First off, I'll want to say that I tend to be a harsh reviewer. In no way am I actually personally insulting you, but if my review comes off that way, I apologize in advance.
Second, I have a bad habit of only skimming other people's reviews before I go into the fic so as not to let it influence my opinions on what the author's writing, so if I accidentally point out something someone else has mentioned (and you answered it), feel free to ignore that part.
That said, I will say that if you have to underline your allegory before the fic actually begins, it's a bit of a turn-off for me. Now, I've seen this happen a couple of times, and let me just give you a bit of background to the reviewer for your own understanding as to where I'm coming from. I'm actually a senior English major in a rather
pretentiousprestigious college, so I've spent most of my adult life so far (as well as sanity) analyzing literature. (I would get into how long I've been working with fanfiction on a not-so-serious-business level, but I honestly lost track of how long it's been. To give you an idea, Fanfiction.net still allowed RPF.) Some of it actually was pretty deep, and the author really didn't say up front, "My story is about X." The writer simply puts their thoughts down on paper and forms a story around them with little care as to whether or not it'll be interpreted correctly. (Alternatively, if they do care about that, they usually let the readers interpret it themselves before flipping on the critics like prima donnas.) Mainly, the point is that the priority is on the story – the shape of the allegory – before the definition of what it's saying, if that makes sense.
Simply put, I've seen a lot of kids come up and say, "I've made a story, and it's deep." In response, I just smile and nod and say, "Okay, yeah, that's nice." Because, really, if you want to create a poignant story, you just will without trying to be pretentious. The more "intellectual" you are about it, the less seriously a critic will probably take you because you're forcing your work to be high-brow.
That and it's a case of telling instead of showing. You know how some people will tell you that it's better to show, for example, a character being sweet to everyone they meet instead of just stopping at saying they're sweet? It's the same concept with your themes. It's a lot more effective to use subtlety instead of coming right out and saying, "I'm writing a story, and it has a political theme. I'm being deep, right?" Well, I'd hate to be blunt about it, but you're actually beating the reader over the head with it. If you want to be deep, the trick is to avoid being deep. Zen, yes, but it just means that depth =/= pretentiousness. It doesn't mean the theme is right there in the open. It means that the story takes center stage, and the theme is in the back of the writer's mind so that the reader dives into the story and skirts along, under the impression that they're just reading a good story instead of a story with meaning.
All of that is pretty much in response to the history. Yes, I know you said it's possible to skip over that part, but I just wanted to make it bluntly clear that starting off with a political and philosophical question actually doesn't impress me. If anything, it makes me look at your fic with a cynical quirk of the eyebrow because it makes you sound like you're trying to be more intellectual than you might actually be. Whether or not this is true is a different matter, but trust me, if you were an intellectual, you probably wouldn't be exploring the concept of the naďve masses through Pokémon fanfiction. (If you'd like to know what the actual intellectuals of my college explore in their spare time, it's the many colorful uses of the drumsticks that come with Rock Band. You heard me.)
What makes the quoted part weird is that while you've been spelling a lot of things phonetically to establish the fact that the narrator is just barely literate (as in, I know he can read, but even then, there's so many errors here that… actually, I'll get to that in a moment), you have him spell "personality" correctly and "emoton" with a T. Nitpick, yes, but it also says you're going back and forth about how much the kid knows. It also says you might only be partially in his mindset because emotion is a really fun and easy word to mutilate if you don't actually know how it's spelled. "tion," after all, is not at all pronounced the way it's spelled.He say that I m a "mindles" human with no "personality" and no "emoton".
In other words, you delve partly into the mind of the narrator, but you don't seem to be going all the way. Instead of stopping just short of making him barely literate, actually make him barely literate. Milk how depressing his state of intelligence is. This is your opportunity to open with an extremely dark note to highlight whatever preaching you'll be doing later on and to show her growth from the dark, murky mess of psychological rape to a figure who's in better shape to save the world or at least have intelligent opinions of his own.
Yes, I'm actually encouraging you to forget all the rules of grammar. This is written from the perspective of someone who has the mindset of a child. You're allowed to fudge punctuation and capitalization and the spelling of simple words where appropriate to reflect this point.
Now, as for the explanation. You have him being able to read, but you say he can't write. This in itself is a bit odd because it seems as if he possesses little general knowledge. He doesn't know, for example, how to spell "less" and what the word "good" means (both basic concepts), but you have him be able to spell "personality" completely correctly and "emotion" with a T. It's like you haven't entirely decided what level his intelligence is at or how profound his illiteracy is because you're going back and forth between whether or not he knows how to use language.
