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True Art is Angsty: The Fanfic
After a great deal of effort, I finally finished Background Pony, and...well, just read the title.

To be perfectly fair, this is a fantastically written story. The early chapters were especially promising, with Lyra being placed in an unfathomably horrible situation and trying to make the most of it while also searching for a possible escape. It had all the makings of a fantastic character piece, and the heavy philosophical overtones (key word being "over") were fascinating. But then it just kept going and going, and after a while, I just got fed up with just how uncompromisingly and pointlessly cruel the story got by about the sixth chapter. I went from being excited about each update to dreading it, and finally just gave up, only occasionally forcing myself to trudge through the remaining hundreds of thousands of words by the end. But I had to finish it. After all, this is one of the greats of pony fiction, and I had to see it through.

And I wish I hadn't. The ending is quite possibly one of the most bleak, pointless, and downright horrifying things I've ever read, and not in a good way. After an entire story of Lyra being ground into dust over and over again, learning about previous sufferers of the same affliction and watching her fail time and again to just get somepony to remember her, she is completely and utterly screwed over by a Diabolus Ex Machina. And we are told we're supposed to be happy that she's made this non-decision, removed the key piece of her entire life, and will now be alone and gradually go insane for the rest of her life - because of something that could have easily been circumvented without wrecking the plot if SSAE wasn't a Complete Monster.

This story is the first time I've ever really suffered Darkness Induced Audience Apathy in a fanfic. The message the story presents is actually insightful and intelligent, but the narrative is so pretentious, the events so soul-crushingly bleak, and the ending such a slap in the face that it's just not worth it. I can see why this would be held up as highly as it is, but right now, I feel that my time was wasted. Right now, I'm just glad I'm done with it.
I think the above review more or less sums it up, with some minor divulgences. Background Pony is a very well written fic with a rewarding character arc and development. Although very dark and often depressing, it maintains a fundamental message of hope in Lyra's ongoing quest to uncover the truth behind her curse and remove it. Although it puts both the main character and the reader through the wringer emotionally, it is not without its subtle but meaningful rewards.

And then the author just completely drops the ball, right at the very end. As said above, it's dark, it's depressing, it's pointless... and worst of all in my estimation, it goes against the entire theme of the story up until that point. Lyra has spent the entire fic trying to Screw Fate, continuing to keep going in the face of overwhelming odds and slowly, gradually succeeding. When she finally meets Aria, a lot of time has already been devoted to pointing out that the dead goddess has become completely self-absorbed and refuses to accept any world view that doesn't validate her own beliefs. So then Aria just randomly tells her she's screwed no matter what ([[Diabolus Ex Machina and NOTHING in the story prior to this point has supported that idea, even if it's entirely true]) and Lyra abandons hope, accepts Aria's words at face value, and gives up? Making the whole matter even worse is the epilogue, which serves absolutely no narrative purpose other than to brutally maul the main character for a few more paragraphs.

Background Pony, as a whole, is a pretty damn good fic and enjoyable read. But unless you enjoy drama for drama's own sake, just skip the last two chapters and make up your own ending. They're not poorly written, but they absolutely do not fit.
comment #19153 Tinandel 26th Apr 13
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