More than just another zombie story
I should preface this review with the fact that zombies are not my thing. Too much pointless gore, too much hopeless dystopia, and the stuff I live for--strong characterization and character development--tends to be severely lacking.
Such lack is not an issue with this story.
It's the opposite, really. This story is made of strong characterization, of flawed yet essentially decent people who are doing their best in a world gone to hell, of difficult choices, and of the importance of connecting with others even when such connections are dangerous. Marsh manages to keep the reader under a constant veil of suspense while simultaneously building relationships through character interactions that feel absolutely raw and real. She has a true knack for dialogue, and her prose is economical while immersing the reader fully in the world she creates--nothing purple here--yet she also manages to stun with occasionally gorgeous and completely apt metaphors that leave the reader in awe. The ending is well done, putting us through the emotional ringer before finally offering the light at the end of the tunnel, real hope in a dying world.
There is little negative I have to say about this story--it is well plotted and well paced. This was my third reading, and every time I've read it I've enjoyed it anew. There is the rare spot where grammar is a minor issue--I noticed the occasional missing word in particular--but it's nothing frequent or glaring, the type of thing that one would expect when professional editing isn't involved (we all have a smattering of these issues, and even published works are not immune).
I suppose in the end my urging would be to read it--read it and see for yourself why this is one of the most widely adored fics in the Soul Eater fandom. You won't be sorry.
A suspenseful tale
You weave a complex tale that doesn't grow stale and contains some very strong character interactions. While I read Spirit's feelings towards Soul at the end of the manga a bit differently-he proclaims their bond to be stronger than what he had with his wife in a positive way on the moon-- I thought you handled the evolution of his feelings in this well. There were a few plot moments where abilities were ignored for convenience (why wouldn't Maka just use her perception to find Soul?) and some odd phrasing sometimes, but overall, you manage to craft a story that keeps the reader in suspense.Read the story now
Powerful and engaging
This was not my first reading of this fic, and if anything, it reads even better the second time around. Fab blends her source material well, with nods to the canon experiences of the characters woven into the primary storyline seamlessly. The characters are well fleshed out and true both to themselves and the world they have been transplanted into, and the relationships they build are at the heart of the story.
Fab has a way with metaphor, and her carefully chosen images rarely fail to deliver. There are moments where the prose drags, but these are rare, and more often we are swept up by the vivid scenes that emerge. The one thing I sometimes stumbled over was pacing. While there are indications time passes, the action sometimes feels so quick and pushed together amidst brief nods to chronology that it reads as though the story takes place over the span of days rather than the months that must have passed in truth.
Overall, this story is a fantastic read. The focus on friendship and trust even amidst difficulty, on the bonds of found family, on difficult choices, on betrayal and renewal, all lend themselves to weaving a story that is as engaging as it is profound.
If you haven't given Internuntii a chance, you are truly missing out.
Ash has a writing style that is little short of mesmerizing. Weaving a tale that is both psychologically and emotionally complex, we journey with these characters through self discovery and the growing bonds and friendship and love. Nothing is simple or easy in a world where body and soul have been severed, but through difficulty and despair, we are left in a place where compassion and love matter, and where two people who have found one another through their worst time can go on to find meaning with not only each other, but their found family as well.
Read this, you won't be sorry.
Packs a punch to the feels
As I've come to expect from you, this story does not fail to make the reader feel. Your prose is clean and evocative, and the world you paint vivid. Perhaps most striking, however, is your characterizations. You manage to make these characters true to their canon representations, to make their interactions feel real and raw. The way you showed the relationship between Soul and Maka is fantastic, slowly unfurling how close their bond is even amidst a cruel, chaotic world, an upbringing full of blood and loss. They disagree, they bicker, they worry, and above all, they love each other fiercely.
I was particularly struck by how you managed to show moments of humanity and tenderness amidst the bleakness of the totalitarian dystopia you paint, how you show people trying desperately to do right among so much wrong when they might simply live and take comfort in each other.
The ending is gut-wrenching.
I'll admit I knew it was coming and have avoided the pain for awhile, because I don't like to be sad, and sad I was.
The presence of Wes and the fact that he clearly still cares for Maka even through his anger, even through the chaos, the fact that it is one she sees as an elder brother who helps end her life, the sacrifice Kid makes and that it is his friend who brings him down, that we know Soul can hear it all and is powerless to change it--it packs so much into such a short span that we are left reeling.
In particular, the continued belief of Maka and Soul in each other twists the knife and twists it deep. She believes to the end he will find a way to help her, and as the ship takes off, the reader is left stunned that he has left her; we know him well enough to know how it must have killed him, aware that he can do nothing to help her and loving her enough to do what she wants of him rather than throwing it all away to try to save her. There is a pointless to it that particularly hurts--yet the risks in what they did were always real and ever present, and Maka faced the consequence of burning too brightly as her parents had before her in their equally pointless, brutal deaths.
The epilogue is brilliant. We get only headlines, but you have painted the world and characters so brightly that we can easily paste together the pieces. We know how much Soul must hurt, how much he has always done this for her, but he continues where she cannot, does what she can no longer do, and sees it through to the end as they had promised. He lives to fulfill her dream, and imagining the endless ache of that, and yet, the complete love as well is what makes this both painful and powerful.
I sort of hate you for it--I want the alternate ending where Maka lives, where they accomplish it all together--but I always crave people to get what they deserve, and in a cruel, uncaring world, that they don't is, unfortunately, probably more fitting.
In the end, I'm glad I read it. It is stunning, sadness and all.
Hurts so good
This story has an epic feel, yet manages to keep character and relationship development firmly front and center. While there are time lapses, and those can be tricky to manage, in this case they are well employed, allowing us to watch the characters grow without losing sight of them. There are a lot of balls in the air in this story--it follows the four chains' povs and more, the story woven together through many threads--but it is never confusing and always approachable, the prose clean. While there were occasionally minor grammar issues, they were nothing that interfered with enjoying the story overall.
And then there's the ending.
There is a cloud hanging over the characters from the beginning, and the ending brings that to fruition. As with the first sealing of the avatar, the mission to thwart his return succeeds, but not without a heavy cost that leaves everyone reeling, and several characters are permanently devastated. While there is a sliver of hope that this might be made right, that heavy cost is what the reader is left with as well, and the result is that we end this story nearly as devastated as the characters we have grown to love.
Effective, even if all I craved was the fulfilled ending these characters so deserved. Definitely a great read, even with the mighty plunge at the end of the line.