For our first ever Spotlight Sunday on ShanniiWrites, I decided to start with a personal favourite of mine! I’ve already read it through once before, but I’ll try my best to give you all the information as if I’m reading it for the first time! No spoilers, I promise!
Name: One of the Girls
Style: Limelight Cinematic, uses the occasional Spotlight
Status: More chapters coming soon!
Jesse arrives at university for the first time to find out that he has been mistaken for a girl! Now, he’s being forced to share a room with three girls who are… well, characters. From walking into his naked roommates in the bathroom to getting involved in girl drama and even joining a secret society, Jesse’s in for an action-packed first year!
There’s very little to say against this story, to be honest with you. It’s a fantastic read that will actually have you laughing out loud! It’s fun and light-hearted, which is something you don’t often get a lot of on Episode. The jokes are just so current and interestingly political. I mean, very few authors on Episode have managed to pull off speaking about gender roles and the importance of gender and sexual identity without offending anyone. Amberose has for sure! The tone and MC make it a nice break from all of the sappy romances and toxic bad boy relationships which seem to plague the platform as of late. If you’re tired of reading the same old story in different packaging, One of the Girls is really for you.
In a more subtle way, One of the Girls really does have some extremely positive messages. The characters are body-positive and comfortable speaking about sex, they neither slut shame nor virgin shame, and I can’t help but grin stupidly at the occasional quips at the repetitiveness of romance stories, the unrealistic plotlines and the toxicity of constant bad-boy glorifications. Amberose manages to do all of that without sounding like she’s lecturing her audience or criticising anyone who likes those kinds of stories. The power of comedy!
Speaking of, as a comedy, One of the Girls works fantastically. I belly-laughed at a few points, which is rare on Episode. What’s even rarer is managing to get comic timing so spot on when you’re working with limited, awkward directing, but this story does it! There are serious moments to break up the comedy so you don’t get fatigue at laughing all the time, and the fact that most of the dialogue is so unexpected really helps to tease out those sudden, surprised guffaws.
All in all, the story uses all the best and unique aspects of writing an interactive story on Episode to their fullest. There isn’t any aspect of the experience that doesn’t add to the comedic value. The dialogue is great, the characterisation is both hilarious and realistic, and the directing just adds to an already amazing story. I couldn’t recommend this enough!
The characterisation is the thing that makes this story shine, in my opinion. Amberose has managed to make characters like Lara, who would otherwise probably be framed as the ‘mean girl’, seem likeable and funny. At the very beginning, you might think that you’re being provided with characters who very comfortably fit into boxes: the tomboy, the designated mum and the scary goth girl. However, in barely two minutes of reading, they already show us that they’re people and have so, so many layers.
I have to say that Lara is probably one of my favourite characters. She’d most likely be quite difficult to be friends with in real life, but I think I have a soft spot for intimidating, eccentric women in stories. It’s a nice break from the usual types of women portrayed in the media and gives you a chance to just sit back and enjoy her antics. She’s always got something funny to say and she does it with style! I think it’s because Lara says and does all the things I secretly want to that she’s so endeared by me. We all have a little bit of a Lara inside of us who’s just waiting to burst out.
But that’s not to dismiss any of the other characters at all! I love Celeste’s naturally caring and motherly nature, as well as her desire to break from that and prove that she’s not just the mother of the group. Hannah is hilariously active and ridiculously cute. She reminds me of those girls I met in the bathrooms of clubs in freshers’ week and really regret not getting the numbers of. Jesse is an absolute sweetie, even though he might be a little pervy from time to time. Again, he’s not your average toxically masculine male archetype from Episode stories. He likes to cuddle and practically cries when he accidentally walks in on a girl in the shower, but that doesn’t make him any less of a man. There’s just something about the way this group interacts with one another that makes me want to read the story over and over again.
Yes, there is CC in this Episode story, but I didn’t change everyone. In fact, I thought all of the characters looked perfect, but I did take the opportunity to customise Jesse and Lara. Jesse because I wanted to make him look like my dream guy and Lara because I had a desire to make her look like me so I could vicariously live out all of my mean girl fantasies through her. I don’t actually want to be a mean girl. I just want to see what it would be like to not have a filter… and wow it feels good!
