Reviews for Between a Bullet and a Smile
AlanSchezar chapter 1 . 2/28/2013
[You could only be as kind as the blade in your hand.] -I really like this turn of phrase.

The first few paragraphs, although they have some evocative imagery, suffer from vagueness. It's very unclear what exactly is meant by things like, [Taiki knew better than to leave it all behind. That would be like forgetting and cutting off his arm. That would be like denying who or what he was. That would be as though those people had never been alive. That was unthinkable, an abomination to those days.]

Also, it's a bit of an odd construction to say that something would be "an abomination to those days."

[sometimes Hunted or played basketball] Why is "hunted" capitalized"?

[Death was the relief, blood the drink and bread the water. It was his new doctrine and the words had no book he could read, only scars as written rules.] -this is super confusing. How is bread water? It's really unclear what you're saying here or what's going on.

[He didn't know how to do what he was doing. He just did it. And it scared him that he could do it.] -At this point I'm starting to think that he's been trained as an assassin or something? But who's Mary? What's going on? I have no idea.

[like viscous tears] - this is a wicked simile, but it seems rather out of place describing a parfait melting. It occurs to me that maybe you're trying to show Taiki's state of mind by using an overly dramatic simile, but I don't know if it really works here.

[Every time it touched his tongue he tasted blood and gunpowder.] -again, awesome turn of phrase, but totally obscure why sweets would bring this to his mind.

[Taiki laughed slightly sheepishly] -overdoing it a bit on the adverbs and alliteration. Perhaps "rather" might work better than "slightly" here. Or revise to avoid the adverbs maybe.

["Ah this is Jonah," Koko introduced] It seems like you're straying into over use of said-bookisms. Said would be just fine here, but replied would probably be better than "introduced".

[The brunette chuckled and jerked a thumb at Koko] - I believe this is the first time you've mentioned that Taiki is a brunette. Although I realize that canon-savvy readers might get this, it's generally best to avoid epithets as a rule, so using his name would probably flow better here.

[everyone who looked or didn't look like a threat] - rather redundant. "Everyone" encompasses anyone who does or doesn't look like a threat.

[he could almost see the strings wrapping around her slender puppeteer fingers] -I really like this image, but I would suggest a slightly different construction for better flow:

"he could almost see the puppet strings wrapping around her slender fingers"

[light stabbed him where it hurt: his eyes] -why not simply "light stabbed his eyes" ?

[habits were hard to kill, unlike people.] -suggestion:

"habits, unlike people, were hard to kill." - the construction places the emphasis at the stronger position, the end of the sentence, and I think flows better. I like your idea here though.

[He curled and uncurled fingers around the trigger of an invisible handgun. Yep, it was definitely not working.] This passage is awesome. It makes me think Taiki is going insane. The only minor point I would suggest is adding "his" before " fingers" for better flow.

[hunt the bastard, get a camera, then YouTube his intestines spilling out until there was more blood on the internet than porn.] Okay Taiki is definitely going insane. lol

[the sneer so palpable it was like a forensics unit to itself] -okay you completely lost me here. I have no idea what you're trying to say. I would go so far as to say this simile is completely incoherent.

[You scratched it and ended up with pus and blood all over your hands. And the itch didn't leave] -very weird comparison, and also kinda gross lol eww, and why?

The section with Ren talking to Taiki has far too many epithets and said-bookisms. Steer clear of those except in small doses. Epithets are things like, "the brunette", "The former gogglehead", " the young man" etc. The last one is particularly troublesome as by all appearances, both characters are young men. Also, I noticed that the character introduced near the beginning with Koko has red eyes, but his name is Jonah, and this character again has red eyes, but his name is Ren. When I read it at first, I thought they were the same person, but maybe not? I'm confused now.

[Shoutmon shrugged inside the scarlet object.] -this again comes out of nowhere. Kind of jarring. What scarlet object? Maybe just name the object?

