Bomochu here, back again with the second instalment of the review for the Literature of the Duchy of Skibbington. Last time, we looked at five unique and diverse one-shots, so without further ado, let’s have a look at the remaining four shall we?
Well, I have to say that the premise for this story is not one I think I've ever seen. This AU has original characters, but instead of taking canon characters and putting them in a new environment this story takes the idea of bending, and brings it into our world.
The story has a promising start, beginning with two classmates, Nick and James (the later the narrator), accidentally setting a hanky on fire and freezing it somehow during class. Later, the two theorise that they are benders from the show Avatar, and their new abilities give them an advantage with a run-in with some nasty school bullies.
The events following the introduction seem to spiral out of control. After accidentally firebending and waterbending in class, somehow no one takes issue with it; the teachers and students who witnessed it said nothing, and even James himself was far too casual about it and continued with his classes throughout the day, even delivering a speech with ease. And there's no mention as to how this is even happening, or where their abilities come from, or how this story relates to the Avatar universe. After this, the story gets even more strange as a giant, muscular, airbending baby shows up to help fight for James and his friends in a school-yard fight.
It would be worth narrowing the plot down to something a little simpler. Some possible angles to take the story could include focusing on the 'school bully' side of the story. James and Nick discover their bending in a more inconspicuous way (perhaps in chemistry class since there's Bunsen burners and taps there which they could have used as a cover up excuse for bending in class) and this could solve the issue of people not acting realistically when seeing them use bending.
The idea of involving our world with the Avatar universe is an interesting one, and so this story does have a lot of potential. But just because it is a humorous piece or an AU, it doesn't give licence to string together a plot in an awkward and unclear way. Even parodies or comedy fanons I've read follow a clear plot progression. With that said, there were definitely some moments in this story that worked really well, and it's just a matter of consistently carrying that standard across the whole story.
Some of the issues mentioned already about the ending have been talked about, but some others include the fact that the final scene seems to progress way to fast, and lose the desired affect for readers after finishing. Giant baby aside, the ending and final few sentences seemed to come out of nowhere as well, and move too fast. Being written in first person, we get to see a lot of the quirks and mannerisms that James has, however, the last few sentences of his seemed a little over-the-top and sudden in terms of wrapping up the story. What I will say is that the beginning helped mitigate many of the organisation issues; the way the story is introduced, the characters, and again, James' narration, where all done very well and made for a good introduction to the story
All in all, the use of first person was done well. There were a couple of tense confusions in the beginning and towards the end, related to it being in first-person, and so that is something to watch out for. Again, figures were used for numbers inappropriately at times, and there were a couple of grammar mistakes. One of the more pressing issues is the use of text language like 'wut' or 'm8'. I understand the point of using such language is to characterise the school bullies in a particular way, but there's no need to use incorrectly spelled words to do that when some of their other lines were sufficient to get those points across.
Writing Style: 7.1
For most of the story this was done quite well. There were a couple of repetitive sentences here and there, which could have been changed a little to make things a little less prescribed. But one of the really cool things about the writing style in this story was the use of first-person perspective, and the fact that we get to see a lot of James' mannerisms that make him who he is. There were deductions for some of his comments which were a little over-the-top to be believable, but at times it was done quite well, and made the story entertaining.
The beginning scene brings a lot of James' mannerisms into the story, with certain phrases of his and the way he narrates the story making it entertaining. Towards the end of the story this is overdone a little, but for the most part this aspect of his character was done well. The other area worth mentioning is the relationship between James and Nick, which also made for some rather funny moments involving ruining each other's lunch with their new bending abilities, which actually had me laughing out loud.
It's the minor characters in this story where things are a bit of an issue. The teacher's language was far too informal in the first few lines of his, for example. The school bullies as well spoke in text language and their cluelessness was a little over-the-top. And as already mentioned, the giant airbending baby was a bit of a problem here too. Although they are minor characters, fleshing them out in a believable and clear way will only give your story a more complete feel to it.
It would also be worth including a little more physical description of all the characters throughout the story. But as mentioned, James and Nick were characterised pretty well, and made the story entertaining.
There were aspects of the action moments in this story that were done really well. The moment with James and Nick and their lunches, was one such scene. Also aspects of the final fight scene were quite entertaining as well; the fact that the bullies used water balloons and the other kids used bark and sticks kind of brought me back to my own days at school (quite a while ago now of course XD) which was nice to read. The final scene itself was a bit short, and because of that lost a little of its climatic ending.
Probably the biggest issue here comes from when Nick and James first try out their bending. Multiple times their movements were described as "just like the show", which doesn't really tell the readers anything. Here, it would be much clearer to go through the actual motions James and Nick made, rather than simply tell readers they moved just like benders in Avatar.
