Review – Eve: The Awakening by Jenna Moreci

Eve the Awakening

Hiyo, hiyo! Today, I’ll be reviewing a novel I recently binged – Eve: The Awakening by Jenna Moreci! I’ll be following my usual M.O. for reviews here, so spoilers will be kept at a minimum, but I will cover the premise of the novel, which means some events from the first couple of chapters will be mentioned. Anyway, let’s jump right in!

Our protagonist here is one Evelyn Kingston, a girl who lost her parents in an accident early in life – an accident that revealed her hidden powers. Eve was shown to be a chimera. To offer an overly simplified explanation of what that entails, she has telekinetic abilities as well as improved strength, speed, and healing abilities. Chimeras look like ordinary people, and their abilities remain latent until something happens to awaken them, whether that be a traumatic event or simply growing old enough. Since the event that unleashed Eve’s abilities was heavily publicized, everyone around her knows she’s a chimera, and she has to deal with the significant stigma attached to being one.

When chimeras began appearing among the human population some time ago, a second phenomenon accompanied them – the arrival of Interlopers, intimidating aliens who landed on earth in search of a certain something. Fortunately, Interlopers are not known to harm either humans or chimeras.

Eve’s story begins in earnest when she is accepted into Billington University, the most prestigious school in the nation. She goes there hoping to escape from her past – to find a place where she isn’t recognized as a chimera and therefore isn’t subject to the harassment they receive. On her first day, she meets a wide array of characters, some of them kind and most of them jerks. She also hears a terrifying rumor – that Interlopers are abducting chimeras from among Billington’s student body and performing savage dissections on them, which leaves them on the brink of death. After one such attack occurs, Eve finds herself in a position where she is forced to take actions that could risk exposing her identity in order to remain at the school. From there, her struggle to maintain anonymity and remain safe from the Interlopers begins in earnest!

I really enjoyed Eve: The Awakening! Eve herself is a refreshingly honest person even as she tries to hide her secret from the world. Her honesty extends to bluntness and sarcasm, but she’s still quite likable. She meets a diverse cast of characters who Moreci does a wonderful job of making the reader either like or love to hate. I wanted to read more about almost all of them, even the bullies. xD The only character who struck me as a tad underwhelming was the main antagonist, who came off as generic.

The novel’s pacing is great; like I mentioned, it kept me wanting to read more and more until I was done. I was rooting for Eve the whole time, and became quite attached to several of the characters she befriends. There were a couple of moments where I had to suspend my disbelief, but, by then, I was invested enough in the story that I was completely willing to do so. And it definitely paid off!

I would absolutely recommend Eve: The Awakening to anyone interested in the premise. It has a really fun sense of humor despite the serious subject matter. The book is definitely worth your time, and you can get the e-book version cheap on Amazon, though I personally opted for a physical copy. Overall, I rate it 4.8/5.

Have any of you read Eve: The Awakening, or any of Moreci’s other work? If so, what did you think? I’m eager to hear from you in the comments below! Until next time, I hope your lives are dynamic!

 

My Most Anticipated Releases of October 2018

Hiyo, everyone! You guys probably don’t know this, but October is my favorite month of the year. I’m a total fan of the cooling not not-yet-too-cold weather, the falling leaves aesthetic and the festivities the month entails. So I figured I’d do something a bit different today and talk about the stuff I’m looking forward to releasing this month. I guess that’s a pretty straightforward topic, so let’s begin!

Mega Man 11

Mega Man 11

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the Mega Man franchise, and the classic series is my favorite of all, so I’m ultra hyped to finally get another entry in it, releasing on October 2nd for a bunch of systems! For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Mega Man series is known for being a tough series of platformers where you run around shooting stuff with your Mega Buster and absorbing the abilities of your defeated enemies. I don’t know much about what’s to come in this game since I try to avoid spoilers, but I bet I’ll enjoy it! And let’s hope its soundtrack holds up against some of the older ones!

Sword Art Online Season 3 Premier

SAO3

Okay, I spoke about this one a couple of weeks ago, but I’m gonna briefly talk about it again. =p SAO Season 3, debuting on October 6th, covers this polarizing series’ longest and, in my partially informed opinion, best arc, the Alicization arc. In it, Kirito will be thrown into a virtual world inhabited by AIs so advanced they’re basically human, but in typical anime fare, the fate of this world hangs in the balance! The visuals and music for SAO3 already strike me as wonderful, and I’ve read the first halfish of the story in the light novels, so I know that stuff is good. Apparently, season 3 is gonna start with an hour long episode, and I am ultra hyped!

