• Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Mandamon last won the day on February 26 2013

Mandamon had the most liked content!

Community Reputation

946 Worldbringer


About Mandamon

  • Rank
    Complex and Unnecessary
  • Birthday May 26

Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Location
    North Carolina
  • Interests
    Practicing and Teaching Karate, Reading, Writing, Gaming, Tinkering
  1. The beginning of the chapter reads much smoother. Just had a few comments, below. The rest of the chapter is very interesting. As I suspected, they get a ride in the train, so I assume things will move to the "front." I felt like there was a lot of skipping over meetings and confrontations that would be good to know about, as the way you did things rushed things along quite a bit. We don't even know if the others are alive, after whatever questioning they went through. I suspect they are, but you're using worldbuilding I don't know about (inquisitors) to move things along and it doesn't feel earned. That said, I do like that we get to a new revelation, even though I'm confused about it. Now I'm wondering what the God King is and how much the general population knows about the title? parasite? person? Interested to read more. Notes while reading: pg 4: I'd still like a better description of the width and height of the tunnel. They're spending a lot of time walking to the alcove--were they sleeping on the tracks? Is there a platform? It feels like the tunnel is pretty large. pg 6/7: the descent into panic reads a lot better. It still describes everything but is a lot shorter and punchier. pg 7: "the frode" --what is this? pg 8: "blorst, blorst, first" --I think I get this? She's losing words? It's still sort of confusing and hard to follow. The slashes actually work better for me. I don't know of an easy way to do this though... pg 10: "plain white candle" --this is better and doesn't cast as much importance on why it is a candle. I'm still curious since this seems to define a personality, but I'm willing to find out after the crisis is past. pg 11: "shoulder into it" --into what? pg 11: "Magnetized?” --Is this common enough that a kid (even R) would think of it as a solution? If there was a (I assume) big heavy metal door, I'd just first assume it was stuck or rusted. pg 11: "Blue, she thought, like the flame of my soul lantern." --hmmm...this is starting to attach significance I don't know about again. I seem to recall blue is connected to the God King or something? But what color are the others' lanterns naturally? We were told earlier that M's turned red when she was angry, but I don't know what color it changed from. pg 11: "give me a ticket for loitering" --this seems...unlikely. Is giving out tickets even a thing? pg 11: "fell fell to the ground" "she felt unconscious " --typo, and is "felt" supposed to be "fell?" pg 12: "It’s been two years since that... ordeal with the princess" --glad we're starting to see a connection. But is this the deal that happened earlier in the book, setting it two years ago, or is this the original thing where the princess went comatose (?) WRS starting to kick in. Basically just wondering if the plotlines are congruent. pg 13: "so old he should have been on his deathbed." --interesting. I'm very confused by everything that's going on, but willing to wait it out a bit longer to find out. pg 13: Mother/General G is kind of confusing. Did we learn she was also a general? can't remember. pg 14: "as strange as it sounded to be comparing a skin color to food." --ehhh...I'm not sure hanging a lantern on this makes up for it. I don't know if I'm qualified to judge though. pg 14: "Z understood to be a lie immediately" --I like how she understands this. pg 15: "I know about the demon egg and the message it played for you." --this interesting technique. It gets rid of a lot of confusion, but almost seems like cheating. I would have liked to see some of how they got the information, to justify it. pg 15: "she knew the woman could be no other than--" --wait, she did? How does she know this? I almost think all this is moving too fast. It gets rid of a lot of tedious "who are you" discussion, but again, almost feels like cheating. pg 16: “I… don’t know what you mean,” --I'm with Z, though I hope an explanation is coming. pg 16: "because it isn’t unique. Only one type of person has a soul lantern like that.” --If only one person has a lantern like this, then isn't it unique by definition? pg 17: "are a potential host for the God King.” --ok, that's sort of what I was suspecting? Except I still don't know enough about the world. is the God King some sort of parasite? Do normal people know this? From everything previous, I was assuming it was a post you trained for. Of course, all this can be answered later. It's just that this is the first time "host" has been thrown into things, which brings up a much different set of connotations.