Nitpick: If you have a phrase acting as one adjective, you actually hyphenate it. Morose-looking.the morose looking girl
Oddly enough, this is actually a comma splice. Note that if you replace the comma with a period, you end up with two full sentences. It can actually be remedied very easily just by putting the word "and" just after the comma and turning the sentence into a compound.The young fled from her, the old shunned her.
Same thing (concerning hyphens) here. Seventeen-year-old, not seventeen year old.the seventeen year old girl
It's not necessary to capitalize the word "her." It's the middle of a sentence, and you're using the colon to start off a list.somewhat bearable: Her figure and her hair.
I'm also inclined to question how her hair made her bearable. Maybe her figure to the male and gay persuasions, but unless you actually had a hair fetish (or unless the hair was at all unusual), it's not really something that would make you want to forgive a person for, for lack of a better way to put it, being a *****. I'd say you'll probably want to integrate her physical description a bit better.
While it's technically not grammatically incorrect, you see this phrase a lot less often than the phrase "to do research on." It's just a note that you could try playing around with the word "do" to see if it sounds better with or without it.eager to research on
I would actually suggest placing this in its own paragraph because you wander away from the subject of the boy speaking and go into the background behind the girl's comment – i.e., a different topic.The stout, freckled, and red haired figure hesitated at first, remembering the time he checked out twelve chemistry books because he couldn’t decide which ones to read first. His glasses drooped, and he quickly pushed them back up with a stubby finger. The plump boy sniffed.
These should also probably be separate. Note that replacing the hyphen with a period produces two complete sentences, meaning the hyphen actually causes this whole thing to become a run-on.It’s about creatures - I’m studying the habitats of the creatures near the Ghost Town-”
First, you'll want to replace the semicolon with a comma and the word "but." It's just that "not only" is a phrase that's always coupled with "but also." It's like saying "either" without actually putting down "or." The semicolon really can't function as a replacement for it in that case.Not only were most of her decisions self centered; she also viewed life cynically and resentfully.
Second, "self-centered" is always hyphenated. The reason why is because it is one word. As in, "self" is a prefix, not an adjective.
Unless all knowledge of Pokémon had been annihilated in the catastrophe that happened two centuries ago, you can just call them "Pokémon." Otherwise, this reads a lot like an original fic because, really, you could replace Pokémon with any sort of creature and have it still make sense. It's like the actual concept of the canon really doesn't matter here.These Metropolis centers praised the idea of manipulating legendary creatures for the sake of the development of the human species.
You actually don't need the commas here. Moreover, you'll want to replace "as well as" with "and." The reason why is because she's keeping up with current events in order to help prevent the capture of legendaries. That is, it's not a parenthetical. It's an addition.The librarian dedicated herself to learning about the histories of the past, as well as keeping up with the current events around her, in order to help prevent the capture of these sacred creatures.
Because the last instance of a verb in this phrase was an infinitive, you'll actually want to have "lock" in its infinitive form as well. (As in, "to face the double doors and lock them up.") This is just for consistency.The pale Sophia turned around to face the double doors and locked them up,
It's. There's actually a very simple rule of thumb you can use to tell the difference: no pronoun has an apostrophe in it unless it's a contraction. So, "its" is actually a possessive pronoun; "it's" is the contraction for "it is." Because the former wouldn't make sense in this sentence, you'll want the latter.“Whoo, its pretty cold out here.
I would be careful about your descriptions. For example, "daft" means "stupid," "insane," "foolish," or some variation thereof. I'm not quite sure what you were trying to convey here, but I can safely say that a haze can be none of those things, even if it was personified.the daft haze
Another good tip would be to read what you write aloud. If it doesn't entirely seem right to you, chances are, it probably isn't. As it stands, this one is a bit awkward because (and I say this because it'll help make my thoughts clearer, not because I'm making fun of you) it feels like you stuck a sentence in a blender and hit "puree." There's clauses all over the place, and the reader has to connect the dots to figure out what you mean.Pedestrians and beggars, most in coats, with downcast faces, lined the sidewalks, a distant mumble in the pale girl’s ears.
