In review news, I’m going through the new Awaken Online: Precipice book by Travis Bagwell. It’s amazing thus far, I have only heard about half of it and it’s fantastic. It has improved on all the areas I thought it would have problems in if Travis didn’t address them, and he did. I have heard that it has Dat Ending syndrome, so like Aristotle’s admonishment that we should call no man good until they are dead, call no book good until it is finished. But this is a contender against Delver’s LLC for best book, which is also due for its sequel sometime soon.
First, congratulations on the interest in LitRPG! Welcome aboard. Hope you enjoy your time here, please read Awaken Online and Delvers LLC if you haven’t done so. Also read my blog. Because clicks yo.
Now, let’s talk about the review.
Header for talking about the review
I think the review is fair, she outlines what she likes and doesn’t like about the book. But some of her dislikes are controversial.
This is something you will see in my reviews, I rarely, if ever, talk about wordsmithing as a subject. So long as the author doesn’t bore me with repetitive phrasing, or cause me to physically groan, (see “Aleronisms“), the exact word choice doesn’t bother me. Yes, a book that understands the difference between “fewer bullets and less ammo” is great, but I’m not going to scream at the sky over this.
My biggest qualm is the lack of specifics in her review.
For example, here’s my definition of a story:
A story is how an event or series of events affects someone or some people who are in pursuit of a difficult goal, the obstacles that prevent them from achieving that goal, and how that person and the people around him or her change as a result of those events.
Based upon that definition, you can guess how I’ll rate a book.
- What is the event or series of events? How natural is the causal progression between events? See Plot Coupons and Tokens .
- Who is the protagonist and why should I care about them? See Man of Steel, Batman V Superman, and The Grading System.
- What are the obstacles to that goal and how difficult are they to overcome? See the same as above.
- How do these people change as a result of these events? I haven’t talked about this yet, except for mentioning the movie American Beauty. I should probably do this in the future.
Just a point of comparison. Let’s take a book that I think really nails character development, Blaise Corvin’s Delver’s LLC. What specifically did I think was great about the character development?
In numerous scenes, the interior monologue of characters reveals how they see themselves vs. how others see them, and this conflict creates tension that the book resolves. You can read the full review for the examples, but this is a specific point showcased with specific examples, particularly the scene where they are captured.
Thus, if anyone were to ask me how to do character development in a LitRPG book, I would say, “Go read Delver’s LLC and pay attention to the scene where they are captured in the city.”
What about the bad? For bad dialogue, there’s three books I’ve reviewed that stand out.
Soulstone‘s problem is that the characters have no connection to each other and no reason to really work together. Thus Cipriano fills most of the dialogue with meaningless banter that doesn’t advance the plot to get around this problem.
Nagrant Wars shows a complete lack of craft since Jayden Hunter doesn’t know how to write dialogue. The characters sound the same and come across as either creepers or idiots because they have no emotional connection to each other and little investment in their own story. His characters don’t align in their motivation, so they often comment on this and come across as confused or lacking motivation most of the time.
The Trapped Mind Project is written by a hack who puts out a book a month, buys fake reviews, and has a story that features a billionaire in his forties who talks like a high school dropout. He wrote tripe in Space Opera series that didn’t sell, but then realized he could make a killing by writing pandering, idiotic crap for LitRPG fan boys.
(Update: Chatfield addresses my questions about whether or not he cares about writing a good book or just hopes to cash in. Here’s his responses to my criticisms.)
The fact that this book exists and that people will defend this scam artist makes me want to learn how to suck bleach up through my urethra. Of course, even Martin Shkreli has his defenders.
Which reminds me that I need to say: Fuck them and fuck you if you defend them or their behavior. And by “Fuck”, I mean a good and proper dicking with a sandpaper pinecone on high speed. (*)
Is that offensive? I’ll get back to that in a minute.
The point here is that my feedback and critiques about all of those books are blistering, but they also point out specific problems, give advice on how to fix them, (except for Chatfield’s book, which can’t be helped because the author doesn’t care and will have written at least six more novels in the time it takes you to read this review), and at least in Cipriano’s case, he wrote a stronger second book following his first. Still, the problems that were in the first book haunted the second one.
