/mlp/ Fanfic Reviews


FimFiction Link - Short ID: 403468/featherfall

Published: Jun '18Jun '19

Review in No. 40763392
Featherfall is either an 11k Romance one-shot, or a 430k somewhat Dark Drama Romance. You'll get it in a bit.
Right off the bat, I must give two important warnings. 1) This is an Equestria Girls story. 2) This is set in motion by—but not really about—Anon-a-Miss. With 90% of people no longer reading, I can go in-depth.
After Sunset's friends turn their backs on her for that whole debacle, she now finds herself sad and alone. In doing so, she manages to connect with fellow outcast and bad girl Gilda Grimfeather.
The opening chapter follows Gilda as she indifferently observes the events of the comic while thinking about how stupid the whole thing is. She realises what's being posted is amateur hour compared to the stuff Sunset used to pull back in her day.
This leads to Sunset gravitating towards Gilda, as her only friend during these troubled times. They hang out, skip school, and spend time together. Sunset prevents Gilda from getting into trouble, and they grow closer as they spend every free moment with each other.
While I enjoyed this first chapter, I've got to mention the biggest downside it has. Inconsistent characterization. Which is pretty egregious for what used to be a one-shot. Gilda starts as a generic delinquent and Sunset is stereotypical Anon-a-Miss depressed Sunset. As expected of a romance, they're gonna get together and mush faces.
If you go in expecting Gilda to be a delinquent with a heart of gold sort of character—and you'd be right—I feel the way we're shown those glimpses of a good person underneath the bravado is too abrupt. It's not like they're hanging out and Gilda gets the chance to show her softer side because how comfortable she is with Sunset. Nah, Gilda is beating up some dumbass, but Sunset prevents it from escalating into actual assault, Gilda lashes out and says some hurtful things, but just as Sunset is about to leave, she hugs her and they both apologise and talk about how they can't lose more friends.
And that's fine, but it's really a moment that should've had more build up rather than just a short scene of them hanging out. That alone could've been the climax of the story, but it's just their first step towards wuvy duvy luv.
From that point onwards there's more bonding and bonding. They spend more time on Gilda's flat. Sunset plays the guitar for her. We also get that "Oh, whoops. Look at us. We're friends, but we've given each other pet names and are engaging in many physical displays of affection despite being established we're kinda cold people" moment. Par for the course on a romance one-shot.
After going to Gilda's flat for the night, Sunset has freaky night terrors. Thankfully, the doctor ordered a nice heap of cuddling to combat them, and they both happily fall asleep in each other's embrace.
It's nice. It's full of all the warm, fluffy bits, and it focuses on Gilda and Sunset's developing relationship as they grow closer.
Review in No. 40763396
But the story doesn't end there. We've got a whole Gone with the Wind worth of story left.
You know, one could wonder why bother with the rest of the story if the first chapter was so by the numbers. And I would agree. However, someone I trust recommended this to me, so I decided "why not?" Worst case scenario, I just drop it after a couple more chapters.
That didn't happen. I ended up reading all the way through. And I enjoyed myself. For the most part.
From the second chapter onwards, something happened. Maybe the author got inspired because the rest of the story actually has a smoother character progression and romantic development. If chapter one was Sunset and Gilda teleporting from point A to point B, the rest of the story is a comfy stroll through the woods from B to C.
And it isn't just them smashing faces and genitals. They grow closer and they support each other as they work through their issues. They motivate each other to improve and find ways to grow as people.
But it's also about them smashing faces, so how's the romance?
Pretty good, I'd say. I'm a sucker for grand shows of love, but something that dwells on the smaller aspects of a relationship fills me with an immense sense of happiness. Gilda making changes in her apartment to accomodate Sunset. Sunset supporting Gilda academically after she finds out the latter has dyslexia. And a dozen little things more.
I got genuinely invested in the happiness of these two, and I rooted for them to overcome all the obstacles that came their way.
Let's talk about those obstacles, shall we?
Life's not good to these two. They've lost family, friends, homes, and some really bad stuff happens to them over the course of the story, but at least they have each other.
I think the biggest one has to be what happened when some bullies tried to get revenge on Gilda for beating them up. Obviously, they choose to target Sunset in her dilapidated home. Things escalate, and a stair collapses on top of Sunset, leaving her paralysed from the waist down for the rest of the story.
Twilight even comes back from Equestria to tell her she's shit out of luck. There is something they can try, though.
