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1/28/2016 c4 1Cheddar-Graham
RG EF Multi chp no. 1348 #3 of 4

The scene at the start feels awkward, and not just because of its content. I think he'd be more likely to make a run for it once James started stripping than say , I don't think Kyle would use a phrase like 'pin down' if he's only 9 or 10. I feel he's more likely to say 'Please... don't hurt me' or something like that. And why do they have to wash at the same time anyway? I like that you're fully developing your characters with backstories and all - that helps me as a reader to be more invested in them. Maybe you could try other ways of giving the backstory as well in addition to just reporting their past as part of the narrative?
1/28/2016 c3 Cheddar-Graham
RG EF Multi chp no. 1348 #2 of 4

I think your dialogue is quite natural and generally fits the characters in terms of age and background. Still, I'd suggest using more contractions ('m, 'nt, 'd) and hesitations etc. because somehow having them speak only in full sentences makes them sound rather strange. Eg 'If I's you, I'd stay out of this' rather than 'Now boy, there is no need... etc' The pacing is good so far, there's a balance between the two main settings and I assume the two sets of characters will meet up eventually.
1/28/2016 c2 Cheddar-Graham
RG EF Multi chp no. 1348 #1 of 4

I like the details - you don't just say 'guns', you give the specific model. However, I think there are places where you could cut down on the detail, eg when you introduce the apartment, you don't need to say so much about the other tenants since you're going to introduce them in full later. Too much info slows down reading and can make readers lose interest. James has developed more in this chapter, but he still feels rather 'cold' to me despite his little crying episode. I think he's more the type who'd show his emotions physically eg hitting something.
1/28/2016 c1 3WaywardKnight
Well I was hooked by paragraph one. This story feels good and flows well enough and I cant wait to see what else you have in store for it. I will read more of your story tomorrow but its getting late for me at the moment.
1/27/2016 c1 4lookingwest
Have you read the book Station Eleven by Emily Mandel? I highly recommend it if you haven't!

The beginning was far too tell-y for me, but I suspect you knew what you were doing when you wrote it. I just wonder if the information could just as easily be incorporated into the second part and throughout the entire novel. Some of the mystery of virus/zombie stories in this genre are how things happened in the first place, and I feel like in the opening you show us all your cards. Unfortunately, the cards are not super unique, either. This feels like it's unfolding just like any other virus story might. That might be another reason to not show all your cards all at once - keeping a little bit of mystery in regards to the outbreak and what it actually is could help the reader invest in wanting to know more. This genre can be really hard just because it's been done so many times before that you really want to bring a unique flavor to its mythology. It's ambitious but I totally think you can do it!

And, while I'd say that character is of course something that will invest the reader, I agree with Cheddar that the mechanical tell-y voice in the opening seems to have sank itself into the narrative of James. Maybe consider changing the perspective to first person for this novel if it's going to focus only on James in this way? It might be a good idea to force more of an emotional response from the narration and lean more into that "show" tone. Pacing could also slow down - and maybe up James' age to 16? I'd buy the Harley bike more - I've had to do a lot of research on motorcycles for one of my own stories, and I question whether or not a 14 year old boy (depending on puberty) would be able to actually drive a Harley. Maybe a BMW of a certain make/type - primarily there are bikes (not Harleys) that are made more for women as well, so would be smaller, easier to control. OR you could also get rid of the description of him looking small on it - I'd probably buy that a 14 year old who /has/ underwent puberty already is tall and able to control it but the way James is described makes him seem more child-like than teenager-ish so I wasn't exactly picturing a boy who's physically done with growing.

Lots of positives here though. Despite a fast pace, you did manage to get James rolling on his own and get the story started - no lingering with the family there! If this is an adventure story, you're on the right track. We've also got some description of zombie-like creatures, so it's a cool scene to open with - I'd almost even suggest cutting out everything up to that point where he boards the bus. Start with him right before he gets pushed/pinned to the ground, then really dig into the meat of the scene there. Since we have that opening, we already know about the panic/congestion of transportation in the country - we don't really need to see it played out with James bored in the opening moments. We could just skip right to the gore stuff, heh. You've got promise here though, for sure! I feel like I've read something from you in the past that involved zombie genre things - the authority of the world building comes across very clearly, which is another big plus. For now I'd say keep writing!
1/26/2016 c4 6Victoria Best

Yay, another chapter :) this was also strong. I loved the dialogue in this, particularly the verbal standoff with Terry and his gang. There was a lot of tension in that scene and it also felt very psychological as James tried to work out whether he could trust them or not, and then again when he tried to do this. Interesting writing.

