Discussion in 'Worm' started by NoxedSalvation, Nov 12, 2013.
Why all the Danny hate? I never understood that.
From what I can gather, people find him useless and obstructionist. And not to mention boring. People probably feel like he failed Taylor as a father, and I don't disagree but I personally liked him. He was interesting and complex.
I liked Danny in the original story, but I don't think I've read even a single good fanfic where he had a meaningful presence. He inevitably either gets in the way of the story, or ends up filling far to large of a role in the story despite not doing anything interesting.
Also he will say "kiddo" a lot for no apparent reason.
Good points. On second thought, it may be better that most fanfic writers get him out of the way. Writing complex relationships is difficult, and I wouldn't trust most fanfic writers to be able to pull it off.
Danny's canon character suited the role he was given.
He was the caricature of the civilian world Taylor left behind, one of the only characters that weren't Capes themselves or otherwise involved in the Cape World and actually made an impact on Taylor's life. He was there to show that contrast in Taylor's life before and after Worm, to be the one person she actually cared about being outed as a Villain to.
He was fine for that role. But for some reason, fanon tries to make him more. He becomes a cape and joins Taylor in her endeavors. Or he starts playing the role of a strict parent, telling Taylor what she can and can't do as a Cape. Or he becomes her most trusted advisor in her Cape activities. Or he becomes the hero and takes the school to court.
This is a massive change in his role, as he becomes a player in the Cape World as well. And in almost all instances of fanfiction where Danny appears as a more important character, his role seems entirely there to diminish Taylor's agency as compared to canon. Either by literally stealing her agency by playing a parenting role and holding her back from getting involved in stuff, or by stealing her credit by helping her overcome the struggles she won by herself in canon.
It just feels completely undeserved when he gets to become a player in the Cape world, especially given that he wasn't all that exciting or special as a character - he just played his role as you'd expect. It'd be like reading a HP fanfic where Harry gets mentored in Wizard politics by Hermione's parents.
Anyone read Overhaul? It's written by Harbin, who I remember being recommended at some point here. He did Cutting Ties and Twinnings. Overhaul is only 6 chapters long at the moment, and still in its early stages, but I like it so far.
The major AU, apart from Taylor being a tinker, is that
Annette and Danny are both alive, and divorced. Taylor has been crippled at some point in an accident which she blamed on her mother and Emma (but the details haven't been revealed yet). And Taylor is in the wards and attending Arcadia.
I like it. The writing seems good, to my eyes at least, and Taylor's relationships and interactions with those around her are extremely emotional and interesting to read. So far the story shows a lot of promise to me, so long as she doesn't fight Lung or join the Undersiders I think it could be really good.
The biggest problem with it so far is that it seems to be shaping up to be a slow story, and there just isn't all that much content yet. I think its worth checking out, but I don't think that you'd be wrong to put off reading it until a few more chapters come out.
Don't think it's been posted here yet, but came across this Contessa-centric fic in its early stages on FF.net.
It's obviously a bit of a lighthearted comedy, but still a bit refreshing exploring post-Worm universe and also having Contessa as the protagonist for something a bit different.
It has. One of the users here has reviewed it.
I reviewed Loaf a few pages ago.
I liked that it didn't have Taylor in it whatsoever. I liked that the characters brought into the story stayed in-character, and the story didn't descend into A) Cauldron wankery or B) fanon Cauldron. No bashing, no wanking, likeable characters (mostly. I dislike Tattletale) that stayed true to their Worm originals.
It was also a situational comedy set in the Wormverse, or crack. Crack stories don't really do it for me. The very, very rare ones I enjoyed, like the DLP classic Seventh Horcrux, I liked because it didn't even attempt to take itself seriously. It was crazy the whole ride, every chapter delivered a laugh, or a smirk at the least. It was consistent. The pacing for Seventh Horcrux was fast, but it didn't detract from the story.
