我家徒弟又挂了 (My Disciple Died Yet Again) – by 尤前 (Yóu Qián)

我家徒弟又挂了

Comment: Heeey, been awhile since I made another post. I had three reviews in-progress, but after school got in the way, two of those went to waste…because I forgot the majority of what they were about. The only one that I still remember a bit is this novel. This is one of my all time favorites, though I believe some of the enjoyment would be lost on newcomers of the world of Chinese novels, especially the xianxia genre — some of the points just won’t make as much of an impact. One reason I love this book so much is that it (and another that I might review once it’s completed) made me rethink about a lot of stories I once read. It brings to light the issues I took for granted or conveniently swept under the rug for my own comfort. Stories that build on the genre and makes the reader re-contemplate preexisting stories, is an amazing feat.

Summary:

Imagine you are programmer (and if you are, why hello there fellow friend) who spends hours finding bugs in your company’s game. One day you wake up and find yourself (body and soul) in a world where it’s possible to become an immortal; where everyone believes you always existed there, and not some intruder.

One day, a group of people come to test the young kids of the town you currently reside to see whether or not they have the ability to become immortals. Of course, as a woman in her late twenties, no one (including yourself) believes this test has anything to do with your humble self. Your only responsibility is take that annoying neighborhood brat to the examination center. However, at that place, you, out of curiosity, accidentally break the precious examination tool.

The examiners take you away to what you assume is punishment, only to find out that you have potential to cultivate the lightening element under a powerful master. So you happily train…only to die on your first mission outside……

Then get reborn and retrained by the same master….and die again….then get reborn and trained by the same master….and then die again……..

Welcome to Zhu Yao’s life, a game programmer who finds bugs in games to someone who unknowingly passes the interview to “debug” collapsing worlds.

Mini-Review:

The xianxia genre might be unique compared to novels of the world, but China’s online novels have many amateur stories about how one strives to become an immortal. Many of these share a common idea of how cultivators should act in society. In the name of “Tian Dao,” these “xian” (saints, heavenly beings, immortals) can do what we people today will consider as acts of crime. You don’t like this person, it’s okay you can murder the offender. Someone has a rare and powerful item, just steal it. These are justified as how things should be in the world. Being selfish is the way of life — “Tian Dao” is cruel. The characters take this as how it should be, and we the readers also get use to it after reading many of xianxia novels. However, is that really the case? Wo Tudi You Guale, really questions this, and brings into attention many of the problems this way of thinking has on the world of the genre.

Our main character, Zhu Yao, is a game programmer who spent the majority of doing what most programmers do, debugging. She’s been asked to debug a friends game, since his world is filled with “bugs,” or so he puts it. Thinking it as a favor from someone who has helped her in the past with finding bugs in her company’s games, she agrees, only to be transported body and soul into another world with another identity. She doesn’t know at first this was because she agreed to help fix bugs, in fact we don’t know either until the second time she gets reborn and sees a rather ugly “bug” tattooed on her target’s face. After this, Zhu Yao begins her journey as a debugger whose bugs are actual people and occasional objects.

At first it seems like a silly novel, but after the first few rebirths it becomes apparent that under the comedy and adorableness is a serious criticism towards protagonists of modern web novels, whom were written under the excuse of the genre’s characteristics.

Rating:

Characters: 5/5

Main Character

Out of the many female characters I’ve read about, Zhu Yao is probably one of the best. She is down to earth, hilarious, courageous, stood by her morals, and intelligent. Though, the quality that I liked the most, was her common sense. There are so many novels that have characters that are supposed to be smart, and in a way they are, but they lacked basic common sense. Maybe the authors decided to trade it in for dramatic storytelling. Personally, I don’t need my characters to be geniuses, I just want to have basic common sense. What? That character is suspicious? Okay, stay away or careful of him. Huh? That character did something wrong, but not criminal. It’s okay, just keep a close eye on him/her, and guide them, no need to kill them or/and their family. They did something really bad, be quick to end the problem

It is this common sense that lets her spot all sorts problems, which, for us readers, translate to xianxia novel tropes. As an outsider, and someone who hold strict morals, Zhu Yao doesn’t take the easy route by accepting the norms of the world. She points out that a lot of these tropes that are readily accepted by the citizens of the world, as well as us readers, would only cause the downward spiral to doom. This main character doesn’t need other’s praises to tell the readers how great she is, we can tell by the path she chooses to walk on.