But all in all, the customisation is great. There are tonnes of options there for all of the main group and you can customise the four of them. It’s great for all of those Episodians who love to display their artistic side through CC stories. Don’t worry, though! The story doesn’t fall short of comedy even during the customisation! The choices will definitely warrant a little chuckle.
This story works for anyone, to be honest: if you love CC, you have loads to be getting on with! If you would rather see the characters with the author’s vision, the default appearances are stunning!
I think the diversity works well in this story. Of course, the characters are American, but they’re in an American university. In terms of race, ethnicity and LGBTQ+ diversity, the four main characters seem visibly to be of different ethnicities, if you decide not to customise them. There are also some LGBTQ+ characters in the story, but I don’t want to spoil anything because that is a plot point later on. Not knowing a character’s sexuality immediately is something I love. As I’ve mentioned many times before, very few people start a conversation by telling you their sexuality, and sometimes you can go weeks, months or even years without knowing about it if it never becomes relevant to discussions. As with most CC stories, it is pretty much up to you how diverse you choose to make the main cast.
The main type of diversity I noticed is something that gets overlooked a lot on Episode: diversity of personality. Every single character is well thought-out with their own, independent motivations and they all have their own personal views on the situations they find themselves in. This seems like I’m stating the obvious, but it is really something that tends to get missed out on Episode and I am so glad that this story captures the most bare-bones type of diversity there is. We are all different people, and that’s not just because of our races or sexualities, so it’s nice to have that shown! The overall diversity keeps getting better and better in later chapters, but this is a review for the first three chapters, so I’ll leave it there.
The spelling, punctuation and grammar of the story is pretty much perfect. As with anything, you will find the occasional typo, but there’s absolutely nothing heinous that will pull you out of the story. The vocabulary is nice and varied without seeming either patronising or pretentious and Amberose was able to blend slang and colloquial language with the level of educated speech you’d expect of people who got into university. The grammar is spot on and the punctuation is used cleverly to add to the comedy, as is everything else.
On Episode, it certainly is unique to have a male MC, and I absolutely love it! It can be difficult to do for us as a community, since most of us are girls and a lot of us lack the knowledge of how guys interact, but having Jesse as the MC in this story works fabulously! It gives the story a unique perspective that you don’t often see in stories on Episode. Lara seems to be ready to have a distinctive character arc unique to her as a character, and I’m not going to say too much because I actually want you to enjoy experiencing the story yourself if you want to read it. I liked seeing a toxic relationship actually being portrayed as toxic for a change. It was refreshing that not all of the characters had to find their true love in the first week of university.
One of the Girls also reminds me rather distinctly of those family films we all know and love. It manages to stick to the content guidelines Episode gives writers whilst also having the occasional dirty joke or adult reference for the keen eye to notice. Younger Episode readers could open this story and have an almost completely innocent experience, whereas the more dirty-minded of the users can see through to the subtler jokes aimed to make us chuckle. As with many of the best Pixar and Dreamworks films, this story can be enjoyed at many different ages for many different reasons.
From the very beginning, you can tell the author really has pulled out all of the stocks with this one. An interactive title scene helps you to feel in the mood to read the story because it just adds to that energetic atmosphere. The transitions are amazing and the advanced direction is on point. I often complain about how awkward and silly some of the animations on Episode look, but Amberose uses the ridiculousness to add to the comedy. It’s something I’ve never even considered! Watching the MC practically moonwalk out of a room at one point had me in stitches.
If you’re up for a genuine laugh and some off from both the real word and the intense stories on Epiosde, sit down and have a read of this story. Not only will you get a laugh, but you’ll experience an extremely authentic university vibe from the characters, situations and dialogue. I love this story and I hope you enjoy it too!
If this sounds like your cup of tea, make sure you have a read for yourself!
And don’t forget to vote for the next Spotlight Sunday!