  2. Yes, this reads a lot better than before. The new setup in the beginning helps to justify E's decision at the end of the chapter. Didn't find anything too big. A couple typos and a few points of confusion. The emotions and motivations this time around all seem to be in place. The mention of the presidium is helpful, but also some confusion with the presidium vs. the science director and what the relationship is. Not something that has to be explained now, but hopefully in the next couple chapters. Notes while reading: pg 2: E seems unreasonably upset about a rabbit and a stone. Ah, ok. The stone is from Earth. Why would she have thrown it then? pg 5: "especially digitally on hide" --indeed! pg 5: "wasn’t going to say she was worried" --so is the message on a hide a covert message? But then E says it out loud a moment later. What's the reason for not just sending the message? pg 5: "especially if you wife" --your wife pg 6: "E’s still shone lily white" --So how long has she been here? I don't think this was answered in the first go-round. If she's still thinking of it as a way station, it's probably only been a couple years? pg 8: "elbowed the side of a dune" --eh? How do you do this? pg 10: The new/updated beginning is very good and sets the tone a lot better. pg 10: "Funnel increasing in diameter" --does E see the funnel before the AI? She makes a conclusion about it as if she's seen it. pg 11: "watched the funnel continue to bloat across the horizon" --a little confused here. Is the funnel what brings the M? If so, then how do they get so close when the funnel is far away? pg 11: "Two riders on beetleback exploded from the sand....She had a minute, maybe, before they beetles reached her" --ah, so they are farther away. Talking about them exploding up and E's adrenaline surging made me think they were much closer. pg 13: "she really hadn’t expected them too" --to pg 13: "The p wanted their tech—whatever it was that allowed them to survive outside the colony" --Do we know it's tech? E's attitude toward how the M dress suggests they don't have anything useful. pg 16: "occasionally, bad moustaches drawn on in marker. " --lol
  3. This was a good sequel chapter to the action in the last one. We get a chance to decompress and find out more about what's going on. I'd have liked some more questions in the last chapter about A so they can be properly answered here. I also felt there wasn't enough time spent on conclusions. A problem would be stated, and then not really followed up on: there's poison ivy, What do we do next, A got outed, A is partially responsible for the deaths... All are stated questions, but don't really go anywhere. Maybe some of these are answered in the second half? I agree. I'd like to see what you have planned for the rest of the story. I can point out what inconsistencies I see without forgetting what's happened up until now. I do appreciate that you've given M at least some kindness, so she's not just plain evil. Again, I think it will help if we learn why she helped A, when she was poisoning the girls. Notes while reading: pg 1: There's a lot of the dog rolling on a dead thing. It was fine as a joke at the end of the last chapter, but I don't know why we need to cover it again. pg 2: "made my stomach growl" --After seeing the dead bodies? Come to think of it, there's not a lot of resolution to that thought from last chapter. A kid just sort of shrugs off being in a fight with supernatural forces and dead bodies. pg 4: "Half of what ghosts are is memory." --It would be good for D to make this observation in the last chapter as a possible reason why A didn't do anything. Then it can be confirmed here. pg 5: "Poison ivy grew all around the edges of the clearing, and there was no way to avoid going through it." --Soooo...what did they do? Just tromp through it? Step carefully? I assume they at least tried not to get any on them. pg 6: “The day someone outed me to the floor supervisor.” --interesting that this has a bigger presence to a ghost that death (Not a criticism, but interesting from an outside perspective to know that this has so much impact). pg 6: "“Most of my friends at the mill knew I was gay. They accepted me as a boy even though I was born with a female body." --But one is a gay issue and one is a trans/enby issue, yes? Not that they couldn't have accepted both, but one sentence doesn't necessarily lead to the next. pg 7: "I didn’t ask her about the poison. What she’d just done for me was rare in my day.” --that's an interesting moral question for a kid's book, or really any book. M is literally killing kids... pg 8: "when A died I learned the truth" --how? pg 8: "“It wasn’t your fault.” --I mean, it sort of was... pg 9: "while I looked through my phone." --I thought with the fuss at the beginning of the chapter, no one had any phones. Was E lazy enough that they didn't take their own phone out to check the time? pg 9: "How long did we have before M left Mom’s car somewhere and the mannequins?" --This sentence doesn't seem complete.