Many of these issues here have already been discussed; the airbending baby was very much a stretch. Unless he journeyed across a Spirit Portal or crawled out of some basement of a molecular genetics lab, he probably shouldn't make an appearance in this story at all. The lack of reaction from everyone about Nick and James discovering their bending also was an issue here. Surely if someone manipulated fire or water everyone would freak out, either in a scared or fearful way, or perhaps an overly-excited 'wow' kind of reaction, but doing nothing about it seemed a little unreasonable.
The other thing here is that it was a little strange that Avatar was referenced as a show, for example, James and Nick talk about themselves as 'benders from the show Avatar'. This becomes a little paradoxical, and it might be worth keeping their world an AU of ours still, but where the show doesn't exist, and this might help with how plausible the story feels.
Overall Score: 6.93
Why Read This Fanon?: No Bending in Class is an interesting take on an AU story; instead of bringing canon characters into an alternate universe, this story takes bending and brings it into our world, and makes for an entertaining read.
Someone has been keeping their airbending a secret. Hiding it out of fear of being discovered and killed...
The plot for this story was fairly easy to follow; an intruder breaks in to the Fire Nation Royal Palace and attacks Zuko, and the Kyoshi Warriors who are guarding the place help fend of the attackers. In the midst of the battle is where one of our beloved canon characters surprises everyone with her secret airbending abilities.
While easy to follow, there were unfortunately a couple issues with this story. The most pressing one is pacing. In fewer than nine hundred words, this story features a fight, Ty Lee using airbending, and dropping a bombshell that the acrobatic chi-blocker is in fact an airbender. The story needs to be a lot longer, or explain Ty Lee's past much better, if it's going to tackle such an ambitious plot. That's not to say it can't be done - I personally quite enjoy fanons that push the boundaries of what we know in the Avatar universe - but the short length of the story does not quite give the justice it deserves.
There were also a couple of plot holes which were never answered, like why the attackers were even there in the first place. Plus, the whole notion of why Ty Lee kept her airbending a secret this whole time didn't make a lot of sense. The only reason the Air Nomads were killed was because of the chance that one of them was the Avatar, and if Azula knew that Ty Lee could airbend she would have no doubt used that ability to her advantage, not kill Ty Lee. While the idea is unique and something I personally haven't seen done before, these details need to be fleshed out and the plot progress in a clear way, taking the time to explore things where need be.
The beginning of the fanon could have lead readers into the story a little better. Perhaps the suspenseful descriptions of the attack about to take place in the second paragraph would be a better place to start. The ending too did not quite give a well-finished feel to the story, and perhaps could be concluded a little better. One other thing to point out however is that it was good to see a great deal of time devoted to Ty Lee's conversation with Zuko, and although the dialogue and scene itself needed to be fleshed out a lot more, it was great to see emphasis put on parts of the story that needed to be.
There were only a handful of mistakes this time around, with a missing comma, inappropriate use of italics, and an ordinal number spelled incorrectly. One of Zuko's lines near the end also does not make sense and it feels as though there are too many or missing words, but all in all this is an area done well in this story.
Writing Style: 7.0
There were some good examples of language used in this fanon, particularly some of those describing the setting. However, with further elaboration of the surrounding setting, maybe even making it clearer where it is taking place earlier on, would have helped the score here a little more. The other thing to perhaps rethink is the whole conversation scene between Zuko and Ty Lee, and then Zuko and Sokka. The flow of the conversation doesn't quite progress in a logical and easy to follow way, and given that Ty Lee's confession is the main point of the story this is an important area to address. Also, occasionally sprinkling in snippets of narration in between a conversation is a good way to make it seem less like a script and more like a story, and the perfect balance can be quite effective.
Most of the minor characters were characterised fairly well, with the exception of one of Sokka's lines and Zuko's felt as they should be. The attackers however seem to be a means to an end, without any further discussion on who they were or why they were there, and further fleshing out of who they were would help for completeness.
Ty Lee is probably the other main issue of this story, and not just her backstory feeling incomplete. There were moments where she didn't really feel like herself. Yes, she is positive and an all-round bubbly person but she's had her more tense moments, like at the beach on Ember Island. The confession to Zuko should have brought out that side of her, and cartwheeling away from such a conversation hardly seems fitting. She also claims in this story that she hated being a part of Azula's team, but in the show we see Ty Lee really did like Azula, even though she was bullied into working with her. Consistency with the Ty Lee from the show would make her character her more believable. On a different note, her chi-blocking fighting style was described well in this story, and made the fighting scene more believable and exciting.
