Hello fellow fanon readers and writers. For today I will be reviewing, the brainchild of our own , one of the fanon community’s most prolific members. There is not much to update on my end this time, apart from the fact that my schedule remains pretty busy and looks like it will for some time to come. Nevertheless, I will make an effort to keep my reviews coming as often as possible for the benefit of the authors and users on here, as my schedule allows for it.
In an ancient time where the world looked very different, where the northern coasts were lined with sheets of ice and glaciers, there stood a small Water Tribe settlement in the north known as Manirak. And in this village lived a 14-year-old girl named Miki, who after a tragic accident, discovered that she had the ability to control a person's body without touching it. Unknown to almost everyone at the time, Miki was actually a powerful bender. A bloodbender, to be precise. But many in her village feared her powers, and blamed the spirits for possessing her. But despite this, Miki would rise as a hero, destined to lead her tribe to battle and settle an ancient war between the Northern and Southern Earth Kingdoms. This is her story...
Plot – 9.1: Spirit of the North has a compelling premise and the directions that Bomochu takes it make for a satisfying blend of a fanon story with great, relatable characters. Bomo has proven himself capable of holding a reader’s interest level at the height of anticipation, and including at least a little conflict at any given time. Granted, the central conflict of the story took a while to show up – perhaps too long – but the slower pace picks up after that.
Bomochu incorporates a lot of worldbuilding into the setting of Spirit of the North, and all the details drizzled in like the quotes from the Book of Tutorik aid in this process. Furthermore, the blended pieces from both the canon Avatarverse and the fresh fanon elements make it feel like a fully-fledged part of the Avatar world. Things that stood out include the ties between the various characters, the situation of the barter system versus the tangible currency, and the backstories given to all the background characters who appear enough. This is even the case with Ulva, who was previously a nominee for Best Animal Character in the Sixth Fanon Awards.
As I said, the tie-ins to the show and the compelling storyline help bring it to life. Meanwhile, however, some questions were left unanswered for quite a while. Most of them were eventually answered at the right moment. That’s fine, of course, but in general it’s best not to wait too long to answer pivotal things. For instance, the way that Saskha became a combative waterbender was answered pretty swiftly, but the central question of how Miki started out as a bloodbender took a little longer, and some other questions even longer.
Execution – 9.2: Bomo has a great writing style and the positive feedback which he has already gotten for this story is certainly well-deserved. The introductions and the groundwork were laid down spectacularly in the first chapter, and the author wasted no time here in getting us acquainted with his characters. Furthermore, he shows us readers what we need to know via character experiences and character interaction. This is the epitome of high quality writing and successful execution. However, there were times when the fanon felt at a slow pace, and it did take a rather long time for the main front and center action to come into play. That was the main issue with the execution. Perhaps the action that is currently about halfway through what we have so far could be introduced or at least hinted at by chapter 2 or 3, and some of the earlier scenes could be flashbacks shown after the team has already embarked on their journey. That’s just one of many ways to address it. Apart from that, there were some times when a character’s action or motive in the moment was unclear, and key scenes that would have been nice to see were omitted. There’s more to be discussed on that in the Creativity category below.
Proper Writing - 6.8: There were a sizable number of mistakes here and there throughout the duration of the story. The most common error was not capitalizing words for parents when they ought to be. The words for mother and father must be capitalized if the name of the person in question can be substituted for it. Other than that, there were a few instances of sentence breaks, incorrect punctuation, a missing verb or two, incorrectly-placed spaces and misplaced quotation marks. Additionally, there were times where there were multiple independent clauses within the same sentence without appropriate punctuation. Sometimes they had a comma and sometimes they did not, but they require either a period or semicolon to be correct.
Creativity – 9.4: Spirit of the North is definitely quite a story, and it took a lot of creativity for Bomochu to craft this treat for all of us. Furthermore, the rich descriptions for the imagery and settings used show even more creativity in and of themselves. A deduction comes from the omitted parts that I mentioned above. We don’t really see much of how Miki, Saskha and other main characters that we had spent a lot of time with find out about the impending threat. There is a lot of the tribal leadership receiving word and the discussion of the council is covered extensively, and follows up with the whole tribe present. But this story is still about Miki, and it would have been more optimal to see more from her point of view, so that we can have an idea how she is processing the new information and what she and her sister are going through. What do they think when they first find out? Not simply in terms of their “political” view, but what are their reactions and emotions to their whole world being turned upside down? All this stuff is important, and it is not the right time to be distached from the main characters.
