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HALLELUJAH, the FRS is getting a new member! Minnichi hopes to see swarms of applicants >:P ...Okay, not exactly but I'm just happy someone's going to join at all (hopefully you know what I'm talking about). Reviewing gets...busy...and for me personally, exam season has started. I'm kind of typing this on - well, zero hours of sleep - but with a genetics exam that DIED by my hands >8D (Totally what matters, right?) But this has been delayed long enough. While I'm still conscious, here's my belated commentary on True Winds, Flowing Water by Lovebender110, an author who truly lives up to her username. But be warned. I is sleep-deprived.
Many of the events that unfold bring back memories to the characters, not all of them pleasant, and these memories are interlaced within the storyline.
A large portion of the story revolves around the romantic relationship and development between Aang and Katara, revealing their innermost thoughts and emotions towards each other.
Intended to capture every moment in detail, True Winds, Flowing Water has a somewhat slow-moving storyline, allowing it's readers to visualize and immerse themselves in the scene, feeling as the characters feel, rather than simply telling a story.
Well, that summary above pretty much stole every good idea I had to say something here. Dangit @_@ But it's very accurate; the emotional intensity in this fanon will either have you smiling like a mushy fangirl or blowing your nose while you drown in your own tears. Lovebender110 knows her way around love stories (and might I add action?), and this Kataang fanon will draw out that inner hopeless romantic you know you are.
- Plot - 8.9: There is not much to say about the plot, since I personally like the way things are laid out. It is most definitely a romance, but I'll remind the author to be more aware of the distinction between genre and story. Despite being a full-blown plot, its foundation begins to dull due to a slight over-emphasis on romance itself. We begin to lose a sense of story and progress because of the imbalance, and it's important to keep a strong view of the big picture and central conflict. This may start to feel like a one-shot series of Kataang moments occasionally, and I advise the author to pay just as close attention to the antagonist side/conflict as she does the couple. She's kept a good sense of story for the most part, but the slip-up occurs just enough to be notable. That aside, the plot itself is well done!
- Organization - 9.5: Well, it was pretty darn organized! What can I say? Very nice progression between each chapter, and it felt very natural overall. Only thing is that I felt some flashbacks were out of place. Once again, the temptation of Kataang moments takes over during these times. There were scenes in which I just felt that a long, emotional flashback was not quite fitting. That's mostly due to the length of it; the memory served a purpose during the scene, but it needed to be more to the point. Perhaps think about the main focus of that memory - just a few statements about what made it significant or a quote is enough to create the intended impact. The flashbacks can stay (and in many cases they should stay), but I would be careful not to let it distract from the main story.
- Creativity – 8.0: Regrettably, this section gets the main deduction because of the fanon's extremely strong ties to known canon events. There is not too much "new" here, and that's not necessarily the author's fault, given her choice of plot. It's harder to do in her situation, but I saw many opportunities for creativity that she passed up. Like many fanons I grade, one central flaw seems to lead to the rest; the focus on romance leaves the author little room to expand on the creative side. Kataang and its glory is not a new concept, so the more elaboration it has, the less unique the story becomes. Just throwing some ideas, but how about them antagonists? Azula doesn't have to be the only one. Don't be afraid to show off unfamiliar faces! To acknowledge the creativity the story does have, though, the author's mastery of writing romance has a unique style of its own. You wouldn't want to miss it!