Others

Our main character isn’t the only one that brought life to the novel, the other characters did as well. Our genius yet clumsy master, loyal neighborhood brat, lost and slightly crazy brother, the one who kidnapped Zhu Yao into the whole mess, and so on, all of them are written in depth. The only ones that are slightly one dimensional are the some of the “bugs”,  the ones that had no hope of being turned around, which frankly made sense. This novel enforces the idea that no one is truly good or bad. All the “bugs” that had dimension, could be guided, while the ones that couldn’t, no longer felt “human” because of how one-dimensional they were.

Story: 4/5

This book was the first one that introduced me to the 快穿 (kuai chuan: quick transmigration) category, so I once thought my love for the story was partly due to me never experiencing this type of story. However, after reading this book, I started reading more and more kuai chuan novels. Even under the same category, Wo Tudi You Guale still is a gem in the bunch. It’s a unique story that opened my eyes to a brand new genre while not fitting in its standard format. The story had familiar tropes appear and then teared down right in front of us. I loved the muti-universe world and how our main character lessen the harm of each “bug”. It was exciting, tear-jerking, and satisfying to read about Zhu Yao’s journey and her attempt to figure out why she was suddenly brought into another world, and how she accomplished each mission. If it weren’t for the ending, I would have given a perfect rating.

Writing: 3.5/5

The writing here is wonderful. I can’t give the best review on  the actual Chinese, but the planning, the themes, motifs were done incredibly. A major problem with many serial web novels, is that it’s obvious the author didn’t really plan anything beyond the basic tropes. Here, the way everything relates to each other was delightful to see unfold. We get to see how one action can affect so many different worlds and people. The author put effort into making her story flow and connect.

However, nothing is perfect. In a story, the beginning and ending are essential, and it pains me to say, no matter how much I love this story, the author failed on both. I was originally going to give a rating of 4 on writing, but when I thought about it a bit more, I realized I couldn’t give such a high rating when I had to force myself through the beginning and then feel a bit disappointed towards the ending. The beginning was not interesting, and if it wasn’t for the fact that the synopsis interested me and that I had nothing else to read, I would have stopped reading a long time ago. Even if I managed to convince myself that the beginning can be boring as long as the overall content is good, the author also failed at giving a conclusion that not only felt like an ending, but also support the ideas of the novel.

Personal Enjoyment: 5/5

Though at first I kind of forced myself to plough through, this novel soon became one of my favorites. I frankly have nothing to rant about besides the abrupt ending.

Overall: 17.5/20   ||    Read: 1 time

e-book: Chinese/English|| Audiobook: one&incomplete || Game: haven’t played it, so don’t know how good it is (Chinese)


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Ending:

Happy Ending

 

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Spoiler-filled Rant:

The ending is disappointing because it felt incomplete and disconcerting. What are the people who worked so hard to surpass the control of Tian Dao going to do now? They seem to live under even more control, where every crime is seen and punished swiftly. And though it might seem great that criminals are punished, nothing is black and white, and determining the punishment that fits the crime is an objective task that people to this day still debate about. What is considered wrong and the severity of those wrongs are based on one’s personal morals and that is inconsistent. Zhu Yao, no matter how much I love her and her master, is given way too much power and control over the lives of the beings around her, and this is coming from someone who believes in a strong, strict control for an organized and just world (lets not talk about personal, political believes, things will get ugly….). I just feel that as more and more immortals arrive into the upper realm, there are just going to be more dissatisfied and bored beings (extremely old beings) roaming around living under strict watch and control they spent years to escape. Eventually, that discontent will grow and grow until Zhu Yao might no longer be able to keep down.

Though I appreciate how this story really tackles the problems of many xianxia novels, the author wrote an ending that only leaves more questions to the readers, and not in a good way.

But hey, that is just how I feel and took from the story. Maybe to others, the experience is different. If any of you already read the story, please state your opinion below. I started this blog because I want to discuss with people about the stories I love (or hate).

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