Basically, you show us pedestrians and beggars in coats. Then, you show downcast faces, but the placement of the clause actually implies that the coats have said faces. After that, you show us sidewalks, but again, the placement of the clause could mean you're referring to the pedestrians, the coats, or the faces. (By this time, you really have one too many dependent clauses hanging out in the middle of nowhere anyway.) Finally, you finish the sentence up by mentioning a distant mumble, but it feels like it's not attached to anything because of the jumble from what it's modifying to where it actually is. In other words, yeah, sentence puree.
One way you could probably write it (although I encourage you to play with it beyond this) could be, "Pedestrians and beggars with downcast faces lined the sidewalks, but they were only a distant mumble in the pale girl's ears." Granted, you lose the part about coats, but considering it's cold, the reader could always just infer that most of them have one anyway. Alternatively, you could try splitting all of that information into multiple sentences.
Also, as a side note, it's actually not necessary to keep reminding us that she's pale.
Be careful. Sometimes, the more flowery your wording, the less sense your prose ends up being. For example, "presented themselves out on the road" makes the car sound like they're extremely flamboyant drag queens who burst through a building's door and started parading down the street. Or, well, maybe they're not drag queens, but it's just a very flamboyant way of describing it. Cars don't really present themselves as if they've magically appeared in a flash of color and sparkles. However, cars can pull out onto the road. They can also drive down the road or roll along the road. Just not "present."A few cars … presented themselves out on the road at this time of the night,
Again, the comma really doesn't serve a purpose here. All it's actually doing to this phrase is separating something that shouldn't be separated.like offer an umbrella on a stormy night, or donate a book to her vast collection of documentaries and novels.
This seems a bit forced. Unless Eugene was actually really pushing a hint, the two of them already know she works a part-time job at the library. So, it ends up sounding as if you're using Eugene to tell the audience something that's very basic for the characters.“Well, I hope that your part-time job at the library wasn’t too frustrating today…”
…Didn't she just flip a random crap about how the government treats humans poorly?You think humans should all go to hell.
Okay, honestly, this is what I was talking about concerning that long rant. You're trying to write a dystopia novel, possibly a la 1984. The problem, however, lies in the fact that you're laying it on a bit thick. I mean, right here, you're illustrating mental sheep chanting about the annihilation of reason for the sake of docility. As in, trading their brains for happiness, probably decided by someone else. Thus, you bluntly present the issues that you've mentioned in the author's note. Power is evil. People are sheep. Freedom is good. What makes an individual? Probably a few other things too, but that's the heart of the matter, right?“That is what this world needs. We need to denounce progress in the name of teamwork! We need to denounce ambition in the name of community! And we most definitely need to denounce knowledge in the name of the people! To hell with progress! To hell with ambition! To hell with knowledge! To hell with pain!”
By now, the demagogue had drawn a crowd far larger than the crowd Sophia had attracted in the library. But Sophia wasn’t focused on that. Her vision was blurred; her cheeks hot with rage and shame, and her fists were clenched, full of regret as well a little bit of doubt. By now, many people were clapping and cheering and chanting.
"To hell with progress! To hell with ambition! To hell with knowledge! To hell with pain!”
Eugene was madly laughing the whole time. The crowd started getting rough as the yelling, tumult, and confusion ensued. After taking in the whole scene, Sophia turned around and broke through the mob, shoving her way through, tears smeared on the arm of her trench coat. She ducked her head as she made her way back home, avoiding all people at all costs. But she was already used to avoiding all people. What was harder to avoid was Eugene’s words.
"To hell with progress! To hell with ambition! To hell with knowledge! To hell with pain!”
“No,” she spoke aloud to herself, “I’ll never accept that utopian mindset.” For a moment she smirked. “It’s…ridiculous!” Her smirk faded quickly, though, and she stopped and slowly gazed down at her feet.
Unfortunately, in treating your subject like this, you don't make it seem terrifying or thought-provoking. I'm not inclined to really meditate on your issues. I'm more inclined to laugh because it's all pretty comical. People who aren't even involved join in for no apparent reason. Eugene randomly goes from being a nice guy to a ridiculous, laughing caricature of himself as if he was the embodiment of fear in some cartoon. (My mind immediately jumped to a scene in The Simpsons where a younger Bart gets a clown-shaped bed but ends up terrified of it because he thinks it's going to eat him.)
