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Cave's Bulbagarden's Fiction Review Thread

Jul 23, 2022
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  1. She/Her

Hey all so my name is Cave and I am one of the writers here on Bulbagarden. I have decided to do one of these little review threads, 1) so I can keep track of where I am up on stories I am reviewing and 2) because I understand how it can feel to not receive little to no reviews across platforms and how exhausting the lack of validation is. So here we are. I know how it feels to have someone write a review and then delete it, or for someone to promise to do a review and never do it. I will try my best to keep on top of threads.

I wasn't sure if this belonged in Writer's Workshop or in Blogs, I asked and was told Workshop but if you need to move it let me know, it is all good.

You can absolutely ask me to do a short review of your fic on this thread. However, I will only do 1 chapter at a time. If you want me to do multiple chapters, let me know. I will always start reviewing from the beginning and I will only do pokémon fictions. I do not have the confidence to review other fandoms.

I will try to post once or twice a week minimum. These posts may already be on posts on the thread if it is a story I am already reviewing. This way everyone's stuff stays together. Please use the index system if you want to see if I have reviewed your fiction. Everything should be listed in the index in alphabetical order.
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Review: Dead Winter

Chapter 1
As a fan of darker fictions I like the start of the chapter here, it gives off an ominous vibe to me. The use of Arceus and rot in the same sentence definitely adds to the ominous vibes in my opinion. What is Harrison’s relationship like to the King? It almost seems like he is happy to be able to take the throne, and his urgency towards the intruder is more out of concern for the castle. I think his reaction to the situation is very understandable and you do a good job of displaying his switch in form, from alive to undead. In particular, the way you describe him wanting to feel something is very short and sweet and effective. The rapid changing of those around him to attack others definitely paints the idea of a massive disaster yet to come.
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Review: From the Vast

Chapter 1
Firstly, I’d like to start by saying the first line is very gripping. The introduction of the characters is well placed and goes well with the flow of the text. Aria seems to be a very kind individual, and your portrayal of her is clear. Furthermore, I like how the split between the pokémon and humans is illustrated in a way which shows how different they are. Ruby’s concern in comparison to Lumi’s reaction makes me wonder if Lumi has had a hard time with humans in the past. I hope we find out later, and I think ending the chapter with Aria being given all the responsibility is a good way to move the story forward.

Chapter 2
The diving through the consciousness creates leads to an interesting question I have surrounding how a psychic would read a memory which a human or another Pokémon would actively be guarding. Would it be a tough dive? The fact Aria had to work so hard to reach the memory from an unconscious child feels important, and I think the description surrounding the memory is well painted. I hope Anne is able to let Aria know what she was so afraid of, if not, I hope Aria is able to find out. The ending of the chapter is a little tense, and I like how the Pokémon react to hearing how the humans are coming. What would happen if they find Aria and the others? Would they try to catch them? Blame them? The fact they flee at the end of the chapter leaves these things open ended, and I think that works very well.

Chapter 3
To begin with I think the placing of Chapter 3 is very on point. It keeps up with the momentum caused by the end of Chapter 2, with the humans coming, while balancing the fact these Pokémon are starting to tire. The big question left over here is whether the slower, hunting pace of the humans was more beneficial in the long run. Anne being around and requiring help, and carrying is definitely an additional problem, and you tackle this well. The explanation as to how the humans are trying to find her seems to fit in well with the world you have built so far.

You also answer an important question I had - Do the captured, human owned Pokémon have the same speech capacity as that of the wild Pokémon? Does their time with humans impact how they are able to speak with other Pokémon? I think the fact you have answered these questions to some degree does help with the world building quite a bit. Also, the introduction of the younger Pokémon that are a part of Aria’s life does indicate a level of parallel to the human world we know, and perhaps the human world in their own world. The psychic mind reading certainly gave me a little laugh by Candece. The question I have here is what level of mind reading would be considered allowed in public and what would not? Lastly, the lack of human presence considering how they originally acted creates a feeling of unease, and the way the chapter ends just confirms the calm before the storm.

