Saturday, October 8, 2011

Slash/Backslash 3.0 Reviews

Here are the first reviews from the Host's Choice awards from Slash/Backslash 3.0. Check out what they have to say.

The Drop In
Hosts’ Choice, Slash/Backslash 3.0

GracieBlack28’s “The Drop In” is not a story that would typically appeal to me.  To begin with, it’s not my pairing(s).  I am not a fan of Jacob in any combination, and this story includes both Jacob/Embry and Jacob/Seth.  Also, I rarely enjoy fics with multiple pairings.  Though infidelity doesn’t usually bother me, I’d rather not read about my characters’ indiscretions explicitly.  Let it happen in the past (or at least behind a closed door); I’d prefer to keep my focus on the rebuilding or development of the main relationship.

That being said, I loved GracieBlack28’s story!

The opening scene is perfect.  GracieBlack28 introduces us to Jake and Embry, as well as the setting (the beach, a character in and of itself) subtly.  She does not provide excessive details about the past or about how these two boys got here, sitting in the sand, sharing a joint.
‘You dating anybody?’ Embry asked.  His head was resting on my shoulder; he knocked his thigh against mine to punctuate his question.
‘Nope.’ I took another hit.

We see the casual ease of their friendship while sensing the undercurrent of something more.
Embry sighed.  ‘You’re so beautiful…you could have anyone you wanted.  You should go out…meet people…’
Beautiful.  Embry Call said I was beautiful.  Not hot, or sexy, but beautiful.  No one ever called me that before, and I was still thinking about the way the word sounded on his mouth when I woke up the next morning.

And so, GracieBlack28 sets the stage for a classic ‘friend falls for his best friend (oh wait!), he’s not gay’ fic.  Yet, this story feels anything but cliché and ordinary.

Things develop fairly quickly between Jake and Embry after the opening scene, but it doesn’t seem rushed, unbelievable, or inappropriate.  (Nothing bothers me more than fanfiction where the two main characters fall into bed together immediately for no reason other than that they happen to be –inexplicably –in the same place at the same time.)
Rather, Jake and Embry’s developing relationship is entirely credible because of the complete uncertainty surrounding it.
I guessed Embry was thinking long and hard on the "what now", because he didn't mention the kiss for several days, or act like anything unusual happened. By the third day, I was starting to feel pissed off and fed up with the whole thing, and I decided to bring it up when he came to hang out and play Nintendo, but it was really hard to stay mad at him when he skidded to a stop at my door in his sock-covered feet and grinned … he was so fucking cute, it hurt.

Despite Jake’s confusion and Embry’s indecision, things seem to progress nicely.

Cue ‘the Drop In’ (in the form of Seth Clearwater, Embry’s cousin).
Dropping in is a crime in the surf world. A drop-in is where a surfer catches a wave without having priority, i.e. there is already a surfer on the wave.

Here’s where things get particularly intense.

Embry refuses to acknowledge their relationship publicly, denying any possibility that something might be “going on” between them.
I followed Embry and Seth back to the vehicles in silence … while I thought about Embry saying we were only friends. I guessed he could say that, still, since we hadn't actually talked about it, but less than twenty-four hours ago he'd given me a pretty awesome blow job. I didn't think that was something friends did for each other, but I could see why he wouldn't want Seth to know…

And Jake allows himself to be seduced by Seth.

Yes.  It’s a stupid decision.  I was practically screaming at the ridiculous boy.  Really Jake?  You’re in love with your best friend.  Don’t get involved with his cousin!  But logic and rationale don’t play into it. Jake is hurting, and his affair with Seth personifies the misery he feels over losing Embry.

Of course, it’s even more heart wrenching because the reader knows Jake hasn’t actually lost Embry until he succumbs to Seth’s advances.

This story is rife with subtle angst, tempered always by Jake’s straightforward narration and good humor.  Jake knows that Seth is only using him, and he also knows that Seth is only a pale substitution for what he truly wants (but doesn’t think he can have): Embry.
‘On your knees, Jake,’ Seth instructed. I bit my lower lip, but turned over, reminding myself that this wasn't love, this was fucking, and I shouldn't expect Seth to look into my eyes and kiss me the way …  I wanted Embry to.

Thankfully, GracieBlack28 hints that there still might be some hope for Jake and Embry (after the summer ends, of course).

When Embry first laments having to share a room with his soon-to-be-visiting cousin, Jake tells him: “it’s just for the summer.”  And that reassurance is echoed through the story.