The suspense leading into the fight scene was great, and moments of the battle itself also worked well. The conclusion to the fight is where things went a little vague, especially in regards to the firebender attacker. Some of his movements were hard to picture, and the moment where his flames disappeared was unclear. Apart from that, the only other major issue was Ty Lee's airbending not quite resembling what we've seen in the show. Now, if she had repressed those abilities for so long it would be understandable that her form would be sloppy, but there should still be some resemblance to proper airbending moves in her actions.
A lot of the issues with how realistic the story is come from Ty Lee's airbending. There had been plenty of times she could have used her airbending earlier in the show, and perhaps it would have been better to add a little more on why she didn't use it, or maybe times when she secretly did and nobody knew. There were also a couple of minor things, like the fact that Sokka guessed Ty Lee was an airbender before he even knew, that incurred a slight deduction. Overall, the most pressing thing is just to flesh out Ty Lee's hidden airbending a bit more. It's an interesting concept, it just needs some further refining and expanding to really sell it in a story.
Overall Score: 6.89
Why Read This Fanon?: It is certainly unique among fanons I've seen, and paints Ty Lee in a different and interesting way to how we've seen so far.
A story told from Mako's point of view, set on the planet of Titan, where Mako, Bolin, and General Korra fight alongside their comrades against alien natives.
The story is very action-driven, which does make for an exciting read. A couple of things stop the plot from scoring higher here though, one of them being the pacing. The story itself actually progressed reasonably well at the start, and it was more the final events where things became very rushed. The reunion between Mako, Bolin, and the other soldiers is mentioned in a couple sentences, and the final scene with the reveal of the real enemy was also rushed. And the resolution afterwards summed up weeks into three of four sentences. It made for a slightly lackluster finish. The other area which incurred deductions were the couple of confusing moments in the story. The new 'drug' which Mako takes and the events surrounding it, for example, are rather vague and seem far too convenient to be believable. Rethinking these aspects of the plot would greatly improve the score here.
There were moments when the two universes (Avatar and the alien one) related quite well. The statement about the title 'Avatar' that Korra wore, for example, worked really well. But other times this could have been organised a little better. There's not a lot of explanation about why they are colonising the planet, and their universe in general, and it makes it harder for readers to gel the two worlds together in their head. Especially if it's a world many readers are not familiar with, it would pay to spend a little more time developing it in the story. The only other area here is the ending not quite concluding the story as well as it could have, though this has been mentioned above.
On the whole this was done very well for this story. There were a couple of typos and incorrect word usages, and a tense confusion near the end. Apart from that there wasn’t too much else that was an issue, so nicely done!
Writing Style: 6.9
The story is written from Mako's perspective, and so features a lot of quirks about his character. Unfortunately, often his sayings and things he thought did miss the mark a little and not really feel like him speaking. Being in first person also allows readers to feel and see what the narrator is, and there were times when this was done well and other times when it could have been improved. The descriptions of the aliens were interesting, and definitely set them up to be a formidable enemy, but it started to get a little vague and confusing when they had nicknames Mako was using to describe them.
The minor characters in this story were characterised well. Bolin felt like himself, even using weapons that seemed to suit his character, and the addition of Private Fire was a nice touch. Mako however was a little harder to pinpoint with his character. In the show he is much more of a straight-up, serious kind of guy, yet he seems to joke around too much in this story, making light of the aliens and situation, and occasionally giving out overly positive remarks which don't quite suit him at all. Other times he was characterised well, and so fixing this would be more of a matter of consistency.
The native aliens in this story are the other main issue for this section. They feel like a means to an end, only there to be shot at rather than actually having a greater purpose for the story. The problem with this is that it makes the good guys beating them less rewarding for readers when they don't really know who they really were. At times their goals and reasons for fighting back were alluded to, but with further expansion this could be improved.
Being an action-centred story it's no surprise that it scored well here. The battles themselves were exciting, and flowed logically and clearly most of the time. The repetitive nature of the writing however was a bit of a hindrance, as it caused fast-paced moments to drag a bit when reading through. Changing the way sentences start and finish can be a good way to mitigate this, and make a scene far more tense and exciting. But all in all, this was done well in this story.
There were a couple of moments that seemed to stick out in regards to this category. When Mako took a 'medicine' of some kind it seemed like a stretch; first a vial that cured him of wounds, and then an experimental drug that made him over-powered and grow back a limb. While the latter is far more a stretch, both instances could have done with a bit more explanation. In addition, the final description of what happened after the battle seemed a bit unreasonable, and could have used a little more expansion.