Chapter 4
Alright, so it's been a while since I have read any of this fic, so after a quick refresher of what had happened so far, I have to say the opening was pretty much in line with what had previously happened. Anne’s pain being of great concern to the group does seem to create the divide between the Pokémon and the humans, which had been alluded to previously.

There is a lot going on regarding the dialogue and thoughts and psychic dialogue, and I am glad this gets clarified officially at the start of the chapter. That is the one thing about having psychic beings: things can get a little messy. Aria’s bond with Anne continues to shine through in the chapter. It has already been built up previously that Anne only really has trust to Aria as far as I could understand, and Anne’s attempts at communication to Aria seem to be on par with how I would assume someone frightened would act. Once again Lumi comes through to show his willingness to help his friends out. Although, he does appear to be in a much more minor role this chapter. I hope we get to see him and Anne getting to know each other at some point (and no I am totally not bias towards Luxray [one of my all-time favourite Pokémon]).

Moving to the more stylistic side of things, the writing flows pretty well. The pacing is more consistent in this chapter than that of the more action-packed third instalment, giving a much-needed rest. That being said, the chapter is pretty long. Grammatically, the chapter had very few mistakes in, which is great. The plot points connect throughout, once again bringing up how the opening connects back to the previous chapter in such a way that the concern for Anne is well constructed. Hopefully things continue smoothly in Chapter 5.

Chapter 5
Okay, so let’s talk about psychic types and memory wipes. What a way to start the chapter. I am stunned. This topic is a significant ethical discussion in pokémon fiction and often gets overlooked. I am so glad that it is being talked about this early on in fiction surrounding this narrative of potential abuse, cross-contamination, or leak of humans into the world of wild pokémon. Would you effectively steal someone’s memories away from them if it stops that person from hurting? Would that person always have questions? Would you replace those memories with something else? Such an important topic is being addressed, adding so much to the chapter.

This brings us to the relationship forming between Anne and Aria. Anne has been through a lot and is very young, so how much of what is happening does she fully understand? Her question to Aria is also portrayed well, as it is indeed important. “Why did you save me?” On its own, saving a stranger is essential. However, there is, in addition to this, the knowledge we already know about humans and these wild Pokémon. They are not friendly with one another. Early on in this chapter, a lot of the weight seems centred intentionally or not around this concept. It is portrayed beautifully.

Structurally, the chapter seems fine. The flow and pacing are on point, as always. One small thing I have noticed is when there is a fair amount of dialogue, it isn’t always attributed. On occasion, this has led me to re-read the section to make sense of who is speaking, although I am often able to figure it out. Honestly, though, that is the major grammatical thing I have noticed; the rest seems perfectly fine. Additionally, Anne’s nervousness in speaking to Aria is portrayed very well through her stutter. The description is well-placed and adds to the world and characters. Also, I am glad we get to see Lumi again, even if it is more towards the end of the chapter.

Chapter 6
Chapter 6 starts seemingly different to the chapters before it. It introduces some characters who I don’t recall being mentioned before. These character’s goals and ambitions seem unknown with the exception of them seeking someone – Anne. This definitely adds to the ominous atmosphere which was absent in the previous chapter, which acted as more of a respite. I assume the other characters they met or have come into contact with are human. The comparison between the two locations seems pretty significant and maybe it will come into play a little later as it has been highlighted in the chapter as pretty important.

The dialogue is pretty solid in this chapter, and the character’s relationships and emotions aren’t fully on display it seems. The chapter definitely gives off a more cautious vibe. The frustration and hostility echoes later in the chapter through the use of language and dialogue. The emotions we do see in this chapter are more hostile, and advances the plot of the story nicely.

Chapter 7

The beginning of the chapter opens with a significant reinforcement to the story. Anne’s reaction to being touched is very consistent with what we already know about her past. The author clearly knows how to make connections and build upon characters and their history. In contrast, the ending creates a strong sense of unease. The events individually aren’t too horrific, such as Blossom’s panic attack and a tea-shaking attack. However, the combination created by the author raises the stakes well. Anyone who has ever had a panic attack knows how awful it feels, and how your senses get all messed up. The difficulty to deal with other things going on while having one is represented well in this chapter.

