|Reviews for Zuzu's Sandbox|
| Anon chapter 39 . 8/29/2014
I love this blind!Zuko thing. It's incredible.
| The Melon Lord Approves chapter 38 . 8/19/2013
brb tearbending FOREVER
| Lunatique chapter 50 . 2/12/2013
46. Blood is Thick Enough - D'awww, a Fire sibling reconciliation story that doesn't ignore the bad blood between them and Azula's very real issues. I liked Azula's trembling anticipation and fears, and the way she justified her actions. The first sentence was unexpected yet felt strangely right. Toward the end the whole thing kind of deteriorated toward mushiness, though, with too much telling and not enough showing. The abject remorse on Azula's part didn't feel in character, either, at least not from the baseline at the end of the show. I love Azula redemption stories but they require a lot of development to be believable.
47. Toph the Tiny Tormentor - The imprisonment in the closet has a bit of a Harry Potter feel, though it seems an unnecessary bit of cruelty given that she could just as well have been kept in her room. I thought from the first, and you clarified near the end, that Toph was taking out anger for her parents on the guards. They must be pretty stupid guards in the first place, though, if they're not prepared for so much as a child sneaking up behind them and are so badly spooked by moving earth in a land where earthbending exists. (Toph's father didn't find it worthwhile to invest in even one earthbending guard, if only to defend against other benders with hostile intent?) I like the "origin story" of how Toph started her lessons. I feel a bit sorry for the guards because of the power disparity between them and their employer's daughter, but Toph probably didn't see it that way because she saw herself as a prisoner and the guards as her prison guards. Either way, working for a living sucks.
48. Teamwork - "Pointy Princess" doesn't really seem to fit, since Mai was never a princess in her life; certainly not by birth, and not by marriage because Zuko was Firelord by the time she married him. Or maybe Toph means the way Mai acts like a princess. I liked Mai's comeback, though "Pointy Queen" lacks the alliterative element. Sweet little scene, though I can't believe Zuko wouldn't be suspicious of sweets arrayed all of a sudden on the floor.
49. Between the Lines - Nice follow-up to the Ty Lee/Suki gondola fight and Ty Lee's hots for Sokka from back in the show. Great battle scene, though I'm not sure in what sense Suki played dirty. If it were a real battle that would be totally fair and square, but maybe they were playing by different rules here. I would love to see Sokka get his ass handed to him by the Kyoshi ladies.
50. Girly Time - Now that's an unusual pairing. *twitch* It's hot, though the Sokka angle makes it squicky for me. I really wouldn't have expected Book 1 Katara to be this assertive and confident with someone she had just met, but hey, it's fun and the last sentence is perfect.
| Lunatique chapter 45 . 1/18/2013
41. Waterbent - Nice and lively scene of Roku mastering what is the most difficult element for him, and good point about water as an element. I am a bit disturbed by Kesuk's fondness for hitting his grown student on the bum, though. ;)
42. Toph and Toph - Awesome scene! I loved how "Toph" got a feel for Toph preparing for his role. The bit about metal felt like a nice foreshadowing of the future, though you couldn't have known at this point that Toph would end up wearing full-body armor. Badass, indeed.
43. Aristocratic Bonding - Ooh, that would be a nice look on Toph. I like the commonality between these two characters, something that was also a subject of Amy Raine's "Prisons of Choice."
44. I Can't Do This - Very vivid telling of what Suki must have felt when her village was invaded. I've been reading a book called "Mindset" about the fixed and growth mindsets, and it's interesting that Suki shows textbook fixed mindset thinking here, that either she's suited for the job or not and every performance is proof of her fixed traits, one way or the other. I wonder if she came to see her abilities as changing and growing things in the course of the show.
45. Royal Cactus Juice - Ha ha, it's hilarious to watch people get high. Very good descriptions of the characters' behavior under the influence.
| Lunatique chapter 40 . 1/3/2013
36. It's in the Blood: Very nice exploration of Katara as a lone waterbender forced to train herself. It's particularly touching that it was a way to use her grief to productive purposes and keep her mother alive in some small way, and the phrase "fight the sad away" was particularly poignant. I loved the image of her standing at the edge of the water, slapping away flies, kicking at the water, bringing up raw foam and sandy ice. How beautifully vivid. The earlier part felt more like a summary of a story than a story on its own, but the strong images toward the end made up for it.
