Elijah Menchaca

The Moon

Secret agent, author, time traveler, guardian of the universe. The giver of bad gifts and the boo-er of bad puns. Modest too.

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For Chapters 1-2

Right out of the gate, I initial main character, or at least, the person the narrative chiefly follows for these chapters, Andy, is absolutely adorkable. In her first appearance where she interacts with her mother, the character displays an extremely quirky, imaginative personality, which comes off pretty freakin' charming. Her dialogue with her mother is written very nicely, and aside from a single parenthetical statement in one of her lines, which didn't seem like something a normal person would put into their sentence, comes off as very natural and human, something I love and all too often don't see in online writing.

The work does falter somewhat after this first scene however. The majority of these two chapters either take place in a high school or center around the activities.high school students. This in and of itself isn't a problem. The problem comes in the fact that the other characters and the school itself is a fairly generic and leans heavily on high school stereotypes. There's the timid nerd, the bully, and the "street" black girl. The black girl has purple hair at least, which is... unique, even if I personally have a mental eyesore picturing it. There are bullies shoving people into lockers, kids throw paper airplanes and spit wads, and there's a food fight in the cafeteria. There isn't anything original or surprising in this segment.

I'm not exactly sure what the root cause is with this next issue, but in sync with the location, characters, and plots becoming more generic, the dialogue can go from the very human, believable work seen in the beginning to some very unnatural sounding lines. "That's my friend!" sticks out in my mind, as well a schpeal about wasting time delivered by a teacher. The interaction between the bully and the nerd has a natural, human sound to it, but it's almost unbearably cliche, not to mention out of date.

Either this story takes place in the 90s, or in some kind pocket dimension, bizarro-Pleasantville. Because the bully/nerd dynamic on display here, at least to my knowledge and experience, hasn't existed in the real world in years now. Maybe even decades.

From what I can gather and guess from the summary, these three walking stereotypes are supposed to join Andy in the cast of main characters. For the most part, I can accept that, but the character of the bully seems really inconsistent, flipping between the guy you're supposed to hate in high school movies and a sort of lovable jerk. If the character is going to be one of the main story heroes, either his early appearances need more of a rewrite to be more in line with the lovable jerk character, or his later appearances do so his transition from bully to friend can be slower, smoother, and more believable.

The character of Kayle, introduced at the end of chapter 2, shows more promise as being a bit more memorable and a bit less stereotypical, but so far he hasn't shown up nearly as much, making it a lot harder to give a real impression of him. Although, he reminds me A LOT of a character named Matthew from a story I read called The Zero Squad, as the British-speaking kid with a relation to the older scientist who gives the team their powers. Of course, that story openly admitted it was borrowing heavily from Power Rangers, so maybe Kayle actually bears striking resemblance to a British speaking Power Rangers character. Not sure there.

Going and guessing from the summary again, I assume this to be a story about a team of teenagers (with attitude) getting superpowers of some kind and then having adventures of some kind while fighting an evil of some kind. Which I am legitimately all about and on board for. Going off of most of what's on display in the first two chapters though, you wouldn't be able to tell. And while I understand this is an origin story, that doesn't really excuse things.

When it comes to superhero/superpower characters, and you want to do an origin story, the characters need to be interesting BEFORE they get their powers. The character of Andy is interesting, even without powers. The other three high schoolers though, pretty much lack anything making them special or interesting characters, or, if they do have something like that, it's not on display.

Another issue I have is regarding the pacing. Two chapters in, and there is only the slimmest of hints that this is anything other than Stereotypical High School Stuff: The Novel. While I again understand that this is an origin, I still feel that doesn't really constitute an excuse. Even if you can't go full Power Ranger out of the gate, some inkling of the more interesting aspects of the world need to show up quickly for a reader to maintain interest. A flash forward/flashback prologue showcasing the more fantastical elements of the world (maybe the professor character tinkering in his lab, maybe a future baddie scheming) preceding Andy's first appearance could work. Alternatively, the story could consider condensing itself to speed up the arrival of the fun and interesting bits. Everything in between Andy leaving the house and the food fight could probably reasonably be cut, the characters could all meet for the first time in the principal's office/on the way to meet the professor, and nothing of substance would be lost.

The behavior of the characters inside the home of the professor was better than in the high school but still felt... weird, and kind of inconsistent. There was a lot of jumping around between which characters believed the rumors and which characters didn't. But then all of them do? It was inconsistent and took me out of the narrative. Also, at moments when all four of the teens seem to be believing these extremely wild and ludicrous rumors, it completely takes the reader out of the story when everyone just immediately believe it, without proof. Obviously, the rumors ARE true, but the characters shouldn't know that, and they honestly have no reason to think that. While it makes perfect sense for Andy's character to believe them, having no one in the group go "it's just a stupid rumor" or "that's ridiculous" created a real dissonance.

All in all, I like the idea advertised in the summary/blurb, I love the character of Andy, but so far what's on display has been fairly generic, paint by the numbers, and has yet to really lean on any of the elements of its premise in any meaningful way. I look forward to reading the more fantastic elements of the story, but the start to this adventure hasn't been an overly thrilling one.

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