Sunday, 8 August 2010

Web Fiction Review: Dorian's Quest

Title: Dorian's Quest
Author: Tonya Moore
Format: Web Fiction, Serialised Novel
Genre: Science Fiction, Gay Fiction, Adventure, Space Opera


Dorian’s Quest funnily enough, follows Dorian, a prince and assassin who has landed himself in a whole heap of trouble. As of writing this review, there are nearly fifty chapters or so available, but I’m only a few chapters in reading, so this review will most likely be updated once I get through all of the backlog now that I have internet again.

On starting Chapter 1, we’re plunged straight into the thick of the action: there’s no opening exposition, but it does aid the urgency of Dorian’s situation. The hero is in at the deep end and so are we as readers.

Thus far most of the chapters are fairly bite-sized, and you can burn through several chapters in one sitting. I’m not yet sure if I’m convinced of the relationship between Dorian and his former paramour and guardian but it is also made clear to us that Torrin is not telling Dorian the whole story nor the whole truth, setting us up nicely for some future conflict. If you enjoy fluffier tales of BL you may settle into this story quite nicely, though at the same time there seem to be some sub/dom relationships implied but not really explored in the early chapters, so it can seem a tad uneven that way.

One issue I do have is that navigation is somewhat awkward. The next or previous chapter buttons aren’t very obvious, so in order to go through the story I kept having to go back to the top of the index page until I eventually found the navigation buttons.

In short, I think that those who enjoy their space operas with a BL twist may well be pleasantly surprised by this story. Expect a re-review once it is completed.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Web Fiction Review: Addergoole

Title: Addergoole
Author: Lyn Thorne-Alder
Format: Web Fiction, updates twice weekly
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Coming of Age, Drama, Urban Fantasy

Review: As of writing this review, I think I've finished the first book of Addergoole and am almost half way through the second; it's a fascinating read. There are quite a few reads on the internet that cover fae-in-high-school or the magical coming-of-age style of story, but Addergoole is definitely one of the most sophisticated of these stories.

The basic storyline follows three adolescents who have recently joined the Addergoole School, whose students and staff all have 'special abilities'. Over the course of the story, we discover that the denizens of Addergoole are all different kinds of fae, and that the students are to be trained in their various powers.

Through out Book 1, more sinister goings on are hinted at in the background and in Book 2, the darker nature of the school's real purpose and atmosphere is drawn out. The book is well paced, and the characters are believable within their situation. There is an element of sexual tensions and dealing with sexuality and gender identity as a theme, but unlike other serials, you're never slapped in the face with it nor patrionised to. Readers are made aware of it, but the writing is always very clever.

I would warn the faint of heart and those who like a fluffy OTP, you're unlikely to find joy here. Addergoole is unashamedly moody, and there are a few dom/sub relationships - it's something that becomes a dominating theme (no pun intended - you get shot for punning where I come from) after Book 1, though it is hinted at during Book 1. There is no Tinkerbell or General Toot-toot to save the day, no magic dust to make the characters' trails easier.

Addergoole is an excellent piece of web fiction, and I do highly recommend it. I gave it four out of five stars on Web Fiction Guide! But if you as a reader, are more High School Musical than Battle Royale, then read it with the lights on.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Web Fiction: The Anti-thesis

Title: The Antithesis
Author: T.L Whiteman
Format: Web Fiction, updates weekly
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Religion, Science Fantasy

Review: The initial concept behind 'The Antithesis' is intriguing, and comes across as 'Dollhouse' meets 'Dogma' with some time travel thrown in at first glance. Our main character, Alezair is a 'marionette' owned by the Nexus, whose mission is hijacked by a mysterious woman. Currently, the story as at 13 chapters, and will be updated once weekly on Friday.

The dialogue is fun and interesting, and Alezair's introspection is usually quite snappy and sarcastic. The location switches appear to be well described - as a Japanese major, it was a joy, nay a miracle NOT to be annoyed by descriptions of ancient Japan! No really, this is nigh on a miracle and why I can't sit through the Last Samurai with a straight face. When writing from a Euro-centric point of view, a lot of writers and directors slip into some very lazy story-telling formats, and Whiteman doesn't do this, so she gets extra credit.

While I described 'The Antithesis' as being 'Dollhouse' meets 'Dogma' (YAY alliteration), the Dollhouse comparison quickly falls away in terms of tone. Both works are fairly dark, but 'The Antithesis' leans more towards 'Night Watch' after the first few chapters as it has more of a super-natural bent to it.

On occasion, the descriptions of the Mysterious Woman can come across purplish prose, but I concede that this could be a word choice preference on my part, and it certainly did not impede my reading on. The original site design has changed since the site went online - gone is the fantastically eerie image of the Mysterious Woman with bleeding wings, and it's been replaced with anime-ish image which makes the story appear more cheery than it actually is.

The story seems to be steadily working on bring certain reveals and bigger mysteries as well - we're still finding out about what precisely the Nexus entails. As of writing, I'm just over half way into what is available online, and I'm looking forward to see what the future instalments will bring.

An Explanation, Shameless Self-Promotion and Getting Your Act Together

So things have been a little quiet around here. I apologise for that. Suffice to say that I've had a lot of things on my plate for the last few months - some good, some bad, all very big - so it's been distracting me from doing very much reviewing here.

Amongst the good news, I do intend to get on with my reviewing and I also have a creative project on the go now. You can have a look if you would like at:

Also, since I've begun to foray into web fiction, I will be including web fiction reviews in my repetoire as well from now on, and floating my Web Fiction Guide reviews over here.

Hope you all enjoy!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Welcome to ZhaoZhao Reviews

Hello there, and welcome to ZhaoZhao Reviews. This is the inaugural post of this here blog, so I thought I would quickly set out what I intend to do with my blog and what you can expect. Essentially, this will be a little space for me to review whatever films or TV I've seen, or books I've read or music I've listened to recently and tell you what I thought. That's probably pretty self-explanatory from the 'Reviews' part of the title.

As for the Zhao Zhao part of the title, it's a conceit on my part. But I don't mind admitting that.

At the moment, rather than give items marks out of 10, I intend to keep my recommendations to "if you liked X then you may like Y..." sort of thing, as I've found that it's a much fairer and simpler way of discussing media with friends and strangers.

I'm happy to take suggestions as well, as I'm always looking for new material to discover. This list is of materials I've recently seen or read, and shall hopefully review in the next few days. I hope it's interesting, if not helpful to you.

My Current Reviews Schedule:

- Avatar
- St Trinians 2
- Daybreakers
- Red Cliff
- Outlander

- Yelena Zaltana Trilogy
- 4 Blondes
- World War Z
- I Am What I Am