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5/15/2014 c4 11Kay Iscah
First, apologies for the long delay. I think I only owe you this one.

On the first paragraph, I'm wondering if it might help make things punchier if you drop a few unnecessary words. Maybe truncate to: "4:30 wake up time, 5 minutes to dress, marching, calisthenics, jogging, all to the beat of drill sergeant's shouting, and then 6:00-6:30 for breakfast." ... It's not wrong as is, so just a suggestion.

To me, the strength of present tense is being in the moment, so I think it might be nice to have the kid getting chewed out for the apple written out as brief interaction.

Same with the room filling with smoke and them dragging kids away. Seems like it might hold more punch as a short scene.

[Every second, the hard knuckles of the fist...]

Isn't she wearing gloves?

[It was either me or them] or "It is"?

I've notice you lead a lot of paragraphs with "I" which to some degree is normal for first person narration, but a lot of them could be rearranged or the "I" cut to create more variation.

ex. [The two minute timer cuts off the water, pulling me back to cold reality.]

Since Chyler is a reoccurring character, I might shift a little of her description to the first meeting. Particularly her height and the hint of a cleft, since that adds to the toughness of her appearance.

Dialogue isn't too bad, but the "...you have to come along and screw it up by making me look bad!" Felt a both overly wordy and pushing towards cliché. Maybe something with the same sentiment but different wording. "It's embarrassing to get taken down by a guy who can't throw a proper punch." Or "Have fun showing off, hot shot?"

The emotions aren't "wrong" but it does seem like Chyler's tough girl vibe softens very quickly. It may need to for over all story pace, but if this is the start of a developing friendship, I might suggest a more gradual build. ...Or maybe have them talk during some of their sparing, so Chyler can teach him something or open up while swinging punches. Then you'll have action to break up or reinforce the dialogue.

In general, the story is progressing nicely. Seems like Chyler knows enough to correct his fear that recruits are being dragged off to die...so that might have been a good spot to go into that *or* have her mock him about being afraid/paranoid but not really address the subject.
11/5/2013 c5 2S.D Stevens
A bit of a filler chapter - I dont think so, Mathis has been shoved into all this, he has not really had chance to reflect on his own emotional growth. I like the fast flow of their progression, it keeps in line with how he's been treated and such. A quick conversation with home, is quick meeting with his new bunk mate. Its one thing after another and then... at the end he settles down and realises that not only does he belong, he likes it too.

The dialogue is good, stop worrying about it. I like lots of people talking and stuff going on. The dialogue tagging is good and not over done.

Mathis' relationship with Chyler is moving nicely, which is what Mathis would do. You have shown us a side to his personality that enables us to see that he wouldn't rush into anything. he values her friendship. You have hidden his physical reaction to her well, but I didn't miss it ;)

Each recruit will have exactly minutes - did you mean to put an mount of minutes?

as I quickly rub down my body in soap - cant put my finger on it but it sounds odd? With soap, would that sound better?

I feel that this part of the story has come to an end, like end of part one :) We have got to know the key characters so far and know what makes them tick. We have suffered with Mathis when he had to leave his family and friends and held our breath when he got a good old thrashing from Chyler. Now he has grown, physically and emotionally. He has come to terms with his predicament and made the challenges facing him part of his life.

Looking forward to the next section or part two of Mathis's story.

11/5/2013 c4 S.D Stevens
I like this chapter, it covers days of action, gives plenty of information without over loading the reader, and its interesting, It gives the reader insight to the war too which is handy.

There is nothing wrong with the dialogue, other than a few grammar errors. A capital following a comer and such. I never put more than one person talking into one paragraph. I'm sure its bad practise to do that. I'm not too good at the grammar and such around dialogue but from what I read, its very good.

Some of the chat between the two recruits does sound a little awkward, but I should imagine it would be, after all earlier that day they had beaten the crap out of each other.

You may want to consider using the 24 hour clock system, it would sound more military like lights out would be 22:00.
He continues to stare at us in silence for a few moments, making me shift in discomfort. - very good, simple statement yet to the point.

maneuverability - manoeuvrability
tidbits - titbits

I sigh and pick myself up, unwilling to move from this moment. - if he's picked himself up he's all ready moved making unwilling the wrong word. Reluctant to move from this moment. Or even pausing, staying sat for a few moments longer?