The portal works by creating a save state of sorts of the last time someone went through it. This means that if a pony goes through the mirror, they become a human while their latest pony form is saved in the portal's caché. That means that Sunset could go through the mirror and become an able bodied pony. However, this mirror memory lasts for several months, so she'd have to remain in Equestria until the mirror clears the memory of the crippled human Sunset and she can go back to Earth if she wanted to, which could take a couple of years.
However, this presents a big plothole, because Sunset wishes not to go through the portal. For no real reason. Sure, you can say she wants to stay with Gilda, but there's no good reason Gilda can't come with her.
Review in No. 40763397
What's more, they go to the mirror the night the memory would reset (how convenient) and Gilda says they can totally go. Remember, Gilda can come and go as she wishes, it's Sunset who has to stay in Equestria because magical magic magically magics magic.
Even then, the story has made it clear at this point that there's nothing keeping Gilda on Earth. What? A dead family? A school she hates because she sucks at it? A criminal past? Oh, yeah. She sure would regret leaving all that behind.
But even if you count the few things keeping her tied to Earth, Gilda can commute back and forth, since there's no restriction on her from the mirror, and we know that can be activated at will thanks to Twilight.
It feels as if the author had already written up to this point when the notion of "Wait, why don't they both just leave?" came up. The result is... dumb. I don't even remember what excuse Sunset comes up to justify staying crippled.
Just to reiterate, so we're on the same page.
The mirror portal has an autosave function. When you go through, it creates a copy of your body at that moment in time. When you come back, you inhabit the version of your body made at that moment. This caché only clears itself every couple of cycles, which means a few years in layman terms.
That means Sunset can go through in a wheelchair, and come out a vibrant, able bodied pony. Then, after a few years, she can cross the portal again once the version of the wheelchair-bound Sunset is gone, and she'll be an able bodied human once more.
There is nothing keeping Sunset tied to Earth. As far as she knows, her friends turned their backs on her, the school hates her, the faculty did nothing to help her, and a couple of students felt bold enough to attack her at home, leading to her becoming crippled. She has nothing except Gilda.
I must bring up that the author addressed this in the comments of the story, offering plenty of explanations as to why, and they're all valid. The problem is that none of these have been brought up in the story yet. From the point of view of a first time reader, there's no reason why they don't just book it to Equestria.
Again, they can keep the portal open, so Gilda can just commute back to Earth when she needs to. It'd be as if her apartment was a bit further away, is all.
The ONE argument the author brings up that is reasonable is that doing so would end all issues. "Note that word though: end. [...] Not resolved or taken care of, just negated."
He's right, but—once again—that's applying out of story reasoning to decisions made in the story. This could've easily been rewritten to have Gilda and Sunset have a heart to heart and come to the conclusion that they have reasons to stay, and they should face the problems head on, no running away, and they'll have each other for support and all that.
All I'm saying is this could've been handled better.
Review in No. 40763402
We now have a wheelchair-bound Sunset Shimmer and a very loving, but still gruff and badass Gilda. Is the rest of the story gonna be their lovey dovey adventures? I sure thought so. But turns out there's a bit more adventure to this story than I initially thought.
To grossly summarise the events, there's a threat from Gilda's criminal past that's looming on the horizon. One that's bigger than anyone could take on their own, thanks to a magical artifact that has come into their power.
It's the Storm King. Who in this fic is a manipulative big-shot gangster and the reason Gilda is a rough and tough troublemaker.
Anyway, it soon becomes apparent that King is coming and he wants power. More than Sunset and Gilda can handle. This seems like the perfect chance to use the Elements of Harmony, but they're out of commission since the girls turned their backs on Sunset. What to do?
Thankfully, through her new life, Sunset has managed to forge new friendships. I won't say who's who to keep some semblance of mystery in case you want to read the story, but I will say they all come naturally, and they really feel like strong friendships, so when the time comes, it feels nice how the baton is passed to the new group.
There's a lot of pain in this story. Not all of it deserved. I wouldn't call it misery porn, though. I never got the feeling that the story reveled in the suffering through which it put the characters. There's this burgeoning optimism to the story. A desire for things to get better. Of working hard towards your goals, no matter what gets in your way.
Everyone has to work hard for their happy ending, and through sweat, blood, and tears, they're gonna get it. Or at least most of one.
This fic has got plenty. Not only the Storm King, but the ones he manipulates into following him. The scope of the story gets pretty big in the last fourth or so. We end up following several characters with changing allegiances, most with conflicting goals or overlapping interests. It never gets too convoluted, however. The focus is still on the character drama and the interpersonal conflict. All of which is enjoyable.
