A true diamond in the rough.
This story has me a bit split up. A lot of things within it are things that I like and want to encourage in other authors. A unique setting, interesting and lively characters and an element of political intrigue are all elements that just make me fall in love with a story. This one has all of those elements and then some which are what I adored reading through. It is what kept me going through the story and allowed me to see that there is a beautiful gem hiding here. However, it is quite rough and requires a little bit more of a polish to make it shine like it truly deserves. In this review, I will try to point out what I consider to be some major issues with the story that hold it back as well as explain why I feel this is. To do so, I will start this review with the criticism portion first, before heading into praise. So let's begin.
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Talking Head Syndrome: this is the most benign issue and it really bothered me only a few times in the whole story, but it is an issue nonetheless. This issue occurs when we don't know who is saying what in some segments. The conversation just keeps going and we are not given clear indication as to who is saying what. Yes, we can infer such information from the context, but this isn't the point. The reader should know exactly who is saying what at any given point. This issue is especially annoying in the chapter where Wren is talking to Malfic and Felsic as at one point we lose ourselves completely. I had to reread that section three times just to find out who is saying what. Furthermore, this issue also robs us of character behavior. We don't know how they said certain lines and thus we don't gain some emotional investment that we could have gotten. It is quite the missed opportunity to put some weight behind the words said. Always think of how a character said certain lines, what were they feeling at that moment and how do these feelings externalize themselves on the character's posture, facial expression, hand gestures, etc. It adds quite a bit.
Grammar: I decided to give you 3 stars for the grammar because of two main reasons: 1) there were quite a few grammatical errors throughout the work. Certain words were misspelled or downright confused for other words (one that reappeared was the mix up between since and seen) and similar. One case had a word ending very weirdly which I believe I sent you in the feedback email. I tried to catch as many as I could, but I lost track at one point. To fix these issues I would suggest you reread the book one more time and that you also utilize either an online free proofreader or reread the chapters yourself and try to catch all of the misspellings and such.
The major issue that dragged your grammar down was the tense swapping. This is something I have noticed in a lot of new authors (I did it too at one point) and it's an issue a lot of people who write in the first person POV tend to do. The switch up usually occurs because the writer is unsure whether the character is retelling these events or are they living through them right now so it gets jumbled up in the finished product. Since the majority of this novel is written in past tense, there is no reason for you to use the present tense. Even in chapters in which you switch to first person POV you have to keep your tenses consistent. The jumping between tenses tends to give off an unprofessional vibe and can be reminiscent of some poorly written creepypastas rather than an intricate piece of Sci Fi like this (keep in my mind this work is miles above such stories which is why I do urge you to fix this issue as soon as possible).
Writing Style: I decided to give your writing style 3 stars because of two reasons. As I read I noticed that certain sentences were written very awkwardly and that they ruined the flow of the story. Just as well, there were repetitions of certain words or descriptions that felt more like placeholders for something else (if that makes any sense). The majority of these have occurred in the first few chapters and could appear sporadically throughout other chapters as well. I would suggest an edit to this story be made and that you reread it to catch as many of these as you can. I tried to find as many as I could and send them via feedback mail, but, just like with grammar, I couldn't find them all.
There were also some scenes in which the characters told us about certain events unfolding while we did not see them. One that comes to mind specifically is when Verza said to Wren what the Great Raven was doing. Like I mentioned in that chapter, we should have seen the Great Raven doing these things and have Verza comment on its actions rather than having Verza tell us these things. This issue was not a common one in the novel, but I would suggest you look out for it.
The major issue in the style and one of the things that really weigh this story down is the POV issue. The POV issue has been my major gripe with this story since chapter two. The constant switch between the third person to the first person was jarring enough at first, but then it really reached its peak annoyance for me in chapter 12 when you added Mazan's POV into the mix. Unlike Wren who is one of the main focuses of the novel, Mazan is a character who has a major role in two chapters. Her perspective was not needed. She is not a minor character I will give you that, but it is kinda jarring to see yet another POV just out of nowhere.
The worst offense in this regard was in chapter 4 where it switched from first to the third person in the chapter itself. It was incredibly jarring.
The switch between first person POV than to the third person then back to the first person gets annoying quite easily, however, they both have their good points. The first person does make it easier to connect with Verloren (Wren) and it makes it easier for us to see inside her mind while the third person lets us focus on events outside of Verloren's feathering.
There are three roads you can take here from my perspective: 1) go, full third person, while sacrificing some of Verloren's emotional struggles 2) go full first person while hiding away a lot of the information or 3) try for a third person limited approach.
Third person limited is a POV in which you can use third person descriptions while solely focusing on the emotions of one character. Who that character is can be dependant on the chapter, but essentially the idea is to pick one central figure in the chapter and show the world and people around them through their eyes. It is somewhat more challenging to write and I do suggest looking up some videos on the issue. Of course, the problem with this one is that you will have to do a major rewrite to make it happen. Which is a huge deal in and of itself. I would suggest sticking to regular third person for the novel.
Overall whatever you chose, just chose one and stick with it.
And that would be the criticism portion of my review. There is a lot to unpack, but I tried to sum up my main negatives about the work. Now onto the positives.
One of the things I really like with this story is its uniqueness. The world you have created seems to be post-apocalyptic and very fascinating. We don't know what truly caused the world to be the way it is, which builds an interesting side mystery as well, though we know that the world is now occupied by bird-like humanoids and freaky mutations in both the flora and fauna. The passion you have for this alien world you built is not lost on me at all as intricate and detailed imagery permeates throughout the story.
The set up between different tribes as well as their overall contribution to the Avisland is definitely fascinating and there is an amazing bit of lore regarding each tribe and how it is structured, what function does it serve and how susceptible it is to corruption. Also, the way that corruption is expressed is different for every tribe which is also a very interesting note of world building.
The world building in this story is very well done as it reveals information in bits spread throughout the story rather than clumped into one place. It makes it so much easier to follow and you easily get hooked into this world.
You have a really vivid and powerful imagination to come up with such different gadgets, weapons, castles, and character designs. Really the descriptions are a huge saving grace for this novel in my eyes.
The characters themselves are another big saving grace. Wren is an interesting girl to follow and her emotions are very well explored throughout the novel. Verza is another character I easily fell in love as she is both wise and an adventurous free spirit. I adore characters like that. Nadel is amazing in her nutty behavior and her relationship with Goldfaust is beautifully demented. Who knew that someone as clean as him could fall for someone as crazy as her? It's always the quiet ones... (I know he fell in love with PAvise, but still). Goldfaust is another very interesting character and I really enjoyed his knight in shining armor schtick as well as his badass moments in the final battle between the traitors.
The political intrigue between the tribes as well as the final battle is also what kept me on the edge of my seat and it kept my full attention. I loved it!
Finally, why I rated this four stars? To be honest, after reading the first two chapters I was leaning towards 3 stars initially. However, later developments and stunning revelations, as well as my personal engagement in the story itself, made me reconsider my decision. The story has a lot of potential, but it desperately needs to be reworked. It is unique, fun, exciting and it was a blast to follow, but ultimately it has some issues that weigh it down. With that said, if you ever do write a sequel, do let me know. I have really enjoyed this novel despite its flaws and I truly wish to see you succeed in writing. You have talent, you have potential and all you need now is the experience and the realization of it. And I truly believe that you can do it! Keep up the good writing and shine on ever more.