Loaf has moments where someone says a funny line, or something amusing happens with bread or whoever gets in Contessa's way. The light-hearted tone wasn't consistent the whole way through. It had high points, and smirk-worthy points, but there were serious moments scattered in between, such as Sleeper's threat. They were moments where I was reminded that these people live in the Worm universe and shit is serious in here.
Which is why I didn't enjoy Loaf as much I wish I did. It is good on a technical respect. It's original, which is refreshing on the assembly line of AltPower!Taylors. However, it's not light-hearted enough to give a Warm And Fluffy Feeling upon finishing. The plot isn't serious enough to warrant thinking about the consequences of bread having trigger events, but there were other times where real consequences were taken seriously by the characters. It falls in between the categories, and I'm left without a clear idea of what kind of story it was supposed to be.
I guess my main issue with the story was that Loaf is best described as crack-ish.
Maybe I'm not the intended audience. Not a huge fan of crack stories. I could recommend this to other people who like crack stories because it's better written than average, but I can't give it the DLP Library seal of approval because I can't say I had 4/5 enjoyment levels reading it.
I saw these recommended as the best of the recently published fics, and they were short enough that I decided to give them a go and write in-depth reviews. The first one is an Altpower!Taylor, set in an AU where Danny is dead. Sold. The second one is an OC fic, with a superpowered OC who has to hide his powers from his day job. I like this premise.
Altpower!Taylor, Tinker!Taylor, AU setting.
Summary: Taylor wants to become a hero, goes to Cauldron, gets Hero's powers.
Length: 22k words.
The characters in this fic stood out to me as pretty realistic from the start. Stubbon, single-minded Taylor, ultra-competent Armsmaster, parents who do some actual parenting. It helps that in this AU, Danny is dead. Nothing about the characterization or dialogue stretched my suspension of disbelief; I enjoyed seeing minor characters such as Rune and Krieg, the latter acting civilized and polite in what a recruiting pitch should be, but in most fanfic isn't. The realism is what makes this fic stand out to me. The difficulties of a tinker starting from scratch with Home Depot ingredients. Untrained kids picking fights and getting shot. This is how it's supposed to go when you fight villains untrained for the first time, even with strong powersets as the Triumvirate-level one in this fic. Not one-sided Lung stomps, as so many people keep writing.
However, this is one of the fics where the premise and plot are the draw, because I had ambivalent feelings about the prose. Some fics I live the story, because the writing drags me in. This is one of the fics where you sit back and are told the story. The high points in the writing are the battle scenes, I assume because they are easier to visualize, and the emotional extremes are easier to show than subtleties.
This was good. Show me how desperate she is, let me feel how bad the situation is.
But then you had this:
By the way, did you know she was relieved?
Tried not to? Tried to? Who knows. Could have been better phrased.
"What's". Contraction of "What is". Sudden switch to present tense, in a sentence that goes back to past. Would be better as "What went on in her mother's head".
At this point I know I'm just quibbling because I'm a born hater, and this fic had perfect spelling and punctuation. No random floating apostrophe's, no character names spelled wrong, because I hate that and will drop a fic if I see it in the first paragraph. But the occasional awkward word choice does make me aware that I'm reading fanfiction. "He, for his part, curled up into a ball" from 1.1. "For his part" is one of those overused 'Bowisms that bugs me. If you write 'Bow's characters, you don't have to write like 'Bow. And "trimmed eyebrow"? If you're referring to lady characters, "manicured" or "arched" make more sense.
Overall, the plot has promise, but I know that there are mysteries that would explain the characterization so far. They haven't been revealed. Until that reveal, I don't fully understand why the characters made certain decisions. How did Taylor the high schooler afford a Cauldron vial? Battery had to sell her inheritance for hers. Why is the reasoning for Taylor being such a cunt to Mom? (Aside, I have no problem with cunty characters, as long as it makes sense for the story. See my review for How to Avoid Death.) In Worm, Taylor didn't trust Dad and the authorities because the bullies got away, no consequences. In this AU, she goes to Arcadia, which I presume is a bullying free zone. Annette appears to be a mother who knows how to parent and involve herself in her kid's life. She's not the neglectful, hands-off dad Danny was.