37. Generation Next: Ah, the perils of teaching. Suki's frustration came through well, and it was amusing to watch the antics of Koko whom I think we've seen in the show. (Who's her namesake?) A bit heavy on the italics, though.
38. Buddies: Awww, so adorable and hilarious. I loved the details of Appa as a calf, including the cute-gross benefits of licking up the nose. Both the frustrations of being responsible for a pet and the joy of gaining unconditional love were very much present in the story.
39. With Second Sight: That was great! Though I don't understand why his unburned eye lost its sight as well, the AU was both intriguing and moving. I loved your descriptions of the "crisp" smell of electricity, it was so evocative. The new camaraderie with Toph was great, too. Like you, I enjoyed that most of the canon stayed the same, and Mai's response - neither dismissing Zuko's loss nor wallowing in the misery of it - was just pitch-perfect. It feels like the parts after WAT, Boiling Rock and TSR and so on, would have been the true divergences from the canon with their unfamiliar terrain and acrobatic sequences, and maybe that's why you stopped where you did. :)
40. Like Father, Like Son: Ha! I'd wondered about the Admiral's reaction, too. That was a nice resolution and release of tension. Great humanizing look at a high-ranking FN family. I believe Chan is actually the family's surname, though, since there was mention of an Admiral Chan in the episode "The Awakening."
| Lunatique chapter 35 . 12/25/2012
31. City Girls: I don't know, I think Toph may be in the right here. Mai's own city, the Fire Nation capital, is pretty pretentious from what I could see.
32. Drift So Slow: There are some intriguing ideas there, such as the thought of Iroh as a late-blooming firebender or a spoiled kid. These look more like a set of idea notes than a story, however, reading more like essay than fiction for the most part.
33. The Replacement: That was a nice conclusion to the saga of Space Sword! I liked the interaction between Sokka and his girls (heh), and his ongoing mock-feud with Fat. Good Sokka character piece.
34. Sky Burial: Back when I had an idea about Aang's own sky burial, this was one of less than a handful of fics I found that discussed the ritual. It's a nice sketch of that intersection where grief, friendship, and culture meet.
35. Cruelty: My favorite flavor of Jetko may be the one where Jet is unabashedly his narcissistic and damaged self, and this story certainly does that. Jet's yearning is both sympathetic and chilling, and I like how you don't flinch away from the darker aspects of his character. This story also essentially matches the premise of Stingmon's "The Madness of Dawn," though that was rather a divergent AU from the show.
| Lunatique chapter 30 . 12/12/2012
28. Virgin: What can I say but BWAHAHAHAHA? Toph was frigging amazing in this one, and you played the double entendre perfectly.
29. Dinnertime: Giggle! This reminded me of my husband and me because he's forever goading me to try to two foods I hate, coffee and dog meat. Coffee I don't drink anymore because I can't sleep with caffeine in my system, and dog meat I don't want to try ever. But seriously Aang, vegetarians can't afford to be that picky!
30. Teatime: Very original! I think the right kind of dirt, in a small quantity, could actually be good. It's original, at any rate. And also, the sense of taste and smell tend to deteriorate with age but I can tell Iroh's are sharp as ever. :)
| Lunatique chapter 27 . 12/12/2012
26. Hero Worship - Yeah, go bitches! Sometimes you've got to break a few jaws to get the job done, you know?
27. Toph the Tourguide - That was short yet unexpectedly profound on different levels, like the levels of Ba Sing Se themselves. First was the sight of a city where abject poverty and obscene wealth exist side by side, where you can see the inequality in action. I've lived in Washington D.C. and watched poverty at the heart of the most powerful nation in the world, and it's haunted me ever since. I can't pretend my own beautiful and loathsome city doesn't have those same contrasts, either. They're just better separated than in D.C., much like Ba Sing Se separates its inhabitants.
Second was Toph's disgust at her own upbringing. I mean everyone and their dog talks about Toph's issues with her parents, but there are comparatively few stories about the Toph we saw in "City of Walls and Secerts"-the pampered belle who knew the pageantry and pomp of high society better than anyone. I don't think a lot of people give thought to how the crassness, insincerity, and hypocrisy of the company must have hurt her, especially because she had her earthbending to tell her when people were lying and what they did and said when they were outside earshot. And then there's her own hinted disgust at her own family's disproportionate wealth, something I imagine was a source of secret shame for her when she saw how much of the world lived.
