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 Fifteen 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.
For today’s serial I read Sanctioned by ChrysKelly!
The website appears to be using the 2016 theme for WordPress. There is very little to distract here, and aside from the engine that runs the site, the layout is very minimalist (the chapter I read had two images in total). The header image appears to be a tie-dye colored crystalline structure (maybe neurons?) that, though pleasing to the eye, told me very little about what I was about to read and felt a little out-of-place. The second image on the site that I saw was that of a very young girl, with the name “Beki” next to it. This felt even more out-of-place. Maybe it was the anachronistic pairing of images, but I got a nagging sense that I was on the wrong page and that I had accidentally stumbled onto some click-bait. This sense is not entirely rational and I can neither defend or explain it.
Overall though, the fact that the website is as clean as it is, served it well in that navigation was intuitive, and that there was nothing to distract me from the actual contents of the chapter. This site is not flashy, but the design decision to limit bulk was a good one.
“My friends raised their glasses in yet another celebratory toast, and a half-second later my raised drink joined theirs. My smile was as fake as Stacey’s hair and nails, and I worried I looked as green as I felt.” –Sanctioned, Chapter One: Breaking News.
This was not something that grabbed my attention, nor was it something that demanded that I read on. I have come across a lot of hooks like this in my challenge, and there is nothing wrong with them. However, an urgent hook has the benefit of keeping someone on the page and away from the other tabs or bookmarks in their browser. Considering this, a really good hook is triple important on the internet, where an easy distraction is a click away.
I still felt that this opening was charming though. The idea of being reluctant at a party is one that is relatable, and it set an interesting tone to the rest of the chapter.
ChrysKelly’s writing is impressive. Where there was missteps in the confusing images and a hook that was not immediately compelling, the rest of the chapter more than makes up for that. The vocabulary in the writing is eclectic, and may be one of the better chapters I have read in this regard. I found reading this chapter to be an honest pleasure.
I was also excited to see such a diverse cast of characters. Each one of them is interesting in their own right, and their opposing worldviews and personalities clash just enough to keep things interesting. I also found it interesting that the main character in this chapter may have a world view that the author does not share, which is usually a sign of an impressive story-teller. Sanctioned is set up in an alternate timeline in a super hero genre, and I found that the diverse range of characters to be a genuine breath of fresh air in a genre that is well tread in.
The best part of Sanction’s website is its writing, as it should be. I would go on to read the next chapter.
Join me tomorrow for my impressions on ChrysKelly’s other serial Paladins of the Archipelagos, or check out my own serial: