Kataang or Zutara?
This argument has come up a lot, what are your opinions about Kataang and Zutara? Which pairing is more likely? Do you think they're age differences really matter? Everyone's invited! Keep it respectful, though.
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Fullmetal Catalyst

Found a good fic but don't remember what it's called? Thrilled (or disappointed) by a fic and want to gush (or lament) about it? Need to work through problems with your own stories? Here's the place to do it!

Part of the reason for this thread is that there are a lot of popular Kataang/Zutara fics out there. A summary doesn't do much, though, if you really want to know about a long story. Another part of the reason is because, well, to be blunt, popularity may not always correlate with quality. This is where those with differing perspectives (as I'm sure we have plenty of those) on the stories can give feedback for the sake of the masses.

As always, all Avatar fics are welcome, but stories including Kataang or Zutara are preferred.

8/14/2011 #1
Fullmetal Catalyst

Story: Stormbenders (SPOILERS WILL ABOUND!)

It was recommended to me. For a time, I wasn't sure what I wanted to say about this story. And my views should be taken with a grain of salt because I haven't finished it yet...but there's an issue in that regard. Not the shipping, by any means. I don't care what the author ships or what ship is present in the story. I care only that the story flows in a logical way. And I've run into a stumbling block. Help would be appreciated :)

Let me begin by saying that Stormbenders casts itself as an AU after "Firebending Masters". The prose is excellent. And I mean, excellent. Furthermore, the scenes transition smoothly from one to the next, and the Gaang's interaction is fun. The writer shows real talent with the story's craft.

The concept, too, is very interesting. I love the idea of Stormbending. The science nerd in me twitches at its resulting from Fire and Water and the canonist in me glares at the fact that Aang seems incapable, but the fantasy nerd in me quite enjoys watching two people Bending to create a new..."element", dare I call it. Only a few chapters in, it already has serious potential, and the quality of the writing boosts it significantly. The power of the Storm is intriguing and rather exciting.

When I start looking at the storyline I run into problems. It is REALLY "alternate universe", because Katara is written in such a way that appears to downplay her death threat to Zuko a single episode before. She shows Zuko a modicum of dislike in the first couple chapters, but it doesn't feel real...it's more the kind of dislike I'd expect had he joined in Crossroads of Destiny...not even close to the hatred given once he betrayed Katara and sent an assassin after her hope for the world.

Chapter 5 caused me grief. In it, a plan is concocted to steal Ozai's plans...and with all due respect to the author, "contrived" might almost be more appropriate. Because the story is AU, I think I can ignore the fact that Ozai more or less owns the world and thus has no reason for a secret strategy or weapon, as well as ignore the fact that Sozin's Comet has not yet been mentioned despite its importance. I think I can even ignore the fact that Zuko sat in on a war council mere DAYS ago in which Ozai explicitly stated that he would annihilate the Earth Kingdom with Sozin's Comet.

But the plan itself involves sending Zuko and Katara into the Fire Nation capital to steal the plans. Zuko is chosen because he has a slim chance of being trusted by Ozai. This assumes Ozai is forgiving, which he is not. In fact, he wants Zuko dead, and at the very least he will remember that Zuko tried to kill him with redirected lightning (whether he was actually trying or not...would Ozai see it any other way?). It also assumes Zuko can lie his way past Azula, which he cannot, at all. She is as cunning as the entire Gaang combined, and as of this story she hasn't really started her slide into madness, so she is quite capable of asking the right questions to get him killed. Iroh himself suggests that Ozai could forgive Zuko, despite that he (save Zuko himself) should be most aware of Ozai's lack of a soul.

I've heard good things about this story from several people, but at the moment I'm getting bogged down by pivotal details that don't feel right at all.

If you think I'm just nitpicking, say so, because I have plenty more I can talk about, but I'd rather start a discussion than just talk, talk, talk...

