Dryger Academy - Review
This story was pretty great and a 15k word limit is too restrictive because I am craving way more than you have given us! You have effortlessly set up this great sci fi world, establishing the conflict, the bias of the Novans towards the Terrans. I am curious to know where this attitude stems from. Is it a simple sense of snobbery and entitlement or is there a long-lasting history of prejudice that the Terrans are seen as inferior? I am also curious to know where and when Cross has been in a Knav and knows what it feels like to be disconnected from a mecha unlike the Novans he fought against. Or at least, how does he know to fight so well that it prompted Kosu to tell him that he handled himself perhaps too well?
Read the story now
Cross is an intriguing character, yet he is also lazy, lacks motivation and pride and I found myself getting angry throughout chapters one and two. Or maybe that's exactly what makes him intriguing? My reaction to him deciding to just stand there and not fight back during the first battle was pretty much "You're kidding right??". Needless to say, he did annoy me a little, although I do kinda appreciate how upfront he is about his reasons and why he has become a student at Dryger Academy.
I also love how you have set up Lexi's character, even though she has limited 'screen time' compared to the others. You have still done a good job of establishing her as a nice person and someone who loves battle, but also as some who has a code of honour and does not approve of how Cross was attacked during the first fight. She seems like the character who doesn't really share the same prejudiced views as her peers, trying to be more diplomatic about it. I wonder if she is being set up as an intentional foil to Makina. Whereas Lexi is the open-minded Novan who is also a member of the student council and thus probably also at the top of the food chain, who seems more or less down to earth and a kind person, Makina is from a novan family, prejudiced and bratty, even calling Kosu "Terran filth", yet she is stuck with these people and has to deal with it. Can't say I feel very sorry for her to be honest. But I did find her amusing when she was trying to appear intimidating: "Makina drew herself up to her full height, It wasn't very impressive." This line made me crack up. I see the potential of her becoming some sort of comic relief, since I was also laughing at her? about her? in chapter three, when Cross was bemoaning how annoying her voice was while he was on the verge of unconsciousness.
Now Kosu. I love her! She's probably my favourite character in this. There is a lot I want to know about her because she has to be incredibly skilled if she has persisted for so long in a school that's out to make sure she disppears. I love her cheeriness and her team mom quality, seeing the underclassmenn as pups. I was also cheering her on when she struck that deal with the student council. I mean sure it was very manipulative, not to mention she is kind of putting also Makina's future on the line, but she is also making Cross act instead of react. I love this deviousness and I love how it showed us that, even if Cross is a lazy tool. he won't stand by and fail his teammates.
I wish we had seen more of Banksy, but I do realize that the word count limit might have, uh, limited you in this matter a little. Speaking of the word count, you still managed to give Cross some decent character development in spite of this. Sure, it was rather subtle since these three chapters are setting up a grander picture and a more thorough plot, but you can still see him finally showing some drive at the end. He is actually feeling proud of their defeat of Victor. Not to mention, he could have easily just taken up Victor's offer for leniency, but he refused to throw his classmates under the bus. Cross might be lazy and lack motivation, but he does not lack integrity.
Another thing that you've done remarkably well are the fight scenes. Holy hell. I usually find myself zoning out of fight scenes most of the time and I end up skipping large chunks of them to just read the outcome because isn't this what really matters? But I sucked in every word of your fight scenes because you're so good with building up anticipation and suspense. I was gripping the edges of my seat when I was reading the fight against Victor and for a moment I was actually scared Cross might not make it. I also could follow every move and action very well, another thing that I normally struggle with most fight scenes as I get easily distracted and zone out.
It was also pretty cool how they defeated Victor. I must admit I was rolling my eyes when Victor apparently took Makina out so quickly, but I was so happy when she showed off her badass credentials in the end. They did defeat the King with teamwork after all. I would have loved to see Victor's reaction to his defeat. Would he take it with grace? Or just grow more snobbish and resentful? Or really respect Cross and by extension the other Terrans on campus?
There were also a few typos/errors I noticed. There weren't many, at least as far as I can tell, but I feel like I should point them out still. In Chapter One in the beginning "... and the feeling only increased as /she/ took a hesitant step..." The /she/ should be /he/ since, you know, it's referring to Cross. And another thing in the same chapter: "He turned back to Kosu. '/How/ do you mean?" which would sound better with, "/What/ do you mean?"
There was also this line in Chapter Three: "... and the needles that seemed to pierce /ever/ further into his very being." And while your description of Cross's pain was pretty visceral and vivid, a part of it felt a little wonky with the repetition with how his vision goes black then white and an inky black again "that he fell into".
But really, these things are rather minor and I enjoyed reading this story immensely. You have created a great universe that I itch to know more about and genuinely flawed characters that I want to see develop and form strong bonds with each other. I really really hope you're going to expand this story.