Like I said, when working with something that's deep, you need to really be careful about handling it. You can't make your issues too obvious, and you can't let your characters or your narration do all the talking. For books like 1984 and Yevgeny Zamyatin's We (or even the film Brazil), yes, you'd think the political commentary was on the surface, but what actually made them powerful was the fact that the writing built a world and centered the issues around the actions of the characters. For example, We features probably the most oppressive government you could possibly imagine, with everyone named by number, watched by constant surveillance, and eventually taken into the government and suffocated if they stepped out of line. It wasn't even possible to have children without government approval. You'd think that the issues beat the reader over the head, but they really didn't because the issues took a back seat to the main character's encounters with a rebel organization, the other side of the city wall, and so on and so forth. In other words, while the issues were there, what made the story powerful was the fact that it was a story first and a soapbox second. D (the main character) subtly conveyed the themes Zamyatin was trying to get across by taking the reader through his efforts to help his mate keep her baby and to aid the rebel organization through a plan that ultimately failed. (The same idea of story before soapbox is also present in 1984, which follows Winston's observations of Oceania and the drama of his life. It's the drama that actually highlights the problems of the society, not Winston or other characters themselves.)
To make the contrast a bit clearer, here's what we have here. So far, while we've met a near illiterate (although you don't seem entirely clear about how literate that character is) and while you've mentioned the fact that humans are kept almost like slaves, the idea that this is a dystopia is presented through explicit statements by the characters. We're not actually shown what makes this oppressive. We haven't even actually seen action from the government. There's no real drama here, so it feels like I'm watching a PETA ad about how we need to stop having pets because that's animal slavery. That's nice and all, but it's not terribly poignant.
Yes, it's occurred to me that this might be the point: that Sophia lives an average life because for beings like her, it's a pretty normal society. Yet, it clearly isn't because Eugene's been affected by propaganda… propaganda we have yet to actually see. Moreover, groups of complete strangers have randomly joined in with the chant, so unless this is the middle of Cabaret with everyone randomly joining in the Nazi song, there's probably some significant differences between a freedom-loving society like many modern, real-life countries and the society in which Sophia lives.
Also, yes, I know it's just the first chapter and that you've probably built it later, but I just can't help but feel like you really could portray your message a bit better than through chanting right off the bat. At least do some world-building first to give us an idea of why Sophia would flip about how imperfect it is.
"Guys" should actually be singular here. The reason why is because of the word "any." You pair it with singular nouns instead of plural because you're usually referring to a random single specimen. Hence, any guy, any girl, what have you.it wasn’t like any other guys
Also, you have the character refer to "years" with both a singular and plural verb. I feel like you'll want to use one or the other for the sake of consistency, considering this character has a tendency to repeat other mistakes anyway.I do not know what this “years” is.
Th big man says that he knows what “years” are.
To be honest, I'm going back and forth about the parts that are told in first person. On the one hand, you have a potentially dramatic story here, and therefore, it's actually a lot more interesting than Sophia's. These parts are the ones that resemble 1984 and We the most, after all.Th big man tells me many things. He tells me that I m trapped in a “very bad” place. I do not understand these words. I ask him what “very bad” is. He can not explain it to me. He says that once I get a personality, I will be able to understand what bad is. He says that I m being “controlled”. I do not understand this, either. He says that I m ignorant and that I need to be “brought into th light”. Th light that I know of is th very bright circle in th sky that I m not supposed to look at.
On the other hand, you also tend to lay things on a bit thick when the rebel/human rights zealot does things like say the writer is ignorant and that he's being controlled. This is already evident just from the descriptions he gives the reader. Saying it again just beats the reader over the head with the idea that this government is oppressive. (Again, it's better to show us the suffering the writer is going through by having him say, "I'm not allowed to go outside" and "They make me do this and tell me I'm a good boy" than it is to have someone else come and say, "You know you're being brainwashed, right?" It's just more effective because we can imagine what his limitations are, and we can sympathize for him if he shows us his boundaries.)
I will say, though, that, yes, I do feel like these are the best parts of your story. You play with species roles (i.e., humanity and the position of dominance are mutually exclusive concepts), and if you can just convince yourself to paint a portrait of ignorance and avoid laying your theme down too thickly, we can actually feel sorry for the narrator. If you can get us to do that, you'll convey your thoughts a bit better than you could by explicitly stating them with Eugene.