Guess we'll see.
3/5 for now.
Strong beginning, but I can't I tell if it's actually good or not. That depends on what happens next. And what the hell happened to the donut?
Grace Under Pressure or: The Definition of Guts.
OC centric, Thinker/Biotinker power, New Orleans setting sometime in April or May of 2011. Looks canon compliant so far.
Summary: Graham's life is a daily struggle. By day, he works as a janitor at a veterinary clinic/animal shelter. Off the clock, he's a parahuman who hates his powers.
Length: 36k words.
This was an OC fic with an excellent first chapter that hit me with a double whammy. The atmospheric writing that sets up a scene which isn't in Brockton Bay, and the odd thought processes of the main character who isn't Taylor. The characterization of someone who seems nervous and twitchy, with clear mental health issues. I prefer mental health in fiction portrayed in a more subtle way, through irrational decisions and unreliable narration, instead of the "I hate my life and I want to die" that this fic had. But okay, the way it's handled in this story makes sense for his powers. Can I say I liked how well the power was introduced in this pilot chapter? You get a sense of how powerful it is, how much potential it has, and then how much of a mindfuck it is to have it, every single gory detail in one glance. No wonder Graham hates it.
Instant sympathy for Graham. I want to see where the story goes with this.
Sounds good, right? Better read on ahead.
That's where the story started to lose me.
Chapter Three was a motherfucking interlude. With, let's count them, four, FOUR new original characters with normal names, cape names, and powers. Herbicide (why), Voodoo (well, they're in New Orleans, okay), Quarterline (not as self-explanatory as you think), and Captain Concrete (he prefers to go by Construct). I don't like it when Worm fanfic authors spam interludes in the middle of an arc. I don't like being shown another bunch of characters I don't care about when I'm just starting to warm up to Graham. OC centric fics should spend their first arc developing the main character, because otherwise the readers don't care.
My main criticism for the story is the unnecessary interludes. The story could have been told in a more concise way if it didn't fit in two interludes at the end of the arc, the last one introducing yet another set of characters, this time the whole cast of the New Orleans Wards, another half dozen people whose names I won't be able to remember, apart from the leader, Crossed. Even if the interlude had to be there for narrative reasons, my opinion is that it could have been done better, with a focus on Crossed on his own. Worm's first interlude focused solely on Danny. You have to spoonfeed people when you're throwing them headfirst into an original story with no canon characters. Sucks, but it's true.
Other than that, the writing is pretty good, better than average for a fanfic. Descriptive language to introduce the setting, making it more immersive, establishing that this place isn't somewhere you've seen before in another fic. Swamps, snakes, airboats, regional dialects with lots of "y'all" and "yessir". No spelling mistakes that I saw other than "wrapped" instead of candy bar "wrapper" in the first chapter. Mistakes I noticed: the occasional extra word ("his his" instead of "his" in Interlude 1), and some uncapitalized proper nouns. "Voodoo" written as "voodoo" in the first interlude, and a couple of times when "Wards" and "Protectorate" were missing the initial capital letter. A couple of times where punctuation in dialogue would improve the flow.
Needs more comma.
Womb Interlude 1
When you start referring to eyes as "orbs", that's when we know we've got a problem.
This is the DLP veteran lurker in me talking, but whenever I read a Harry Potter fic with eyes described as "orbs", often in the context of "glistening emerald orbs", I close the tab. Two times in one chapter. Please.
Womb Interlude 1
You get the picture.
"All the same" seems like the author's drinking game pet phrase.
Overall, I like this fic. It's a tad rough on the edges, but it's original, and I like the way the power is portrayed as gruesome but also damn useful. In use, the Thinker power exposition output reads as clinical with a splash of medical jargon that still manages to be accessible. The tinkering and discussion of tinker ideas feels realistic, but then again what do I know? I graduated from the School of Grey's Anatomy. The setting is fresh. I enjoy reading Graham's chapters without stopping to second guess and compare his characterization to another author's version, or the OG WB version like I'm always doing with Taylor-centric fics where the author can't nail her voice.