Keep it up :)

10/17/2013 c5 1Gosia89
Chyler's explanation about the Prisoner Brigade was well-written. I almost wish Mathis could be sent to the Prisoner Brigade and turn out to be the first one to survive. I think that such a twist could be both dramatic and hero-like, although clichee.

A lot of characters got their "screen time here". True it was a filler chapter, but the introduction have to be made in order to push the story forward. What I didn't like in this chapter, was the narrative paragraph right after the part with Chyler explaing the Prison Brigades. The parts with Mathis' bland narration aren't really keeping me entertained and the scenes with dialogues do a much better job at showing what happens in the military.

Chyler. The relationship with her isn't progressing too fast, it's at a normal pace. I can see that she and Mathis would make a good comrades.
Auggie seems like a good kid, but so far his personality isn't too vivid.
As for talking to James and Keara on "skype", it was plainly weird and was part of the aspect of the story which disappointed me a bit - despite all the grim foreshadowing in the first two chapters, joining the military isn't such a bad thing, it's actually nice there. The kids can talk via "skype" with their family and friends, the training isn't that bad, no one is complaining about food and beds, no one got tortured or mistreated other than verbally - there is nothing to fear.

Ad for Mathis' sense of belonging, it's understandable as the army isn't that scary as we thought it would be. I suppose if I were in his shoes, I'd apadpt quite quickly too.
10/17/2013 c4 Gosia89
About the combat learning, the attack moves are never the first ones to be taught. Putting the "roll over" techniques aside, the first thing you learn in any martial art is to doge and block. When you're able to not get yourself knocked out after the opponents first move, you get to learn the rest - kicks, punches and super special instant kill techniques. The rest of stuff, such as weak spots and the advice to finish the fight quickly, was correct.

I suppose Mathis can be the fighting prodigy which would be very hero-like. And the fighting-learning scene was cool and vivid. I even kept commenting it aloud, so it was entertaining. I really hope he'll pumh himself up soon.

And then I sensed the plot hole. You wrote Mathis already grew some muscles on his scrawny body. Just how long was he in the military. I estimate that it was minimum a month, probably two months, jusging by the changes in body build.

Now Chyler's turn. She was introduced in an interesting way and has a great background story, not to mention that I always appreciate a strong female character. But, my plot hole senses are tingling again. Chyler is from a military family and was preparing herself for joining the army since she was 13.
1. Why did she start so late? Usually when parents approve something like that, they start train kids when they are way younger. 13 seems to be a bit late.
2. How on earth did Mathis manage to beat her up earlier? If she wasn't slacking, he should be k.o.-ed in the first move unless he's some Son Goku.

Now the chapter as a whole. There was surely a lot of stuff here and I didn't mind the dialogues. The first part, compared to the other ones, was boring and Mathis' narrative was lulling me to sleep. Then came the awsome part about fighting, completely different in style. Introducing (now oficially) Chyler's character and her character development was fine too - she's a likeable three-dimansional girl with a backbone. The first part is clearly the weak spot.
10/17/2013 c3 Gosia89
The description of abandoned Detroit was fine, I can't really complain. I have a feeling that you got inspired by the temporary situation - if I remember well, Destroit is in a state of urban decay with its polulation decreasing, so there are a lot of vacant lots there. Come to think of that, it really looks like a setting for a postapocalyptic story. Anyway, a fine choice of the city.

Now a plothole alert. Once his hair parts with his head, Mathis meets Kris, his classmate. There were 20 kids on the transport and they chatted with each other. How on earth could Mathis not notice his classmate among other 19 people. It's not a crowd.

The greeting by the drill seargants was fine, but harsh (that means good). One thing attacked by eyes while reading though - the way you play with the bold, italics or both at the same time in places where they don't serve any purpose. You use bold in prose when you want to separate a part of text, hinting it's superior meaning like a chapter's title. In the word "ATTENTION", regular capital letters would look fine. Italics is usually reserved for thoughts, so when you use it for other purpose, it may be just confusing. It seems like you wanted to emphasize the words you graced with italics, but it wasn't really necessary.

The only place with the necessary italics was: "two miles"
there is a typo in "weed out the week" (should be "weak")

The drill was really nice, although I expected something more drastic. According to my family, that's how a regular non-violent drill looks like (except for dragging the recruits to, as I suspect, prison). I think you could go crazy here and add some whipping or more cruelty in general. I enjoyed reading how tiring the running and crawling was, but wasn't really that shocked. During my summer camp (school time) if we slipped curing crawling under logs, we would fall into pits with horse piss (just giving you the ideas) and those who were running slow, got whipped with nettle. Gosh, suddenly my summer camp sounds creepy. Anyway, don't be afraid to sprinkle this chapter with cruelty.