  4. Thank goodness! In all, I thought this was a good chapter, if a little rough. We're back to Q&M's desperate bantering, which is always a plus. I though a few of the insults near the beginning were sort of generic, but other than that good. I'm mainly having a problem (somewhat continued from last chapter) with Q's motivations. There are more bits and pieces of his old life thrown in, but I'm still not completely clear on why he's so willing to risk everything in this. I think addressing some of the concerns in the last 2-3 Q&M chapters will help clear these up. And I believe this is the first completely new chapter I've read this time, right? On to new words! Notes while reading pg 2: "Plane was only the quickest way to " --the plane? pg 3: "they will hang this on me" --this what? escaping from the police? The murder? pg 4: "the dirty also represented proof" --I vaguely remember this from the last chapter, but do we know what it is or why M planted it? What is it going to prove? pg 4: "even without K being there to meet them" --Would K have any way to get there faster than them? Why is this a concern? pg 5: "You’ll crash us, you lunatic!" --I thought they were already crashing? pg 6: “Sometimes, it was just me and M.” --Good detail. So Q knows him very well! pg 6: "trying to scratch its own back" --it's trying to go in loops? pg 7: "Perhaps a suppressed desire to see J again?" --but she's dead, yes? pg 8: "blood rushing to his sense of the ridiculous." --I don't think this joke quite (heh) landed... pg 9: "Going up against completely unprepared" --up against him? pg 11: "The android straightened easily," --There wasn't anything about the android in the wreck. What happened to him? pg 12: "whipping its head back and causing it to stagger" resistant are the androids? Can they be stunned? I would guess Q would just hurt his fist on the android's metal face. pg 13: "As you know, a good punch can seriously injure a human.”" --huh? But Q punched an android. pg 13: "The Merrion and everything else" --oh no! I'm surprised Q didn't swerve back to get it. pg 13: "it was a symbol of his separation from a life that he was very determined to leave behind, but which had caught up with him at last" --I'm not fully convinced on Q's change of heart yet. The suit was a big part of the last book and he went to great lengths to keep it safe. I haven't seen that big of a shift in his personality yet.
  5. Totally depends on how much one puts into critiquing, I suppose. I would tend to suggest two purely from the POV that I will probably pick up my guitar and learn/play along in addition to reviewing the lyrics. Also from the POV that I would prefer to be more focused on one of two different things, if you see what I mean? I'd also say maybe two at most. It actually took me about the same time to critique the song as a 2-3k entry, just because I had to think more in depth about the words.
  6. It's for a shared-universe anthology. The key part of it is how the syndicate corporations fight each other.
  7. Thanks @industrialistDragon! Great points on the personality. I'm going to have to find some other places to punch this up in the first section. It's going to be developed a lot more in the next few parts, but it sounds like it's just not working here. Some of this may be the cyberpunk genre, but yeah, I'll work on the personality. From what I've read of this universe, a lot of it focuses on how bad and dystopian the corporations are. That's good, as this will lead into the next section. There's hope! Speaking of hope, the submission period ends on the 10th, so after that I'll be waiting to hear if anything actually comes of this...
  8. Yay! Another Falcon update!
  9. Not an acronym, just slang, at least as far as I know. Goodness knows where it came from. *pushes up nerd glasses* It was coined in Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land as meaning "to fully understand a thing."
  10. I guess I'm in the minority that I had several problems with plotting and timing on this chapter. First, I don't think it actually adds anything we don't know, and along with the strange changes in E, it makes things confusing for me. Second, something's not right about the sequence with E and M "finding" what happened, but I'm not sure what. I think E should catch on that M has already done the work and is getting her to go over it again? Third, this disbelief continues with E just sitting around for 3 days until actually doing something. Her type of personality wouldn't sit still until she'd found something. This exactly. Unless there's been a change in the first few chapters, this is a big emotional shi Notes while reading: pg 3: "had no interest in how his health was." --what does this have to do with the opacity of the windows? pg 3: "Usually, he liked nothing better than to pick at any difficulty" --he sort of did anyway... pg 4: “Who reports to you.” --Agree, this is a bit of a stretch. Glad E calls him on it. --also, M seems to be a very good actor. pg 6: "It was the end of T at Gen., but it didn’t have to be E’s swansong, unless M wanted it so." --It doesn't really have to be E's either does it? She already stated she and M had equal