Although I enjoyed the writing in this one, I don't feel I can score it higher due to a feeling of lack of completion. The story takes place over the course of a year, and it feels like we need the subsequent years to see if the MC lives up to their potential.
I do like the way the author allowed some transmission of the special abilities of the MC without requiring that they have sex with the person. I also really liked the way they showed the possible negative impact of doing so with an incompatible person. I am left wondering how much trouble his friend, who can't keep his mouth shut, will be in the long run. Lots of potential for the continuation of the story, now we need to see it actualized.
It seems like every time I start to write a review I have to remember how to do it. What is it that makes a review into a good review? Is one a good reviewer when they get fanmails for their reviews? Or is it when one's positive reviews can cause potential readers to pull the trigger and open the first page of a story?
I don't know the answer to this, but I do know what makes a story enjoyable for me to read. If an author can come up with a mostly-believable scenario with distinct characters, I'm probably buckled in and turning pages. If an author can do that using a fresh take on a common plot line, ideally involving a high school kid living in Texas and playing football, I'm writing a review about it--probably.
Lumpy's story is all of the previously described things. It takes the traditional paradigm of boy goes to school, boy optionally plays a sport, boy hooks up with babes, drama ensues, etc. and then adds a slight twist, but does so in such a way that it feels totally natural. I will readily confess that the first couple points at which the sci-fi element was present in the story, I did not notice. Nor did I notice the next few.
So subtle and masterful is Lumpy's introduction of the plot point that I had to actually stop reading for a moment when it was "revealed" in order to mentally congratulate the author in creating such an organic development within the context of the story's world. My satisfaction continued to grow when this development didn't cause the story to end with a galactic battle to save the planet--or similar events.
I was further pleased with many of the characters in "Destiny's Road". The main character, Cas, is morally grounded in a way that is easy to relate to, and his inner thoughts show the struggles that he has during various stressful events. Definitely a good thing for any story written in first person.
A downside of the focus on Cas seems to have been that most of the other main characters really get to stand on their own. While there's a lot of internal monologue from him about his girls, for example, each of them gets approximately one scene to display a personality, and it ended up feeling a bit forced for me; "Here's this girl's character in a nutshell!" says the author, and while I am thankful for these morsels, they make the characters feel more like 2D props which look okay from the front but are not entirely there when viewed from other angles. The story is part of a longer series, so I'll hold out hope that this is part of the author's slow, organic growth strategy.
Not to belabor the point (even though I'm about to), but characters not getting to stand on their own can also be taken literally. It's rare for anything to happen when Cas isn't directly present, and such events are usually a precursor to him becoming directly present within a sentence or two in order to resolve the situation. While I enjoy seeing a good main character wading into the middle of some good plot, sometimes I get proxy-fatigued for the character who has to constantly be running to put out every fire.
As far as plot is concerned, DR is a very slow-building, slow-paced story which does not ever build to a climax or a conclusion. I am not saying any of these things as a negative, merely a statement of fact. Events are more-than-adequately foreshadowed, but conflicts seldom last longer than the chapter in which they appear, meaning that after the first few tense situations, it becomes repetitive. To put it more simply, a reader will quickly "get the hang of" Lumpy's writing and plotting styles, and at this point it's unlikely that any genuine or lasting tension will develop in the reader from any event, no matter how serious it may seem. There is never any relative sense of impending doom, any real emotional or relationship struggles, or any danger to the characters.
Regardless, I still felt that this was an intriguing story, and after making it through the first couple chapters it became obvious that I would be plowing through the rest in short order. Waiting to see who might (not) get added to the harem was interesting, as were a couple more minor plot points. The big draw, for me at least, was just to see where the story was headed. In more typical Orphaned Boy Goes To School, Grows Harem stories, I know that there's probably no real resolution excepting perhaps settling down with one or two or five of the girls and going to college in Michigan and playing hockey and getting knighted but then being too stub--ah, my PTSD began acting up. As I was saying, more typical stories with this sort of premise are made interesting by the drama and conflicts that happen as the story proceeds, whereas Lumpy's tale derives its interest from the reader wanting to find out what will happen at the end.
Given the tagging I'm not sure I need to say anything about sex scene content, but I will anyway. Sex: it exists. I think there's...maybe four scenes total, mostly for the purpose of advancing the story and definitely not very long. It's not a major focus of the story, though quite a bit of it is implied and happens offpage.
I'm going to go against literally (I think) every review that I've ever written before and say that this story could potentially have used more sex scenes, though not for the stroke value. More scenes could have served to provide further characterization on the girls and their personalities, as Cas muses a number of times how they have completely different preferences in bed. This would allow the author to avoid having to add more just-for-characterization scenes, though it may have resulted in dragging the story's pace down even further.
On the technical level, which is probably what readers of my reviews care about the most, "Destiny's Road" is Pretty Good. After a I read a story, I always lament that I didn't write a list of issues to send to the author, but I think my list for this story would have been shorter than average. There were a couple regular typos of "the" -> "he" and some failed apostrophes, but no true rage-inducing issues such as Forgetting The Character's Name.
I've spent the past hour pondering and meandering through this review, and I think I've covered everything. I'm looking forward to the next installment(s), and I hope they continue to be just as good as this one.