As for the lack of dialogue, there was little of it, but it still was present. I didn't feel bored because there were mainly descriptions. Fine chapter, I hope my review was helpful.
10/17/2013 c2 Gosia89
The transition from the dramatic cliffhanger at the end of the chapter no 1 to a brief flashback was a bit too abrupt and the narration seemed jarred. Perhaps it would be better to add an introducing sentence which would link the descimation and the flashback. Or just invert the first two paragraphs.

The protagonist's initial reaction was a killer - you captured true shock, did an excellent job on describing how he felt. I could easily imagine the scene playing before my eyes as though I was watching a movie (a good one). You certainly deserve standing ovations for this one.

Then the pace slowed down and the rest of the chapter was less awsome, but still good. The transition to the new situation went quite smoothly, with the doctor offering several answers what was absolutely legit and not forced. I especially liked the part when the doctor explained what the options are - front lines or prison unit. The kids will have a tough time ahead, huh?

Overall it was a nice chapter, you had several things done in it (Mathis shocked and shipped off) without overloading readers with too much developments. I missed one thing though - the small hints about the fictional USA, just like ones dropped in the previous chapter. It's a good idea to show differences between the setting of your story and the actual USA more. I think you could safely smuggle some info here.
10/15/2013 c3 2S.D Stevens
I love your description of the city. At first its as if there is nothing wrong with it, but then you bring the reader in to the destruction and age of the sight unfolding before Mathis' eyes. Very good.

Was it really this morning? I think silently, It feels like days ago. - you need to change the capital I or the , up to you either would fit.

There are a few odd grammar typo's, spacing between sentences, but that could have been done when you uploaded the document. Either that or its a problem with the site as Iv seen a few of the same mistake on other peoples story too, bit of a coincidence.

I like how Mathis likens his heart to a candle flame, very poetic and to the point.

The way you have him supposing what has happened to those that failed at their tasks as me hoping he's wrong and your only building suspense. Very good.

Your research of boot camps has paid off tremendously. Well done on that point.

Looking forward to the next chapter

10/15/2013 c1 1Gosia89
Writing Style
Your writing style is okay, but it could use some work to become even better. Some sentences were constructed awkwardly. Moreover, you should watch the way you build your paragraphs. In the beginning of the chapter I found 8 paragraphs in close proximity starting with "I" - it doesn't look very good and you should watch how the text looks as a whole thing. Try more diversified sentence structures. Now enough torturing you: you're young, so if you keep writing I'm sure your style will get much better.

Another thing I didn't like is the present tense you use. It works well in stories focused on emotions not plot, like romance (often with erotic subplot). It also looks good when you start the story in present tense, the character starts reminiscing about the past and you slip into the past tense. I honestly think the past tense would work better for this kind of story.

Now positive thing - the descriptions. They're done really neatly and you managed to convey much in few words. Their lenght is perfect - long enough to show readers the scene with all the details, but short enough to maintain the pacing.

The dialogues are fine as well.

It's good you mentioned Mathis' name in the note left by his mom, but maybe you could mention his name during the talk with his friends as well? The main character seems like a good kid, so far he has my sympathy and I'm curious how will he cope with the crappy situation. He seems like an average person, so it's easy to relate to him.

As for his friends, I suspect this will be the last of them. They were quite a lovely background and were a perfect excuse to show Mathis' normal teenage side (interaction with the girl).

Here I give you thumbs up. You dumped quite a lot of info in this chapter on my head, but you did it in a way which made it easy to absorb all of it. Often readers are able to remember only a fraction of info when they're reaching the last paragraph, but you fortunately managed to avoid failure. I loved how you sneaked little portions of the info in the beginning during the daily activities. The idea with the lecture before the ceremony was neat too.

About your world in general, it's intriguing and I love the idea. A postapocalyptic world is quite often used in literature, but not from the persective of the winning side. Killing criminals with fire bombs was a bit harsh ;-)

So far, I like it. It was easy to predict that the main hero will be the chosen one, but a part of me hoped he could avoid it. The atmosphere of fear and despair you created is a great strenght of this chapter. From the first paragraph to the last I felt the unbearable tension and pity for everyone living in your post-war USA.

