With my Canada trip well and truly over, it’s time to get back to the reviews.
First, a little backstory as to why I’ve settled on today’s choice. I’ve had my eye on Jukepop for a while now, and I am currently working away on a submission for a serial on their site. Jukepop seems like a good place to start with a continuing serial of stories – at the very least, they seem to be a place to gather a decent audience and a community of readers and reviewers.
I start my serious investigation into Jukepop by picking one of the most popular stories. Many have already commented on this, but I’ll toss in my 2 cents, along with my usual look at what I, as an author, can learn from it.
Rise: Tears, Chapter 1 – Paper
The unedited version, before its publication, can still be seen on Jukepop.com.
The preview on the book’s Amazon page provides the first chapter for free. I am basing this review on the finished Amazon version of the first chapter.
This story caught my eye immediately with the first line from its blurb – “On a shattered world protected from the cold of space by a water shield, the people are dependent on Ancient technology to survive.” What a neat hook! It promises a world different than ours, and yet this story begins with the very mundane and known – paper, of all things.
The hook works, and the first chapter follows it up by laying out both the familiar and the very unfamiliar. By imbuing the mundane, everyday item of paper with special significance in his strange world, the author establishes a sense of wonder and mystery right from the first line.
The world, strange as it is, is shown through the eyes of someone who clearly lives in and knows it. The mystery deepens with a strange visit the protagonist doesn’t expect, providing more of the mythology and workings of this odd world and the story to come.
This setting up grabbed my interest quickly, and convinced me that yes, I really do have to read the rest of this now-published story.
There’s a big cliche trope right at the start as the plot is delivered to the character Logwyn in the form of a mysterious letter by a mysterious character. It gets a pass here because the interaction between Logwyn and the stranger helps establish the setting and the situation. However, it would have been so much better if Logwyn had been able to discover a bit more before having the plot practically delivered to her.
I also found Logwyn’s exposition as she seeks out the Queen for an audience to be a bit much. She tells a lot about her world and its queen that I thought should be second nature to people who actually live in it. It felt like she was breaking the fourth wall and explaining to people of plain old Earth. Her feelings about meeting the Queen should instead have been elaborated through her memories and experiences within her reality.
This first chapter is effective because it sets up a world quickly, giving the two vital details necessary in epic world-building – What is familiar? and What is not? A reader needs to understand these details quickly, in order to decide if an epic fantasy is worth the investment in its mythology and backstory. Chapter 1 of Rise: Tears gets through this setup quickly and enjoyably, with an immediate immersion in an acceptance of the strange reality of the story and its first story-driving mystery.