However, it soon takes on far more significance when readers (alongside Jake and Embry) realize that the two haven’t a chance of salvaging their relationship until Seth is gone.
‘It's just for the summer.’ I repeated what I'd told him three weeks ago, and Embry stared at his feet. Summer already felt like it was dragging on forever.
‘I know…but I…miss the way it was before.’
Before Seth got here, or before we started messing around? I wanted to ask him what he meant, but I didn't. I just nodded and said, ‘Me too.’

Above all, I love the way GracieBlack28 writes Jake’s voice.  He remembers thinking Embry was “rad” the first time he saw him.  He feels “diplomatic” when telling Embry it won’t be too bad sharing his room for the summer (“especially since I wasn’t being forced to share my room with anyone”).  And he immediately seeks out Leah (“spiking the spiked punch”) at a party because he wants to talk to her about Embry…
but she had lots to say about some guy she fucked, who promised to call her and didn't. I tried to listen to what she was saying, but ended up just nodding at what I thought were appropriate times…

And though I really didn’t understand what Jake was thinking half the time, GracieBlack28 writes his character so well that I accepted his maddeningly, infuriatingly bad decisions.  After all, this Jake is clueless, confused, and insecure enough to make such choices.

As Conversed said: “’The Drop In’ described the sometimes random and often inexplicable thought processes that wrap around young love and sex.”

We’ve all made foolish decisions and done stupid things.  And even though Jake’s choices don’t necessarily make sense, his character does because GracieBlack28 writes him expertly.  His voice is charming, funny, sweet, and every bit as confused as the poor boy obviously is.

GracieBlack28’s “The Drop In” is a great piece of lazy afternoon reading.  It’s delightful and heartbreaking, without trying too hard to be complex or angsty.  I enjoyed this Slash/Backslash 3.0 entry thoroughly.


From Kwapah With Love
Hosts’ Choice, Slash/Backslash 3.0

It’s no secret in the fandom that Carlisle/Edward is my One True Pairing. I lust after these two like the papparazzi lust after a compromising shot of Rob and Kristen together. Even though there are a lot of CarlWard fans out there- heck, it was our mutual love for the pair that brought avioleta and I together!- there is a surprising lack of good stories featuring the two of them. So you imagine how happy I was to read this little gem that Prassacut submitted to the contest: “From Kwapah With Love.”

Not your typical calm, quiet, kind-hearted Carlisle, Prassacut’s incarnation of the character is a snarky, anal, somewhat bored, hot blooded male. While his best friend, Edward (Sr) marries young and has a baby while the men are just in their early 20’s, Carlisle has no desire to settle down and is less than impressed with his friend’s infant son.
The first time I laid eyes on Edward, I didn't care for him. It's not that I disliked him, but he wasn't interesting, to me at least. Women were all over him, and even some men weren't immune to his charms, but I can't say I was one of them. That said, his father was certain Edward was one of the brightest minds ever. He spent two hours telling me all about his son's lunch and how he had said ‘kwapah’ while pointing to his food. Apparently this was very impressive for a ten month-old.”

So no love at first sight here! And rightfully so, seeing as Edward is just an infant. I mean, what kind of sicko would have an adult fall for a baby.....oh. Right. Sorry, Ms. Meyer. Carry on.

Anyway, Carlisle moves to Chicago for work but still keeps in touch with his friend. When he next sees Edward, the young man is 15 and recently out of the closet. Thank goodness his parents have one gay friend that they can call on to come teach Edward the ins and outs of....being gay.

Even though you can practically hear Carlisle rolling his eyes, he heads out to Seattle to have a talk with young Edward.  It’s not so bad- Edward is smart and interesting and now has a more extensive vocabulary than ‘kwapah’. We get a glimpse into Edward’s cunning mind here- innocent 15 year old, my ass!
“... and I told him all about safe anal sex. That part was rather inconvenient, and I would have bypassed it altogether if he hadn't been intent on me explaining it to him. That boy could be quite persuasive.”

(what I wouldn’t give to get an outtake of that from EPOV. hint, hint, Prassa!)

The story then takes us to present day, when an older, calmer, more settled Carlisle is vacationing with Edward and his parents. And Edward is now a hot, sexy, confident 22 year old man. Carlisle’s body sure recognizes this, but he mentally berates himself for falling for his best friend’s son.
“Edward – the son - was… I was a creep. I was lusting after a twenty-two year-old boy.... I was forty-four, and lusting after a boy who was the son of a friend no less, made my life difficult.”