["Good boy," aforementioned tutor purred. He could envision her smile, toothless but no less creepy. "Tojo and Valmet will pick you up in an hour. Make your arrangements and remember:" Koko paused dramatically. "Either get the money… or get his head."] -should be "the aforementioned". Also, she has no teeth? What happened to her teeth? That's...really weird. I think maybe you don't actually mean to say she has no teeth, but that's definitely what's coming across in this sentence. Other than that, I think this is actually one of your stronger paragraphs.

["Because he hurt you," his friend said simply. "And you saved my life more times than I can count on my hands." He glanced at his six fingers pensively. "Taiki… the fact that this guy screwed you up so bad you're about to go shove him into a cheese grater… that you are here in front of me cleaning weapons instead of… I dunno, being a normal kid or something…. I dunno much about people… but I know that's messed up."] This IS your best paragraph. Great dialogue, and you avoided said-bookisms! Nicely done, and it offers some interesting insight into Shoutmon's motivations. Also, maybe you mean to say "through a cheese grater"?

Okay, upon reaching the end here, I have some thoughts.

You have some bad writing habits that you should probably get rid of. Firstly, as already mentioned, epithets and said-bookisms. These are really something to be avoided. It's not that you can never use either, but they should be the rare exception, not the norm as they are here.

I think you have a habit of trying for excessive sophistication that just tends to lead you into incoherence, messed up similes and metaphors, and purple prose. In order to improve your writing, I would suggest focusing on clarity and impact - try not to be so wordy and awkward in your sentence and paragraph construction, and don't be afraid to be more straightforward in your delivery of the narrative.

Honestly, I left this story really unclear about what the heck was going on most of the time. I gather that Taiki was forced to become a child soldier by this guy he's going to kill, whose name I really don't know. I have little to no idea what all the killing people was about in the beginning. I think maybe Koko was involved in getting Taiki out of the control of the guy who forced him into becoming a soldier. Who's Koko? What does she do? Why is she able to force Taiki to kill this guy? All of these things are very hazy and vague. The whole thing was way more vague and bewildering than it needed to be I think.

Now, having said all that, I will say this; despite the vagueness and problems I mentioned, I do get the feeling there's a strong narrative hidden under all the clutter. Taiki is an interesting character, and I like the few little glimpses into his psyche that I was able to glean from the story. I think if you managed to justify it well enough, the tale of his becoming a child soldier could be very compelling. As it stands it feels a bit contrived, especially given that he seems to have parents. What happened that he was somehow stolen from his parents and turned into a child soldier? Where were they and what were they doing? How long was he incarcerated? Where? All these things being totally unexplained takes away from the willing suspension of disbelief I think.

As it is, this story definitely suffers a lot from the issues I mentioned. However, I think with some hard work and polish, it could become a very compelling piece of writing.
Arimadios chapter 1 . 2/22/2013
Ari here, Reporting in.

Fandom Mostly-blind. I remember a little Digimon, and have NO idea what Jormungand is, unless it's a horrible mythological worm.

". He was in the dark but at the sound of something hitting a wall, the child realized he didn't want to" - Slightly confused here. Context wise, it seems to be missing a little something. I can KIND of figure it out as I read along the trail here. It just seems a bit spaced out for context purposes, and I don't see what it could be earlier in the sentance. Is it supposed to be 'Wake up'? That seems to fit, but i'm not positive.

I like the Italicized internal monologuing and memory scene going on concurrent with the present story. Just a warning however, it MAY be a bit hard to follow for some readers. It however, is pleasing to me. The dark tone followed by the mundane sets up a dichotomy and contrast that really helps illustrate just how dark Taiki's past is. Although that MAY be a bit cliched, we'll see if you've pulled it off by the end of the chapter.

"This is my only pair of pants" - That really sets this kid apart. It's very nice to see something like that, an absurdly NORMAL thought in an absurdly, and assuredly, bad situation. I can't imagine forcing kids into situations like that. It seems utterly horrible to do. I can appreciate the dark Gravitas, but not the premise. But that thought Lightens the weight of it. It doesn't make the situation okay, but it makes it bearable. That's a VERY good line there, and I appreciate it.

Do I get to kill him - Another tag line that fits the style very well. You're good at those. It also illustrates your character more, and i know nothing more than he drinks unsweetened tea, is apparently oriental, and dislikes and respects Koko. Well done.

