So, been a while. Not in the grand scheme of things but certainly compared to the once a day schedule I was hoping for. Lets see, lost my weekly D&D game, helping family clear out a storage space full of junk, and reading a really long fanfic. Surely that has to cover… Nah, that only covers the last few days. The rest of it was just my brain glitching. As it does. Have gotten a little bit of writing done here and there, so that’s good.
- Crystal’s Wishes by Crystal Wishes
Whew. This was a very long story. A bit over 0.6 Fallout: Equestrias in fact. 400k+ words. A story that is a companion story to a fanfic I only got four chapters into. Luckily this one I enjoyed quite a bit more. This story is also going to be a little frustrating to talk about. Unless things go way off the tracks, I have pretty much nothing but good things to say about it, yet a lot of them might end up sounding like complaints or criticisms.
So let me get the basics out of the way. It did not grab me, but I enjoyed pretty much all the time I spent reading this story. The characters were interesting and creative and at no point did I feel like the story was boring or dragged on. Which is impressive for a single story this long. As for complaints? Mostly it was very fluffy and I didn’t really feel like the main character actually changed all that much.
Mostly I think the writing style threw me off. It was a very slice of life piece that seemed to meander along. Not because it didn’t know where it was going but because it was enjoying taking its time and admiring the scenery along the way. If you get the metaphor. The weird thing is that it felt like a shipping story and not a romance. As in, the relationship just kind of happened without really explaining it. The line between the two? The old standby, I know it when I see it. However I didn’t feel like that stuff wasn’t there. Just that it was missing from the story. For all the length of this piece a lot of the time I felt like I was only getting part of the story. Almost like I was watching Neo Ranga again. A reference that I bet nobody who reads this blog will get, even if they know that anime. Which is why it threw me off. I felt like this was a romance where I was only getting the parts that fit through the shipping style filter. Or something.
Another part of that same oddness was that the story was, well, kind of cliche. Which requires some unpacking because the majority of the time that statement is not a good thing to say. Cliche by itself isn’t a bad thing. You can take an old cliche and either do it exceptionally well, put in depth or meaning or pretty prose to elevate it to high art (so to speak), or you can twist a cliche to use the expectations against itself, or start with cliche and end up going somewhere different and surprising. I wouldn’t say this story did any of those. It had a lot of cliche (well only a few but they cover large portions of the story) but it was the best possible versions of the cliches. So it never really bothered me like cliche normally does.
The story it reminded me most of was The Life and Times Of a Winning Pony. They both have the same general up/down social drama and emotional rollercoaster cycles in them. Though Crystal’s Wishes was not nearly so bad in that area. It was also a much broader stretch of time. This story covers about five years (I think?) of the character’s lives. With one major and several minor time skips. The major of a few years, then a couple of months-long jumps.
I’m also pretty sure there was a minor editing/continuity hole near the end. Characters talk about a job offer once or twice earlier in the story, ending up waiting to see what happens. Then they talk about not changing their living situation after a big event. Then just before the big event they say they are going with the job offer in a way that implies it will be right away. I suspect some notes or earlier drafts got crossed. It’s actually amazing that in a work this long that was rolled out over time that was the only thing like that I noticed.
So, good story and I liked it. Just fluffy and I would only recommend it to people who liked fluffy slice of life and fluffy shipping stories. Who didn’t mind that it was written beside other stories that as far as I can tell include important revelations that are never explained. Well, not important, but I’m pretty sure there are conversations in the companion stories that get referenced in Crystal’s Wishes that have information the characters act on and talk about, but the reader of this never sees.
It did get me interested in re-reading a previous fluffy romance slice of life story I enjoyed but hadn’t remembered because one of the characters showed up in this. So that’s good. I’m still unsure of the whole entwined alternate universe thing going on with these. One one hand from a glance at their writing site and general feel of the author’s notes they are handling it really well. On the other, the whole ‘missing pieces’ feeling of the story can probably be attributed to the shared stories being crafted a little too close together. I shouldn’t have to read three (or four) stories in tandem just to get all the bits and pieces to enjoy one story. Sure I might enjoy all three, but reading them at the same time is just frustrating. Especially when one is a story I didn’t like when I tried it and two others aren’t finished yet. I’m sure it is great for people who love the universe, all of the characters, and devour all the stories chapter by chapter as they come out. Not so much the casual reader.
Again, though, I did enjoy it despite that very minor annoyance. Also like to encourage different ways of telling stories. Which is the main reason I read all this silly fan fiction after all.