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Hope you all had a pleasant Thanksgiving! If not, consider pulling a "take two" this week; it's not like there's ever a bad reason to get together with the people you love and overeat. Okay, I'm sure there are plenty, but you know what I mean. Late Thanksgiving is better than never-Thanksgiving!
Speaking of things you're all thankful for, how about some reviews? Don't deny it, you know you love them. Get my thoughts on Hyperexponential's Forever Young, below the break.
Impressions before reading: I read this one a while back, and was unimpressed. However, it's always worth re-reading when one sits down to review; sometimes, a story has aged better than you thought it would, or something that you managed to miss the first time jumps out when you start prying the words apart and makes the tale fit together. I mean, that doesn't usually happen, but it has happened enough that I'm at least hopeful that this will wow me on take two.
Zero-ish spoiler summary: Discord will live forever, and Fluttershy will die eventually--or rather, she will if somedraconequus doesn't do something about it. So he does.
Thoughts after reading: Discord is a difficult character to write well, it seems to me. He's constantly moving, constantly joking (verbally or visually), constantly doing, and it's tough to convey that in text. Unfortunately, Discord fell flat for me here; with only a couple of exceptions in this 4000 word fic, all at the very beginning, he's stoic, staid, and remarkably lifeless. In fact, he acts much more like a self-absorbed version of Celestia than like a quick-witted trickster, and when he's the central character in the story, that's a problem. To be fair, he's mostly shown in "serious" situations in this fic, but the fact that the single most vibrantly active character in the show is presented in so sedate a manner is a serious issue.
Characterization is, in fact, the biggest issue throughout the story. Fluttershy seethes at Discord over a casual (though admittedly character-defyingly crude) jab at Celestia; she guides extended conversations with all the self-assurance of a debate moderator; she self-narrates with Shatnerian dramatics. Rarity, meanwhile, is essentially reduced to a mouthpiece for the "right" views on the justifications for choosing or refusing immortality. Mouthpiece characters grate with me in any case, but doubly so when there are significant gaps in their logic (note that this isn't a problem when a character is a character and not a mouthpiece, as errors or things they overlook could be, well, in-character), and trebly so when a character has a distinct personality overwritten by those mouthpiece duties.
On the plus side, the prose is clean and easy to understand, though several writing decisions struck me as distracting, notably a telly timeskip at the end of the fic. Honestly, this story could have been much longer, and probably would have benefited; it would have given the author more time to explore the main characters' attitudes and personalities without rushing straight to points and counterpoints they had to argue/explain, and the decisions they had to make. Especially given the weight of Discord's ultimate decision, the fact that there's basically no lead-up to it, coupled with the fact that his explanation for it sounds like nothing he's ever said (voicing-wise, that is, not thematically), rob it of any punch.
Interestingly, several other people whose opinions I trust have read this recently, and there seems to be about a significant split between reviewers who love it (including Loganberry and PresentPerfect), and people who, well, don't (such as Bradel). For what it's worth, I'm pretty firmly in the "don't" category.
Recommendation: If morality plays are your thing, and you aren't too concerned about how well-reasoned that morality is, this may well appeal. But if you're going to be put off by Discord, Rarity, or Fluttershy sounding and acting precious little like Discord, Rarity, and Fluttershy, Forever Young probably isn't the right fic for you.
Next time: Do Changelings Dream of Herding Sheep?, by John Perry