In regards to the writing style, the chapter’s flow seems alright. The ending taking a sudden turn is interesting and does throw the flow off a little bit, but the intention of it works out well. I did notice a typo with what I assume to be Rowlet missing the “R” toward the end of the chapter, although it could be referring to an owl instead as owls are mentioned in the chapter. There is nothing major there; it happens. For the most part, however, the chapter’s grammar and spelling is consistently on point throughout the chapter.

Lastly, looking into the characters themselves, it is nice to see Anne bonding with other characters. The introduction of the Decidueye family, being Dartrix and Rowlet is great. I have also noticed the inclusion of real-life animals in the chapter, in particular an owl. Therefore, in this would, do normal animals co-exist with pokémon? Holly seems a nice addition and the potential bonds she will create with would be great, if this continues later on. The dialogue in the chapter is well-written and the character’s personalities come out in droves.

Chapter 8

Chapter 8 shows the combination between real-world animals and pokémon, which was alluded to in Chapter 7, with owls peering through the window. In Chapter 8, there are mentions of dogs, which are connected to the human village and a vital part of the plot so far – Anne and her escape from the human village. The two sides of the story and the plot are depicted very well by the missing poster, which Olive and Lumi find. It is interesting how these two are witnessing the human world, which is significant. While it feels like more of a side story, it is interesting compared to Anne’s side and the focus on her. Their connection to the humans, especially Lumi’s reaction and interactions with the human boy, is sweet, and it is nice to see a kinder side of the humans compared to what we have seen and assumed about them.

Later in the chapter, Anne’s house’s explosion is decisive and well-constructed as an all-or-nothing situation. There is no going back, only going forward. Ending the chapter with Lumi leading the charge as it were back out into the human world opens up the fiction to some extent. As previously most chapters have ended in a more contained manner, this is far more dangerous. The characters are more exposed to the threats out there. Hopefully, they will find a way to make life better for Anne and get justice for her once and for all.

Chapter 9

This chapter seems to introduce us to some potential allies. I feel like the introduction of Gallade and Goodra to the story is the most important element of the chapter. I am getting some detective or poké-police vibes from them, especially the “trying to figure out” part of Gallade’s dialogue. The concerns regarding Anne being a potential young trainer are interesting as they open up another conversation about whether all humans would be treated the same if they needed help from the pokémon.

The reappearance of Holly as the energetic light, almost like the character who asks some questions or puts herself in situations which lead to world-building, is very welcomed. Her character is very well-written, and her kindness shines through. Her care for Anne and others around her is an excellent trait. Although there is a small section in which Holly is talking to another pokémon, due to the missing tags, I am not quite sure whom; I assume it is Marco. I think if these tags were added, it would improve the flow of this section of dialogue. All in all, though, the description and additions to the plot are great. The description of what these pokémon feel meeting a human, one of the biggest potential threats these wild pokémon could come across, is very well constructed.

Chapter 10

The mysterious magnemite watching all. Did it see what Aria had done? I love how ominous this little guy’s presence is. I really hope magnemite’s witnessing comes back to haunt the group as a little plot twist at some point. With the house of horrors gone and Aria not feeling any guilt for her potential involvement, I hope this will allow the author to add to the relationship between Anne and Aria. Will Anne be okay with her former home being destroyed? Lots of questions have been opened up.

I also love the wrap-around back to the debate, I believe, in chapter 5 and the ability to remove or alter memories. This callback is great as it is such an important ethical debate. Ember, having had their mind wiped, yet being an important part of Anne’s life, makes me wonder if Anne and Ember had seen something they maybe weren’t supposed to. Lumi’s relationship with Autumn is an interesting one; while most relationships appear to be upbeat and friendly, the impression I got here is they aren’t really friends, and they are very different personality-wise, which is a fresh dynamic.

Grammatically and structurally, the chapter is written well. Although, some dialogue was a little confusing at times due to the lack of tags or the same speaker being given a new line of speech. Other than that, though, it was consistent and had no major issues.

