I've been having a tremendous amount of trouble focusing recently. I don't know if it's just the seemingly endless poor weather or what, but my mind feels half-fried, and has for the last few days.
That hasn't stopped me from reading some fanfics, or from having opinions about them, though! Click down below the break to see what I've been up to recently, fanfic-reading-wise.
The Amazing Adventures of Captain Invincible!, by shallow15
Zero-ish spoiler summary: While cleaning the library, Twilight comes across some stories Spike has written, with heroes and villains who look suspiciously similar to his friends... and which is clearly labeled "DO NOT READ!!"
Not that that stops Twi, of course.
A few thoughts: There are two parts to this story: the titular adventures, and Twi's dilemma of what to do about the fact that she's breaking Spike's trust by reading those adventures without telling him. The latter I really liked; it's a simple story about self-justification, friendship, and all the rest, but it's got the same kind of honesty and sincerity that I enjoy in the show itself. The Captain's adventures are more of a mixed bag, though. While the cliche, rocky start is intentional, that doesn't make the first chapter any more enjoyable (it would have been better, in my opinion, as a short excerpt which offers just enough to show Spike's writing style and quality), and the later chapters are much more entertaining, but it bothered me that most of the characters Spike uses are just cases of color-scheme borrowing; only a few of the characters bear any resemblance, in terms of personality (or parody thereof) to the ponies Spike's ostensibly basing them on.
Recommendation: This does offer a nice mix of SoL and over-the-top pulpy-but-PG action. Readers who enjoy the kind of exaggerated schlock (I use the word in the nicest way possible) which the title promises will not be disappointed.
Hooves of Clay, by iisaw
What it is: When Twilight finds a changeling in Ponyville some weeks after the events of A Canterlot Wedding, her reaction is extreme. More dangerous than the immediate fallout, though, are the emotional faultlines it lays bare.
A few thoughts: I had a lot of trouble getting into this one, because it seemed to me that iisaw couldn't decide how he wanted changelings to work. Twilight killing some (it's in the very first chapter, so I don't consider that much of a spoiler) is treated as being far beyond the pale--understandable enough, given both the circumstances and Equestria's presumable attitude toward killing. But the story also suggests that changelings are basically mindless puppets, which would make the source of the conflict seemingly nonsensical; why would killing a drone incapable of independent action be any different from... well, intelligence levels in Equestria being what they are, any comparison would be uncertain at best, but my point is that it wouldn't seem to be such a big deal.
Recommendation: If one can get past all that, though, there's a very thoughtful, engaging look at what excessive idolization can do to a person. I'd recommend it for anyone looking for a dark but hopeful take on how resentment can devour someone should give it a try.
Bonafide, by Sharp Spark
Zero-ish spoiler summary: Lyra and Bon-Bon have been happily living together for years... which makes for quite the surprise when the real Bon-Bon shows up in Ponyville one day.
A few thoughts: Hey, another changeling fic! I was kind of expecting a comedy from the setup, but the pure-Romance tagging doesn't lie; there's not a lot of humor here. Instead, this is a shipping story that looks at what it really means to love someone. Unfortunately, it doesn't do that in a very compelling way; real!Bon-Bon is such a horrible creature that the lack of examination can almost be forgiven, but this story still does remarkably little with its "I've been lying to you for years" premise, favoring a platitude or two in place of genuine drama.
Recommendation: This strikes me as a "for shippers" kind of story: one that will strain your credulity beyond its limits if you don't accept the conventions of the genre as givens, but which could be enjoyable otherwise. So, if you've got a thing for Lyra x Bon-Bon stories and want to see an original take on the pairing, this might be worth looking in to.