However, my continued enjoyment of this story depends on how the mysteries are handled. It's clear that Graham is angsty because his mother is bad and his sister is dead. He has a depressive personality, his power doesn't help, and his situation is dependent on how the plot handles a minor miscommunication with Crossed regarding taking the bag of unsecured cash from the bank robbery. Graham thinks he needs to kick ass and take names before he can join the Wards and be redeemed for his crime. A face-to-face, hell, a phone call would resolve the tension. If this is spun out for too much drama, I'll be rolling my eyes and banging my head against the wall.
The first chapter was on point. It got my attention. The following ones struggled to keep it. But what I got from the story is that Graham has potential. His power is strong, and like all tinkers, he can ramp up, and with his specialty, he can go straight to S-Class. He has mental issues that need to be addressed. Like always, handling strong powers and mental illness depends on the author's execution, and at this point in the plot, things can go either way.
3/5. Story had a mix of stuff I liked and thought were good, and things that personally bugged me as a reader.
Update notice for the Almost Recommendable Worm Archive
Everything above this post has been added.
I consider myself a harsh but fair reviewer.
These are some recent-ish popular fics, and I wanted to see what the fuss was about.
Summary: Taylor has the power of language, and uses it for minor things until the she gets caught red-handed by Tattletale.
Length: 42k words.
I had a mixed impression after finishing this. This fic has 4/5 star writing and a 1.5/5 star plot. The slow, hiatus-heavy update rate doesn't help with the plot pacing either. One arc is complete, which is good. But when I finished it, and sat down to write a review, I realized that the author has written Nothing Ever Happens, the Story. No offense to Taylor Varga.
What I liked:
The writing is excellent. The fic is spellchecked and proofread, with only a few doubled-up words or missing words, but it doesn't detract from the story. Not only is it mechanically sound, but the prose is imaginative, emotive, flavorful. It's heavy on the dialogue in the later chapters. Regardless, this is one of the stories where you can feel the powers, the scenes, the emotions, and the characters. This is also one of the fics where the prose does the heavy lifting of carrying the story, because the plot can't.
Excellent imagery, particularly for the power usage scenes.
If a story has an abstract or complicated power set, then it should be able to explain the mechanics of the powers, without an infodump wall of text. This fic does it. You still don't know how the power works on a scientific level, because this isn't a scientific type of power, or even a Worm-y power, but the creative way it was written gives you an idea of how it works, and what it's capable of. Learning languages. Reading minds. Manipulating thoughts.
The characters (excluding Taylor, I go by the assumption that any and every alt!power Taylor is some level of TINO) are in character. Romantic, pathetic Greg. Mean bitch Sophia. Meaner bitch Emma. Meanest bitch Tattletale. You can tell she's in character by how much she likes running her mouth and messing with people. Many authors write Tattletale as a girl looking for someone to help/love because her brother died and she's lonely, but real Tattletale is a pragmatic bitch with an ego. This author nailed it.
What made me scratch my head:
Is this an AU setting? I got no idea. The author never explains or elaborates.
Madison ain't blonde.
Taylor has a cell phone? What?
Danny has a cellphone too? The fuck?
Pretty sure Taylor prefers to drink tea.
Whatever. Chalk it down to Taylor In Name Only.
What I didn't like:
The pacing of this story is shit. After finishing what's there, what can I say about the summary of the story? So far, Taylor has tested her powers and gotten into a catfight with Tattletale. That's it. 40k words, and that's all that's happened so far. To put it into perspective, Taylor meets Tattletale in Part IV/Chapter 4, and their fight ends in Part XIII/Chapter 13. That's ten chapters of a single bitch fight, eleven if you count the interlude. 28k words out of 42k. 66.6% (repeating, of course) or TWO FUCKING THIRDS of the story.
What has the plot gotten out of it? Taylor and Tattletale might be partners. Maybe? They still don't like each other.