The plot has moved significantly in this chapter, and I like that. Cinder, from what I gather, has done something awful. The memory wipe. The group’s caution around confronting Cinder I think, is rightly warranted with the explanations and justifications as to why confronting Cinder isn’t a good idea just yet is well thought out. Just from how the dialogue is constructed around confronting Cinder, I get the impression that Cinder isn’t the kind of pokémon to play fair in a fight – especially through the lines by Autumn about it turning into a throwing match being way too late. I am going to end by saying the final line is a strong one. The author has made it very clear that Aria is dedicated to solving the problems created by the humans and pokémon who have hurt Anne. Seeing as Aria may have been responsible for the house going to pieces and had no regrets earlier on, we know she will stop at nothing for Anne.

Chapter 11

Chapter 11’s start is amazingly powerful. The strength and stress on the words is very memorable. The fear that Anne must be feeling as this force is coming and there is little she can do about it must be intensely terrifying. Her reaction to being around Ember again is beautifully written and one can tell how much their relationship must have mattered. This chapter definitely weighs in more with the description and I like that a lot. Even the chapter’s title, “Guilt” is clear at depicting what is going on.

The plot moves well in this chapter, opening up Anne’s world in such a way that had been very dotted before. Almost like a new door and new pathway is opening up for her. Aria’s guilt definitely does appear in small segments in how she acts in the latter half of the chapter, particularly how she is unable to smile after lying. I think the topic of lying is dealt with in a manner which suits all here. I personally believe that lies aren’t inherently bad. It is what one does with a lie and how one uses the ability to lie which could be good or bad. I do feel like her lie here is justified.

Lastly, I want to address the section about Cinder. Cinder’s darker side seems to become softened or almost excused in a way by others. She has been painted by the author as someone who is very powerful, but the characters depict her as an overprotective mother. Does the truth lie somewhere between being an overprotective mother and having some sinister goals? I hope we delve deeper into the life of Cinder and explore more about her background and her motivations in the next few chapters.

Chapter 12

Firstly, I’d like to point out how nice it is to see new characters being introduced in this chapter. A wider cast can lead to more chaos, conflict or a much wider range of emotions. The little Riolu is a perfect example of this. Reya seems to be written pretty young and full of energy, which contrasts with the mood set by the adult pokémon as of late. The mood is explained by the author as them being drowsy, which makes sense given everything going on in their lives right now. Regarding the dialogue, what is said works for who is saying it, and for the most part, it runs together in a smooth manner. However, the missing tags explaining who is saying what has led to me having to re-read certain sections of it. Despite my reservations surrounding the missing dialogue tags, the grammar throughout the non-dialogue sections is great and the description where used works well.

I think later in the chapter comes another very important debate. The discussion on feral pokémon and, to a further extent, what pokémon consider to be humans, feral. Now, I think this topic is handled well by the author, as the debate is turned on its head when the discussion of the extreme alternative is brought up. It seems to create a nice bit of tension as well as show how deep the divide in the world is between the humans and the pokémon. Lastly, I think ending the chapter surrounding the line, “now as for humans as living beings” is very ominous. It appears almost as if Geigar is looking down on them. For example, if it was to be said about dogs, “now as for dogs as living beings” from a human’s perspective, it seems like the humans are classifying the dogs as human beings, rather than acknowledging them as sentient beings. I am not sure where Geigar is going to go with this. I suppose we will find out.

Chapter 13
You make it very clear that Anne has had a horrific childhood when the first thing she does after an accident is immediately apologising, even though she could have been badly hurt. Furthermore, I love how innocent Bell is, talking about how Candece could take Anne in. You always make the characters likable in each chapter.

The grammar in the chapter is pretty solid. I think as time has gone on, the grammar in the chapters has become clearer, and since the clarification a few chapters ago regarding the difference between psychic talk, and speech the clarity has improved.

I was a little surprised to not see my favourite character in this story in this chapter, Lumi, but I noticed he has a bigger role in the next chapter, so I am pretty psyched to see that. That being said, I am glad this chapter focuses more on the relationships with Candece, Bell, Embers and Anne, and it gives them a chance to be fleshed out some more.