Overall, the opening chapter was fine, ended with a classic cliffhanger and made me want to read more.
9/28/2013 c2 2CTRL-Zed
I liked this chapter more than the first one. Mathis's nervousness through his physical examination and getting shipped out was palpable.

I know I probably said this before, but I'm really interested in seeing how Mathis's relationship with his mother and friends will evolve after he goes through training and military service. I have a feeling that Mathis will either never see them again, or that he'll be thoroughly changed by his experiences and won't be able to connect with them in the same way. Guess I'm gonna have to read more to find out.

Quick spelling / grammar check. As always, use the advice if you want.

[My heart seems to stop, my mouth opens in disbelief, and I struggle to breath.] - "breath" should be "breathe".
9/25/2013 c2 2S.D Stevens
Great chapter, you bring in the lacking intimidation of the troops here. I must say some of your descriptions for how Mathis feels is amazing. You had me holding my breath and chocking up at the end. This is some amazing stuff...

her wavy brown hair out of her face in a ponytail. - I had to read it a few times before it clicked, maybe add pulled... Her wavy brown hair pulled out of her face by a ponytail?

about the size of a glass vial, telling me to hold out my arm as he does so. - that could be any size, I have a glass vial in one of my books and its huge! So you need to be a little clearer here ;)

All around me, embraces are exchanged, promises were made, and tears flow like a river of sorrow. - I like that...

The chasm in my chest has grown into a ravenous black hole, sucking everything around it into the abyss. - love it :)

9/25/2013 c1 S.D Stevens
Well, you have most certainly grabbed my attention. And I must admit that my heart was pounding as the chapter came to a close. You have me instantly liking the three kids, which is great. Even though you try not to be bias of this new government, the undertone is that something is very very wrong and the price of that wrong is these kids that are conscripted.

I must admit I'm not a fan of first person stories but I always try to get past that because there are some great stories out there, and this is one of them.

There isn't much constructive criticism to give out here other than the first few paragraphs all start with I... its not too bad but does read more like a list of things done, and from the rest of the chapter you can do much better.

I would like to have seen a little more intimidation from the troops in the town hall, even though you are holding back on how the reader should judge the troops, it would still show the power they hold.

I will stick with this story and keep up my reviews. Look forward to the next chapter.

9/23/2013 c4 5Whirlymerle
Last review to return! Just FYI, I have some extra time tonight, but I won’t always return reviews so quickly. I can almost always do it within a week though!

[stopping my punch in it's tracks.] its

[her long legs are muscular, though they still manage to retain their femininity.] hehe, Mathis is a leg guy, eh? ;)

Last chapter, I thought lack of dialogue was natural given what’s going on. This chapter, I feel like abundance of dialogue is natural. You also weave in the background info nicely. I like that Mathis actually hurt Chyler in his determination to survive. It was realistic and added a grim touch that I think the story could use more of.
9/23/2013 c3 Whirlymerle
I like the picture in the opening. Lovely description of the sky. But it’s a bit too happy for me. I’m not getting the “sullen mood” hanging in the air. It doesn’t all have to be gloom and doom, but I’d like to see Mathis think a little bit more often about his friends/home. I mean, he wakes up to gentle conversation like pleasant waterfall—it seems like he’s going on vacation. I feel like, if he’s depressed, even if conversation does sound like waterfall, he’d compare it to something darker instead.

[I think silently] try to avoid adverbs unless you feel like they really add something to the writing. Here, I feel like “silently” is a bit redundant, because thinking is always silent.

Guys and girls share sleeping quarters? Is that really a good idea (from the government’s perspective, what if the girl gets pregnant)? This is interesting. I wouldn’t mind some commentary on it.

I don’t think lack of dialogue made the chapter dull at all.
9/23/2013 c2 Whirlymerle
You set scenes really well. I love the image of the kids being chosen, the imperial anthem playing and Mathis’ mom in scrubs and a ponytail staring at him in horror. I think you have the perfect amount of detail, to hold the emotions of this scene.

What’s the prison brigade? It seems pretty terrible if Mathis actually wants to be healthy. I’d like some background explanation on that.

[hole in my chest has grown into a ravenous black hole] repetition of hole is a little awkward. Try to use a synonym?

I’m really impressed! Your balance of description and dialogue is spot on. I really like the ending where the ramp shuts him inside. I really got the feeling that he’s trapped in. Solid chapter!
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