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 ten 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.
In today’s challenge I will be going over “BreakDown” by Snowmeltss.
BreakDown is hosted on Royal Road Legends, a site I discussed earlier on my impressions of unice5656’s Fantasia. What I said about the site holds true to me now, though it is beautiful, once you have seen it it losses its luster. As such, Snowmeltss’ work really did have to be strong to make a lasting impression on me.
With that said, the “cover” for her serial is brilliant in color and in concept and it did well to demand my attention.
The Splash Page:
The summary on the splash page is well written. Though Virtual Reality is prominent in it as it is in Fantasia, the overall tone is darker and the stakes are much higher. I felt that the summery was very compelling and it left me curious enough that I was eager to start reading.
Like Fantasia, this serial also benefited through a perceived quality because of the great review marks featured on the splash page (they are all nearly fives). These rave reviews carried a lot of weight in my perception of what I was about to read.
Toothpaste. *Bleep* A Carton of Milk. *Bleep* A box of cereal. *Bleep* Bananas. The young cashier sighed. The only thing worse than monotonously scanning barcodes was breaking the rhythm to create them. –Breakdown, Chapter 1: Accused.
This is not a gun to the face while being blindfolded kind of hook. This does not scream urgency or create suspense. It isn’t that kind of hook, but it is a good hook. That hook summarizes and distills the soul crushing tedium of working in the retail industry perfectly, and it does it efficiently. Anyone who has had to work a job like that, or been stuck in a service industry knows the feeling. The prose is not flowery but there is a lot of personality in it. I liked it. I may be biased here though, as I have worked this kind of job before, someone else might find it boring.
I was very pleased to find that the chapter revolves around a female lead that is well written. Honestly, I have engulfed a lot of sci-fi since my youth, and the bulk of it is written by men, for men, with male leads. It. Gets. Boring. Breaking this mold is a breath of fresh air, especially when it is done well.
The chapter seemed to lag at some point, as the protagonist is fixed in one place at work. I also found my suspension of disbelief weaken as the character is somehow able to gain custody of her younger sister despite not being an adult because of “loopholes”. However, the prose itself is well written and intriguing. It perfectly describes the loathing one feels while they are stuck at work doing a job that is meaningless. The observations of the character are all ones that I could relate to and I appreciated the dry wit and humor. I was honestly very willing to ignore its small faults because I was so immersed.
The chapter ends with an urgent cliffhanger. I got the impression that things would snowball quickly and that the pace would pick up quickly.
I very much want to read the next chapter (damn this challenge!) The writing was charming, the character interesting, and the cliffhanger a good one. It better not disappoint me when I am done with this 31 day challenge and I get the chance to read it further, because right now I am really enjoying what I read.
Join me tomorrow for my impressions on LEErickson’s Crowmakers, or check out my own serial: