To read the story, click the image or follow this link
You know, e-ink screens are amazing. I've had my e-reader for less than a year, but I honestly can't remember how I used to put up with reading so much off a computer screen before I got it. So much easier on the eyes.
Below the break, my review of Corejo's Reading Rainbow.
Impressions before reading: First off, I dig the title--Reading Rainbow (aka "The Geordi show;" I watched a lot of TNG too) was one of my favorite TV shows when I was young. I see a lot of comic potential in Dash reading aloud to Twilight, so I've got high hopes for this one going in. As usual, I'm going to skip the in-progress sequel and review only the completed first story. It looks like a big chunk of the fic is going to be the story (poem, specifically) which Dash reads--I believe I've mentioned before that poorly executed poetry doesn't sit well with me, so I'm hoping that the construction here is good. I think my cat might need a different chow mix because he's been burping and passing gas a lot lately, though he doesn't seem to be in any discomfort; he's going to the vet next week, so I'm planning to ask about it then.
That last bit has nothing to do with the story, obviously, but I figured that as long as I was stringing together tangentially related sentences and passing them off as a paragraph, I'd slip that in there too.
Zero-ish spoiler summary: After an accident leaves Twilight temporarily blinded, Dash tries to help her pass the time by reading to her, starting with a Shel Silverstien-esque poem.
Thoughts after reading: To begin, the poem: while it wasn't egregiously awful, I wasn't impressed. The story-within-a-story consists entirely of rhyming couplets, and to the authors credit, almost all of the couplets rhyme. Unfortunately, rhythm is far less consistent throughout. There was no consistent pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in the poem as a whole, or even within individual couplets, as in this example:
Seeing the house, as one can easily tell,
Things became interesting when the rain fell.
But despite these setbacks, the stallion tread
Up Halfway Street, toward his unfinished homestead.
To be fair, nearly every line in the poem has four stressed syllables, and inconsistency on that count would be much more problematic than the lack of pattern to the unstressed ones. Still, that lack of pattern does make the poem somewhat ungainly to try to read aloud (as Dash is theoretically doing).
Let's move on to the story itself. While there's nothing particularly earth-shattering here ("Dash reads to Twi" really sums it up quite nicely), the author does a good job of representing the two protagonists. From Dash's initial over-reaction to Twilight's injury to smaller things, like having Dash occasionally stumble over words and have to ask for help as she reads, Corejo does a nice job of clearly articulating both ponies in a relatively short (only a few thousand words) space. The pleasant yet dynamic relationship between the protagonists which is absolutely essential to slice-of-life ponyfics (at least, those starring members of the main six) is absolutely present here.
Also worth mentioning is that this is an extremely predictable story. Right through to the very last line, there's virtually nothing here which will shock or surprise any reader in the slightest. Being predictable isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially in a short SoL work, but it does tend to promote a sense of detachment. It's hard to involve oneself in a story when one can guess the beats from the first few pages alone, and I suspect that many readers will find themselves breezing through Reading Rainbow without giving it much thought, whether they enjoy it or not. Again, that's not necessarily a criticism, but the failure of this story to ever defy expectations does limit one's investment in the work.
Perhaps my biggest problem with the story is poor word use. It's true that the editing is superb (an author's note lists several editors/pre-readers; their efforts show), but from linguistic errors like using "naught" in place of "not," to definition confusion like mixing poetry with prose, there are a fair number of misappropriated words in this story. The fact that Twilight was often the one making these mistakes made them stick out even more; you'd think she, at least, would be able to differentiate between rhyming couplets and free verse, and when she uses the phrases interchangeably, it only serves to highlight the error.
Star rating: ★★☆☆☆ (what does this mean?)
There's a straightforward but nevertheless sweet story wrapped around a tolerably-executed bit of poetry here, and anyone hoping for a short piece which delivers a few warm fuzzies will find exactly that.
Recommendation: Those looking for stellar verse should look elsewhere, though by and large Reading Rainbow is of the "unobjectionably mediocre" variety in that regard. Those looking for an inoffensive but well-executed bit of friendshipping between Dash and Twi would be well advised to consider this. Those who are easily annoyed by misused words and phrases can go ahead an purse their lips while shaking their heads.
Next time: Tilt, by Passport Clean