Reviews for Casting Off
TheG0AT chapter 1 . 8/4
Howdy Virgil! I’ve seen you and your story around TR and figured I’d give it a read. To my understanding, this story has some overlap with Fobbie’s Fledglings, which I haven’t read. But this first chapter seems to stand on its own perfectly fine, so I suppose I won’t worry about it.

Here are some nitpicky/detail-oriented notes I jotted down while reading:
— Yay for a partially sea-based PMD fiction. I mentioned in DMs that it’s a personal bias of mine to seek these out, heh.
— Exposition dump right off the bat. It’s written very well (though a bit verbose in some places), but it’s generally not what I like to see at the very very beginning of a story. It doesn’t leave a good impression as a hook; it’s more along the lines of what I’d expect to see reading a book within that world, or attending a history lesson.
— The above concern of mine improves quickly after the first two paragraphs. It briefly goes into exposition mode again when covering the Jynx’s arrival and the dungeon lore, but after that, it pretty much ceases. In its wake begins the story, and pretty seamlessly too. I still wish some of the info in there could’ve been demonstrated more organically later on when it would be more immediately relevant… but you did a fantastic job segueing into the story afterward. Your good writing made up for it and maintained my immersion, so well done!
— After the first couple of paragraphs, I was worried your prose would end up being hopelessly purple. But I was wrong; your prose is a joy to read!
— …Not to say there isn’t some awkward wording in a few spots. The one that stood out to me was when the Jangmo-o from Team Resolve “echoed” a bow from the Chikorita. Small (admittedly nitpicky) stuff like that occasionally gave me pause.
— I’ve noticed you tend to overuse epithets. Using something like “the Craniados” instead of Cabot’s name is fine every now and then, but when the former outnumbers the latter, it can come off as unnecessary. I like to argue that this sort of thing is best used for occasionally reminding the audience which characters are which species.
— [“If you would have … used your head instead”], [“Cabot was always a headstrong one”] ...keep these coming! lol
— Cabot is precious. Wagging his tail really sold it.
— His family is precious too.
— Darn it, nevermind.
— Cabot’s parents shifted their perspectives after one short chat with the guildmaster? Maybe, if the stakes were smaller, it wouldn’t be worth more than a shrug, but in this case the concern is literally about Cabot’s path in life, as well as the continuation of said life. He’s a rock-type joining a navy, after all. There’s a bit of dissonance between the intensity of their initial reaction and then how quickly they mediated their stance afterward.
— With that said, I still enjoyed the fact that Cabot’s parents ultimately supported his decision. It felt appropriate in the end that they’d have his back.

Once I’m done with the whole thing, I’ll write a more organized critical analysis. But for now, these have been my thoughts. Good work, by the way! I’m really enjoying it. I’ve got no major story gripes so far.
Windskull chapter 3 . 11/19/2019
Alright, so to preface this review, I’m reading this after having read Fledglings, so I do want to say that my previous knowledge could color some of my thoughts in the review.

General Thoughts:
Jumping right in, overall I really enjoyed reading through this. It started off slow, but it had a really strong ending. Chapter 3 was by far my favorite part, with an intense conflict that builds the world and ties tightly into Fledglings as a whole.

On the other hand, I think that Chapter 2 was probably the weakest portion of the story. I think the conflict of the chapter could have been a bit stronger, and it dragged on for a bit too long for my liking.

Throughout the story, Cabot kind of reminds me of… an anime protagonist, I think is what I’m thinking of. He’s friendly, optimistic, and a bit of a dreamer, and he seems like he’d rather friends more than fight - but he’ll fight if he needs to. I actually often find these types of characters refreshing, which is probably part of why I have such a soft-spot for him.

To break my thoughts down further…

Chapter 1:
Chapter one is very much a case of living in the ordinary world, introducing Cabot as a character that, while not totally disappointed with his life, is yearning for more. Yearning so much, that he’s willing to join the navy without a second thought. It paints him as a bit naive, which he is, and it made me wonder if he would become disillusioned with his job at some point, whether within this story or within Fledglings. I would say more on this, considering some of the recent developments in Fledglings at the time of writing this, but I’ll hold off on spoiling things for anyone else that might read this.

I do think it suffers a bit from over-exposition at the beginning, and wonder if the stuff about the boxes could have been introduced a bit more organically within the narrative.

["I just wanted to see your town after our talk yesterday,”]

One thing here. Shouldn’t it be two days ago? My understanding was that he met Bercien on the first day, visited the fair, had his fight, and stayed at the guild the second day, and then met Bercien again on the third.

Chapter 2:
Like I said previously, I think this chapter was perhaps the weakest, and was certainly the hardest for me to get through. I struggled to keep my attention through parts of the story, because it felt like it just kept going on and on. And though it had a conflict, which makes sense, it felt like it resolved far too quickly and suddenly at the end. Though on the positive side, it did give me an appreciation for Niilo as a character.

And don’t get me wrong, I think the chapter, and particularly the ending, was important, since it leads directly into the next, but I do think it could have been handled better.

I did like the creative fight scenes and matches overall though, and found them pretty creative. I do think that characters stopped to talk a bit too much in the middle of what’s supposed to be a fight though. Perhaps it would have made more sense for them to continue fighting while discussing strategy. At least enough to hold their enemies off.

I think a big detractor, though, was the overuse of epithets. I’m pretty sure others have discussed this previously, but I’ll briefly touch on it anyways. When used in moderation, they can help to draw attention to important aspect. For example, if a line said, “the blast of water hit the rock-type hard, sending him sprawling on the deck,” that would be a proper use, since it highlights his weakness. But when overdone, it just becomes clutter and can cause confusion.

Chapter 3:
This is by far the best chapter, in my opinion, it more than any others feels like a single, cohesive chapter. While the other two felt like they could have been broken up into smaller 2-3 chapter arcs without suffering (or even possibly working better) this one definitely felt like it needed to be read all at once. (Unfortunately with my busy schedule, I had to split it up over a couple days. At least it contributed to the tension!)

I like that you included the use of wands within the story, something that I think I’ve only ever seen used in this and Fledglings in the fics I’ve read thus far. Heck, I like that the environment o fthe fight and items come into the fight in general.

I also like that you address the fact that some things (such as untying knots) should be impossible for some pokemon. Come on now, Nagant, you must have some similarly mundane tasks that a quadruped can handle, or are yall just messing with him?

Anyways, the only critique I can think of for chapter 3 is that the fights felt like they might have went on just a bit too long.

Like I said, despite my criticisms, overall I really enjoyed the story, with chapter 3 being the highlight of it. It gave me a bit of appreciation for some of the side characters that I felt neutral on in Fledglings. Niilo comes to mind in particular. His insistence that he was going to evolve any time now really grew on me.

I don’t know if you have anything else planned, but if you write anything else I’ll be sure to check it out at some point!