Moving on to things that didn't bother me but I found weird, is how sans one exception—and parents—every character is a lesbian. I suppose it comes with the territory with an all female cast, but after the twelfth reveal, it starts to get kind of silly.
Speaking of love, I'm not sure how gryphons being creatures that mate for life really adds anything. If anything, I feel it detracts a bit from how close Gilda and Sunset become. It's not just that they found a connection amidst hundreds of people. That one person with whom they get along in a way nobody else can offer. No, it's because gryphons mate for life.
There's not much else to say without spoilers, but before I wrap up, I must mention the one thing I really, really hated about this fic.
Review in No. 40763404
La puta madre, odio a todos y cada uno de los hispanos en esta historia. Sucios malnacidos. Algunos de ustedes llevan décadas en los Estados Unidos, aprendan a hablar inglés. Si así son en la vida real, con razón eligieron a Trump dos veces.
If you don't care about Spanish, or Spanish speakers, then you'll probably just be annoyed by how these people talk. I mean, seriously. Either speak English, or speak Spanish. This horribly mangled half-speak is just annoying. And I'm a native Spanish speaker so it's just grating to see them twist my language into whatever the fuck that dialect is supposed to be. God, I hate them.
The worst part is that the author obviously doesn't know Spanish, so they probably stuck some half phrases in an online translator and copied that, since some of the worst offenders don't even make sense grammatically or semantically. I dreaded every time a Hispanic would pop up in the story because I knew I was going to seethe every time they opened their mouths.
But hey, who cares? The only people who speak Spanish are two mechanics, lots of small time criminals, and a couple of ex-gangster leaders. Which is hilarious to me. I'm sure that accurately reflects modern US society.
Thankfully they no longer appear once Sunset and Gilda go visit them in their totally-not-a-ghetto. I think Tempest Shadow pops up once to take Gilda to visit the Storm King in prison, as well as a phone call or two but that's it. No more Spanglish.
Hey, let's talk about that guy for a moment.
Believe it or not, this fic was my first exposure to the guy. It was... and odd first impression.
You know, despite nearly everyone in his gang being some sort of Hispanic, this guy is very obviously British. With this author's track record, I was worried we'd get exposed to an exaggerated posh Bri'ish accent. That was not the case. And as hilarious as it would've been to see Storm King, first name Storm, last name King, drop "u wot m8?"s, he doesn't really use cockney slang, either. Other than an odd example here and there, if I remember correctly.
Which, you know, makes the way Hispanics are written stand out a bit more, but enough about that. I've said plenty about them already.
Now that I think about it, there's one other character that speaks with a thick lower class British accent, and is a direct result of the Storm King's influence. However, Storm's speech is less marked with its accent. Weird...
I guess this story serves as an example of why you shouldn't write characters who speak another dialect/language unless you have a good grasp of said way of speaking. It's obtrusive and annoying at best, or autistically infuriating at worst.
Then again, many writers struggle to portray Applejack as anything short of an Ah'in' pardner, and she just speaks funny English. Maybe this shouldn't come up as a surprise...
Review in No. 40763405
One last thing that makes me feel ambivalent towards the story is the direction it takes in its last showdown. It's not really a sudden shift in content, however. The story properly builds up the big confrontation between Storm King and his lackeys, and Gilda, Sunset, and co.
Spoilers, not really for specifics, but for the type of final act the story has.
I just don't feel a bombastic magic battle was really the way to end what so far had been a mostly grounded urban fantasy story about interpersonal conflicts, inner growth, and facing adversity. I like the bond Sunset has with the new element bearers, and I like how they each contribute to the final showdown. Still, a part of me would've preferred a smaller scale encounter between Gilda, Sunset, and the new elements, and Storm King and his group. Sure, have them beat the hell out of each other with magic, but it didn't really need this level of complexity, even accounting for King's plan. I mean, S1 of Daredevil ended with an alley brawl between him and Kingpin that lasted a couple of minutes, and that was awesome.
But that's a matter of personal preference. While I didn't enjoy the direction the story took, the characters and plot kept me engaged.
To wrap this all up, Featherfall is not without its flaws. Some more glaring than others, but they don't stop this story from shining. It's a wonderful tale of romance that doesn't shy away from dark topics, and some very heavy themes. Ultimately, this is a story that shows that no matter how bad the world around you is, you must persevere and do your best to find your happiness.
Which is why I think it's hilarious that the author abandoned the sequel and writing in general because they couldn't stand what a terrible place FiMFiction had become. Oh, well. At least Featherfall has an ending and is satisfying to read.