8/16/2011 #2
Mrs Pettyfer

Firstly, I haven't read Stormbenders in awhile so it's not completely fresh in my mind. But I'll try to answer in a..semi helpful way, haha.

It is REALLY "alternate universe", because Katara is written in such a way that appears to downplay her death threat to Zuko a single episode before.

This is something that I think authors have trouble with. They never get it quite right. Katara is either too forgiving too quickly or too harsh that you get annoyed reading. After reading so many Zutaras, I've sort of just decided to not be so picky over the issue because it's very hard to find the right "time" for Katara to forgive. But looking back from the death threat to TSR, I didn't think Katara was that nasty to Zuko. I've seen raw hatred and I didn't get that vibe. I saw a hurt girl who didn't want to forgive. But with some Zutara fics, you often see Katara turn into a total monster, like over the top, and then you actually start feeling bad for Zuko rather than sympathizing with Katara. Or you see Katara being way too forgiving too quickly that it's unrealistic. Again, balance is hard to accomplish. :P

Chapter 5 caused me grief. In it, a plan is concocted to steal Ozai's plans.

I too thought like the idea was a bit..rash and well, impossible. :P It was hard for me to imagine Iroh thinking it was a good idea to send Zuko and Katara in there.

It also assumes Zuko can lie his way past Azula, which he cannot, at all.

Another good point. You'll see how he lies his way in. A very typical plot idea, lol. But not the most realistic. At least I don't think Azula and Ozai would really go for it.

Honestly, Katara isn't the most in character. She's a bit too rash and out spoken, I think, compared to the show. And Ozai isn't the same; but honestly, I think he'd be one of the hardest to write..it's like writing Voldemort. :P So I don't judge too harshly on Ozai's characterization. There are some plot issues when comparing the realistic aspect in regards to what we saw in canon, but as a story it's good. Though if I remember right, stormbending kind of gets forgotten for awhile. Which I found a little disappointing because it's an interesting concept.

Again though I haven't read it in awhile. Maybe I should give it a re-read. :P It's one I'd suggest just reading it for what it is, and disregarding canon since it's AU. It's the same thing I try to do when I watch a movie that's based off a book. I find I enjoy it more when I watch it for what it is.

8/17/2011 #3
Fullmetal Catalyst

After reading so many Zutaras, I've sort of just decided to not be so picky over the issue because it's very hard to find the right "time" for Katara to forgive. But looking back from the death threat to TSR, I didn't think Katara was that nasty to Zuko. I've seen raw hatred and I didn't get that vibe. I saw a hurt girl who didn't want to forgive. But with some Zutara fics, you often see Katara turn into a total monster, like over the top, and then you actually start feeling bad for Zuko rather than sympathizing with Katara. Or you see Katara being way too forgiving too quickly that it's unrealistic. Again, balance is hard to accomplish. :P

You're quite right. It's very hard indeed, and I didn't think Katara was terribly nasty either. Don't get me wrong, it's not that she wasn't mean enough in the story (I think the author balanced that decently), it was that in the show her hatred (based out of her hurt) took a serious incident to overcome, and this fic features nothing even close to that level. It's not the treatment, exactly, but the reasoning behind the treatment -- it should be his betrayal in CoD, but in this fic that betrayal...seems to have disappeared.

I wish I could decide not to be "picky", if that's what it is, but I'd rather be flamed (though I know you're not) for my expectations than give in and accept a piece of plot I feel doesn't meet them. I don't know why it is, but I suspect it has to do with non-shipping. Can't focus on anything else :D

Another good point. You'll see how he lies his way in. A very typical plot idea, lol. But not the most realistic. At least I don't think Azula and Ozai would really go for it.

And I skimmed the author's notes after the epilogue and she herself seems to think it was too easy, so I sort of forgive her there. I wish she hadn't, but it's not my story, and it's hard to resist the temptation sometimes. As long as she recognizes it, then so be it. Works for me.