The World Ends With You: Final Remix

TWEWY

Ages ago, I played The World Ends With You, a lesser known title for the Nintendo DS and a complete masterpiece. On October 12th, the game is getting an enhanced re-release on the Nintendo Switch, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it! The game takes place in Tokyo and features a vibrant cast of characters involved in something called the Reaper’s Game, which offers the dead a chance to return to life. The music is absolutely breathtaking and the combat system is quite unique for an RPG. If you have a Switch and are a fan of the genre, I can’t recommend checking out this game enough!

Luigi’s Mansion

Luigi's mansion

We’ve got a little bit of a pattern here; Luigi’s Mansion is being re-released, this time on the Nintendo 3DS, on October 12th, the same day as The World Ends With You! The game has you follow Luigi around a haunted house and suck a colorful cast of ghosts into your vacuum Ghostbusters-style. I used to own the Gamecube version, but I don’t have it anymore, and I’d like to play again, so I plan to pick this up for the 3DS.

Horror Content

This last entry is kind of cheating, but that’s okay! ^.^; One of the best things about October is Halloween! I don’t actually dress up in costumes or anything, but I love watching and listening to creepy content – anything from Youtube videos to horror movies in the theaters. Since Halloween inspires people to make more of this content, it’s a huge boon for me! I can’t wait to see what pops up this year.

I also like candy.

Aaanyway, what’s your favorite time of the year? Is there anything you’re looking forward to this October? Let me know in the comments below! Until next time, have an enchanting week!

Five Traits I Like in Characters

Hiyo, everyone! I haven’t done a writing related topic in ages, so I figured I’d do one today – and, once again, it’s focused on one of my favorite parts of fiction, the characters! Here, I’ll discuss five traits I really like to see in characters, in no particular order. Some of these are pretty commonly discussed as vital to writing a character people can relate to, and others not so much. Of course, I’m sure there are traits I’ll forget to mention. xD But I can always do another list later! Sooo let’s start!

Flaws

Yup, this one is about as generic as you can get, but still very important. Usually, an author will want to write main characters who are relatable, and since, as humans, we’re all flawed, it’s really hard for us to relate to perfect people. That’s why you gotta give your characters flaws! Flawed characters also make for better storytelling, because they offer an inherent journey – the journey of overcoming the flaws. That gives the reader something to root for throughout your work. If you like diabolical twists like I do, you can also choose to expand on your characters’ flaws and make them become more problematic over time. That just ramps up the conflict!

Passion

Okay, okay, another common one. But it’s still important! Giving your character some sort of passion, no matter how strange (In fact, the stranger the better, in my opinion!) makes them more relatable to the reader, because most of us are at least a little passionate about something, whether we realize it or not. And those who are completely dispassionate probably will just be bored reading a dispassionate main character anyway. Passion also inherently drives conflict by providing your character both with related motives and with something to lose. It also ties your character more strongly to the world around them, which makes for better worldbuilding.

Quirks

You guys probably think I’m just being desperately generic right now. What irony, talking about quirks in a list that, so far, travels along the straight and narrow! But that’s okay. I’m still gonna talk about them. We’ll get more into my own eccentricities later.

Aaanyway, quirks are important because they make your characters seem more real. We all have our quirks – little habits we have that aren’t shared by many of the people around us – even if we don’t always see them. Showing a character’s quirks provides a better insight to their personality. It also offers potential plot points – maybe the unique details about how a character acts will point at them as the culprit in the event that a mystery unfolds or, better yet, be used as a red herring! Manipulating quirks can also make for good plot twists. If a character is too set in their ways, you can use that fact against them to make something really unexpected happen.

Unusual Perspectives

Here’s where the fun begins! One of the most compelling things a character can show me is a wildly different outlook on their world than is the established norm. Two examples you may be familiar with if you follow the fantasy genre are Auri from Patrick Rothfuss’ The Slow Regard of Silent Things and Lift from Brandon Sanderson’s Edgedancer. Both of these characters have such unique ways of viewing their surroundings that they can make what you might consider familiar scenery new again. Things like emphasizing details most others would overlook and prioritizing objectives that others would deem trifling can completely warp a situation. It makes me ultra happy to encounter a well-written character who pulls this off, not to mention a little jealous, because I’d really like to be able to offer such engaging characters in my own writing!