Third, you bring the other dimensions together on a linguistic level, with Toph expressing the ugly reality with ugly words trying to get across not only the reality of the city but her own feelings about it. I like that dark edge, and also Toph's snarky voice like teasing Aang about his impressive success in bringing some change to the city. Suki's reflection about the grime of labor was a great touch, too.
I think the whole thing was much more effective through Suki's point of view, because Toph's PoV would have given away too much directly without letting us see the nuances of her behavior. It also helped to see the city through the eyes of someone new to it (it never occurred to me Suki had never seen Ba Sing Se in the show; good catch!), because we saw everything from a fresh perspective. Excellent job, I will have to favorite this entire collection because of this story.
| Lunatique chapter 25 . 11/19/2012
22. Furious: Great exploration of what was going through Zuko's head during that scene. So often the hatred and range directed outside are really for the self.
23. Initiation: I always wondered how Ty Lee settled in with the Kyoshi Warriors, and this story scratches that itch in a very satisfying way. I found it both realistic and sympathetic that Suki harbored residual suspicion and resentment, and I loved the way Ty Lee defused that with cheer instead of confrontation. I don't know if you're dragging the readers' chains with the bits of subtext, but I'll take what I can get and call it shippy. :D
24. Battle Couple: Awesome dark pairing, I love their adrenaline-fueled magnetism. Best of all, Azula stays totally in character and it's understandable that Suki let down her guard. The third-to-last paragraph feels vaguely rapey, but I'm guessing it's talking more about Suki's resistance to her own feelings rather than to Azula. The writing seems a bit adjective-heavy, as your writing tends to be, but everyone's style is different. Stories with Azula "conquering" other women, like this or the Yue-marriage AU in amanda91's "Secret Poems," strike me as really hot if obviously disturbing.
25. Duties: Aww, it appears the life of a Kyoshi Warrior isn't all rainbows and roses. Though I do wonder why members of the Royal Guard have to deal with such menial jobs when the Earth Palace no doubt has whole brigades of servants. I liked the lively dialogue and characters, and it's nice to see Suki dealing with everyday duties as a leader, which too often require dealing with petty infighting or just plain knocking heads together.
| Lunatique chapter 21 . 11/19/2012
Nice sketches of Aang's predecessors in the Avatar Cycle. I particularly loved the writing in the Yang Chen part, with expressions such as "learning only the surfaces of other cultures" and "lift the cowl of her own learning." The Kyoshi part is really evocative, too, a great backstory for the war paint and a good story of self-reinvention with strength and confidence. The angle reminds me of a story from FairLadyZ2005's "Crown Prince Chronicles" collection, "War Paint," where Zuko puts on Kyoshi Warrior garb.
I liked the premise of the Roku part, but not so much the writing. There was too much telling rather than showing (I liked the puddle incident), and the excessive italics were distracting. I was glad to see a happy ending for Kuruk and Ummi, though I'd sort of expected Kuruk's rage at the end to do him in - but I guess that only applies when Koh is operating along normal parameters. Good job!
| Lunatique chapter 20 . 10/2/2012
16. Housewarming: Nice post-war meeting between the FN crowd. I don't know if it's intentional or not, but I like how the entire piece seemed filled with innuendo. :)
17. Reason to Fight: Another Smellerbee story! It reminds me that imperialism is not always about violence, but about culture as well. I didn't get a very specific feel for what exactly was happening here, but I thought the depth of her emotion was made pretty clear.
18. Sokka and the Case of the Vanishing Meat: Nice, funny little mystery. Do not get between a girl and her chewy stuff! This was my favorite of the five stories I read this round.
19. Brothers and Sisters: I like how you examined the different sibling relationships in Avatar, there are some great insights here like reflections on growing apart (Sokka and Katara) and sticking through even if things are hard (Zuko and Azula). The Roku/Sozin one rubbed me the wrong way, though. Roku couldn't very well have agreed with Sozin's program of conquest. Equating unconditional agreement with love is one of the worst mistakes any relationship can fall into, and it looks like Roku regrets not falling into that trap.
20. A Thin Line: Good depiction of Azula's downward spiral and the reasons for her choices. There was a bit more telling than showing though, i.e. naming emotions rather than showing their effects. I thought the last two paragraphs were particularly powerful. Good job!
| Lunatique chapter 15 . 9/16/2012
11. Impervious - I do love me some Freedom Fighter stories. Yay Smellershot, one of my favorite pairings! I personally think there are two different meanings of "like" being bandied about in the story - one for physical or romantic attraction, and the other for acceptance as a leader and person. It seemed to start with the first and drift to the second. Then again maybe Jet in his teenage egoism is confusing the two, which wouldn't be surprising.