Overall Score: 7.29
Why Read This Fanon?: This AU fanon takes the bending brothers from The Legend of Korra, and throws them into... well a hellish sort of world infested with crazy aliens. It's an interesting idea, and the battle itself is exciting and will keep anyone hooked.
A story told in the style of a Greek epic, this one-shot involves the gods selecting mortals to settle their disputes on their behalf.
The plot itself was engaging, though there were quite a number of issues that reduced the score here. The pacing is a little too fast, making it harder for readers to grasp what is happening, especially with the introduction of a lot of new characters (the Greek gods for example). There are also a number of plot holes that are conflicting, for example, Azula is summoned to fight for Hephaestus yet she was never his servant, and after the first battle no one seemed to want to go after the Spirit of Strife Eris and Ham Ghao who caused the whole feud. And Toph was blamed for stabbing Zuko with a knife because apparently it was hers, yet Toph doesn't use knives. It would be worth rethinking the story and making each moment or character's action follow in a logical manner, as this makes it easier for readers to follow.
The intro to the story was rather interesting and fresh, following the style of a 'Greek Epic' which was nice. The wrapping up of the story could have used some further fleshing out however, as it doesn't really resolve the story or have a clear finish. The major issue here however is that the whole story doesn't really connect to the Avatar Universe at all. The 'champions' selected happen to be Avatar characters, but apart from that there's little to connect this story to Avatar at all. There are a number of possible solutions to this. Personally, I would go for the story being told by another character. Uncle Sokka could be telling his nephews and niece about the 'first bending war' in the style that the one-shot is in now. That way, the story has a connection to the Avatar Universe, and it gives some leeway to the plausibility of the story since it's not a true story but made up. Now that's just one solution, and there are a number of ways to fix this, but there should be something done to connect this story to Avatar a little more.
I can't recall many mistakes, only a handful of punctuation errors. Nicely done!
Writing Style: 6.3
The Greek Epic style of this story is quite unique and intriguing for this story. Often characters are described as 'adjective, person' for example, 'nimble Aang', which very much felt like a Greek Epic. At times however, inappropriate adjectives were used, like 'peaceful Katara burned with rage', which doesn't quite make much sense, and so perhaps rethinking a couple of the word choices to better fit the character would help in this category.
The setting is also not described often or clearly enough in this story. We don't exactly know where the mortal side of things is taking place (we know there is an Olympus), and it would have been better to have had some more description and perhaps also link it more to the Avatar universe by having it take place there. But definitely one of the better features of the story is the style it's written in.
There are a lot of characters in this story, and given how short it is, their characterisation is often brief. Sokka was characterised fairly well in this story, even small things making his character believable and interesting, like the fact that he was Athena's champion, who is the spirit of wisdom. Aang too was characterised well, showing disapproval at fighting his friends, and Katara as well, but Toph and Zuko should have also followed the same response. Even though they aren't quite at the same level of non-violence as Aang, they wouldn't hurt their friends even if spirits told them too. Probably the other big issue with this story is that there are simply far too many characters to really grasp what they are all like and little physical description of each one. Gods seem to appear frequently out of nowhere, and Azula and Ham Ghao, the other two mortals involved, don't really get the screen time they deserve. It was a nice touch having the Greek gods and in particular linking them to appropriate champions, as mentioned above with Sokka, but each of them should have really had more time to be developed in the story.
The story features a lot of fighting, and so there were quite a few exciting moments in the story. Some moments were not entirely clear, or lacked enough description, which made some fighting scenes drag. Also, the final moment with Sokka fighting Azula was a little unclear, but with further fleshing out this could be fixed.
No points were deducted for the inclusion of Greek Gods, since this was a crossover fanon, but it would definitely be worth connecting this story to the Avatar Universe a little more as mentioned already. Deductions in this section come mainly from the realism of characters' reactions. Many things said or done felt over-the-top, and actions not taken where they should have been felt unrealistic. Part of this could be fixed by simply adding more to the story, and with further explanation of decisions made it could make them feel more realistic.
Overall Score: 6.59
Why Read This Fanon?:I think including Avatar characters in a Greek Epic-style story is definitely unique, and makes for an intriguing idea for a story
Overall Score for Part 1: 6.93
Overall Advice:There have been a number of areas improved in these more recent one-shots compared to the first ones reviewed, which is really cool. Again, I think most of the advice comes down to fleshing things out, and proper execution of the story. Many of the ideas are for these one-shots are great, but with some reworking and expanding upon they can become even greater.
Overall Score Both Parts: 6.76
Well, although it has taken me a fair amount of time it has been a pleasure to read through all of Duke's one-shots. To wrap up these reviews, Duke's mini-series 'Honour' is next on the list, so look out for this final installment soon!