This actually seems out-of-place. While I understand that the narrator possesses a childlike mind (meaning, they'd probably run along a stream of consciousness), considering he was talking about his job and a conversation with his "friend" in the paragraph just before this one, this paragraph seems like it was tacked on as an afterthought in an effort to fully illustrate all corners of the prisoner's life while at the same time emphasizing once again how oppressive "They" actually are. In other words, it's like you're a train that's jumped from one track to another without warning.We worship th great bird. I go with them when they tell me to. If I do not go with them, I will be punished. Th great bird is in a cage. They say that th bird is meant to be in th cage. But th big man said th bird is not “happy”. Th bird always hits th cage with its large, silver wings. It is very big. Th big man asks me if I’m scared, but I do not know what “scared” is.
Okay, so, I've reached the end of the second chapter, and here's what I think of what you've got so far.
First off, don't get me wrong. I like a well-built dystopia (no pun intended). As you can tell above, I could rattle off at least two books and one film centered around them, and that's not even really the extent of my favorites list. Moreover, I do like the first-person parts because, as I've said above, they're the ones where I feel closest to sympathizing for your character.
Of course, the concept itself is interesting. Here, you've got humans being used as slaves, so it's at least partially addressing the idea of human inferiority. Species roles, like I said. Humans are servant animals, not necessarily the dominant race. Likewise, you've the so-called superior beings actually being controlled by something higher through heavy propaganda. Otherwise, their society looks somewhat ordinary to the point where I almost get Pleasantville vibes. (As in, it reminds me of McCarthy-era 50's, only taken to a creepy degree.)
Finally on the positive side of things, you do have a potential to be an effective writer in the descriptions department. Granted, some of them were actually a little off (like the hair thing), but you have the words to do it. The trick is to actually figure out how to present things so that they don't feel like they're being brought up just to be brought up. Moreover, when you talk about images once, you'll have to learn that it's okay to only do it once. (For example, it wasn't necessary to tell the reader that Sophia was pale almost every single time you talked about her without using her name.)
That brings us to the negative bits. First off, you have potential. I definitely see that. I just feel like you've got some ways to go and that, at times, your prose went all over the place just because you wanted to cover a point but couldn't fit it in properly. (For example, the part about the bird. Also, the part about Sophia's hair.) If you find yourself throwing in points just for the sake of actually covering them, that's about the time you probably should step back and look at your writing to find another place to put it. When you write, you need to have your story flow from one point to another without too many jumps all over the place. As in, if you're talking about one subject but want to get to another point, you need to find a way to get one subject to segue into the next smoothly. It's like a puzzle, right? Pieces should fit together to form a neat picture, and if a piece is jammed into a hole it doesn't fit, it shows in the end result.
Speaking of which (oh, segues), subtlety when you talk about your themes. Don't just bring them up and lay them out in the open. Have your characters actually live your themes, rather than just talk about them, and if they do live your themes, don't overdo it by having a character point out "you're so ignorant" or what have you. I've gone on about this enough, but if you still want to talk about it, feel free to respond. Otherwise, I'd feel like I'm beating you over the head with this point.
Finally on the nitpicking front, there were a few grammatical errors in the third-person pieces that I've isolated in the above commentary. My advice would be just to Google comma rules if I wasn't really all that clear. (Same thing, for that matter, with dash, hyphen, and semicolon rules.) It's a complicated subject, but it's easier to understand if you have examples. If you need a nudge towards a guide I particularly recommend, try OWL at Purdue.
Other than that, there's only one final note that I want to address. Personally, I feel like this could be better as an original fic. I can see where there's hints of Pokémon in here, sure, but other than that, it feels like you could replace the Pokémon references with mythological creatures (or even aliens) and a monster tamer class and still have the fic make sense. Even when you come the closest to explicitly mentioning Pokémon, it could just as easily be replaced with some bird from mythology (Ziz, for example) or even, if you changed its color, a real-life bird. (A bald eagle, for example, if you want to write a commentary about the US.) It's just that I feel like Pokémon isn't a vital component to this story compared to just the dystopia factor, and that would probably be made more powerful if you didn't try to stuff Pokémon into the equation. (Trust me. I tried to do the same thing once. Write a political dark fic where Pokémon were unceremoniously shoved into the picture, I mean. At first, I thought Pokémon was an important part of it too, but then, I realized I was focusing a lot on the politics of the fic over the actual Pokémon part of it. In the end, I ended up turning it into an original fic because the end result of the Pokémon version of it was a mess. Yes, in part because of that.)
Long story short, you have the potential to write a great fic because you have an interesting concept. You just need to figure out how to execute it better.
Good luck with future chapters.