The change of focus at the end to Cypress and Marco is nice, as it introduces these characters in a different light. It is clear Marco knows Bell very well, and how the little Ralts feels about the world around her. It also potentially gives a further insight into how Bell would act if threatened. Would Bell act on her own and be independent of adults trying to help her?
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Review: Mercenaries of Dawn

Episode 1 - Chapter 1
This story seems to have an exciting spin on your typical rescue team set-up. The concept of mercenaries is interesting and provides almost a slightly more cautious or hostile approach to the world around these pokémon which is intriguing. The chapter starts with a showdown between a single pokémon and their five assailants, which gives me PMD vibes– a throwback to being attacked on a beach with the time relics. The chapter ends by completing the focus shift from our Azumarill victim to, I assume, what is to be our main protagonist, Rex. Rex seems interesting enough. It is hard to tell too much about him at this point, seeing as it is only the first chapter, but the end brings us to the idea of this grand adventure that is about to occur, nicely seen through the use of a caravan.

Structurally, the story reads pretty well. Each paragraph and section adds to the previous section consistently and tidily at a well-thought-out pace. My only gripe is the dialogue tags. I often see it and am guilty of making the same mistake, but the way I was taught by someone I once met was action = full stop, speech wording = comma.

For example,

He whispered, “My name is Jeff.” Jeff rubbed his hands together. “I like money.” The amount of money in Tom’s pockets was unknown to Jeff, but quickly, he added, “Do you like money too?”

The characters so far have seemed reasonable; as stated above, Rex looks interesting enough. The author has made it clear very early on that there is a bond between Colin and Allisa, which is excellent; the big question we are left wondering
is where Rex fits into all of this. Will he meet them again? I suspect it's possible, given their early introduction to the story.

Episode 1 - Chapter 2

Opening this chapter with Rex staying with Colin is a great decision. It gives us a chance to learn more about Colin and Rex. Colin is already starting to become my favourite character - being kind and genuinely seems like a good guy. Also, in this opening, we get a little bit of world-building, like some place names and some general mapping, although I hope this gets expanded upon later, as in a PMD world, places can seem very compact at times. Later in the chapter, these place names are mentioned again, specifically emphasising a place called Blackridge. I am glad the author justifies its importance to the characters. However, I am not quite sure of its significance regarding the plot yet.

Foster the Furret seems an excellent little addition to the story, even if he doesn’t seem to be in the frame for long. I like how the author uses Foster to create specific plot points and add to the worldbuilding. At least he is coming along for the trip at the moment. I hope the author further uses him to explain things about the world we may not understand. While Foster and Colin take more of a front seat with Rex in this chapter, Allisa seems to take more of a back seat, and I assume this is due to her staying while the others head off in the next chapter, as alluded to at the end. It's not necessarily a bad thing—just an observation and assumption I have.

Lastly, regarding the story's structure, the pacing is consistent with the first chapter, although I am unsure about the plot. I assume something important is coming up with the mysterious ruins mentioned at the end of the chapter, but time will tell if this is the case. Grammatically, the only thing I have noticed being slightly off is the dialogue tags, as mentioned in the above review. Therefore, overall, the grammar is good, and the spelling is on point.

Episode1 - Chapter 3

The lead-up to this chapter’s writing in the little Rex’s notes at the top does give me cause for concern for the safety of Rex. That cute little Furret planning something evil? Please, no, he is too cute for that (Furrets are cute). I like this opening; it throws a little potential spanner in the works. However, as these are just Rex’s notes, I’ll move on to the main event.

The plot seems to have thickened slightly, with plans thrown out the window. The introduction of Quentin the Electabuzz is pretty neat, as Electabuzz feels very overlooked in the world of Pokémon. Also, I cannot help but be reminded of Quentin from Nightmare on Elm Street, which is an excellent set of movies. His character gives off the impression that he knows what he is talking about and that the others should follow him. His explanation of the dungeon’s status and connection to the ruins, as mentioned in the previous chapter, leaves many questions. What are the ruins? Why are they in a dungeon? For someone to have reached the end to find the ruins, the dungeon must have been cleared, so why isn’t it cleared? Also, I like further down how we find out that Foster fears heights. I hope the author plays on this much later in the story, as it would be a great call back to this early-on section.

