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Lightning in a Bottle by Sage Mullins

Author's Description:
Patrick O'Malley, a 44-year old former musician, is quite happy with his life as a twice-divorced, middle-aged playboy. Suddenly, he finds himself sent back in time to a point a few days past his 17th birthday. He also discovers that things are not quite the same this time around. The "violent" code applies only to a single incident. The FF is implied and happens off-screen.
Size: 2611 KB ( ~ 495,123 words)
Genre: Time Travel
Sex Contents: Some Sex
Tags: Ma/Fa, mt/ft, Fa/Fa, Consensual, Romantic, Time Travel, DoOver, Interracial, Oral Sex, Anal Sex, Violent, School

Review by Jim S   [other reviews by Jim S]

Reviewed: 2014-07-22 - (Review Updated: 2014-07-24)

This particular genre, a do-over with a band included, has been visited by several authors here at SOL with varying degrees of success. "Lightning in a Bottle" falls somewhere in the middle of the pack. I'd rate it at least one full point (maybe more) lower than it's current 8.43 rating.

The story evokes mixed feelings with this reviewer, some good, some bad. Let's start with the "good".

First, it's a good story and has a good plot. The initial premise, i.e. how the protagonist moves back in time, seems a bit hackneyed, but it is resolved in surprisingly good fashion later in the story. Kudos there. The story moves at a good speed throughout. Long stories such as this one sometimes fall prey to a slowdown somewhere along the way, something I didn't see with this one.

Second, character development is generally well done, but there are exceptions which I'll get to later. There is a large cast and just about every one is developed adequately, even the minor ones. You feel like you know them after awhile.

Third, I really like the way the author handles the racist situations when they're introduced; he basically ignores them. Not that he doesn't condemn them (the racists) in his own way, sort of like "damning with faint praise" certain actions. This is refreshing and a welcome escape from those authors trying to foster feelings of guilt among their non-black readers. No proselytizing here and that is refreshing.

Fourth, the story is well proofed. Misspellings and homonymic errors are kept to a welcome minimum.

Now for the "bad".

First, dialogue gets to be repetitive. This might, in my case, be due to the fact that I read the first 78 chapters in two back-to-back sittings so this becomes more apparent than reading as it's posted. The story has been posted across 21 months and, I assume, so has the writing. So I make allowances for the repetition. But I found myself in the latter chapters skimming over the dialogue because I'd seen it all earlier. Repeated times.

Second, the same holds true for the erotic scenes. Finding new ways to describe sex, however, is an art form in itself and one Sage Mullins hasn't seemed to develop as yet. But as this is his first story here, I'm sure that's something than might be remedied in later stories, should he choose to keep posting. And this story isn't tagged as a stroke story so this can be somewhat forgiven.

Third, even though, as mentioned above, character development is excellent, in one long multi-chapter section late in the story, the main protagonists are very inconsistent with their earlier development, almost to the point of making me abandon the story. I don't want to give more detail but suffice it to say that it occurs when the male and female characters resolve a threat to their relationship. I'm glad I got past that point. But it was difficult.

Fourth, a sympathetic portrayal of a lesbian character is out of place, especially after the author's deft handling of the racist incidents early in the story. The almost obligatory slap at fundamental Christianity that accompanies it is almost to be expected, I guess, given current political correctness. As is the sympathetic portrayal of homosexuals. But it really takes away from the overall quality of the story.

Fifth, the ending is abrupt. If it wasn't so surprising, this would be a huge deficit. The abruptness is probably due to the lack of hooks to earlier parts of the story that would prep the reader. Surprise endings are great. I always love an "AHA" moment. But the abruptness is disconcerting and, I feel, diminish the story's quality.

In closing, I recommend this story. It is worth a read even with it's warts. However, I strongly suggest reading it over a longer period than I did to lessen the impact of some of those warts.

Plot: 8 | Technical Quality: 6 | Appeal to Reviewer: 7

Review by skiishark   [other reviews by skiishark]

Reviewed: 2013-03-04 - (Review Updated: 2013-03-25)

You either love or hate the do genre. I either love or hate the stories submitted. This is one of the love ones. Rich characters lively plot and believable. I look forward to every installment of lightning my only request is more please

Plot: 9 | Technical Quality: 9 | Appeal to Reviewer: 10