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I know I've missed a couple of updates recently, and I'm really hoping that that's all over with now. Unfortunately, real life continues its relentless press upon my time and attentions; I'll see what I can do about that. Below, though, you can (finally!) check out my review of _Medicshy's Newsworthy.
Impressions before reading: This is a pretty darn old story (started just after season 1, if I remember right), and I read it at the time. While I remember the general plot and recall enjoying it at the time, but I also know that I quit following the sequels pretty quickly after that. I'll be interested to see how this holds up four years later.
Zero-ish spoiler summary: Ink Well, newspony for the sensationalist National Equirer, is sent to scoop the mares who "destroyed the Grand Galloping Gala" by his editor. Soon, though, he finds out that the stories he writes have more impact than he realized... and that there are larger forces at work in the world of Equestrian news magazines than he'd ever guessed.
Thoughts after reading: My biggest problem with this story--and the problem, as best I remember, that eventually got me off the sequel train-- was that it got dark, but in an inconsistent way. Grim, violent, or just generally bleak fanfics I can get behind, at least in principle, but only if those elements are used in a well-supported way. That is to say, there needs to be some explanation, some connection to get me from "Equestria" to "[insert whatever here]." That kind of support is something I found missing in this story.
What starts out as a goofy slice-of-life story eventually turns into a conspiracy/adventure, and from there starts adding more than a little violence, torture, and general pain. Things like professional hitponies and an (attempted) arson/murder combo--both of which are treated quite seriously, rather than in a "cartoon violence" way--mark a dramatic shift from the story's opening, but it's the continuous return to running gags, kid-friendly aesops, and the like which really make this problematic: these things drive home how out of place assassination attempts are in a world which, otherwise, hews close to canon.
That said, those elements are saved for several chapters in. The early going has a pleasant slice-of-life style to it, and does some nice things with the seeming hyper-credulity of Ponyville's populace (at least, from season one). And even when things start getting grim, the effect is more "several wildly inappropriate punctuations of violence" than anything else. Although I found those moments very disconcerting, they didn't ultimately stop me from enjoying the fic. And although the grand conspiracy may have felt tonally out of place in the respects emphasized above, it's nominal operations (about which I can't say much without getting into spoilers, but obviously they center around the news magazine industry) is a deliciously appropriate mix of absurd and villainous.
The story is also filled with various subplots, many of which are quite entertaining. Some, such as Rose's fragrance-making, end up tying directly into the main storyline, while others end up being true asides, but almost all are interesting in their own right, and add to the overall atmosphere of the fic without dragging down the pacing. Indeed, they end up helping to space some of those "punctuations" I mentioned earlier, making them a bit easier to read past. The only sub-plot I wasn't particularly enamored with was a vague attempt at a love triangle--well, love angle, I guess--which was seemingly dropped partway through the story in favor of a more straightforward pairing-up.
Voicing is variable throughout; while most of the characters' speech patterns come through most of the time, a curious mix of inappropriate informality (e.g. Twilight telling Dash to "Cool your jets") and heavy exposition occasionally rear up to mar their believability. The latter is particularly noticeable in Rose, who often serves as both the story's vox populi and moral compass, among other things. It's in these two roles, however, that she often finds herself making sweeping statements which feel uncomfortably un-dialogue-like.
But through it all, I must admit I found that the story kept my attention remarkably well. Even on re-read, Newsworthy manages to mix looming mysteries with quick-payoff dilemmas in a way which keeps the reader moving forward. And those mysteries and dilemmas generally offer a fine payoff; whatever issues I had along the way, I won't deny that the author put a perfect bow on the story by the end (albeit a big bow; the last chapter clocks in at over 20,000 words), and more widely, on almost all of the major story elements.
This is a very pleasant story, building from low key to mystery/adventure, which makes a few significant tonal missteps along the way. If you can see past that, however, there's a lot here to enjoy.
Recommendation: Readers looking for a good "mixed story" should give this a shot, though those put off by moments of excessive darkness probably should avoid it.
Next time: All the Mortal Remains, by Cold in Gardez