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Story Information

Story Title: Survive It
Story Author: Toblerone
Reviewed By: Snigma
Review Score: 6

Story Review

Survive It is the story of Naois, a convict aboard the Vortex Rikers. When the Rikers crashes on an alien planet it is up to Naois and a motley band of surviving crew and prisoners to find a way to survive.

The tale is told from Naois' point of view but in the third person. The decision to add excerpts from Naois' diary is a great touch. They break up the text nicely without disrupting the flow of the story. They are also some of the best written sections of the story, for example:

At least my cellmate seems to be a nice enough bloke, haven't asked him what he's here for, scared it might change my perception of him, most of the guards are absolute bastards, two of them are up for a joke though, won't be hard on you unless you are really out of order.

You may have guessed already from that quote what one of my major criticisms is going to be. It's the infamous run on sentence, separated only by commas, which just seems to go on, and on, and on, and just moves from one idea to another, never really stopping for breath. One excessive example of this occurs about a third of the way into the story, as Naois and his band raid the crashed Vortex Rikers:

The pair ran through the corridors as fast as they could, shooting anything that moved, before making it to the bridge, the radio was their, on top of one of the panels, tuned in to a distress channel, Naois grabbed the box and put it under his arm, while Carl led them out of the ship, using both automags and going akimbo, more fighting had started near the engine rooms, as Naois and Carl ran through the door the rest of their team started retreating, and when they were through, the blocked the doorway with some crates, and Stuart shot at the sensor system so the door was disabled.

Try saying that out loud without pausing for breath!

Unfortunately this seems to be just one manifestation of a more serious problem - a lack of attention to detail. To some extent this is simply due to the nature of the story, it moves from one location to another with great speed, the group never being able to stay in one location for too long. However I get the feeling that the main problem is that the author found it difficult to get his ideas down onto paper fast enough, a case of the brain being faster than the pen.

Some of the writing is very good, being both evocative and emotional, for example:

The impact was devastating, the ship threw the prisoners around their cells, people screamed, the blood curdling scream that you can only hear once in your life, and you don't want to know what caused them.

But this tends to be the exception rather than the rule.

The story contradicts itself several times. One example of this is the makeup of the group. We start off with a group including two women. There's a fight and one of the women is killed:

Another impact, closer this time, he nearly slipped, but instinctively caught a rock, a rocket hit the person above him, and Naois ducked as what was left of her fell down, along with a hail of rocks, he pushed himself more.

However, later in the story both women are alive, and a new male character appears out of nowhere.

Other inconsistencies crop up in various places. One example is the character of Nicholas Vos, one of the prisoners, who is first described as:

...a conman sent down for computer fraud.

while on the next page he is:

...another terrorist member, or 'resistance' as he liked to call it...

The backgrounds given for each character are varied and interesting, if quite brief, and they set up the possibility of some fascinating group dynamics and interpersonal conflicts. Unfortunately this isn't carried through to the rest of the story at all and the characters' actions are sometimes completely at odds with their backgrounds. It also seems telling that we rarely learn the first names of the characters - we hardly learn anything about them at all beyond these brief passages. It's not all bad though, we are treated to a few gems, such as Naois' introspection early on:

Naois picked at the sorry looking tray of food in front of him, occasionally finding a morsel he deemed edible, he was lost in thought, what was he doing here?, how'd he let things get so low?.

From what I've said so far you may get the impression that I don't like this story. This simply isn't true. I do like it, I'm just saddened that a lack of care on behalf of the author has let it down badly. The ideas expressed are pretty good, but the technical execution is lacking. Read it fast enough though and you might not notice.

Read this story

Review Breakdown

Style 7 Atmosphere 7
Structure 7 Flow 7
Language 6 Hook Factor 6
Characterisation 6 Spelling/Grammar 5

Overall Score: 6/10

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