blame (from her POV, of course) pg 7: "she could not access the security footage in the service areas without a second senior sign-in" -> "M brought up a paused view of the loading area from a high vantage" --so E needs another sign in, but M doesn't? Also, she seems unsurprised that M already knows this much when he sent her off to find out on her own. pg 7: “Wait. You need to see the rest.” --yeah, so M's already got all this queued up and ready, but acts like he doesn't know what's going on when she comes in. pg 8: "How about explaining why you didn’t call me the instant you found this?" --finally, she starts questioning. pg 8: "There was nothing. He had her." --no, she's already stated that he's at fault too. If she's cornered and fighting, I expect her to bring that up, even if it's not going to work. She just gives up. I don't believe she'd do this. pg 9: "What followed was an evening of handwringing..." --again, I just don't believe this. If nothing else, she should be searching to find the accomplice. I'd expect her to stay at work until M removed her kicking and screaming. pg 9: "The day after her suspension..." --all this too. E has something on M, even if it's slight. She knows he at least is at partially at fault for negligence, if not what really happened. I'd expect there to be a lot more negotiating, especially for someone in her position. pg 10: "drank a little, cried a little, railed at her screen" --E has gone from being a stone-cold b**** to wailing and crying over her dead girlfriend. What happened to getting to the top by any means possible? pg 10: "Waking late brought E headaches and realisation." --a lot of this reads as a vehicle to get E to a certain time in the plot. She basically does nothing for several days. pg 11: "What if she’d sent T away on the spot?" --sent her away when? pg 14: "Sunday evening" --hmmm...and this is Wednesday. I really don't believe E would just sit around that long. pg 15: "Let’s not pretend they aren’t killers." --If he's this knowledgeable about them, and so concerned about people getting hurt, why aren't the police out in force ready to defend YK? pg 16: "smiled a leathery smile " --he's far too calm. pg 16: "she would not let a scumbag like M take it away from her" --except she basically did. pg 18: "why hadn’t an S&R crew wound them then" --wound them? Missing a word? Wounded? Also, I'm wondering this too. The police managed to find this scene, but not the company personnel actively searching for them? Or is this something else M isn't actually doing? pg 18: "Mostly deer, she guessed" --this is a looooong way to go before saying the MTs haven't killed anyone. We learned about the "kill site" three pages ago and I can't believe in all the time to get there, the police wouldn't say that it wasn't a human. Even if they were playing coy, E should be able to see in their reactions that they weren't going to "go national," in the sheriff's words.
  11. Lol--if Mrs. Robinski gets mad at you for writing too much, I'm not taking credit for it!
  12. Yes! And before this point. I have a lot of comments about how they move below. Overall, I thought this chapter was good, but there's a lot of things that could be tidied up about the fight. I didn't have much trouble following the physical action, but this is where some of the worldbuilding starts to fall down because it hasn't been set up enough. Mostly this chapter is very tense, and moves fast. I've marked some sections where it doesn't. My two biggest concerns were 1) I don't know how mannequins move (do they have joints?) and 2) A's silence is disappointing. Now that we're into the supernatural part of things, I would expect A to play a much bigger part. Instead, they've been replaced by a sword. Notes while reading: pg 1: "wishing A hadn’t expended so much of his energy earlier with the bones" --Yeah, in retrospect, that does seem kind of dumb (or plot-ful) to have done that when you know you're on the way to fight a big evil spirit. pg 1: "Perhaps they’d temporarily abandoned the work site because of the haunting and expected to get back to it any day." --This gets back to the worldbuilding question of who many people believe in ghosts and how seriously. pg 2: "The construction equipment was still, but I pictured it bursting to live any minute, controlled by ghosts I couldn’t see." --Wait, are they at the mill or a construction site? Are they renovating the mill or something? Maybe you mentioned this before and it's WRS. pg 2: There's a long aside here about religion and acceptance. It's a good discussion, but I'm not sure right here is the place for it. pg 2: "large door at the bottom of the building" --This is the mill, yes? Is it in the construction site? I'm confused by where they are. pg 2: "the ghosts" --This is plural now? I thought the one in the mannequin was the only one? pg 3: "You have any input?” --This sounds too old and analytical for E. Maybe "thoughts" or "ideas" instead. pg 3: "and rubbed her lips together like she was trying to even out the amount of gloss on them." --that's a strange comparison, especially for a young-ish person. pg 3: "wide like in most mills" --how many mills has E been in? pg 4: "We know that