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Hello fellow Avatar Wikians!
Bomochu the Bombchu here with a Test Review for Crossfire , an epic fanon series written by the talented author, Omashu Rocks !
I do follow some sort of system when reviewing; each chapter I jot down things I particularly liked and each mistake I find with a deduction, for each category. After that I add up the total deduction for each category and minus it from 10. Now, of course there is a degree of fluidity to each final mark, since each category is affected by other factors besides the deductions, such as how severe each mistake was, and aspects of the story that make up for them etc. So the final score for each category isn't simply all the errors deducted from 10, but a combination of different factors. The main purpose of having the system is to give me an idea of where the most deductions come from, what category they come from, and just to give me a rough idea of how much to deduct from the individual category scores.
Note: This is my very first Test Review, and so the criteria I've used, what each category includes, and the system I've used are all subject to change, depending on the feedback for this Test Review or me just changing my mind about the way I've done things so far.
"Do not judge me for what I have done. If you wouldn't do the same things to protect your sister and avenge your father, then you owe then an apology." – One of my favourite quotes from Crossfire.
Crossfire is a first-person story following the journey of Nalia, a nineteen-year old daughter of the famed General Kun, and a user of 'Mau Xanh', or 'blue-firebending'. Being trained by her father, Nalia's skills are put to the test when Fire Lord Sozin captures her sister Ming and forces Nalia to work for him, sending her out to thwart a group of rebels working against Sozin. With her sister used as leverage Nalia has no choice but to comply with Sozin's demands, serving the country so hell-bent on conquering the other nations.
It's certainly a creative fanon on this wiki being set in the time period it is, and something I really liked about it is that it shows us a time during the early stages of the Hundred Year War. I also love the absolutely exquisite artwork on the page and thought I would show off the latest image above. But just how well did Crossfire score? Let's dive in!
Note: In the interest of providing specific information to the author, there will be some spoilers in this review, though I will warn when there is a more major one and also try to omit key details. I do understand that reviews are also a means of advertising for new readers, and so I will try not to include many.
Organisation = 9.1: On the whole a very well planned and thought out story. The use of dialogue and Nalia's thoughts is great, though perhaps at times her sarcasm dulls the tense atmosphere of the situation. The large deduction comes from the occasional inconsistency or confusing moment in some scenes, as these types of mistakes are very distracting. For example, (Spoiler Alert), in chapter 2 Nalia is handcuffed and has her feet bound to the floor; unable to move herself from the chair she sits on. A few paragraphs later, she somehow fights off a guard who enters the room, though we are told another few paragraphs later that she is only then unchained and leaves the room. These sorts of errors can be easy to make when an author is lost in the moment of their story (I see it even in published novels I read), though they are particularly distracting since they force the reader to question what has happened and re-read the whole section to check they hadn't missed anything. I found myself doing that three times I think in the whole story though, and fortunately it doesn't seem to be a problem in the later chapters. It's an easy to fix mistake; simply go back and read over chapters to check how the events of the scenes are organised, and whether they flow correctly. Other than that, this fanon has been planned out brilliantly.
Spelling/Grammar = 9.7: There were a handful of spelling and grammar mistakes, each incurring a 0.05 deduction. However, most of these only occur in the first few chapters and only three were particularly distracting, so the score was rounded up. It's clear Omashu Rocks knows his grammar rules and all that, just make sure to proof-read for these things and you'll be fine.
Writing Style = 8.9: The marvelous use of first-person in this story is what sets it apart from others. We get inside Nalia's head, and her cynicism and witty comments are things that I really love about this fanon. Despite the fact that it is in first-person however, we don't always get to 'see' what Nalia sees. Descriptions of her surroundings are lacking at times, which becomes a problem as the reader has to work harder to envision what the world looks like around her. There are times when this was done brilliantly; one of my favourite moments was in 'Childhood Lessons' where Nalia ties the surrounding scenery to something her father taught her. It was perfect since Nalia does not seem to be one to give a 'flowery' list of metaphors to describe her environment, but the fact that it was tied to her father's teaching gave it a purpose. But there's also the fact that Nalia has been trained to notice things and be vigilant, and so in her head she should be describing what she sees more often and in turn letting us readers get a better glimpse of the world she lives in.
The other area where deductions occurred was linked to the pace issue mentioned in the plot section. The way new developments in Nalia's missions or twists to the plot were introduced too quickly at times, and it can make it harder for readers to keep up with all that was going on. Just make sure to ease readers into a change more gradually at times with the way you write. There's nothing wrong with a sudden change (the one in 'The Factory' was brilliant) but if everything is happening too quickly it disrupts the overall flow of the story. Generally this was done very well, and it is certainly a very rare occurrence in later chapters. Omashu Rock's writing style, and in particular the way he writes from Nalia's point of view, are probably one of the best aspects of this fanon.