"An human being" - Grammatical error, mild WSoD break. This one just jumped me hard core. You've done great with the WSoD think, but, this is just one of those rare typos that just jumps out and smacks you in the face and accuses you of stealing it's thunder. This should read 'A human being' and not An. I know, it's nit-picky to snark on one damn letter, but, it's like week and weak. One damn letter changes things big time. Literally, in that case. It broke my WSoD because Taiki just seems... Deliberate. Like everything he does has a place and a purpose. That paragraph feels like it's his thoughts, and to have that in there? Mild WSoD break. (WSoD means Willing Suspension of Disbelief. You'll see me use it from time to time. Look it up on Tv Tropes if you're interested, but basically, it means how detached from my personal reality I am.)

"then YouTube his intestines spilling out until there was more blood on the internet than porn." I freaking LAWLED at that. That is like, the tallest of tall orders to accomplish. He'd have to gut half the human race to achieve THAT goal. But that shit was funny.

There's a missing comma in the third section. Not a WSOD break, but it's just annoying. "No he didn't break his neck of course not" - Acctually 2 missing commas, but, phrases like that can be a pain to punctuate.

The whole third segment is EXCELLENTLY Written, aside form minor grammatical errors. You did well with the exposition and philosphical issues. That was a tasty bite of reading for me, and I enjoy it muchly. Thank you.

I like the end of this chapter. I really feels like there's a positive outlook coming up. Like there's an end to Taiki's angst and torment. It's a positive note in a dreary, grey world.

Overall, this is a good story to read. I may pop back into it soon. You write well, and with maturity laced into the story. I find it appealing.
Edhla chapter 1 . 2/1/2013
This is garbage and you should never write aga-

Just kidding.

RITE MORE PLZ-

Just kidding again :p

Nah, seriously, this is good fun, even for someone who has no idea, none in the world, what the heck Digimon even is. My canon-ignorance doesn't detract from the fluidity of your prose and how capable you are with constructing sentences (e.g. "His luck was bad" is so much more flowy than "he had bad luck.")

"As childish and stupid as it was, he would live for them." Again, this is such a strikingly well-written hook-sentence.

The "her white hair..." sentence confused me a little and I had to read it a few times before I grasped the meaning... but that may well be me.

"Created negative silence somehow" is fantastic, and so is that brief introduction to Jonah. Child soldier. Says a lot in two words.

"Pus and blood." I was eating. Remind me not to do that again while reading your fics. Dammit!

Your dialogue is splendid. Big fan of "Tagiru is an idiot." :D Some things don't need overelaborating.

Really, really beautifully written. If I quoted all the best bits there'd be very little left out, but I will tell two more things that stuck out: "He glanced at his six fingers..." and that last line. Amazing work. xx
ShadedRogue chapter 1 . 1/25/2013
I'm familiar with only the first season of Digimon and I don't know the other fandom - so, I'm not sure if the plot of this story is AU or if it's based upon Jormungand, so most of my review is going to be based upon the technical aspects of your writing, rather than much to do with the fandom. I'll try to comment a bit on the characters, but keep in mind I don't really know what I'm talking about. I liked the darkness of the characters involved. It's interesting to learn how Taiki was a child soldier in his past, and it's that part of him that haunts him, even now. I really liked the interaction between Shoutmon and Taiki at the end. It kind of broke my heart when Shoutmon's response to Taiki being able to save his world was: "but it didn't save you." It brings home the finality of the fact, that no matter what Taiki does, no matter who he kills, it's not going to change anything - it's too late for that.

You have very strong writing skills and a knack for really great, and interesting, descriptions. I particularly liked the mixture of both flashback and present-time narrative. It was well-integrated (sometimes switching back and forth between flashbacks and regular narrative gets jarring), and it really helped develop, and give context, for the character of Taiki. My criticisms of this piece are, is while your writing is strong, there are some instances of really awkward wording that could be easily fixed with a slight rephrasing or re-ordering of the words. A suggestion for you would be to read your sentences aloud to yourself - this makes it easier to detect any sentence wording that may be a bit off. Another criticism is that your punctuation could use a little work. The problem seems to be mostly in that you don't put commas where you should, which causes your words to run together awkwardly. Overall, it was a very good read.

