It feels like ages since I posted a review, and even longer since I posted a webfiction review, so here goes!
It is hard to classify The Antithesis — I would say, so far, it is a supernatural sci-fi horror with undertones of romance. I hesitated between giving this story 3.5 or 4 stars — there isn’t much up yet (only 6 chapters) and I was a little hesitant about rating something highly with so little up. But The Antithesis has strong writing, interesting characters, and is overall a promising beginning, so I’ve decided to put my faith in the author.
A number of reviewers over on Web Fiction Guide have drawn comparisons between Antithesis and Dollhouse, but I think this is a misleading comparison to make. Yes, the main character Alezair is a puppet for what seems to be a large (evil?) corporation. Yes, he is sent out on missions, and his mind is wiped clean after each. But the story begins when Alezair — during the course of a mission — sees a mysterious woman and goes rogue, leaving everything he knows behind him. Fuelled by curiosity and a strange infatuation, Alezair decides to track down this woman across time only to be drawn into her world; a world of secrets, death, and justice.
If the name Alezair hadn’t given it away, Antithesis has strong supernatural elements to it — Alezair and the woman, Leid, are both non-humans (although what they are exactly isn’t yet clear). As a matter of fact, one aspect that drew me into the story is the way the author handles the fantastical elements — the supernatural beings described are unlike anything I’ve encountered before, and I get the feeling that the world-building is going to continue to fascinate me.
The romance side of things is rather underplayed as it’s mostly one-sided, but it’s wittingly handled and the relationship between Alezair and Leid is pretty entertaining, particularly because Leid has a lot more answers than she’s giving.
Of course, there are as yet only six chapters up so it’s hard to judge the storyline, but Antithesis does promise some rather exciting plot developments, particularly after the events in Chapter 4, when Alezair finally gets more than two sentences out of Leid. I am finding it a little hard to predict where the story will go next, but I sense more mysteries and more hidden political machinations — and of course we still need to figure out what Nexus is and how Alezair ended up being a doll there.
The writing itself is quite strong, perhaps a little description-heavy at times but even that is well done. The actions sequences were particularly well-written, and there’s a scene on a plane that made my skin crawl just a little.
I would say the strongest aspect of the writing is that it has a very distinctive voice. It’s written in first person, with Alezair being the sarcastic and insightful narrator, but even the dialogue shows strong characterization.
As for the website itself: while I don’t mind light text on dark backgrounds, I did dislike the fact that the layout wasn’t entirely consistent — Chapters 5 and 6 seem to have a slightly smaller font size (I preferred it larger). On the plus side though, there is some pretty awesome artwork preceding each chapter, such as the gem you can see here on the left, which is the picture for Chapter 6 (click for a larger view).
In sum, while I hate to make judgements with so little posted, I do think this story is worth checking out, particularly for the cross-genre lovers — the writing is solid, and the author has laid out the foundations for an exciting and intriguing and most of all unique world.
The Antithesis updates weekly, and you can read it for free online here.