M is possessing a mannequin, and that she can turn other people into mannequins. We know that if we look in her eyes, we can get turned into mannequins." --Except...they don't really know any of that, do they? They assume both, and I don't think there was ever a test of the eye thing. pg 4: "old fashioned earplugs." --They're not really old fashioned. They're still in general use. Maybe "simple earplugs" or "plain earplugs?" pg 5: good tension so far, though. Searching through a creepy mill builds up the suspense a lot. pg 5: "D’s Mom" --or, you know, E's mom. pg 6: "Maybe I need to actually wear this around my necks for it to work.” --1) where did these come from? 2) necks -> neck, 3) why wasn't that the first thing she tried rather than keeping it in a pocket? pg 7: "led us to another construction worker turned mannequin" --Another??? was there a first one? pg 8: "But the mannequin just stayed lifeless and still" --I don't think anyone's identified M as the source of the song, though it makes sense. Also, we haven't yet seen the mannequins do anything BUT be lifeless and still. They're mannequins. Can they actually move at all? pg 8: “You think I would let you trap me so easily?” --ok, well I guess she speaks at least. That's more than we've known about M so far. pg 8: "Plastic feet clanked on the floor." --Ah, so they can move. pg 8: "I almost screamed." --Almost? I think I would have screamed and probably wet myself. pg 8: "They inched towards" --Details here! We don't know how mannequins move. Do their knees bend? Do they shuffle creepily? Does the plastic move, or do they shift at joints? There's a big chance for a creep factor here. pg 9: "But A didn’t come out of the doll." --This is starting to get annoying. Is there any hint of why? Did A just exert too much, or is there another reason? pg 9: "Don’t look in their eyes or anywhere near their faces, and don’t stand too still. Keep moving, even if it just a little." --I was going to ask if the eye applies to all mannequins, or just M. Is not standing still just so they don't freeze up, or for some other reason? pg 10: "Maybe I can cut through it with the blade.” --I'm assuming this is the sword of unknown powers? pg 10: "would all the mannequins all rush me?" --How close are they? I feel like they're pretty close for E to be able to swing at them, but standing that close and not doing anything lessens the tension. If they're that close, I would expect one of the kids to make a run for it. I mean, they're just mannequins, after all. pg 11: "slashed it down across the stomach of the allegedly still alive construction worker" --huh? I would assume they would target Dar. because it doesn't matter if that mannequin gets messed up. pg 11: "Dar. broke the circle wobbled closer." --missing a word. Also, "wobbled" is not very intimidating. pg 11: "lurched me like a zombie" --"at me," also, There's a lot of description of feet/legs moving, but not of hands. A person is going to react to reaching hands a lot more than shuffling feet. pg 11: "hot plastic hand closed around my wrist" --better, but this is the first time a mannequin's hand has been mentioned. Do the fingers bend? Does it have joints? pg 12: "because my old dog " --nope, don't need a flashback to another dog right now. We're tense and in a fight. This kills the tension. pg 12: "White stream poured out" --is this one of the "alive" ones, the "empty" ones, or the "ghost" ones? Important to know if E just killed a person, or released a ghost... pg 12: "Her foot got stuck to it." --like stuck to it's torso? This is a new and terrifying thing they can do. They don't need to use their hands then. They can just walk into E and D and stick to them. Why did they even try to weave a net? pg 13: "but not the one that had her." --redundant. Obviously not. pg 13: "and ghost energy hissed out " --so the ghosts do this? And the empty ones just lay there, I guess? pg 13: "plastic mannequin I’d knocked down, which had been slowly crawling towards me." --crawling is also very creepy. pg 13: "I looked back at the one the ghost had one into " --Something wrong with this sentence. pg 13: "There was a crunchy pop and the mannequin’s arm came out of its socket" --when did they grab on to a mannequin? I lost something in the blocking here. pg 14: "as it turned to rotten flesh" --the ghost mannequins do this? Ick, but they haven't before. pg 14: "A may not have turned up to do his share of the fighting" --this doesn't feel right. Their "magic power" of A fighting from a doll has been turned into a different "magic power" of the sword, which basically replaced it. It feels like a let-down that A didn't engage the mannequins (they? he?) told the others about.
  13. Thanks @Silk! And thanks for the LBLs as well. As usual, @Robinski is correct! I'm glad you agree on this. I ended up submitting the one he suggested, which I think nicely avoids some of the stake problems for Y at the beginning and some of the other problems with the ending. Ah. Need to clarify this. It's a residential area but also very tightly controlled. I was thinking more implants, as cyberpunk tends to go more that direction, but I can flesh (ha) this out more. Thanks again!