Extreme Contradictions

This is the trait I find makes for the most entertaining characters of all. It’s just the best when someone believably writes a character whose perspective is so warped or single-minded that they’re able to act and think in flagrantly different ways with a single coherent goal in mind. Though not from a conventional novel, the best example I can think of is Nagito Komaeda from the Danganronpa franchise. Minor spoilers: His goal is to create hope by forcing the other characters to overcome extremely despair-inducing situations of his own creation. The inherent conflict yet simultaneous cohesiveness in his way of thinking makes him a supremely interesting character. I find characters with this trait to be quite rare, but when one is presented well, they tend to just steal the show and make me want to read (or watch, play, etc) more and more just to see what happens and whether the contradiction explodes upon itself or somehow wins through.

And that’s it for today’s list! What did you guys think of my picks? Do you agree with them? Think I missed out on anything? Do you have particular characters you’d like to bring to my attention based on these preferences? I welcome your feedback and comments! Until next time, have a wonderful week!

Subseries Highlight: Sword Art Online Alicization Arc (Light Novel)

Sao Volume 9

Absolute Defense Shield, activate!

*ahem*

Hiyo, everyone! Today I’d like to talk about the Alicization Arc in a series I like both watching and reading despite acknowledging its many flaws! I’m aware that Sword Art Online receives a lot of criticism, much of it fair, and a lot of hatred, which feels a bit extreme. Regardless, I’ve been enjoying the latest arc in the light novels, and at least some of the content from that arc is going to be the subject of the anime’s upcoming season 3, so I decided to talk about it anyway! After all, I’m all about enjoying the best parts of a story despite its flaws and, in my opinion, this arc is the best that mainstream SAO has to offer so far. Flame me if you must – or try. This shield will never break!

An overview of the Alicization Arc’s role in the light novels – it encompasses volumes 9 through 18, so, by the end, it claims more than half of SAO up to that point. Until now, only volumes 9 through 14 have been officially translated into English, so even I don’t know how this all ends! However, as I understand it, the Alicization Arc can be split into two subarcs, and I’ve finished the first of those, and I really enjoyed it! I have no idea if season 3 of the anime can adapt 10 volumes of material – previously, the 25 episode seasons have covered 4 volumes each, so if season 3 is to tell us the full story of the Alicization Arc, I imagine it would have to be at least 50 episodes long. Maybe they’ll split it into two seasons.

I don’t want to ruin your enjoyment of the story whether you watch it or read it, so I plan to keep spoilers to a minimum. That said, I will touch on some plot points from volume 9 and hint at some facts from volume 10. Also, anything that happened in seasons 1 and 2 of the anime or volumes 1-8 of the light novels is fair game.

Volume 9 opens up… strangely. Kirito has somehow become younger. He lives in a small town called Rulid with his friends Eugeo and Alice. The setting is that of the start of a typical fantasy game. A simple village. Lush forests. A dark land beyond that none may enter. The people of this world are ruled by the Axiom Church and its Taboo Index, a set of rules that are not only absolute laws, but literally unbreakable. For most people. Heroes called Integrity Knights uphold the laws and protect the people from the denizens of the forbidden land. Rulid is to be a place of order and stability. As you might expect, that doesn’t stop Kirito – who has only ever known this world – from going on an adventure with his friends. An adventure that leads to dire consequences.

Then he wakes up. He was just testing a game for an acquaintance of his in the MMO industry. Whoops! That almost got dramatic! He recalls nothing of the time he spent in that world.

He then hangs out with his real life friends, including his girlfriend Asuna, his AI daughter Yui, and Sinon, a player of a competitive MMO called Gun Gale Online. The latter recounts the tale of her attempt to win a major tournament only to be defeated by an opponent who told her that her soul would be sweet. Creepy! Afterwards, Kirito and Asuna leave together – and are confronted with something truly frightening.

The Death Gun murders, previously stopped by Kirito and Sinon, were carried out by two former members of Laughing Coffin, a murderer’s guild from the original SAO, and one of their brothers. While the two siblings were brought to justice, the third person was never caught. And he – known as Johnny Black – wasn’t particularly happy with Kirito. So, in the middle of the night, Kirito finds himself the victim of a real life attack using the same substance that Death Gun used for his killings.