Plotwise, I am going to be honest: if I were a pokémon and there was a place called Murky Pass, I wouldn’t be going there, primarily if bandits are known to be around there. So these characters are investigating around it, and this dungeon is written in a way that shows just how important it is. Toward the end of the chapter, we get to meet the Altaria. The Altaria is written and described in a way that gives off early boss vibes. This is great, it gives Rex and the others an actual threat to deal with, even if the Altaria retreats for now.

Episode 1 - Chapter 4

Chapter 4 of Episode 1 features more of my favourite little Furret, which is a major bonus, at least until…. Well… anyway. I love the adjectives around Foster running, I can picture him zooming off right now. I also like how you up the stakes in this chapter. Especially when poor Foster gets whacked pretty badly. The place these guys are in is a real death trap, huh? Fire and steel threats lurking about. I assume it is going to be super dark too, to make it far easier for them to accidentally uncover one of these threats.

We get to meet a major threat though, don’t we? I love how you make the Zoroark incredibly strong off the bat. It gives me some Homelander entrance vibes – and that scene of them and Foster getting hit is unforgettable.

Be aware of missing commas, we don’t want a “Let’s eat grandma” situation. It only happens once or twice in speech, but just so you are aware of it, an example is “You alright Rex” – there should be a comma after alright. Remember, if you are addressing someone, the comma goes before their name; if you are doing an action to someone, it does not. I am glad the rest of the tags were adjusted though to fix the errors pointed out previously, although a few errors still exist on that front, it is now much cleaner.

I am a little confused by the ending, but I think that is supposed to be like that, right? Rex has just reawakened from it all. I think the slight disconnect works well. It’s almost as if parts of Rex’s memories are missing.
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Review: When the Day Met the Night

This one shot is written in the second person, which is incredibly hard to do. It takes a lot of focus, and I respect the effort to do so. The ending is nice, short, and to the point, finally giving a name to the second person we are supposedly. It is a happy ending to a happy one-shot. The dialogue is also short and sweet and done well to keep with the themes of the one-shot. The characters seem okay. We get to meet Hau briefly and his background briefly, which is nice. A short build-up of how things ended up how they are is nicely written. The grammar is on point throughout the one-shot, and I didn’t notice anything major or even minorly abnormal. Overall a nice little one-shot.
Review: The Promise

One shot
Honestly, I didn't expect this to go the way it did.

The emotion behind each action the trainer does is well conveyed and gives a good idea of what this experience meant to her. This theme is carried throughout the chapter, and with her backstory set in place very early on, or at least elements of it, we, the reader get to see some of her motivations. Furthermore, her nickname, "Ghost Girl" is neither described as being negative or positive, which I suppose leaves the whole situation up to the reader to interpret. Working in such a place would certainly leave a mark, especially at night - pokémon around you or not. A lot of people would find it very unnerving. Regardless, I like how she is portrayed and able to use her knowledge and home ground to catch the pokémon.

A nice little read.
Review: To catch 'em all (and live to tell the tale)

Chapter 1:1
The opening of this story is interesting, as the professors included at the start are Prof. Rowan from Sinnoh and Prof. Oak from Kanto, and not Prof. Elm from Johto. I wonder if there is a specific reason why Prof. Elm. Isn’t the one meeting up with Prof. Oak. Furthermore, I like how you built in the other regions through Prof. Birch from Hoenn.

In regards to the personalities painted of the two professors. The more upbeat and wisdom of Prof Oak contrasts with the serious nature of Prof. Rowan. I think the most notable however, is Prof. Birch being energetic. His first scene depicts him as incredibly jolly, compared to his more serious counterparts. This is very relatable to how a player would meet him in the game, scatty, and not what you would call a typical professor.

The chapter’s ending is interesting. I like how it paints the reader into the beginning of a trainer’s adventure, finding the professor. However, I am not too sure about the grammar of the last sentence. It seems a little out of place, as the character focus has shifted for a single line. It is assumed the man mentioned in the last sentence is Prof. Birch. It might be better to mention him by name if this is the case.

Lastly, the dialogue in the chapter was good, and felt realistic to read. The characters behave in a relatable manner throughout the chapter, and their relationships are clear throughout the chapter.
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