Characterization = 8.7 The story is definitely Nalia-centered, which is great because she is a hilariously sarcastic and cynical character who you will grow to love and care about. Her growth in the story is also something which is rather interesting. It isn't simply a case of "ordinary girl turned into murderer", but a far more dynamic development instead. We see early on that she has the stomach to kill people, though after doing so sometimes we can see her guilt or uneasiness about it (one of the best examples of this is when she counts the number of people she's killed so far at that point in time). One problem however is that Nalia's change from 'Ordinary daughter' to 'Assassin' was rather rushed, and almost seemed like some sort of switch was flipped which changed her personality. We see early on that she does have the stomach to kill; in the prologue we see Nalia kill an injured animal out of mercy, though to then be thrust into a situation where she has to kill people you would expect there to be at least some sort of hesitation before doing so, not only after.
The other thing that is important in this category are the other characters, and how they are portrayed. This has been done really well so far, especially for other main characters like Jirou, who we understand a little more about at this point of time (though at times his motives are a little vague). Though one issue found was with a more minor character, Sozin. His decision to let Nalia become a shepherd in such a small space of time surprised me a little. Given what we saw in ATLA, we know Sozin was a ruthless leader, though it does seem a little reckless to give a recently captured firebending 'witch' the task of joining others in eliminating enemies of the nation, especially since you would expect him to take more care in who he uses for important missions. It kind of comes back to the pace issue earlier, in that the events near the beginning of the story seem to move too fast, though unfortunately the portrayal of some characters is also affected by this.
Overall, one of the best things about this story is Nalia and her development. Although there are quite a few points deducted in this category no-one should assume that it was the weakest part of the story, as there were many little things which contributed to the deduction rather than a large deduction for one issue. Omashu Rocks has done a superb job with his characters and the way they are tied to the plot, and Nalia in particular is a very entertaining character to read about.
Action = 9.3 Some incredible fight scenes in this story which will certainly keep you up reading during the early hours of the morning. The combination of the exciting way Omashu Rocks writes and Nalia's witty and sarcastic comments she often makes is something that really defines this story, and will make you enjoy it a whole lot more. At times her cynical attitude towards her victims removed an element of seriousness in some fights, and in turn the reader is left thinking, "Well, is this really a dangerous situation for Nalia?" And the scene can lose a little of its excitement. But it certainly wasn't a major issue at all, and only a small deduction was made because of this.
The general movements of characters was also done really well, bar the few confusing moments mentioned earlier. In most scenes we could clearly picture how characters were moving and reacting to different situations, and some brilliant word choices which helped with this.
Believability = 9.1 Like the characterization category, this category suffered from many small deductions rather than one large one. The story is indeed very realistic and believable; that's one of the best parts about it. There's usually no issue of "Why on earth would he/she do that?", especially with Nalia and her decisions. There was the occasional issue of some of her actions feeling a little odd, like (SPOILER) in one chapter Nalia burns the only physical proof of her and her sister's freedom without any hesitation (it was the rule to do so given by Sozin but one would expect at least some hesitation, as without that proof Sozin could easily deny he ever said that), but these actions were very few, and only incurred a minor deduction.
There were very small deductions because of the appearance of things and phrases that seemed a little out of universe, and since we didn't see these things appear in ATLA which is a series further in time, and presumably with greater technological advancements, they just felt a little out of place (though I'm not referring in this section to those blueprints, and I'm really interested to see how that turns out). Things like the 'poison pen' could easily be replaced with something already from the series, like perhaps shirshu darts or something which 'feels' more like it belongs in the universe.
The largest deduction came from the jump between the first few chapters. Just the fact that Nalia was so quickly accepted by Sozin to be a shepherd was something a little unexpected on his part. Given how young she was, the fact that Sozin had just murdered her father and captured her sister so she would likely plan to get revenge, and the fact she wasn't necessarily fully trained as an assassin (though she was trained by her father), are all reasons Sozin's actions to send her seemed a little unrealistic. It was already mentioned before so I won't go into much more detail, but it just didn't seem like something the leader of the Fire Nation would do. Though there are moments where these things are partially justified, so the deduction isn't too big. And it certainly isn't an issue that ruins the plot at all; it's still an incredibly exciting story, and although you may question how realistic some moments are a little it doesn't make it any less enjoyable.
Overall Score = 9.16
My Adivce: As I pointed out in several places, most of the deductions came from the first half of the chapters. So my biggest advice, and although it may seem daunting and rather tedious, would be to go back and read over the first half of your fanon in particular, even just for the spelling and grammar mistakes. Many of us readers who are up to date with the latest chapters know that Crossfire definitely gets better as it goes, but perhaps fixing some of those issues in the earlier parts will be great for newer readers. Other than that keep doing what you're doing. You have an incredible story to tell through Crossfire and I really look forward to reading the rest. :)
Why Read This Fanon?: Because it's awesome. But seriously, Omashu Rocks is a really talented author and knows how to keep an audience in suspense. The story itself stands out among other fanon I've found on the portal, and will keep you on the edge of your seat the whole way through. And if you're like me and are missing The Legend of Korra and epic female lead characters than I'm sure Nalia will go above and beyond to fill that void.