It's one I'd suggest just reading it for what it is, and disregarding canon since it's AU. It's the same thing I try to do when I watch a movie that's based off a book. I find I enjoy it more when I watch it for what it is.

Sometimes I'm able to do that, sometimes I'm not. If my issues with the plot above were my only problem I'd never have stopped, because such issues happen to even the best (and the writer is very good). I'm more annoyed by prevalent OoC-ness in the story than anything else, primarily because I didn't expect it (AU to me just implies a diversion from canon, not a re-shaping of characters). Had I expected it going in, I wouldn't have had as much issue. Or had the author told me about it, I wouldn't have had as much of an issue.

And Stormbending gets forgotten? :( :( :(

8/17/2011 . Edited 8/17/2011 #4
Mrs Pettyfer

You know really, the whole Crossroads of Destiny annoys me. I kept asking myself, why is Katara so upset? Was she really that surprised that he sided with Azula? Did Zuko say anything that screamed "I'm a good guy now" down there? I know she's naive but still. It wasn't exactly a shocker that Zuko sided with the "winning" team..the team that would give him the ticket to go home. Was it right? No. But it wasn't surprising either.

Maybe Katara was just naive, I don't know. But I always thought her anger after that toward Zuko wasn't so much of his past actions (which she yelled at him about in the caves, no death threat involved), but out of the hurt she felt by his "betrayal." I quote it because I don't really count it as betrayal..since he was sort of on the fence, not really on either side at that moment.

But, that hurt is something authors shouldn't skim over for sure. And really, it's a personal wound, which takes awhile to heal through lots of character development. (Speaking from a writing standpoint) :P

And Stormbending gets forgotten?

If I remember right, yeah. Like it's a big deal in the beginning of the story, but it's sort of lost in the middle. Maybe I'm not remembering right..haha.

8/17/2011 #5
Amira Elizabeth

Yeah, the OoC-ness and the bias against Aang. And isn't a storm comprised of air too which didn't make sense. I don't know, everyone kept telling me to read it that even as a non-Zutarian I could enjoy it. The author does have talent. I just found the story overall not "THE" Avatar story everyone should read. There are writers who handle the Avatar world and the characters far better, IMO.

8/17/2011 #6
Fullmetal Catalyst

You know really, the whole Crossroads of Destiny annoys me. I kept asking myself, why is Katara so upset? Was she really that surprised that he sided with Azula? Did Zuko say anything that screamed "I'm a good guy now" down there? I know she's naive but still. It wasn't exactly a shocker that Zuko sided with the "winning" team..the team that would give him the ticket to go home. Was it right? No. But it wasn't surprising either.

It wasn't terribly shocking to us given all we know about Zuko, but all Katara knew was that this boy had been hurt terribly by the war, that his hunt was not the same as Azula's. She had hope, and it backfired spectacularly.

Maybe Katara was just naive, I don't know. But I always thought her anger after that toward Zuko wasn't so much of his past actions (which she yelled at him about in the caves, no death threat involved), but out of the hurt she felt by his "betrayal." I quote it because I don't really count it as betrayal..since he was sort of on the fence, not really on either side at that moment.

Some of his past actions could conceivably be smoothed over once he's done a little good. Yes, he fought them at every turn -- but he also saved Aang's life and freed Appa. Yes, he has shown nothing but anger...but he's no longer like that to the Gaang. Yes, he did things like use her as bait multiple times...but then, she was willing to leave him to DIE. Not forgiven immediately...but within a reasonable timeframe? Sure. They were enemies, now they're not.

The betrayal, followed closely by Aang's death, followed by the assassin...these are the kind of things that drove Katara quite bonkers. Because they weren't enemies then. They were two kids thrown into tragedy by a war, and she offered him friendship, and he spat in her face and chose her best friend's death.

