The old adage goes that “you should not judge a book by its cover” and though it is a virtuous sentiment it is not one that is typically followed. Welcome to day seven of my 31 Days of First Impressions Challenge! In this challenge I will be reading the first entry or chapter of a different serial (or web fiction) and then give my first impressions on them be they good or bad. In short: I will be judging a book by its cover.
Today’s serial is called “Entirely Presenting You” and is written by nippoten.
My eyes are drawn immediately to the header image of the site, an illustration of a figure cloaked in red and covered in blood. The artwork is crisp, and I immediately appreciate how well it contrasts with its stark white negative space and dark grey background. The manga style of the artwork is on the more detailed side, and though I appreciate it, I can easily see a reader who is not into Japanese pop-culture turning away because of it. Anime can be polarizing. As such, I am torn on whether this would be a good tool to weed out the readers who would not be invested in the long run, while taking advantage of like-minded readers, or if it potentially turns away readers who would be interested in the subject of the prose, but not the artwork. Regardless, the artwork is crisp and left a good impression on me… at first, more on that later though.
The navigation of the site was easy and intuitive, and I liked the white on grey layout. It has a nice contrast but does not compete with the writing. The site feels professionally done.
“There was an hour before midnight, but I already wanted to go home.” –Entirely Presenting You, 001 A Fool’s Apple.
While the authors of the other serials I have read this far opted for a short paragraph to start, Entirely Presenting You starts with this single sentence separated from the rest of the prose, and you know what? It works. There is so much going on in this simple sentence that the old Shakespeare quote “brevity is the soul to wit” immediately comes to mind, never mind that the line was uttered by Polonius who is supposed to be foolish, it is an old adage that holds weight. The hook is not urgent, nor is its mystery particularly intriguing, but it gets the job done. I thought this was well done.
Before I begin on the writing, I need to address the “cover” of this chapter. When I said that anime could be polarizing, and that some readers may be put off by it, I was referring to this specifically:
The character here is very young, and the overall tone seems sexual with the flushed face and protruding tongue. To someone who is not familiar with Japanese tropes this could be very off-putting, but what is especially frustrating is that it does not meet the tone of the chapter, or that of the header image. Nippoten appears to be a very talented illustrator, and for that I commend them, but this image is out-of-place, especially given the horror that unfolds.
Now, the writing itself is very good. Told through the first person perspective of someone who is inebriated, the chapter had a lot of charm. The author has a knack for setting up a seemingly innocuous scene and filling it with a sense of horror that is predatory. I found my attention seized by the writing and I especially appreciated the last line of the chapter as it resolves the meaning of the hook and still manages to be suspenseful.
Hitting the “next ” button at the end of the chapter would have been very easy. I would continue to read more, which is the best impression that a serial can make. However, I find myself frustrated as my impressions of the site overall are mixed. I might have found myself walking away with a better impression if it was not for the chapter’s “cover”. I want to be clear and say that I am a fan of Anime and Manga, and have no problem with nippoten’s artistic style. I love the header image. The “cover” however just betrays the overall tone of the author’s writing and I am not sure if a less forgiving reader would have stayed long enough to read the excellent cliffhanger. With that said, fans of horror should devour this chapter easily.
Join me tomorrow for my impressions on Jim Zotewey’s serial The Legion Of Nothing, or check out my own serial: