basic point of story-telling, so if Rick missed the mark here, it'd be more informative to have a bit of a break down as to why. What does Rick have to do to make you care about these side characters? What about Hiani makes you not care? What about the anup on the ship? I mean, you give 3 points to that effect, but I don't believe for a moment that you think a character who speaks a foreign language can't be written to be relatable, so that one's not serving the explanation.
It all comes down to doing something meaningful or significant beyond simply existing. There appealing and/or flawed but more than that they have to connect to the reader on a deeper level than just being strangers. A familiarity is formed. The characters that the reader grows to care about are the ones who are seen and they become relatable because we see them struggle and overcome hardships. Hiani is rarely seen therefore the reader knows practically nothing about her beyond basic facts but not who she is a person or a character. The times she is seen, she is a cookie cutter image of a love interest but does not exceed past that 2-D image of "girl who is ignored by the protagonist." I said before that she should be significant because Rick starts to give her substance then immediately removed her from the scene. Even if it is my personal belief, if the character like Hiani is going to have a substantial role in the main characters life and appear as often as she does then she should at least have more substance and personality. From the way she talks, walks, acts, reacts, the choices she makes. Again this is obvious and basic but still missing from the story.
The language barriar was annoying but it was not what made her problematic. We clearly understood what was happening through context and description but it was the fact that what was happening was of little interest that was the problem. Gert could have gotten the staff in a thousand different ways but we still took the time to find out she was pregnant but it had nothing to do with anything. If Rick wanted her pregnancy to truly matter or be significant then it should have been earned.
Obbl wrote:Moreover, what is this line saying: "We have to save everyone, but why?" Should a writer be expected to give good reasons to persuade their readers that the lives of 10,000 people should be saved? Can we not expect our readers to naturally feel some emotional impact at the thought that those 10,000 lives might be snuffed out in an instant? Especially when the opening scene literally forces the reader to think about a similar 10,000 being forced to choose between death or the murder of 200 of their own by their own hands.
I don't even understand why you need to ask this. If the reader should care about a story or read it only because 10,000 lives are at stake in the story then every book written with that formula would be published no matter how undoubtedly awful or unappealing because the reader "naturally" should feel some emotional impact or care about them. It take so much more than simply the idea of life being loss to invoke caring. Think about the worse book you've ever read
. Would you feel any differently about it just because 200 characters died horrific deaths or that 10,000 lives hung on the outcome of the plot? How about this, should I watch the movie "2012" just because of how many people died?
Obbl wrote:And back to that one anup. Rick seems to have assumed that watching her go through disputes with her significant other about her pregnancy (or possibly lack thereof), her clear anguish over this, and her attempts to do her job and find the invisible intruders despite being assumed crazy by the rest of the crew, that all of that would make the reader feel some emotional connection and a sense of loss at her death. So where did he go wrong? It would be one thing to simply bring up a need for relatability for this character with no further explanation if no attempt had been made by the author. However, seeing as there was an attempt, what are we supposed to glean from your critique? What was wrong with the way Rick did this? What could have been done better? All of these questions are left unanswered. Mostly what I see in your critique is a lot of reference to what purpose characters serve in the narrative (and meta-narrative), but little about what makes them function (or not) as characters aside from your own subjective experience of caring or not caring about them. To my mind Rick can only give you a character and some reasons why you might find them to reflect humanity. If you don't engage with them, that's interesting, and I'd like to understand why (and Rick might as well). But instead you simply tell me that you don't, that they're not relatable, that you don't understand why they're here. Well, why do you feel that way? What's lacking? What could be improved?
It's left unanswered because I'm trying not to be prescriptive and I was not trying to workshop the book. All I can say is that it's not working because I don't feel any sympathy for a character who is essentially going through the same conflicts as literally every female soap opera character. What makes her stand out from any other character with the same problems? I can't answer that because I'm not the writer. All I can do is a make a general assumption based on my own experience and books I have read previously. What was working in them compared to this one?
Heres is a list from the internet about character likability. Let's go down this list and see if this makes things a little clearer.
