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WIP Hell is Other People by amitai - T - Alex Rider

Discussion in 'Books' started by Republic, Dec 26, 2015.

  1. Republic

    Republic The Snow Queen Prestige DLP Supporter

    Sep 1, 2010
    Germany occupied Greece
    High Score:
    Title: Hell is Other People
    Author: amitai
    Rating: T
    Genre: Adventure/Drama
    Status: WIP
    Fandom: Alex Rider
    Pairings: N/A
    Summary: After a series of attacks, Alex's entire class is sent to be trained at the SAS training camp, to give them a degree of self sufficiency to help them defend themselves. Unfortunately for Alex, he has to go with them... and not get noticed as different.

    So, this fic.

    Let me preface my rec by noting that no knowledge of the Alex Rider books (I think there was also a movie?) is necessary. The concept is easy to make out, relevant facts of the past are exposition'd when necessary, and (most of) the canon events have, as I understand it, already happened and aren't too relevant to the fic as it is.

    It can be read with no knowledge of even who Alex himself is. Take it as original fiction if you want, all that you need to know is adequately explained inside.

    Now, on to why I think this is worthy of the Library.

    First of all, the technical aspect. The author is a skilled writer insofar as the language itself is concerned. She (I think) writes long, clean chapters and the update rate, while slowed, hasn't stopped or entered into the realm of taking years. The fic is technically sound and has a wordcount more than solid enough to form an opinion on.

    Now, as for content.

    I'm pretty sure I found the fic from DLP but a title search of the Library didn't reveal anything related to this, so I assume it was the Almost Rec section.

    I can see why it was posted there instead of For Review. By that time, the plot was still stuck on the camp. Don't get me wrong, the Camp premise and situation isn't terrible, but depending on one's point of view it can be argued that it dragged on, that it went to some unnecessary places, that perhaps it wasn't particularly interesting even if they author did a great job at presenting it.

    I don't quite agree with that as I (mostly) liked the camp arc. Having said that, I probably wouldn't have put it up for review before they left the camp.

    Because they do. The camp is not simply the basic premise to create a new situation, it's part of a larger, over-arching plot that's well thought out and executed.

    The real worth of this fic, it's real shine, comes after the camp and on the conspiracy/situation that escalates from there. I won't spoil, but it was reading those chapters that made me convinced that this fic deserved a chance.

    The author's real writing skill, I feel, shines most in the latest few chapters. She manages to maintain the mystery of the plot while balancing several PoV characters and unique situations and keeping a firm grasp of all of them. It is very hard to maintain characterization and attention to detail at this level with this many characters involved, but the author manages it while at the same time advancing the plot at a decent pace and keeping Alex firmly in the protagonist role.

    If anyone began reading this and gave up at some point, reconsider picking it up. The last several chapters are worth, and they retroactively paint the camp sections in a better, more interesting light.

    There's some stuff that could be labeled child torture involved at some chapters. This should be expected considering it's a spy story based on spy novels, but I felt I should put a disclaimer in regardless. It's nothing too graphic and certainly not gory, but yeah.

    The author is also skilled at keeping the MC's skillset relevant while also exploring the darker aspects of having a child be part of something as dangerous and traumatizing as a classic spy agency.

    4/5 from me, mostly because it's still not finished and because the camp section could probably be written in a more condensed fashion and not include quite as much stuff.
  2. Francis D. Saber

    Francis D. Saber Second Year

    Oct 29, 2008
    i found this fic on nonjon's favorite's page, been wanting to try it for ages. your review is the final push i need.
  3. Palindrome

    Palindrome Magma Moderator Moderator DLP Supporter

    Apr 9, 2009
    I really like this story - I actually read it once years ago and have reread it now that there's more of it. There are some surprising gems in the Alex Rider fandom, considering its size.

    Early on in the story, I'd have said 5/5. It does a great job of explaining Alex's life, and the situation he's put in is quite fun to read about. Perhaps it's the relative uniqueness of the fandom, but it feels fresh and interesting.

    Unfortunately, from there the story drags out a bit too much: something bad happens to the main character and the response, from a literary point of view, is very overblown. Chapters upon chapters follow by exploring everyone's reactions to it, and they're constantly arguing and assigning blame. It's not bad, but it definitely drags on. So much of it could be condensed down into one chapter, and it's a little frustrating.

    In more recent parts of the story, however, we've finally moved past it and things start to pick up again in a major way. The new situation Alex is thrown into is actually really interesting, even intriguing in some ways, and I'm loving watching how it unfolds.

    There are a lot of good parts of this story. It's interesting, entertaining, novel, and well-written. What brings it down a little is that it sometimes smacks of the hurt-comfort trope that pervades the fandom: characters overreact to bad things that happen and people occasionally hold the idiot ball in order to let those bad things happen in the first place.

    Despite this, I'd say the negatives aren't too overwhelming, thankfully. Ultimately, the main character is skilled and highly competent, and even if he does reach his breaking point a fair few times during the course of this story, the narrative doesn't forget it.

    This is a strong 4/5. Readable and enjoyable.
  4. 13thadaption

    13thadaption Seventh Year DLP Supporter

    Jun 5, 2008
    Not the Hammer
    You know, I tried this when it was pretty new. And I seem to remember finding it not worth reading. Which is strange, because I like Alex Rider, and you have to take what uou can get in small fandoms. But I've been seeing it pop up, frequently incongruously, on favorite lists for years now. I guess I'll have to give it another shot.

    Holy shit. It's almost 200k words!? For a Rider fic? That has to be far longer than any of the books, which I'd ball park in the 40-80k range.
  5. Download

    Download Chief Warlock DLP Supporter

    Aug 6, 2014
    Adelaide, Australia
    I struggle with the idea that they'd send a bunch of school kids to the Brecon Beacons to train with the SAS unless they were recruiting them like they did with Alex.

    I'd give it a 2/5 if I could get past the third chapter.
  6. Palindrome

    Palindrome Magma Moderator Moderator DLP Supporter

    Apr 9, 2009
    Well, there is actually a better reason for that, and it's more sinister than it seems.
  7. Vira

    Vira Order Member

    Dec 20, 2006
    I wasn’t going to reread this. I read it years and years ago and if I found it angsty then, god knows how bad it’ll be now. But I was on an Alex Rider kick and this story appeared in every damn favorite’s list, so I eventually gave up.

    It’s not as bad I remember. It helps that the story has doubled in length so I can now see I point of all this. Despite that, I know this isn’t a fanfic everyone will like. It’s hurt/comfort like whoa, and though Alex never revels in angst or his situation (a miracle in this genre), it’s how the other characters react to him. Alex Rider alone is a fucked up premise and this fic explores how disturbing it is that a fourteen-year-old does and is meant to do all of this. Because of that, the leadership of MI6 gets the short end of the stick here, but to be honest there’s no other option when treating the premise realistically. Other members of MI6 avoid this fate, so I wouldn’t call it bashing.

    The pacing is mixed. Alex and his class eventually leave the SAS camp, but it’s so late in the fic (as it is now), I wonder if it wouldn’t be better to split that part off into a sequel. I wouldn’t mind if the update rate isn’t awful. This is nearly a decade old fic and I’m not filled with hope when the author jokes that at the rate they're going, it’ll probably be another eighteen chapters until the end. The ending is definitely in sight, but maybe it’s best to hold off on reading for another five years and see if it’s complete then.

    Otherwise, I enjoyed it a lot.

    Last edited: Mar 29, 2016