And this whole story reads like an extended power testing scene. Taylor has done nothing to tip the status quo, only testing out her powers on different people, trying things out, and getting more confident with what she can do. She's been leveling up on her powers, which isn't what the majority of Worm powers do. You don't get stronger powers if you practice. You get breadth, depth, creativity, maybe second trigger de-limiters. Mind reading powers by their nature aren't Worm-y. But this is an abstract, artistic type of story. Acceptable suspension, if you want to read the story.
In the story, nothing has actually happened. The published chapters so far read like an extended prelude to the real action, the real meat of the story... which is so far non-existent. Makes me think the author came up with a cool, original, unique power, and wrote the story around that. It's a step above people who write two chapters fighting Lung and nothing else. A tiny step. Normally, I'd give new stories with promise a pass for not having much plot content so far, but this one has been out for ten months, and I haven't many signs of plot direction, other than in the frustrating cliffhanger dropped in the latest chapter.
At this point, I doubt I'll be seeing much in the future. I have a feeling that this is one of the stories that won't go anywhere soon. It'll be hooked on life support with one update every 5 months, and after a year, abandoned forever. With stories written around exploring interesting powers, once the powers have been explored (with the extended mental catfight scenes), the author loses interest. The author posted that their computer broke and they had no backup, and that was 3 months ago. I think I can safely say that this fic is on its way to the morgue.
If you stumbled across this story because you like Worm characters, none of the characters shown are that sympathetic. Tattletale messes with people. Taylor messes with people's heads. It's basically mind rape, the superpower. She has standards at first, but then starts slipping after using powers gives her an edge against her school bullies. If you're interested in reading this story because the powers are strong and can be munchkin'd for an awesome stomp, that doesn't happen. Taylor hasn't done anything with them so far.
The author sums it up well:
4/5 star writing and 1.5/5 star plot?
The Slippery Slope
Summary: Taylor's new E88 friends stop bullying starting from November 2010.
Length: 150k words.
I know most people consider Ack fics to be on the painfully mediocre side. I ain't disputing that, so I'll leave this review short, as we all know it's not getting into the DLP library, or even making it to Almost Recommendation worthy.
It's been proofread. No spelling or grammar mistakes. One extra word mistake, that I noticed, but I didn't notice any typos that detract from the story.
On the whole, the prose is mechanically sound. It's one of the silver linings of Ack's writing, in that it's readable (enjoyable is a whole other story) and you never have to struggle through convoluted, mistake-riddled sentences to understand what's being said. It's writing that I can't nitpick for typos, but it's simple writing, not amazing stuff that brings the reader into the emotions and sensations of the protagonist. I can say it's fairly... adequate, and reminds me of YA novels, and not in a good way.
Would it shock me if he turned out to be a vampire? Not really.
A weird thing I noticed is Ack's aversion to using the word "said" in his dialogue tags. He goes out of his way to use everything and anything other than "said". Just try looking for a plain "said" in a sentence in Slippery Slope. It sounds like a non-issue, but it's one of those things you can't unsee once you see it. It starts to draw attention to itself. And then you notice that everyone's nodding, agreeing, admitting, blurting, telling, calling, but no one ever says. Nothing wrong with using "said" by itself in dialogue. Let your dialogue convey the characters, and the characters' emotions.
As for the dialogue, this fic is very dialogue heavy. I would have liked to see more of Taylor's internal thought processes during and in between recruitment attempts, but this fic skips the downtime moments when Taylor would be at home and without the influence of her new friends. Chapters start and end at school, which moves the plot action forward.
Dialogue can be clunky at times. Can you imagine a 16 year old kid speaking like this? I can't.
Danny shows up for the first time in this story in Chapter 2, and can you guess what the first thing out of his mouth is?
On a serious level, the scene of Danny's first appearance is 400 words long, and he uses Kiddo twice. Danny of Worm canon uses Kiddo twice in the whole 1+ million words, and the rest of the times Kiddo appears, it's used by other people. Danny uses Kiddo 8 times in this fic.
