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Maybe it's just me, but this is increasingly feeling to me like a "drifting away" inflection point for the fandom. We'll see. And meanwhile, we'll continue to read the fandom's classics! Head down below the break to see what I thought of Soundslikeponies' Let's Find You a Date!
Impressions before reading: With over 35,000 views, this is the most-read Carrot-Top-tagged story on FiMFiction.
...What? You seriously expected me to notice anything else first?
Okay, okay: on the surface, this looks like a bog-standard shipfic setup, where Twilight and Rarity slowly circle around to realizing their true feelings while the reader waits for the inevitable kiss. But Soundslikeponies wrote one of my personal favorite fics, so I've got high hopes for this to be more than meets the eye. Plus, you know... Carrot Top!
Zero-ish spoiler summary: When Rarity discovers that Twilight's never so much as gone on a date, she makes it a mission to help Twilight... well, to help her get a date. But even as she navigates her way though the awkwardness of first time flirts and an extremely forward model, Twilight finds her thoughts turning again and again to the mare who's supposed to be guiding her on her path to romantic satisfaction.
Thoughts after reading:
Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot to say here: this is a very by-the-books shipfic, which executes all its beats with competence, but not surprise. That's not a particularly bad thing; it just means that, in the context of a review, there's not a lot left for me to say in terms of "you might like this if..." or "you might be put off by..." Once you know it's RariTwi and read the summary, most readers will already be able to tell whether this is their kind of fic or not with perfect accuracy.
"By-the-books shipfic" does mean that there's not a lot of suspense to this fic. You know, before you even read the first sentence, that Twilight and Rarity will kiss at the end; it's just how these stories work. You know, after Twilight wakes up in bed with another pony after a night of heavy drinking and no memory of what she got up to, that they didn't actually have sex--you know it well enough that I can't even bring myself to call it a spoiler. Nearly every scene in this story plays out in Precisely The Way You Know It Will.
For some readers, that's a selling point. If you're coming to this story because you want to see Twilight and Rarity get together while Twilight learns a little bit about dating, then of course you don't want the rug pulled out from under you. But at the same time, it does mean there's not really any reason to read this story except that you have a vested interest in seeing the premise played out; there's no other draw. That extends beyond the plot and to the writing, which is generally reasonably punchy and lively, but does tend to have its characters exposit their feelings rather too much. The last bit is a flaw in writing terms, but a draw if you want to hear Twilight talking about how she doesn't know how to let somepony down gently. Generally, this story does a good job of being What It Is.
I was a bit bothered, though, by the extent to which characters and events occurred simply because of the dictates of the narrative. Most notably, the OC major character in this fic seems be turned to for advice and assistance on several occasions for no reason better than "because she's one of the four major characters." Twilight lampshades this a couple of times, but the fact that apparently everypony else Twilight knows is out of town does stick out. Likewise, a lot of story events feel more contrived than natural.
I also felt like the predictability was a flaw when it came to the comedic aspects of the story. There's something to be said for classic humor, but too many times the sillier parts of the story felt too stock and standard for me to get much of a grin out of them. I mean, the story opens with a played-straight "sounds like they're having sex... but they aren't!" scene, for goodness sake! It's not that it's poorly done, it's just that it's been done so many times that I'm not even sure it qualifies as "humor" any more--it's more of a familiar staple, present for the sake of being present.
Soundslikeponies does do a good job of creating characters who can realistically abut each other, though. Said OC, Carrot Top, Rarity, and Twilight (the latter two painted with rather broad, circa-2012 brushes, but easily recognizable) are given strong, disparate personalities, and the setpieces the author uses maximize their key traits. The result is that, even if events often seem preordained and the setup to them contrived, at least the events themselves seem like logical outcomes for the characters.
★★☆☆☆ (what does this mean?)
As I was afraid, this is "a bog standard shipfic setup," which leads to a thoroughly predictable story. But it's a reasonably well-written story with vibrant characters, which is not a bad thing to be.
Recommendation: If you ship RariTwi and are looking for something to scratch that itch, look no further! Otherwise, this is probably something that you can pass over without fear that you've missed more than a transient pleasure.
Next time: Nosflutteratu, by Charcoal Quill