SPAG:
- " He was the best they said according to Mary..." - He was the best, they said, according to Mary...
- "No one understood his hate of the sweet but Shoutmon who he had told. " This is an awkward sentence
- "Wow have you gotten tall" - Wow, have you gotten tall.
- "Her white hair as pure as the snow she turned red," - Also awkward, what do you mean she turned red?
- "That wasn't true entirely he knew," - awkward phrasing - 'That wasn't entirely true, he knew'
- " No the ability to do..." - No, the ability...
darkaccalia520 chapter 1 . 1/23/2013
Please know I know Digimon a little bit, but only through stories here. I've never watched it, and I don't know know your other fandom. But with that said, I did enjoy this.

I don't know if the idea is canon or not, but I really loved the character of Taiki. His situation, being a child soldier is so tragic. The flashbacks really helped me understand him as a character, and I love that as an adult, he tries, even if it's futile, to overcome what happened.

I really loved the relationship Taiki had with all characters involved, and I really loved his emotional struggle with himself. I especially liked Koko; she seemed like a small bit of light in a dark story, if that makes sense.

I also liked Shoutmon. I'm not sure if he's a canon Digimon or not, because out of all the Digimon stories I've read, I'd never encountered him, but I loved him as Taiki's counterpart. They complimented one another very well, and he was almost the voice of reason here.

The ending was so sad, but it was sort of a dark story.

Overall, this was really well-written. A few minor typos here and there, but those are easily fixable. Well done. :)

tall-Did you mean the tilde here? Or is that a typo?

child Lehm-child, Lehm

people boy-people, boy

fuck up-fuck-up

people boy-people, boy

did huh?-did, huh?

it Shoutmon-it, Shoutmon

The blunette snorted.-did you mean brunette? Or is this something canon?
Green Phantom Queen chapter 1 . 1/17/2013
This story gave me chills.

I read all about the Jormugand manga on tvtropes so I get a basic idea of what's going on. The clash between Jormugand's ideal of world peace via destruction of people and Digimon's optimistic stories and characters is jarring.

Koko's character is very interesting. Her cheerful attitude with that sadistic streak she has just helps add onto what's on Taiki's mind. He's pretty much going to go on a suicide mission. It's like a dark All Quiet on the Western Front. What's freaking me out is how Shoutmon is also showing this side of killing people without any empathy...oh that's just freaky.

Great job. This was a very freaky story.
thats-a-moray chapter 1 . 1/13/2013
First of all, I think the title you chose for this fic is absoultely perfect.

The beginning and ending were really strong. The middle, I felt, could use some polish. This was mostly because I noticed a lot of sentences where there should be commas but there weren't any, whereas I didn't notice so many missing commas in the other parts of the story.

I thought you did an excellent job of describing Taiki's trauma. His flash-backs to his first meeting with the arms dealers were amazingly well written, especially the parts after Taiki has just killed someone. I'm not familiar with this season of Digimon, but so the fact that this seems like such an odd crossover to me may be irrelevant.

Overall, I think you did a great job. The other universe in this cross-over, Jormungand, sounds really interesting.

SPaG: "He raised the gun toward the man, the trembling minion of the week up for slaughter like a pig." 'Week' should be 'weak.'
Her Royal Nonsense chapter 1 . 12/12/2012
I'm mildly familiar with Digimon, but I know nothing of the other fandom this was crossed with.

First of all, your summary is amazing! 'Sleep without screaming yourself awake' is such a brilliant line - very well crafted! And your introductory paragraph was just as powerful and drawing - very dark, though, but I certainly don't mind dark fics.

It was the fact that he was forgetting his Mama's face, replaced with the dirty outline of a heavy military boot - that was some rather striking imagery as well.

Her white hair as pure as the snow she turned red - that was a great line.

The logical thing actually, instead of gut the bastard like a pig...