After some suggestive looks and flirtatious touches, Carlisle’s plans to lock himself away from temptation are hindered, in no small part by Edward himself actively seeking to seduce the older man.
“...jacking off, Carlisle. You know, when your cock is in your hand, and you grasp it with just the right pressure, then you stroke it in an up and down motion." He emphasized the word cock as he spoke. I was transfixed on his face, and my silence seemed to spur him on. "I can't fault you. I do it several times a day, and lately all my little fantasies include you. You can't imagine all the things I make you do."

Gulp! Edward’s bringing out the big guns, now! Who the heck wouldn’t be a pile of goo after hearing that?! Sexy times ensue, and I do mean sexy! But when the deed is done, Carlisle is back to drowning in guilt.  But I get it, I really do. I feel the same way after sneaking furtive glances at my high school senior daughter’s male classmates. However, Edward is having none of it, and tries to pull Carlisle out of his angst-fest with my favorite line and visual from the story:
"I would have pursued you until you did, and I'm pretty charming, so I'd have gotten my way anyway." He gave me a cheeky smile, then became serious again. "I wasn't kidding when I said I wanted you."

As I said in my notes from my initial read of the story- hot, cheeky Edward is icing on the cake!
The cake itself is made up of a fun story in which, through heart and humor, Prassacut really gets us inside Carlisle’s head and we experience his dilemma and mixed emotions over Edward firsthand. This story was a pleasure to read. And re-read.


Crude Oil
Honorable Mention, Slash/Backslash 3.0

Crude Oil” by reve2weaver isn’t an everyday and average kind of Jasper/Edward story.

Not by a mile.

I think it’s unique, and in fan fiction originality is a rare attribute that deserves extra attention.

To my mind,Crude Oil” reads like a continuation of a much longer, well established story. The main character relationships are complex and subtly layered. The more you read, the more crystal clear it becomes that these two have an irresistible attraction. It’s not just me who thought so. Fellow judge, TheLadyInGrey, described this story as,

“An incredibly ambitious, powerful piece that challenges the reader.”

Capricorn75 agreed, saying that she,
“loved the multiple layers and how much depth [the author] gave both guys.”

reve2weaver sets the scene by bringing Jasper and Edward together in a place thick with the ghosts of their teenage past,
After ten years, they're back at Moonshine Lake.”

Their backstory, and the events that bring them back together, are cleverly constructed. The story includes an unlikely enough premise to make Jasper’s participation puzzling. As a very successful businessman, he stands to lose everything that he’s worked for by meeting up with Edward. His motivation becomes a little clearer when you read,
It's not for the money, or the high-grade hash, or the notoriety, although Jasper likes them more than he cares to admit. It's the old unfinished business.”

Jasper and Edward’s unfinished business hangs between them like a heavy curtain. At points reve2weaver pulls the curtain back just enough to reveal how much Jasper’s self perception revolves around those earlier times with Edward,
“Mirrors are tricky things to see when your own self-image is distorted; Jasper learned that the hard way.”

Jasper suggests, over and over and over, that his sole motivation is to get the best of Edward, whose reluctance to submit to what Jasper knows he would enjoy only taunts him even more. Jasper believes that perhaps this really is their final stand,
“Jasper has a very bad feeling about the sudden decision to come back here, especially the way Edward's been acting; sidelong glances and quiet, even for him. Either it is mental preparation to bend over, or this is the end for them.”

These men have such a history, and the author lays it all out in delicious, believable prose as they discover mutual need and want and passion during one long summer on the lake. This shit really could have happened,
“One night, Jasper startles awake as hot drops of Edward's cum hit his bare back. Neither of them moves.
Clearing his throat, as if he wants to say something, Edward lets out a gust of breath while his shaky fingers wipe it away. His sweaty forehead rests on Jasper's tense back and they lie awake listening to the rising wind in the aspen leaves, an unspoken first line crossed.”

Just YUM.

The sexual element of this fic isn’t gratuitous, but it is so extremely hot. Jasper’s description of his frustration—with himself and with Edward—builds up right until the final moments. While the ending suggests the sort of story that I don’t usually seek out, I could see how the author got there. It’s Jasper’s true nature that leaves me feeling somewhat shocked and breathless.

Within the story, there are some elements of Jasper and Edward’s descriptions that don’t reflect accepted canon, and that came close to flipping me out of the story. It’s a decision each author makes, but to describe Jasper and Edward differently renders this close to original fiction. Not a bad thing in itself, but potentially confusing in a competition. That said, I could still picture these two very clearly because reve2weaver concentrates on their mental connection, which is tangled and compelling.

I enjoyed reading right up to the very end. The plot was twisty, and the motivations that were slowly revealed were even more so.Crude Oil” is such a satisfyingly complex story that I didn’t want to finish reading.

I only wished that there was more.


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