Description of Action – 9.3: Not much fighting action was present early on in the story, but anytime there was action-related description it didn’t disappoint. The description of the actions present was comprehensive, and filled to the top with elegant verbs and creative phrases that helped to further bring Spirit of the North to life. A majority of the time, Bomo made it fairly clear what exactly was going on, and the Description of Action intertwines masterfully with other aspects of the storyline and story crafting to help Spirit of the North become what it is. Oftentimes, Bomochu will draw the reader’s attention to an object in the scene at an opportune moment and work the actions hand in hand with the scenery and with the setting. I especially enjoyed the line about the flowing tears in Chapter 5. Also memorable were the ice dodging as well as the viscous attack by a serpent in a flashback.
When the fighting action finally did surface, it was easy to see right off the bat that there was a ton of forethought put into it. It was not particularly action-packed at first, but that did change later on. It also did not always paint a clear and present picture. Granted, that is tough to do when events are happening at such a quickened pace. There were also a few other areas that lacked clarity, such as when a woman was smiling, but also fearful. Some elaboration on her posture or expression or what she was doing could help to picture it better. After that, there were no other deductions of note for this category.
Description of Setting – 9.7: From the very first chapter, we are introduced to some very picturesque settings. Miki and Saskha’s home, the town that they grew up in, the festival, the claustrophobic marketplace, the library, the dreaded cocoon of isolation that the heroine constructs for herself (granted, with some social isolation from others as well) time and again, the dream that seemed all too real to be a dream and more recently the new lands to explore in foreign countries are all well-worthy of praise. It’s also worth noting that he never spends too much time on setting in one stretch, but brings it in a breath or two at a time with the rest of the information being thrown our way. Not all of them are fully immersing, especially in the earlier chapters. However, Bomochu demonstrates time and again his ability to insert images into our head and manages to use his imagery to flesh out the story and the experiences of the characters as well as the reader. In other words, he conducts setting just as it should be.
Realism – 9.4: Good character introductions help the reader see them as real people, and hence make the story more believable as a whole. The author also has some clever additions and quirky things that enhance the believability. For example, there is Miki forgetting Hinani’s name at first, which happens often in real life but not as often in the realm of fiction. A very nice, realistic touch. Speaking of the side characters, they are fleshed out enough not just to “serve a purpose” but to add some depth to the story. I think it’s pretty clear that Bomochu knows what he was doing when he constructed this environment. Of course, the omission of some critical sections does impact the realism of the story as well. Not seeing more initial reaction from characters makes it seem like whatever there was that happened with them was insignificant. At least that’s the impression that it gave. Occasionally, there were other actions and reactions that seemed a little off. It did seem a little unnatural that Miki does not voice any guilt or responsibility for dragging others into her dangerous journey alongside her. Meanwhile, the voting was unanimous at one point where it seemed like an environment where there might be at the very least a handful of dissenters based on what we saw previously. Additionally, we saw the town was not exactly trusting of Miki in general, so her getting charge in such an automatic way flowed rather easily and too conveniently.
Character Development – 9.4: Miki’s evolution is handled beautifully. The discovery of her powers and the troubles that they have brought her make her interesting right off the bat. Best of all, Bomo balances her vulnerability and strength very well, and her courageous side shines through when we realize she has been shaped by what she had been forced to deal with and when she addresses her community prior to venturing off into the perilous unknown. The evolution of others in the story is pretty nice, too. All of these characters have hobbies, beliefs, histories, feelings, quirks and all the flesh and blood on a page that real people have in real life. Granted, there was one part where the explanation for a bitter rivalry felt like a bit of a let-down after having it hanging over us for so long, but that wasn’t a major issue to dwell upon. Then there was a minor deduction for the earlier lapse in believability and missed opportunities for development. At the end of the day, though, that is but a momentary distraction for the great character development here, especially with regard to Miki and her family. Things seem quite rough around the edges at first, but the deep family bonds become clear one at a time, and the points where everything came out on the table were key cornerstones of Bomochu’s masterpiece.
Constructive Criticism: Write more chapters! I know that you said that you were taking a break when you last left off, and every writer needs to do something of the nature from time to time, but it seems like a good time to pick up your proverbial digital quill for this one, soon. There are people who want to see how this ends. You hinted as such yourself not too long ago.
To whom I would recommend: Anyone looking for a deep original story set in the world of Avatar, and a new band of adventurers to follow and root for.