Another ghost on his conscience wouldn't bode well, but neither did the fact that there could be another dragon in waiting... actually, there seems to be so many great lines here, it'll take far too long to note them all here! And the last line, especially.

This was written with a level of sophistication and elegance I haven't yet read in many stories, apart from a select few, and it was definitely among the best of what I've seen in RT thus far. I have absolutely nothing in the line of critique to offer you. You have such a way with words, I'm quite envious but very, very impressed.
Ryoumafan chapter 1 . 12/5/2012
I don't know Jormungand at all, but the Digimon side of it pulled me in. Your descriptions and speech were well done. I was hooked, but slightly confused at the characters of the other fandom, but still followed the fic quickly. It seemed like a brilliantly written circumstanial one-shot, which I think I could get used to.
RedheadedMarina chapter 1 . 11/27/2012
I am not familiar with this fandom, but you pull me right in to the story with Taiki. You have a great flair for descriptions and dialogue (not every author can do both, like you), and this also kept me compelled and following the story rapidly to see what happens next. I also really liked that Taiki and the other characters came across as real people, with the occasional snarky comment or snappy retort. They seem like real people caught in extraordinary circumstances, instead of extraordinary characters created to deal with humdrum occurrences.

Some lines I particularly liked:

"he didn't want the thing to fall to pixels". (Incredible visual there, a perfect description of something no one has ever seen-the loss of a memory)

"melted like viscous tears in the sun" (I can see it getting melty and runny and gross)

"more blood on the internet than porn" (sounds like he deserves to spill that much, for what he's been through)

"So they push the pain on others… and that's where wars begin" (this line should be carved on a memorial somewhere, honestly."

Lovely, painful story. I'm looking forward to reading more of your work.
persevera chapter 1 . 11/26/2012
Taiki is so jaded. It is sad. He said that fighting in the digital world had done that to him but that characterization seems at odds with others of those stories found on the site. (All I have is third-person knowledge, sorry, but this is definitely the saddest and most cynical digimon story I've read.)
Curious about this passage [It was the fact that he was forgetting his Mama's face, replaced with the dirty outline of a heavy military boot.] when it's stated later that his mother is going to leave him to take care of things and Shoutmon asks about her cooking.
The title is interesting in context with the story. I guess it's the idea that sometimes a smile can be as effective a weapon as a gun.
Crow's Talon chapter 1 . 11/24/2012
This story is well written and clear - I know Digimon to some extent, but not Jormundgand. There were very few SPAG errors that I could see, outside of quotation marks. The relationship between Taiki and Shoutmon struck me as tragic and very sad, especially when Shoutmon remarked that Taiki should have a normal childhood as opposed to being a soldier. I have to agree - the world in this story is sad and broken and messed up. I especially liked the dragon motif in the story.

"and then they turn into dragons" - there should be a period in the quotation marks. That's the only SPAG error I caught.
Sgt Rypht chapter 1 . 10/1/2012
Hello again, Aiko! I promised a review and I will keep to that promise.

Firstly, I would like to say that this was an incredibly ambitious project. Crossing Jormungand and Digimon Xros Wars on this level was quite the enjoyable risk. From someone who has watched both of these, I was sort of unsure on how you were going to tackle such a crossover. But, you surprised me. You did incredibly well in inserting a bit of each of the worlds into the story. Not to mention you ever evolving Taiki.

Admittedly, it took me a bit to get into the writing style. This is a personal preference of mine, but I wanted to inform you in case other people expressed similar concerns. There were parts that seemed a bit shallower than others, but that is to be expected in a one-shot of this length and caliber.

It seemed like you are learning from some of my other critiques. You have definitely improved in the areas I posted in other stories. Keep improving; you are getting better at your narration. You are starting to balance your “Wham!” lines in your dialogue and your narration. Keep working on getting some of the sensory with the character and the environment, and you will be fine!

Lastly, I was thoroughly impressed on how you handled the characters. I’m pretty sure that all of the Jormungand characters were spot on! Not to say that your Digimon character weren’t, but you had more room to improvise with them. So, I had to give you some points there.

This fan fiction has earned my favorite! Keep up the good work.