  14. Very cool! This is the first time I've had someone read (sing) their submission to me for critique! It made it very easy to think about the lyrics as I listened. I think we all need to follow this trend now... ;-) This song actually spoke to me quite a bit. Having been happily married for 15 years, I always get vaguely annoyed at all the songs that say we can do anything with love where it instead often takes a lot of work. This song has some really nice, realistic implications. Overall, I liked this a lot, both musically and through the lyrics. Musical theory is not my strong suit, but I'll take a stab at that and writing critique for the few lines I took notes on: "But your love means the world to me" -- This is sort of the catchphrase of the whole song, but drawing out the words so long makes me think there could be a word or two added to the line to make it scan more closely with the beat of the line. It feels a little bare, but on the other hand, that's really all the line has to say. Adding more words may dilute the meaning. suggestions: -But your love always means the world to me -But your love just means the world to me -But having your love means the world to me "Some days, I can’t help but wonder / If somehow I’m really missing out" -- This is the only phrase I felt wasn't doing any work. You have a "some" and a "somehow," both of which don't give us much information. I feel like these could be replaced with more meaningful words. "But every night my peace starts with you lying next to me" --vocally, "peace" is hard to intonate well, which means the end of it can get lost, leading to it sounding like "pee," which is unfortunate. Maybe something like, "But every night starts out with you relaxing next to me," which seems to also scan with the music, at least in my head? "make me strong enough / To change the world or heal it of its griefs" --This struck me as strange where the line breaks. The first part sounds like you're saying that love can't make me strong enough (period), which is about the only thing it *does* do well. Then the rest of the line explains the rest of it, but it picked me out of the song a bit. I really enjoyed critiquing this!
  15. Nice progression. There's a lot of tension and anticipation here with the train coming, and it leads to a surprising yet inevitable conclusion we're all waiting for, that they get to (or have to) ride in the train. THAT part the attack or the lantern coalescing? Because the attack takes up a good portion of the chapter, and I really like some parts of it. I think the last half gives a lot better impression that the first half, which is lacking in some emotion. Because the lead up is also pretty long, but sort of scientific and sterile (from Z's POV) it loses some of tension that could be there. When she loses control, we get a lot more from it. And if THAT part is the lantern coalescing...I think it could have a much bigger impact. Right now I just don't have enough to get the significance. Is the type of lantern the significant part? That it happened at all? How it happened? I'm left sort of confused and thinking I should know more than I do. pg 1: Very cool epigraph. Makes me wonder who Z's parents are communicating with to help her out. pg 3: "if that was why people always told her that she should smile more" --lol. I see that's a problem in this world too... pg 3: "if it was going fast enough that the wind in its wake was strong enough to yank you off you’re feet--well, it would have passed us by now. And we’d be dead, alcove or no" --you're -> your. Also, R isn't completely right. I get that he's never seen a train before and probably doesn't have an engineering degree, but he's written as "the smart one." so...I haven't done the calculations of course, but the wind (I believe) is a function of the size of the tunnel vs. the size of the train. Depends on how much air it displaces, as to how much it's going to suck people after it, not just the overall size. Also, you can hear stuff a long way away in a tunnel. pg 3: "far right of the alcove" --I'm not sure where they're placed in the tunnel. Were they camping right on top of the tracks, or is there a platform to the side and then another alcove farther on? pg 4: "Four lights, all different colors" --have we been told what colors they are? I don't feel like we have, but might be WRS. pg 5: "She could already feel it happening, felt herself crossing the brink." --I want a lot more detail on this. I feel like she's having some sort of anxiety attack, but then she just starts talking. What is happening? What does she feel? pg 6: The stream of consciousness distraction is a much better way to describe this, but I still don't get a lot of emotion from Z. pg 6-7: This part is better, but I'm afraid that all the emotion in this section comes so much after all the other description that it starts to get lost. This is where we really see Z's attack, her mother's resolution, and how it passes. There may be too much ahead of it, diluting it. pg 8: The coalescing is cool. I like the description of how it happens. pg 9: "A yellow flame burned atop a plain white candle." I feel like this should have a lot more impact than it does. I can't remember what a candle signifies. She's a scholar? Is that important, or just that she has a coalesced lantern now? Or that the virus has taken hold on her? This goes back to the problem where I don't really know what the soul lanterns do or how they work. YOu make a point to tell us this above, in the intro, but I want the story to show me what it means. pg 10: “The train,” R said. “It stopped.” --I figured they were going to end up taking the train in some way or another. This is a good "surprising yet inevitable" moment.