I also loved the ending, where we see more of this deliberating as he considers again whether to trust them, for example, "He sighed. What would he do?" This was excellently written - I could really feel his frustration, and again it reminds us how dangerous their world is and how they have to constantly be wary.

I have a few comments, but nothing major. I caught a bit of "listing" going on in this chapter. One example was the paragraph with these lines, "James took / he laid the cut out / he threw every stitch / Kyle looked at him." Do you see what I am trying to say? There was also a lot in Derek's perspective when we see the run up of events, and then when we see Kyles' events also. Find more descriptive, interesting ways to describe a series of events. Mix up the structure, put in some interesting descriptions, break it down or break it up, etc. Try not to list.

I do not think Kyle would get undressed in his company, considering the circumstances.

"In the last forty eight hours, I lost my family..." While I enjoyed this paragraph, because it clearly showed the horrors James has had to face and how emotionally damaged this has made him, it felt a little long to me and so slowed down the piece a little.

Otherwise this was another fast, intense read. This is turning out to be a roller coaster of a ride! :D thanks for the read and keep writing!
1/25/2016 c2 C. V. Atwood
You do setting so well. The way trash is everywhere just tells you people don't care about expectations of civilization anymore. They are too worried about survival, something again reinforced by the boarded up door.

There are some weird phrasings-extra or incorrect words throughout. I might suggest doing a reread to catch some of these. For example, "had still be arguing." The line that starts out about hearing military reports from cars should also be a comma, not a semicolon.

Otherwise this is a great story. Definitely one of the better ones I've read on this site. Keep up the good work!
1/24/2016 c3 Victoria Best
I liked this chapter. You write the action scenes well. They all feel fast, slick and full of impact.

While I love your opening line - it had some lovely description - it felt a little long. I would recommend either punctuating it or cutting it down.

You also tend to use longer sentences than you actually need to. For example, "Cup of tea he had made." You do not need the "he had made" part. It is obvious that he is the one who made the cup of tea - there is no one else there. You could just say "sipping his cup of tea." Another line was "unsheathing his knife as he did so," which could be shortened down to "whilst unsheathing his knife," or "and unsheathed his knife." In writing, less is always more, and sentences like these are referred to as 'run on' sentences.

I love some of the lines you use, such as, "Vibrating from the caffeine." You use good description and I could visualise everything.

Also, it's great that even though there were a lot of characters, several more introduced in this chapter, you introduce them in a simple way that means we can easily establish who is who and remember them. Great job with that, because I know how hard it is trying to work with a big cast of characters and making sure everyone gets a proper introduction.

Jesus Christ. You aren't kidding when you said this was going to be graphic. I can really see the horror now of the world he lives in, not just because of the reaper disease, but because all the chaos this has created, with lack of prisons, law enforcement, etc, meaning psychos like this can thrive. This chapter made me feel sick, and this line broke my heart, "For a second, it was Robert." However, maybe you could tone it down a little though, only because you're writing on Fictionpress and kids have access to the site.

Finally, I want to finish by saying James is cool. He came across as a little cold to me in the first two chapters but I have really warmed to him in this chapter. He's a strong, complex protagonist.

Thanks for the read and keep writing!
1/24/2016 c1 1Cheddar-Graham

I think this reads very smoothly so far. The prose is sparse, not much description of the setting and some readers won't like that. However, it's fine with me since (a) long detailed descriptions bore me anyway; and (b) you already told us this is a Northern US/Canada/Mexico setting so we can use our general knowledge to fill in the blank space. In terms of narrating voice, I'm getting a cold factual tone, very impersonal and detached, something like a voiceover in a technical how-to video. This works for the first part, I think, but for James' POV I think it gets a little too dry so I'm not feeling James very much.
1/24/2016 c1 C. V. Atwood
This is a really great first chapter that truly dives into the action. I love your balance of characterization, plot, and description. It's easy to fall into doing too much of one or the other, particularly in the introductory phases of a story. Things like having James grab his brothers' hands shows him to be mature, but the way he reverts to pulling his knees up and sobbing shows he is still very much a kid.

