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Hey, lot's of stuff to put up here today!
First, the writeoff's over, and I came home with another silver medal. I've never heard of the guy whose story topped mine before; probably some no-talent hack who got lucky.
Second, I've gotten all of the stories I've reviewed here into a "reviewed" bookshelf over on FiMFiction! That took a long time, what with the nearly five hundred stories I had to find and add. Not that those are the only stories I've reviewed; a lot of them, especially the fandom's earlier ones, aren't on FiMFic at all. It was also pretty sad every time I went to link to some great story, and the icon next to the author's name said "54 wks ago." A lot of good authors have moved on; I guess all we can do is be thankful that good new ones keep showing up to replace them.
Finally, EqD is doing friendoffs again! I used to love those things, back when the fandom was, like, a few orders of magnitude smaller. We'll see how it does now, but I have high hopes; the idea of showing your appreciation for an author or artist by building on their work in the other medium is one ripe for fun. I'll have to figure something out, I think.
Now, with all the housekeeping out of the way, let's move on to the reviewing! ABagOVicodin's Dash's New Mom, after the break.
Impressions before reading: "Dash's feels like her dad starting to date again betrays her mother" could be good; whether because of death or divorce, that's a pretty solid, relatable source of conflict. On the other hand, it could also get angsty and maudlin pretty quick, and Anon and Sind's comments when they saw that this was up were... not positive. Granted, I've disappointed plenty of people in the past by not agreeing with their assessments of stories, but all things being equal, I'd still consider it a bad sign. Well guys, no offense, but I hope to be dismissing your opinions shortly.
Zero-ish spoiler summary: Rainbow Dash's dad has been depressed ever since his wife passed away seven years ago, and Dash would love to see him happy again. But when he reveals that he and Twilight have begun dating, she doesn't handle it well.
Thoughts after reading: Unfortunately, "angsty and maudlin" are the rule of the day here, for a variety of reasons. The subject matter naturally lends itself to overdramatics, for starters; a story like this pretty much has to have a screaming match or three. However, they cross the line from natural to overdone on a regular basis, characters taking turns soliloquy-ing their feelings back and forth for pages at a time. There are also a depressing number of dramatic contrivances--"depressing" because so many could have been easily avoided. For example, Dash's family not having health insurance is used in an early reminisce to add a little extra drama to Dash's mom's death. Leaving aside the question of how "pony" that healthcare model is (lack of ponyness is an irregular but not infrequent problem; human body actions and the like pop up several times), it's transparently there only to pile on the mawkishness. The fic's tendency to transcribe character thoughts in detail is another contributor."
What really stuck out to me, though, was how characterization seemed to shift to fit the needs of the narrative. Not just general attitude; this is a story where, early in the first chapter, Dash is actively pleased that her dad is finally getting laid (speaking of characterization, she manages to be even cruder with her father than that; although the swearing in this fic is fairly mild, there's still rather more vulgarity-in-the-broader-sense than I'm comfortable with for the ponies in question), but later in the story she's appalled that her dad would ever try to "replace" her mom. Even that could work if it were presented as a bit of cognitive dissonance on Rainbow's part, but it seems to be simple inconsistency--and it's regrettably common throughout the story.
Although the story is well-edited and the prose is clear and easy to follow, there are a lot of problems with this fic's writing in terms of redundancy and extraneous details ("Rainbow smiled, making sure to show some teeth in order to accentuate the happiness he should be feeling due to the sight of his daughter"). Moreover, character backstories are often provided in the form of ungainly digressions, which makes a certain amount of sense in the case of Dash's mom, but feels very needless in the case of Scootaloo later on (and on that note, I found that the subplot with her and Applebloom went to uncomfortable territory, considering their ages).
But even past all that, there's the fact that so much of this story is drama for the sake of drama. Character-based drama is all well and good, but it needs to be a match to the characters in order to have an impact, and it needs to make sense in context in order to fit smoothly into the story. Dash being upset about Twi and her dad dating meets both those criteria, in and of itself, but a lot of the peripherals that build drama don't. Stuff like dad being upset that Dash never visits or tells him about things like the fact that she joined the Wonderbolts when the two were clearly on good terms pre-Twigate, simply doesn't fit well with the characters as presented.
Whether it's for laughs or for drama--Pinkie telling masturbation jokes or Dash's dad unironically blaming Twilight for not figuring out who he was when they first met, based on his rainbow mane--there are a lot of problems with the way characters talk, act, and think in this story.
Recommendation: Unless you don't mind a fair bit of crude humor (and crude seriousness, for that matter) and highly variable charactizations, I wouldn't recommend this.
Next time: Twilight Sparkle Earns the Feature-Box, by Skywriter