In terms of characterization, can I say that Evil Principal Blackwell made me laugh? It was so over the top that I had doubts on whether or not it was meant to be ironic. The Principal gets a stack of reports about Taylor's bullying, calls Taylor in to tell her she "MUST NOT TELL LIES" against Emma and Sophia, and then rips up the reports in front of her.
And then in classic Ack fixfic style, this comes back to bite the principal for some sweet, author railroaded karmic justice. The plot/character railroading to get Taylor into the E88 is pretty obvious. The locker scene full of rotten trash is the cherry on top. If you like Ack-style justice, you will be glad to know that it's recorded on video, and leads to Sophia being arrested. If you don't like Ack-style justice, you will be glad to know it's yet another instance of heavy handed anti-suffering for the Wormverse's greatest woobie, Taylor Hebert.
Overall, this fic had an interesting premise. Too bad that Ack is the one writing it. It's past the 100k word mark, which is a big milestone when most fics get dropped before 20k. As it stands, it's not recommendably good, nor is it offensively bad. I'd say it sits in the middle. It's... readable.
Slippery slope gets a lot better later on, especially when danny goes into a coma.
Btw, not actually an unpowered Taylor fic.
A "lot" better? Negatory, Ghost Rider. It gets slightly more bearable. Still bland and cringe worthy.
I found it to be Ack's worst fic tbh. Taylor is too smart and strong of will to ever fall for the Empire racist bullshit, in any capacity. And the 15 year old charismatic sophisticated genius recruiter wasn't particularly believable either.
I don't think anyone should trust your taste in fics. I mean, you gave Gadget a 5/5.
In any case, even if the plot gets "better", the prose stays the same, and I didn't like the prose. One of trademarks of an Ack fic is the consistency of his prose. His years old fics still have that bland YA-fiction feel as his newest ones. He never switches it up, and he has a tendency to use recurring elements across all his fics. I'm not a fan of that, and I don't give good marks to fics with interesting plots if I hate the writing.
Get off your fucking high horse shitstick. Can I be a generous reviewer, sure. I genuinely liked the things that gadget was doing, it's prose and grammar was off, but as an armsmaster fan, I tend to give points to anything that has him as a main character. I don't know why I'm defending myself, because to be honest I don't give a soaring shit for what you think, but for the fandom it's in, for the kind of fic it is, Gadget is very good. Anyway I'm not giving Slippery Slope a perfect score, or saying it belongs in the library. This is the almost reccomended area, I'm pointing out that very few fics manage to get Taylor into the Empire believably, and the way that you described it made it very clear that you hadn't actually finished reading it. Ack isn't a shakespeare or a keats, but he is relatively enjoyable and this story fits into this category. It might not be the height of literature, but again it's worm, the original story wasn't the height of literature.
Please calm down and don't flame.
Slippery Slope has that same problem that plagues all of Ack's work and no, I'm not talking about his prose. I'm not a good enough reader/writer to notice those things. I'm talking about his characterization. Everyone sounds the same. I've noticed it in Security!, Slippery Slope and Price of Blood.
It's one of those things that "once you notice, you can't unsee " that really stops me from enjoying his fanfiction.
Slippery Slope had Taylor
lecturing Kaiser on how to run his Empire.
That was the point that I stopped reading, and honestly will probably never pick up again. Ack has a way of getting really original and great concepts, and having a good rough outline of how the events should go. Taylor's descent into the Empire makes sense, but isn't developed fully or properly. There should've been more time in the in between state to really sell the change, and in my opinion Ack should've
killed Danny off (maybe the boyfriend too, he's always been a really weak character)
and had that be the catalyst that launches Taylor fully into the Empire with no reservations. Would've been a lot more believable, and the set up was right there!
Everyone's talking about Slippery Slope but I actually enjoyed Skein. I think if the last two chapters just didn't exist and the writer wrapped it up a little more neatly to just be done at the end of the first arc it's a pretty decent time waster.
Separate names with a comma.