I also liked you introductory paragraphs. The way you introduce the Reaper Virus in relation to H1N1 and other real world viruses-"a cough on the subway"-really lends it some credence. It doesn't feel like a fiction. It feels like something real that we should all dread. And the way some people are getting pulled and others or not is very much like the real world to me. There are those who are considered more valuable in times of crisis, and it is often decided by their background. Good work!
1/22/2016 c2 6Victoria Best

This was a powerful chapter. I enjoyed the developments in the plot and in the characters. James is the most interesting to me, so far. I love the line "it wasn't paranoia if it was justified." I can't tell whether there is genuine reason for James to be suspicious of Jackson, or if this is just a sign that he suffers from paranoia.

That scene with the infected ripping the woman's boyfriend's throat out... Yuck. You write horror really well. I could clearly visualise the scene and it gave me the chills. I'm impressed! :D

I caught one mistake - "rushed toned." Should be "rushed tone." Also, I think you have a tendency to say too much when only a few words will do, but in writing, everything should be succinct. For example, the paragraph when he is describing the run front New York could be shortened right down. You've got an action story here, so long paragraphs just slow the pace down, when I think a story like this should be more fast, powerful and fluent.

Other than that, this was a solid chapter and I'm looking forward to reading more!

Keep writing!
1/21/2016 c2 11Myst Marshall
Enjoyed this chapter as well as the last. I'm glad we got to be introduced to some new characters. Also glad to know that James isn't completely merciless; people tend to start thinking about themselves in times like this. Interesting setting, I like the apocalyptic feel to this story, maybe it's cause I'm addicted to reading these books. :)

Some nit picky things I saw:

At one point, you didn't put an apostrophe with Jackson's apartment.

"Slow up." Maybe it's a slang that is used? But normally I hear it said as, "Slow down."

"He gramps." Believe you are missing a y.

Oh and one last thing, I wouldn't suggest putting an note saying, "See author's note below." That really ruined the flow of the story for me, especially since your A/N is only one sentence long. Readers will eventually see the note at the end.

That's all I have to say. I hope you update soon. :) Definitely entertaining and I love where you are going with this storyline. Keep writing!

1/21/2016 c1 Myst Marshall
At one point in the story you spelled curb, "kerb." I never seen it spelled this way but ignore me if that is how you spell the word in other places.

Overall, first chapter nicely done. I loved the brief intro, it allowed me to understand what was going on before jumping into the story.

And James! I could feel the chaos all around him and the pain from his hit on the asphalt. Good job with the attack scene as well, I liked how James did what he had to do in order to survive. However, maybe let him feel a bit of remorse for killing someone/something later? It'll make him feel more realistic.

Thanks for the read!

1/7/2016 c1 6Victoria Best

I enjoyed this. You wrote the action scenes well - it felt fast, smooth and nail-biting - and I found myself smiling when James rides out on his Harley-Davidson. Great ending to a thrilling chapter.

The beginning drew me into the story, particularly the line, "Those laws won't predict when a virus will strike." Very true and well-written line and acted as a great hook to grab my attention.

You also do a great job with the structure, for example the use of curt sentences in this section, "A cough on the subway. An H1N1 bug. Bird flu."

My favourite line has to be "the reaper had spread its wings and flown." Very chilling line and I can see very clearly why the virus has been nicknamed the 'reaper.'

James is a strong, certainly brave protagonist and I am looking forward to reading more about him and how he is going to survive this apocalypse and whether he will be reunited with his brothers.

"Your right." This should be, "you're right."

Also, if I were you I would remove the reference to JFK airport - readers will immediately connect your piece to The Strain (the main parts happen at this airport, which also involves stuff happening in the holding cells) because it is so early on in your piece. Just use a different airport and this should sort the problem out.

Otherwise, this was a great start and I shall be continuing to read. Keep writing!

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