- Writing – 8.9 (x3): This is perhaps one of the oddest reasons for deduction I've ever had to consider - in a good way! Lovebender does not fall short on description. Nor does she fail to paint a clear, beautiful picture for us all. Nor does she lack sophisticated knowledge of grammar. Which are all kind of key points in writing. But thing is...these qualities present themselves most strongly when the passage is revolving around - you guessed it - romance. I am naming this a, er, flaw because it has become somewhat of a "specialized area" thing. The author has yet to apply this beauty in its fullest to the other areas that need them. Deaths, for one, had considerably less elaboration than romantic troubles - and in my opinion, the impact of such a tragedy must definitely be equally portrayed, if not more. There are traces of lingering emotions in the victims left behind, but I just believe it doesn't delve deeply enough yet. I know that Lovebender can do it, considering the comparison to her heart-melting scenes. My guess is that she may have been a little too excited to move on and talk about the love of Kataang ;) The elaboration is most absent when considering the antagonists too, who need just as much effort. To sum it up, this imbalance does hinder the reader experience somewhat, which is why the deduction must stay. But honestly...Lovebender knows how to write.
- Character Development - 9.0 (x2) Aang and Katara are at their finest here. Need I say more? Buttt then there're all those other characters. Toph and Sokka were characterized accurately, but we barely see any glimpse of their inner emotions aside from occasional commentary. What we know of their feelings is often speculation from Aang or Katara, if anything. Azula suffers the most lack of character development, appearing simply to cause trouble without any other motivation. From the show, it's obvious that she deals with very deep and very complicated inner struggles, but I don't see that side of her here. While an easy option would be to go into the antagonists' POV to strengthen development, there are many ways to indicate it otherwise. Currently, Azula lacks the fullness of character that would prevent her from becoming a typical villain whose sole purpose in the story is to provide Aang and Katara with obstacles and opportunities for emotional near-death experiences. Lastly, all OCs here require some more physical description than their current, as well as a more complete personality. Don't let Kataang take the spotlight ;)
- Action - 9.3: Intense! Who says a romantic writer can't whip out some serious butt-kicking on paper? As for the deduction... Romance, how'd you get in here too? o_o But unfortunately the overflowing emotions do take the place of much needed description during battle sometimes. To me it appears to be another "rush" to get to the good part (such as Aang epically saving Katara), and in the process some visuals of action are lost. I notice that bending descriptions start to become simple during those moments, and occasionally we even lose any indication of physical movement (that's not to say it wasn't fitting; just not always). The author must always be aware of when and where her scenes need butt-kicking description. It'd just be filling up some little gaps that I noticed. When Lovebender decides to talk battle, she will talk battle. And leave your jaw hanging open while she's at it.
- Believability – 8.5: I'm afraid the antagonists are mostly to blame here. Azula just seems to get through everything so...conveniently. She appears whenever she wants and disappears whenever she wants. So far there's no hint of a reason how she just flits in and out to cause mayhem so easily. And her "cronies" - who exactly are they? Why are they motivated to support her, and what are they gaining from this? All believable ideas, but hard to grasp because of a simple lack of explanation. What I admired so much about the show was that it could just show us Azula's superiority without having to shout it out. We were led through each of her schemes and her brilliant knack for manipulation (as horrid as it sounds). We still need to see some of those background details in this fanon, though you've captured her attitude very well. A little other issue I had was how vulnerable Aang became sometimes in the Avatar State. I remember him being able to detect Ozai striking from behind with minimal effort, so I was a little confused at a certain scene. He's a fully realized Avatar, too, and perhaps lightning from Azula wouldn't even be enough to catch him off guard now. Since it was such a pivitol scene, I just thought that moment could be adapted a little more to fit realistic standards, but that's just my opinion. Aang and Katara's love, though, is exactly as I imagined, of course. Just picking at little things, as usual.
Overall Score: 8.89
My advice for Lovebender110: Just balance out the lovey dovey goodness a bit, but definitely don't stop writing about it! Remember everything else that goes on in the story, and don't let the emotions alone drive it; use the emotions to strengthen the tale! Oh, and keep reminding me how to write happy romance. (Mine tends to be, well...you know.)
Who should read True Winds, Flowing Water? Oh, Kataang fans! I know you're there ;) And anyone who wants a good example of how a romance should be can look right here. But hey, there's action and crazy Firebenders and all the goodness of any well-rounded fanon! Who wouldn't want to give it a read?