Yeah, the OoC-ness and the bias against Aang. And isn't a storm comprised of air too which didn't make sense. I don't know, everyone kept telling me to read it that even as a non-Zutarian I could enjoy it. The author does have talent. I just found the story overall not "THE" Avatar story everyone should read. There are writers who handle the Avatar world and the characters far better, IMO.

A storm is created by a combination of high and low pressure air systems, I believe. I still like the concept of Fire and Water combining. I'm just annoyed that Aang is having so much trouble...perhaps because they're making him do a specific type of Bending rather than letting him improvise? Possible. There is definitely a bias against Aang, but I feel it is much less noticeable than in many Zutaran fics, for those who care about the degree.

Is Stormbenders, so far, a good story? Without a doubt. Great, even. Does it take liberties with plot and characters that detract from its internal logic as an extension of AtLA canon (which I'm assuming the author means by AU)? Also without a doubt, unless it's viewed as very AU. I'll continue through it, keeping this stuff in mind.

I guess as a final word, I think that prospective readers should know that it is feeling like a shipping story, rather than a story with a ship subplot. No particular opinion on that either way, but non-Zutarans should be aware going in that Zutara may be as much (or more) a purpose of this story as the plot.

8/18/2011 #7
Amira Elizabeth

Well I am going to digress and mention an author I love because she I think writes wonderful Avatar fan fiction. She is DJNS and she has a whole series of Avatar fics starting with "The Avatar and the Fire Lord" and ending with "Surprises." It is the characters growing up and having families, dealing with struggles both internal and external. You can really hear the characters speak in her works and each one feels like a continuation of where Avatar left off. Some are rated T and M, but especially in the M ones no character is underage all are over 18. However a few do deal with raging hormones and I find it refreshing that she treats the subject matter with sensitivity and maturity rather then just adding it in there for the smut factor.

These are fics I return to again and again. They continue where the canon story left off and they are canon ships. Each character is handled well. There is no bashing or bias. And her enjoyment of the series and its characters shines through - particularly Aang and Zuko.

She also has a fic called "Reconstructed Destinies" where Zuko is the Avatar and an airbender and Aang is the Fire Prince. An interesting take on an AU.

8/19/2011 #8
Fullmetal Catalyst

I cannot recommend DJNS enough. I'm about halfway through "Reconstructed Destinies" and she's blowing me away with the quality of the story. I recently described it as the mirror image of the show. Her ability to develop the characters in reasonable directions...unmatched by any fic I've read thus far. It relegates the shipping to a subplot, a bit of a breath of fresh air to casual and non-shippers. One of my favorite Avatar fics to date.

But for the sake of the forum, I'll try to be a little more impartial. First, must finish RD and Stormbenders. Then discussion from me.

How do you link fics/authors to a post?

8/19/2011 #9
Amira Elizabeth
A Different Light is the only other story outside of the series. That is a Kataangst/Taang story. That one is a bit shippy, but there is a good plot of conflict and discovery along the way.
8/21/2011 . Edited 8/21/2011 #10
chromeknickers

How do you link fics/authors to a post?

See the little CHAIN CLIP beside the "STYLES" box? Write the name or title of whatever you want linked and then highlight it with your cursor and click on the chain. A little box will pop up with the following prompts:

Link URL: --insert the url to your story here--

Target: --choose open link in a new window--

Title: --insert the title of your story here--

Class: --choose not set--

8/30/2011 #11
Justice Tokidoki

HUH? I thought I posted something about this...guess it got deleted...

Anyway, I totally recommend Avatar The Last Airbender by Sportie07! He only has one story but it is EPIC! Great characterization and use of action/diologue! There's also a bunch of kataang fluffy, serious, and realistic romance. It's a lot of genres all rolled into one grand adventure! Trust me, you won't be disapointed! :)

I also checked out DJNS. Reconstructed Destinies was awesome! Thank you so much for mentioning it! I'm on chapter 53 of his/her story currantly...

9/1/2011 #12
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