Anyway, while I thought Smellerbee showed some Suish characteristics (sought after by a desirable character yet spurns his attentions, enormously helpful and capable, tells said canon character exactly what's wrong with him, suffered abuse) the treatment is still unusual in that she's not a conventionally attractive character. I liked the rapport that Smells and Jet formed at the end, too.
12. A Special Dinner, 13. Bathing Duty, 14. Birthday - Cute comic moments. I'm not a fan of excessively-incompetent-Zuko (and the image of men being giant doofuses around the home helps to keep the brunt of domestic duties on women), but then again we all have our strengths and weaknesses. Sokka's shopaholism was always an endearing character quirk, and I liked seeing it here.
15. Comfort from Nightmares - Cute yet poignant. Awww.
| Lunatique chapter 10 . 8/30/2012
6. One to Four: Hilarious drunken Zuko! It was cute how horrified Zuko was at his awakening, though I would have expected Katara to at least try to help him home.
7. Jet's Legacy: Nice rumination on the parallels between Jet and Zuko, this seems to be one of those stories that straddle the boundary between fanfic and fan essay. It's eye-opening in a "there but for the grace of God..." kind of way. I see some victim-blaming in the way Zuko framed his thoughts on Jet, though. Jet didn't get arrested and brainwashed because he tried to expose Zuko and Iroh, but because he talked about the war, period. He could just as well have tried to tell people about the reality of the war he had suffered and he would have been arrested just the same.
Also, Jet died fighting and trying to redeem himself; he chose to go to Lake Laogai after the brainwashing was broken, so his death is by no means the direct result of trying to expose Zuko. That action kicked off the sequence of events, sure, but it could have been any other action related to the truth of the war and did not directly lead to Jet's death.
8. Get Bent: I've written an unposted essay about how non-benders have more freedom than benders because benders are bound to their abilities and heritage, but I'd never thought about how that applies to fighting style! Kudos on opening my eyes to that angle. I don't agree with all the premises - the predictability of style could apply just as well to non-bending martial arts - but it's definitely thought-provoking and is a good reminder that different people have different strengths.
9. Stars & 10. Inheritance: Good expansion on the characters of Kuei and Katara. His thoughts about kingship and hers about the temptation of power are interesting. Again, these seem to be on the boundary between fic and essay. Good jobs!
| Lunatique chapter 5 . 8/27/2012
I like these little exploration into parts of canon. In order:
1. Panacea: A painful yet heartwarming examination of what must have been one of the most difficult episodes in Zuko's difficult life. I loved his interaction with Iroh.
2. Beaten Path: Iroh's journey into the Spirit World was something I'd wondered about but hadn't seen written about, and I liked this version though I got the impression from the show that Iroh had wandered after Lu Ten's death (Ozai in the "Zuko Alone" flashback) and that the event was notable enough to be talked about (Zhao in saying he had heard about Iroh's journey). Here it seems a much quieter affair, as far as the outside world is concerned. At any rate, it's very moving that Iroh saw no meaning in his life until Roku reminded him of Zuko. It brings home that it's other people that give our own lives meaning.
3. Blue: Sokka's originality and cleverness are on full display, as is his and Toph's warm and raucous relationship. I loved their dialogue and the way you were true to their mannerisms. Btw, I did hear it's common for people to forget (sometimes not even know) someone is blind, something I liked about the show and something you make explicit here.
4. The Shadow: Aww, poor Ty Lee. I hadn't seen a fic where pre-pubescent and pre-series Zuko was this much of a jerk, but it makes sense here given all his complexes which I totally sympathize with. It's so in character for Ty Lee that she can reproduce firebending moves perfectly after just watching.
5. Heartfire: Nice take on the Ran and Shaw scene. I like the expression that the fire was warm as someone's breath on a cheek, it's so intimate and vivid at the same time. The "You have not been as cruel as you could have been" sounded like faint praise at best, but then again not much more than faint praise is possible. The bit about "kinsman" was shiver-worthy, very good.
| spiralnoteboooks chapter 47 . 5/4/2012
One word:yay! It's so exciting to find really good, entertaining, well written avatar fanfics. Made my whole day :) Again: YAY!