This review was conducted by the Fanon Review Squad and reflects our best judgment of writing and fanon authorship quality. Please don't take offense if the review wasn't positive. We always give advice!
Seven Seaside Stones is the second "shipping week" participated in by Fruipit. It is a series of one-shots focussed on Toph and Sokka, and follows a similar pattern to her previous series, Seven 'Shots. However, the chapters are much shorter.
Each one-shot is based on a prompt given to participants, whether it be a word or a phrase. This time, the focus is on developing other characters (namely Sokka) and their relationship with Toph, and as such, is slightly less angsty than usual.
Spelling/Grammar 9.6 - At this point, I don't expect spelling and grammar errors from this author. For the most part, the technical writing was spot on, besides a couple of missed typos. There were no recurring grammatical mistakes or spelling slip-ups.
General Writing 9.4 - Hands down one of the better writers on the Fanon Portal. The author uses a great deal of imagery, description, and figurative story-telling. My favorite part of the entire story was a metaphor she pulled at the end of Ember Island: "She realises now that when rock meets water, gently bumps next to it and lives in tandem harmony, it is the rock that slowly gives. Inch by subtle inch it erodes, until there is nothing left. And she hates herself for it." That specifically stuck out in my mind, but there were other impressive instances of writing, too.
Style 9.2 - Fruipit is known for her angsty writing style. She likes to write about twisted, dark romance...sometimes involving happenstances that I will not go into detail about. (*cough*Femme mystérieuse*cough*) This particular work was a breath of fresh air from her usual stuff. I liked the variation of subjects and tone. There were light moments, funny moments, and tender moments. The amalgamation of feelings presented a nice diversity of style. Job well done.
Creativity 8.6 - Shelter, Unchanging, Tradition, Finally, Ember Island, Time, Reality: those were the words that inspired the seven chapters in Seven Seaside Stones. I have high praise for the author's weaving stories out of these simple nouns, but there is a slight deduction. I've read similar stories by Fruipit, before. A few of the underlying themes, namely insecurity, confusion, and trust are repeated. They aren't done exactly the same, but I do sense a recurring pattern, just with different situations.
Plot/Organization 8.7 - For this particular category, I want to make it clear that I'm not really deducting points. It's just that a series of seven one-shots, short one-shots at that, can't live up to the higher scores merited by an elaborate, serial fanon. There just isn't enough time and volume to have deep plot developments. However, I will say that each miniature vignette was well organized and nicely done. Fruipit tied each message together at the end of each chapter. As a whole, the inherent structure of the fanon doesn't truly allow it to knock my socks off, at least with regard to plot complexity.
Character Development 8.5 - This category always seems to be the longest. Why you ask? Because character development is "the life and blood of a fanon, and all fictional writing for that matter. Character Development is the magic potion that turns rabid Mako bashers into the next generation of fangirls drawing Mako in the margins of their math homework. Character Development can make or break a story." - according to the WLS Urban Dictionary, that is. Bottom-line: character development is crucial.
In this series of one-shots, Fruipit does many things extremely well. For one, she writes the dialogue and descriptions almost pin-point on character for Toph. One of my favorite lines is "He broke her heart. She broke his nose." XD It's obvious that the author knows the ins and outs of the characters. She is able to dissect their feeling and elaborate on them in incredible detail. This talent, however, lead to some problems. I'm just going to say it bluntly: the narrator told me more about the characters then the characters themselves.
Character development is all about portraying the suffering and defeats of characters. The reader has to witness them making mistakes and dealing with the consequences. I didn't get the level of intimacy I wanted to when I read Seven Seaside Stones because the author, in many cases, told me what happened. It's like "Oh, she loved him. Then she finally realized it, but by then it was too late." - That's nice. How much better would it be if the author described the hollowness in her soul as she watched him walk away? The emptiness of seeing him that close but being unable to have him. Don't tell me the emptiness exists, make me feel it for myself. There's nothing wrong with writing in third person; I do it all the time. Please think about balancing the narrator's role with the characters. It's possible to oscillate between the two, providing insight but at the same time allowing the character freedom to act on their own.
Takes a deep breath - On to the next point. Romance. As a romantically themed story, Seven Seaside Stones focuses on the evolving relationship between Sokka and Toph. It depicts the high-points, low-points, lights and darks, goods and bads of their relationship over the years. I really like the variation of the tone between the two. Sometimes it was friendly and easy-going, other times it was strained. That's fine. The one qualm I have about the romance was the one-sided nature of it. For the most part, these chapters told Toph's side of the story. The author did make a conscious effort to include Sokka's development, but it fell short. Sokka didn't really visible change. He just sort of realized his feelings. The last chapter was the best one, regarding Sokka's development, but it was also the shortest of all the chapters. It's important to understand that romance is between two people. Make sure to portray the opinions and sides in equality. When two people choose to love each other, it's that much more powerful. These one-shots seemed to be more about Toph's struggle with romance and not the evolution of "Sokka and Toph." Savvy?
Interest Level 8.8 - I reviewed the author's Seven 'Shots a while back, so I was a bit skeptical about reviewing a fanon that is, in its structure, very similar. I grew more and more interested because of the variety of styles and diversity of subjects. The author looked at the story through many different lenses, and that kept me on my toes. I also liked how I got some personal notes at the end of chapters. :P
Reaction 8.4 - I didn't really experience any life-changing reactions. I believe writing is supposed to evoke strong feelings. My emotions were definitely tested by this fanon, but I wouldn't say I look at the world any differently after having read it. It could just be my personal preferences.
Believability 9.0 - I've told this author before, and in many different ways" "Toph Beifong does not cry or do anything of the like! She is the greatest earthbender in the world!" I cannot predict what Toph would be like as she grows older, so who knows? - Maybe Fruipit's portrayal of Toph as a young, emotional woman is correct. This remains to be seen. The plot developments weren't crazy or out of the blue, so all in all it was pretty believable.
Total Score = 8.91
4. My Thoughts
I appreciate the injection of humor into these romances. I am a firm believe in all stories being a mixture of light and dark. The two tones compliment each other. Nicely done with that concept.
5. What stands out?
The language is beautiful. Really, it is. The stories flow effortlessly. While the language is elegant, it is also fused with passion. Two thumbs up.
6. Advice for Fruipit
Keep challenging yourself as a writer by trying out different prompts, genres, and characters.
7. Who should read this?
Any hopeless romantics out there in need of a heart twister.