It took us forever, but we're finally done with reviews and have decided the winners! I would like to say that y'all did a great job in this contest and I enjoyed reading all the entries! Since we got very few entries, I only did 1 honorable mentions, especially since I've kept you waiting long enough. Anyways, without further adieu, first place goes to:
@ivanskilling with The Winged!
Here is my review with criticisms and praise separated for your reading convenience. XD
Criticisms: I think the only issues I have with this story are that I was a little confused about whether Wingers are treated as slaves or second-class citizens. I did also have to wonder why some of them live in the city when they’re treated so poorly and why they don’t just all choose to live on the outskirts. If the Wingers are slaves, I understand why the police prevents them from leaving the city. I think this could have been fleshed out a little bit more. I do think that the story could have emphasized romance just a tiny bit more, too, as this feels a bit more like an action story with romance in it. I do also think I would have liked to see one or two more good-hearted Armer characters alongside our male protagonist.
Praise: I really like the dynamic between the two main characters. I like that our male protagonist is a strong person in his own right and even more open-minded than our main character as it gives her some flaws to overcome that he can help her with. I enjoy that we do see our female character doing really questionable things, too, as it adds depth to her character. There’s a scene where she kills a fifteen-year-old that was really poignant and reminds the audience that Armers are people, too. I also really enjoy that our romantic couple had a previous history together as children and that our male protagonist never forgot about her and stuck in his mind. Stuff like that is really romantic to me I really enjoyed how you didn’t demonize the Armers too much! It would have been really easy to make a story where it’s like: One side bad. Other side good. But the intrigue in stories like these are subtle nuances where you can see where both sides are coming from, and I think you did very well with that! As a sidenote, as usual, your story is mechanically beautifully written as always: almost no grammatical errors. Great work!
Criticisms and praise from @zimeta08
Criticisms: I too had a little difficulty understanding the dynamics of this unique world and how it is run.
I also think that, because the two main species are wingers and armers, it would have been a good idea to make wingers have no arms at all. Otherwise, they’re just armers with wings, making one wonder why the species with more would be the one that’s being subjugated.
Praise: The narrative was nicely written and wonderfully descriptive. Paragraphs such as “He leaned down and played back the video frame by frame. His eyebrows furrowed as he stopped at one image. He reached for the panning controls and zoomed in on one of the men. The image blurred for a split second before re-focusing…” flow very easily and is a joy to read.
2nd place goes to:
@RainbowCat with Blue Past, Blue Future!
Read below for praise and criticisms!
Criticisms: The physical description of the alien could be stronger. I had trouble picturing the character; if he were a human, this wouldn’t be an issue, but since he’s an alien, I think a more thorough description would have been beneficial. the current state of the world could be fleshed out more. I was a little confused about if the humans have enslaved the aliens, or if it’s a situation where the aliens have been occupied by human forces. I also think the main character could have been a bit better fleshed out. I would have liked to see a flaw of hers accentuated (e.g., shyness) and overcome, and well as a flaw of the alien’s.
Praise: I think the relationship between our two love interests is very well developed. I also think you did a great job following I think they play off each other well and both had something to offer each other, which is nice. I do also like the world building and enjoyed the apple scene in particular. I also enjoyed how our alien friend exited the story for a bit to leave the audience and our main character room to miss him. I liked all the sharing of their cultures, too, and how you delved into what makes the aliens so much more different than the humans. Overall, I think this is a very well-done story!
Praise and criticisms from @zimeta08
Criticisms: I also think the descriptions of the aliens could have been stronger. Also, kind of nit-picky but why apply human gender politics to the aliens? An alien society would most likely evolve completely different from ours, so giving the alien male “he/they” pronouns felt shoehorned in and out of place.
Praise: I like the initial bitterness and shyness between the two main characters and how they found common ground to overcome their adversity.
I also like that Tryox’s future was bound to the main character’s: his wellbeing depended on hers. It was a neat idea.
I also like that you can tell the main character has difficulty opening up; so when she becomes friends with Tryox only to let him go later on adds an extra punch.
This was a very sweet story over all.
3rd place goes to @cgiverny with Parenting 101!
Criticisms and praise below!
Criticisms: I think the only big criticism I have for this story is that it needed just a bit more oomph. I definitely love the conflict of our two main characters being unable to have children, and I do like that they never resented each other about that, too. I think that’s great. I think it could have been delved into it in a more visceral way through a 3rd person close flashback where Trix is crying about being unable to have a child and our snakeshifter comforts her about it. I do think the child could be brought into the story sooner and there could be conflict over some of his behaviors and whether or not they should keep him because of it. I do also think the physical description of the snakeshifter could be a little stronger, as it was unclear whether he was more humanoid or more snakelike in appearance, or whether he was snakeshifting (giggle) throughout the story and looked like something inbetween throughout.
Praise: I really enjoy that one of the main characters is a snakeshifter! I just like this unique choice a lot and it made me smile and giggle. XD I also enjoy how he and Trix are together from the beginning and how they genuinely enjoy each other’s company. I also think the world building here is very well done! I think you delved into it organically and I was never overwhelmed by an info dump or puzzled by how the world functions! I do also like how the story revolves so much around a child, as romantic stories rarely delve into relationships past the main characters getting together. I think that was an awesome choice. I also like the quirkiness to this story and how there’s an element of humor to it, as well. Overall, great work!
Praise and criticisms from @zimeta08
Criticisms: I felt like the story needed more drama to draw the reader in. Perhaps some conflict between the two main characters would spice it up a bit.
Praise: I really like that one of Trix’s big wants in life is to have a child. It’s actually a breath of fresh air from all the career-obsessed women you see in entertainment these days. I also really liked that the couple were already in love from the beginning, and were developing their relationship beyond the initial infatuation phase.
Honorable mentions go to @C.E.Wells with Love in Bullets and Blood
Criticisms: While I do think this story is highly creative and the worldbuilding is a lot of fun, I do think the info dump is a bit confusing and it could be refined and more organically incorporated. For example, I like that all the humans appear to all be mutant variants, but the titles given to the different races and factions and the powers of those different races and factions are a bit confusing to me. I do also think this story is more of an action story with romance in it rather than a romance story with action in it.
Praise: I like how flirty the main characters are with each other, as I kind of miss that sort of fun wooing in current stories. XD I like that our main male character is just unabashedly into our lady and makes his feelings known. It's cute and refreshing. I think they're a fun power couple. Overall very enjoyable story!