1. Make Your Characters Need Something: She needs to be believed by her boyfriend or that particular anup male. Why? Because she's in distress. Because she's pregnant. These are all technically reasons but should not automatically invoke sympathy from the reader. Again if writing was that easy than anyone could do it.
2. Make Your Characters Take A Stand On Important Issues: We don't know this because she doesn't speak english which by the way is an artistic choice Rick made and as such as consequences but it was his choice to make the sacrifices that came with it. Even from context her entire character is simply "female anup who is pregnant" so in that since she shouldn't even have to stand on important issues. Even if we say that her stand on "geroo imprisonment" is that she is all for it, that really doesn't help invoke sympathy or relatability.
3. Make Your Character The Underdog: Is Gert the underdog? Yes. Do we care about him? I do so I guess this holds true then.
4. Give Your Characters Idealistic Qualities: Does the female anup have idealistic qualities or embody the best aspects of the human race? No, she tried to kill Gert. All she did was get angry and upset and yell. Not exactly the most desirable aspects of humans or any race.
5. Give Your Characters Formidable Foes: Does Gert and the others count of formidable? Not really which is the entire point of the story which is to show how desperate and weak they are.
Again it takes a a lot more than just a few traits to have a fully fleshed out character. Honestly I don't understand this question because I have stated that I care about the characters like Gert, Izari, Moani, and Ateri because they are shown to have flaws and make decisions and struggle. But you have characters like the female anup, Hiani, the cadets, and even Pokokuro. Should the reader care about every single character that appears, no that ridiculous. But the characters that do appear should have more purpose especially those who are a substantial role in the plot. Take the cadets, why did we need to have that scene of them eating lunch? What did it accomplish as far as serving the plot or developing the main characters? Hiani who appears and effects Gert in a deep way but is only seen as again a source of guilt. Let me ask this then, if you removed Hiani, the cadets or the female anup would the story change in any significant way. Gert could have killed any anup but it was the anup that we saw was pregnant, that we saw struggle with her boyfriend, but none of those things make her character special or change the outcome when she dies. Gert was going to feel guilt about killing anyone so why did we need to know those facts about her or spend the energy learning about her pregnancy? Let me be blunt about this, it was a waste of time and not even engaging because all Gert did was sit in a corner and watch. He did nothing of value or importance or anything that I would qualify as entertaining. Someone once told me that my own story would improve by adding more character interaction. Let me share that idea by saying that the female anup would have been better if Gert talked to her. If they had a conversation and made a connection then so could the reader. That in turn would make the events of her death more heartbreaking and have a greater emotional impact.
Obbl wrote:And as for any review, recognizing your subjective opinions on the story and adding why other people might enjoy them anyway is a big plus if you want your readers to get a better sense of what they might expect to get out of the story. That's my critique. Hopefully you can take something away from it. =3
I have never read a review like that. True that my own personal opinions bled through but that is going to happen in any review no matter what you do. The mere act of reading the review of another person is recognizing that this, at its core, is the thoughts of another. I wrote this thinking "If I was writing a review for IGN what would it be?" I did explain what to expect but I can’t assume whether or not they will like this versus that.
Since you asked, what does everyone else like about the story?
P.S. I do mean it when I say I want to see more explanation. I'd love to understand more about how you view stories and story-telling. You certainly think about things differently from me, and I think you overthink a lot of things, but it would be interesting to understand where you're coming from. Still, I guess you're honor bound to stick to your word, so I'll continue trying to puzzle you out
I overthink things because I'm a writer and I have had to literally spend hundreds of hours analyzing text, finding flaws, purposefully and adequately explain those flaws to people who were honestly smarter than me, then revising my own work based on the ideas and edits of another person. Ironically I hated doing that. Analyzing books and discussing them with people like a book club. But this kind of stuff is more engaging. I do admire Ricks work even if I don’t always agree with his choices. Maybe I didn't explain in great detail but this is not a workshop and I'm not here to edit Rick's novel.
So what does everyone else think?