Story Review: Aokigahara by John A. Pitts from Unfettered II

Story Review: Aokigahara by John A. Pitts from Unfettered II



Cover for Unfettered II taken from its Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Spoiler Free Summary:  Aokigahara by John A. Pitts is the sixth story in the Unfettered II Anthology.  A math genius spends her days working to earn an income via social media when she receives a strange encoded message that begins unweaving a mystery that will end in a development no one could ever imagine.

Character:  The characters in this story were sympathetic. There’s actually an interesting arc that connects closely to the to the plot. This piece (speculative in nature) does a nice job investigating the nature of conscience and thought. 

Exposition: Like a lot of speculative scifi, there is a lot of author musing here hidden behind the mind of the character. However, one should honestly expect that sort of thing in a story like this. While I noticed it, I don’t think the exposition dragged the story down. The whole thing only takes about 30 minutes to read, and it’s a fast pace despite the introspective nature of the story. 

Worldbuilding: This is deceptively good. The story opens, and each line and event opens up the futuristic world. Each time something happens, we understand the world better, and it feels natural. This was the strongest part of this story. Again, several of the stories in this anthology really do an amazing job of maximizing worldbuilding in short fiction. This story is no different.

Dialogue: There’s just not a lot of it in this story. What is there would probably lead to spoilers, which I work very hard to avoid. This is probably why the story didn’t resonate so much with me. I need some dialogue in my stories. It speeds the pace and gives me another way to connect with characters. However, that’s just a personal preference. This story is still well told. It’s just hyper focused on one character and doesn’t use dialogue.

Description: I’d say this is exactly where it needed to be. The scenes were the most vivid. I don’t quite remember the physical descriptions of the characters. I think the author was wise to minimize this since there was already a lot of detail invested in the speculative nature of the story. To add another 1,000 words or so of description would probably have only served slow the story down more. 

Overall: This is an interesting piece of speculative science fiction. It doesn’t have the charm most stories I like have. However, this story is really more about provoking thought and introspection, which this story does. If you’re looking for a quick story to get your brain going, give this story a shot.    

Thanks for reading