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.
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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.