When Kirito wakes up, he’s back in that fantasy world, now his proper age – and with all his memories, save for the ones of his previous time in that world. Before long, he realizes it’s a virtual world, but that the inhabitants are not mere AI like in previous MMOs, but fully fledged people. With the help of a friend, he embarks on a quest to escape from this world – known as the Underworld – and to better understand the true nature of the people surrounding him. It seems as if his MMO insider acquaintance may have been more than he appeared…

That’s all I’ll say about the story for now! As I mentioned before, I really liked this arc. It touches on themes such as what it truly means to be a human being and delves deep into the characters’ souls. If you like SAO, I recommend reading the light novels and checking out season 3! If you hate SAO, I don’t recommend bothering! If you hate me for liking SAO, please don’t post in the comments below! Otherwise, though, I’d love to see your feedback. Are you excited for the next arc? Interested in watching season 3? Have you already read some of the Alicization Arc, and, if so, what did you think? Feel free to criticize SAO, too – just keep it friendly and civil. I hope you all have a great week!

Review: Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell by Brandon Sanderson

Shadows for Silence

Hiyo, everyone! I’m still recovering, but I thought I’d share my thoughts on a novella I read recently: Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell by Brandon Sanderson. That name is a bit of a doozy, so I’ll just be calling it Shadows for Silence for the rest of the review. =p Shadows of Silence was originally written for the anthology Dangerous Women edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. As usual, I plan to avoid spoilers where I can but to cover the premise of the story.

The story takes place on the smaller continent of the world of Threnody, which is dominated by forests haunted by somewhat-sentient ghost-like creatures called Shades that are known to viciously attack people in certain circumstances. It begins at a waystop – in this case, a safe-haven from the shades where all are welcome – with two men discussing the dangerous and notorious bounty hunter named White Fox while one of them weighs his chances with Silence Montane, the woman who runs the waystop. Little do either of them known that Silence is actually responsible for the bulk of White Fox’s work.

But Silence, our protagonist, knows, and she also knows that a dangerous criminal with a huge bounty on his head is present at the waystop, disguised as a merchant. In something of a financial pinch, Silence, with the help of her daughter, William Ann, decides to use a light poison on the merchants to disorient them so they can kill the criminal at night, after he has left, and collect the bounty on his head. This puts them at great risk of drawing the attention of the Shades, whose ire is earned by starting a fire, drawing another’s blood, and running at night. Needless to say, Silence’s plan becomes complicated when unexpected events occur – but that’s all I’m saying for now!

I really liked Shadows for Silence in large part because of its haunting atmosphere and morally gray characters. Even though we didn’t spend much time with her, I felt Silence received strong character development, and I couldn’t help but blaze through the story. I would love to see more of Threnody. The idea of a world dominated by all sorts of latent horrors is super appealing to me. As usual, Sanderson does a good job keeping the story interesting and surprising. While few characters other than Silence herself receive too much development, I felt some were really relatable, especially Sebruki, a young girl whose family was murdered by the criminal Silence was chasing. While Shadows for Silence didn’t have the same striking impact as The Emperor’s Soul did for me, it was a great read, so I rate it 4.8/5.

Have you guys ever read Shadows for Silence? If so, what did you think? Do you know of any other series with eerie atmospheres? (The world of Sabriel fits the bill, and I liked that, too!) Let me know in the comment below! Have a wonderful week!

Recovery of an MMO Junkie Review

Recovery of an MMO Junkie

Hiyo, everyone! I’d like to apologize for not updating in a while; health issues have been getting the better of me, and to be honest, it will still take me quite some time to fully mend. Nonetheless, I’d like to review an anime I managed to watch while healing: Recovery of an MMO Junkie. As usual, I intend to keep spoilers to a minimum, but I’ll discuss the premise of the show. Here goes!

Our protagonist, Moriko Morioka, is a thirty year old woman who quit her job after becoming fed up with ‘real life’ and decided to become a ‘Super NEET’ who lives through MMOs. She plays a game called Fruits de Mer as a character named Hayashi, a male warrior-style character. She’s part of a small guild including a character named Lily, a healer who becomes one of her closest confidants despite neither of them knowing the other in real life.

