Friday, March 24, 2017

Mini-Reviews Round 177

I went to the dentist to get a cavity drilled yesterday.  This is particularly annoying because I take pretty good care of my teeth (I even floss!  I think I might be the only person on the planet who flosses on something approaching a regular basis!), and yet my last two check-ups have had less than heartening responses.  Bah.

So to help un-sour my mood, let's turn to fanfic.  Short thoughts on stuff I've recently read, below the break.

Thorny Words, by Distaff Pope

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Lovestruck and Roseluck are roommates.  Lovestruck's a romance novelist, and Rose is coming home angry after getting stood up on her date.  There's only one thing to do under the circumstances: drink too much and make awkward confessions.

A few thoughts:  The two big problems with this story are that it's unrepentantly shippy, and that it piles contrivances on at a brisk clip in order to accommodate its unrepentantly shippy plot.  However, those are only problems for the general reader; for someone who comes in expecting the usual beats associated with romantic comedies, this delivers both well.  It's predictable in the best way, right down to the retrospective-facing ending, and the dialogue is a good mix of rambling and on-topic... it's just, you know, contrived.

Recommendation:  This isn't so much a "for shippers only" fic as it is a "for rom-com-lovers only" fic.  If you are one, this is probably a good fit for you!  But if not, there's not a lot of secondary appeal here.

Final Mission, by Sharp Quill

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  After the Bugbear shows up in town, Bon-Bon--a.k.a. Retired Special Agent Sweetie Drops--ducks out from setting up Cranky and Matilda's wedding to lay low.  But in doing so, she triggers a curse which is erasing her from existence, day by day.

A few thoughts:  This story begins abruptly, and leaves a lot of motives and explanations unexplored at the beginning.  Unfortunately, it also leaves those motives and explanations unexplored in the middle, and at the end; a lot of events are technically answered, but only in a way that kicks the question up another level, where they remain totally opaque.  I finished this fic more to make sure it wouldn't put a satisfying bow on everything than because I was hoping it would, to be honest.  Admittedly, there are some great hooks scattered throughout this story, and hints of what might be clever worldbuilding... if it had been fleshed out, explored, or even just justified at some point.

Recommendation:  If you're more interested in interesting ideas than interesting explorations or explanations, then this might be worth a look.  But it's a definite "pass" for anyone who wants everything to wrap up in a satisfying manner by the time "the end" rolls around.

101 Uses for a Dead Alligator, by deadpansnarker

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  While housesitting for Pinkie and the Cakes, Rainbow Dash accidentally squishes Gummy into an alligator pancake.

A few thoughts:  I was disappointed to discover that the title is super misleading, as is the "Weekend at Bernie's" sub-title: we get to see exactly one short scene of Dash pretending to somepony that Gummy is alive, get a paragraph where a few more are summarized, and that's it on the "pretend the alligator isn't dead" front.  The story itself is exactly what you think it is, and while it does have a few amusing overdramatic turns of phrase, it still doesn't have much beyond its central premise to it--there's not a lot of secondary humor, no real message or moral, no subplots, nothing.  If this were a 1k fic, that would probably be fine, but for a fic pushing four times the minimum length, it feels like there's too little meat on this particular bone.

Recommendation:  If "Rainbow gooshes Gummy" sounds especially funny to you, and if you like faux-purple prose done for comic effect, then this might not be a bad choice.  If you're looking for literally anything else, it's probably not here.

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