Title: My Effect: Divergence Author: Lanilen Rating: T Genre: Adventure/Sci-Fi Status: WIP - Used to update monthly, usually 3-4 months now Fandom: Mass Effect Pairings: None Summary: Has your sense of direction ever gotten you into trouble? Mine's so bad that it's capable of breaking the laws of physics. Once, I went for a walk in New Zealand in 2014, and ended up on Mindoir during a batarian raid in 2170. Where I met someone. Self-insert (SI), cover by Pretend Fiction. https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10980004/1/My-Effect-Divergence Disclaimer: Yes, this is a self-insert. The horrible stigma on this trope is not lost on me. Before reading this fic, I was pretty firmly in the camp that thought SIs were bad as a rule, but have since come to believe that there are some exceptions, especially for video game fandoms. First, this fic has a quasi sister-fic called My Effect: Convergence, written by the same author, that I may submit later, but it's my opinion that this one is significantly better. The two share a premise, with different insert points, this one 13 years before the beginning of ME1, and this one during the Eden Prime mission. They update in unison. Always on the same day, a few minutes apart. The self-insert aspect of this fic does occasionally show some of the failings the trope is known for, but it never devolves into self-glorification, Gary Stuism or overly meta crack. The mindset, actions and especially the progression of the protagonist is consistently believable and relatable. There several reasons why I like this fic: The protagonist's relationship with Shepard (who is sixteen at the start of this fic) is complex and (occasionally) satisfying. Minor Spoilers, but if you know anything about the Mindoir character background, you'll know it ends in tragedy. The author does a brilliant job of showing how the protagonist ends up an important person in Shepard's life though a slow buildup of trust after sharing a traumatic event. It doesn't feel forced or hamfisted. The protagonists rise to badassery occurs over the course of many years, through official military training with the Systems Alliance. Though often times self-doubting, the protagonist continually rises to the occasion, succeeding against the odds. Don't worry, the author makes it clear as the story progresses that Shepard is definitely much more capable than the protagonist. She's well on her way to being the Commander Shepard we know from the trilogy. I'd probably accept the charge that the pacing is a little slow at first, but the intro-arc's are engaging and interesting in their own. The author introduces a cast of new characters that are multi-dimensional and important throughout the plot. After a lengthy buildup/training sequence, the protagonist beings to assert some major affects on the ME timeline. I don't want to give any spoilers, but the second half of this fic is where it really begins to shine. The way the protagonist shares his knowledge of the timeline and the Reapers is gripping and often balanced on a knife's edge. The fic really earns its subtitle "Divergence." I won't say any more. That said, the fic definitely isn't perfect. Obviously if you don't like the protagonist, you won't like the fic, that's a given, but mostly comes down to taste. In that sense, perhaps this fic will be hit or miss. Some may perceive the protagonist as too angsty, but much of the emotional turmoil resonated with me. As mentioned before, the story drags a bit in the second act (from when the leave Mindoir to when the protag begins making major changes), though (to me) it never became a slog. It takes a long time before we start to see all the squadmates and other major characters in the series (besides Shepard). If anything causes people to drop out of this fic, it will probably be that, but the OCs introduced definitely held the fic together for me until it really picks up later on. Technically the story is written satisfactorily, but nothing too special. The tone is very casual, written from the perspective of your average person who is in way over there head, and knows enough to get themselves into trouble. Solid 4/5 overall for me. It probably begins closer to 3/5, but progresses towards 5/5 in the latter half.