To no viewer’s great surprise, eventually Moriko coincidentally encounters Lily’s player in real life, a businessman named Yuta Sakurai. Naturally, neither knows who the other is. Eventually, they (literally) bump into each other and Moriko falls over, briefly landing her in the hospital with a contrite Yuta at her bedside. The two exchange numbers, ostensibly so Yuta can check up on Moriko, but the former finds the latter taking up more and more of his thoughts. Eventually, events transpire that hint that the two know each other better than either of them realizes…

And that’s all I’ll say for now! Recovery of an MMO Junkie is a short (10 episode) slice of life anime, so it would be unfair to expect it to provide a profound, iconoclastic worldview, but it does succeed at being what it tries to be – cute, and funny at times. It was a nice, fun little show for me to watch while I myself was recovering. It does have the downsides of being predictable and, in the end, feeling like an incomplete story, and it may be difficult to get into if you aren’t at least a little familiar with MMO culture, but I found it charming enough to make up for those faults, and as an MMO player myself, I enjoyed its nods to the genre. I therefore rate it 3.7/5. It’s a nice little anime to watch if you’re into MMOs and want to enjoy something cute.

Have any of you seen Recovery of an MMO Junkie? If so, what did you think? If not, have you seen other MMO-based anime or played any MMOs yourself? Let me know in the comments section below. I’m not certain if I’ll be able to post next week, but I’ll try my best! Until next time, I hope your lives are epic!

Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online Review

GGO Alternative

Hiyo, everyone! Today, I’ll be covering a story in a franchise loved by many and bashed by perhaps even more! Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online takes place in the world of Gun Gale Online as seen at the beginning of SAO season 2, but the cast of characters is entirely new! No Kirito here! SAO Alt GGO (as I will be calling it for the rest of the review) evades several of the pitfalls of mainstream SAO. Since it will doubtlessly come up, I’ll start by saying I do like the existing SAO anime despite acknowledging that they are rather flawed. Personally, I just try to take as much enjoyment as I can from stories! But I would prefer to focus discussion to just SAO Alt GGO for this review, so for now, let’s just forget about the rest. Even if you hate normal SAO, you may enjoy this!

SAO Alt GGO is focused on Karen Kohiruimaki, a Japnese woman who is quite tall and has a complex about it. At the advice of her friend Miyu Shinohara, she decides to retreat into a virtual world to escape, and converts from game to game until she finds one where her randomly generated avatar happens to be short and cute, as she wishes she could be. Naturally, that VRMMO is Gun Gale Online. At first, she plays just for the escapism, but, as time goes on, she becomes fond of the game, advancing her character and meeting new people.

One of those is a quirky woman whose avatar is named Pitohui, a long-time veteran of GGO. She takes LLENN (Karen’s avatar) under her wing, and the two become friends and teammates. Pitohui, too, plays GGO to avoid real world problems. She says that, some day, she and LLENN will go all out against each other in GGO, and, if LLENN wins, the two will meet in real life – a prospect LLENN finds scarier than appealing, I think!

One day, Pitohui convinces LLENN to sign up for Squad Jam (SJ), a free-for-all tournament between teams of up to six players. Pitohui herself is unavailable that day, so she has LLENN partner with her friend M, an experienced man with a knack for strategy. Since LLENN’s own real life plans fall through on the day of the Squad Jam, she agrees to enter alongside M, as part of a team of a mere two players. Of course, I’m not going to tell you what happens after that! SAO Alt GGO is only twelve episodes long, so if you’re interested, you ought to check it out for yourself!

While I don’t intend to get into spoilers, one of the things I loved about this anime was how it showed how several VRMMO players were driven together in the world of GGO by their real life insecurities and problems. Karen/LLENN and Pitohui were both ultra relatable to me. It felt quite nice to explore virtual reality themes without intrusive fanservice.

It’s hard to go into too much detail without spoiling something, because the meat of SAO Alt GGO’s story occurs after the Squad Jam plays out. So, instead, I’ll just recommend that if you’re interested in virtual reality based anime, this one is worth checking out. If you liked the original SAO, you’ll probably like this too, and if you wanted to like SAO but found some of its flaws difficult to look past, you may find them absent or mitigated here. SAO Alt GGO is provides a lot of good action and an interesting story surrounding characters who feel capable without being too overpowered. As in normal SAO, the music is good, too!

I’d rate SAO Alt GGO 4.4/5. It got me hooked early on, and before I knew it, I had marathoned the series and waiting for a season two. xD

Have any of you watched Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online? If so, what did you think? Let’s try to avoid talking too much about normal SAO in the comments; I don’t want a flame war on my hands. That said, I’d love to hear your opinion on the VRMMO-centric genre of anime! Personally, I’d like to see more of it, so I welcome your recommendations! Hope ya have a wonderful week! Ciao!