Reviews: The Stalking Zuko Series
Story is Good, Style Less So
This fic is excellent. The ideas are all very well done and the reasons Aang and Katara don't work out are deep and not just there to get her with Zuko. Frankly, the story on its own is very good with lots of Reality Ensues, political issues, and strong characters. I doubly know this because the incredibly long author's notes tell me so. By "Not Stalking Firelord Zuko" the author's notes are so long they can be up to a fifth of the chapter or more. I can understand wanting to explain why you wrote what you did, but sometimes it feels like the author is either so unsure we understand where they're going or so worried of flames that they justify every single thing that happened in the chapter in detail. It can break up the narrative. I feel like they should be their own separate section, like, "go to my blog for the notes on this chapter" or something because they are seriously driving up the wordcount. And sometimes it's redundant because we can figure out how the author felt about something by what is in the chapter and seeing it again in the notes is...confusing. Also I can understand needing to bold or italicize or both at certain times in a fanfic (I do the second and third when I need to), but it feels like it happens way too often here. Again, it slows down reading momentum and can really make a scene confusing since I start wondering how Katara's bold voice differs from her italic voice and so on. I wonder why something is emphasized instead of focusing on the story. Sometimes it's done well, but overall I think it's overused. One style element that's done really well is when Katara relates events that were related to her (as she was not there for them) or that she eavesdropped on in script style, making it clear that she was not there/participating in a very strong way while still giving her opinion on what happened. I feel it adds tot he fic instead of detracting from it. Overall, a very good story, but the style is its its biggest flaw and can potentially turn off some readers.
A Good, But Flawed, Expansion on Avatar
The Stalking Zuko Series is an interesting concept for a fic, being told as Katara writing a diary about Zuko that chronicles her progressing from reluctantly accepting him into the Gaang, to befriending him, to falling in love with him, as well as her perspective on all the events that happen during this process. Katara's narration is effectively done. It fits the mood of the story, being funny in lighthearted scenes, and helping us feel for her in more serious parts. It also nicely chronicles her changing perception of Zuko. Most of the characters are nicely fleshed out and portrayed realistically, with their personalities expanded on. Some, such as Suki, get expanded on and become somewhat more interesting than they were in canon. Others have running plots dealt with, as Toph has to deal with her parents, and those are, for the most part, dealt with quite effectively and compellingly. However, Aang seems to get the short end of the stick, for the most part. He's frequently shown slacking off in training, and is never allowed to make a good point in debates. The part dealing with him sparing Ozai reads like an Author Tract against the ending of the series, with the characters forgetting that he defeated Ozai and saved the world without going against his principles. The author claims to have nothing against Aang, but one would think that Aang would be smarter and more effective than he is in this story. The fic also reads like a Fix Fic at times, with the author changing various parts of canon according to her own preferences, or adding things that the characters should have done. Granted, this happens quite often in fan fiction, but it's fairly noticeable here. The plot allows for a variety of situations involving Zuko, although it moves quite slowly at times, with many chapters passing between certain points in canon. There are quite a few scenes, but if you get into reading this, be prepared for a long haul. All in all, this fic is quite well done in many ways, but it also has quite a few noticeable flaws, and you should read this only if you can deal with alterations to canon and various characters getting shortchanged.
The Stalking Series
I was originally attracted to the series because of the premise. I liked the idea of Katara being so concerned about the welfare of her group that she takes to keeping tabs on Zuko. All of the stories are hilarious and realistic. They really go into what happened between the episodes. I don't usually like "Zutara" romances (too many cliches), but these are different and refreshing to me because the romance is evolving slowly and doesn't feel rushed. I also like the author's notes that describe the author's rationale behind certain scenes. However, I think that the best part of this series is the length and quality of these chapters as well as the amount of times that the stories are updated (every few days to a week). The predictability of knowing when it is going to be updated is very sweet to me. Highly recommended.