The problem with Cindy’s review is she doesn’t give any particular examples of what she likes or dislikes. It’s all… generic. It’s better than most reviews, but I don’t think Edward Brody could read the review and really gain anything about what he should fix.
The bummer here is that Cindy is a writer. My reviews tend to feature video game commentary, anime commentary, and economics. That’s because those are my jams. Cindy is an author and I’d assume well-read. It would be helpful to have a comparison between other literature she likes and where she thought Edward didn’t do as good a job as another author writing for a similar audience.
The end result is that Cindy’s review is basically a collection of her preferences. Nothing wrong with that, but I also can’t understand the people who are butthurt over it.
Let’s just start off with how little specifics are given here.
I listened to a podcast about a relatively new genre: LitRPG
Which podcast? What did they say? This is the vaguery I’m alluding to here, someone who wants to learn more about their favorite genre is not going to know anything about what this podcast is saying or who is saying it.
Yes, the characters get in over their heads sometimes, but wit, wisdom, equipment, and guts get the job done.
Yes, but a particular example would help. How does he avoid the OP (OverPowered) problem? How does he keep the tension going? These things would be great to know and compare against other novels in the genre.
She then goes into her negative critiques. She thinks that he’s overly foul.
Is he? I don’t know. She didn’t give an example of any writing that would be enhanced by removing profanity. And yes, profanity is made up of adjectives and adverbs. Those are the basis of weak sentences. But without an example, this is impossible to determine.
Let’s go back to my previous paragraphs. I said that Michael Chatfield should be fisted with a sandpaper pinecone. I don’t mean this literally.
This is a way of marking a special hatred I reserve for him alone, and have never bequeathed to any other author. That is because I think most authors who write a bad book are not bad people. I think he’s a horrible person. I use profanity and imagery to make sure that my readers are aware of that critical distinction between a person who does a bad thing and a bad person.
Even if he did miraculously write something that wasn’t complete shit through the fact that an infinite number of monkeys banging on an infinite number of keyboards will reproduce Shakespeare, this wouldn’t change my opinion of him as a person. Thus profanity and imagery are used to demarcate him as a special snowflake in my eyes, and I mean a yellow snowflake.
Without examples, I can’t tell if the cursing that Edward uses is extraordinary or ordinary. I can’t tell if it’s relevant to his story or useless filler. The only thing I have to go on is that Cindy doesn’t like profanity.
Same with descriptions of females. I don’t know the age of the characters and I can’t figure out if this is appropriate or not. A male character in his twenties will probably oogle women more. A child character pre-puberty will not. See my critique of Dakota Krout’s Dungeon Born, where he has a will-o-wisp that makes ‘sexual jokes’, except they’re not jokes and will-o-wisps don’t have genitals. It makes no sense, so that gets docked.
I need to know the context and none is given. For example, as a joke, I made my friend Jeff Hays, an amazing audio narrator, and his friend Andrea Parsneau, read Sandra Hill’s Rough and Ready.
Does this make me a bad person? Probably. Was it lol-tastic? Oh yes. Many lol-cows were had upon that day. It’s your top-viewed video too, so you’re welcome. #HereToHelp
This is the sort of humor that most LitRPG fans will appreciate. Side note: Jeff, next reading is Wesley Crusher: Teenage Fuck Machine. This is a real book. There’s also Sherlock Holmes: A Case of Dicklessness waiting. Soon, you will yearn for the days of finding your “clete” in a bathroom.
So that’s the question, is this male-oriented humor or is this just drivel? Is this f-bombing being used to hide a lack of plot progression or other important information?
Anyway, those are my thoughts. I would like to see Cindy give more examples of both the good and the bad. I’m finishing up Travis Bagwell’s book, and then I’m reading Michael Scott Earle’s book. And then I have to find other books like Wesley Crusher: Teenage Fuck Machine.
(* Side note: I wrote my review of Chatfield’s crap months ago, and people keep sending me PMs on facebook about it and saying how much they agree. They then befriend the guy. Um… newsflash people, if you think a scam artist that steals money is a bad thing, then don’t befriend the guy. Call him out on it.)