Series: Final Fantasy 7
Title: Shards of Glass
Warnings: Violence, Dark, Psychological mindfuck, lemon and lime content, fanpoodle japanese (Seriously wtf), walking the fine line of non-con, game canon only
Couple (if applicable): Sephiroth/Cloud, Zack/Cloud, Vincent/Cloud, Rufus/Cloud, one sided Cloud/Tifa, faint Cloud/Aerith references (Yeah, Cloud kinda gets around in this fic. X_x)
Plot: 8/10 - The summary managed to get my attention, mostly because I love Zack fics. Also note, this goes by game canon only, since this was started in 2001 and finished in 2004, pre-dating even Advent Children. So yeah, his last name is the name that was popular in fandom before it officially became 'Fair'.
So basically, Zack wakes up in a hospital post-game. Of course, the first thing he does is to go search for our little chocobo-head (Really fandom?) ray of sunshine. Only... things are not good. Like at all.
Seriously, this story deals with some really dark issues and a lot of psychological issues. The first thing you find out is that Cloud was in a Mental Institution for a year after attacking some of his friends from Avalanche. Yikes... Not to mention, Cloud's behavior is very odd and sometimes downright disturbing in the story. As the story goes on, you discover the reason behind this behavior and it's... not good.
Not to mention, we have Sephiroth in the mix, but... it's not in the way you normally expect it. And you can kinda guess from the pairing listed above. This story can get boarderline squick between consensual and non-con too, so if you have issues with that, I wouldn't recommend reading this. I don't know if I would consider this under-age either, so be warned about skimming that line too.
I also don't really see the Cloud/Vincent pairing, like at all. They never struck me close in canon, and it seems Vincent takes a liking to Cloud in a more than friends way not too long after the game ends, which bugs me. It would make more sense if it was later down the line, and even then, I don't really see the pairing still. I think that partly tainted my view on it. I can let Sephiroth/Cloud slide to some degree, but not Vincent/Cloud.
The only problem I have with the story is the last few chapters are REALLY confusing and I got a little lost. It is kinda predictable what Cloud was hiding, it kinda boarderlines canon itself, in my opinion, but it doesn't destroy the story.
I do NOT want to spoil the end, but the story does end with a satisfying conclusion.
Writing: 6/10 - This got docked BIG points from me because of one thing: Fangirl Japanese. There is NO FUCKING REASON to have fangirl Japanese in a fanfic that does not take place in Japan, PERIOD. I let it slide with animes that take place in Japan, or have a setting like Japan (Which I was almost ready to give the benefit of the doubt with Yuffie, since Wutai has very heavy Japan influences), but it's really unacceptable here. And it's annoying, especially when you don't understand what she's saying sometimes.
This will continue to piss me off. There is NO NEED to have your fanfic with fangirl Japanese when you can translate it into perfect English and not lose the meaning of it.
Other than that, the writing is done well, and if the fangirl Japanese was gone, it'd probably would've gotten a 9/10.
Characterization: 7/10 - Meh, again, this is a mixed bag, especially how you view the pairings. I really only think Cloud looked up to Sephiroth as a 'hero' figure, and I don't think Sephiroth was really interested in any kind of relationship with anyone. If only going by game canon, I do see maybe Sephiroth and Zack being close (Even if you count CC, they do seem friendly to each other and get along fairly well), but I certainly don't see Sephiroth abusing his powers the way he did on Cloud in this story.
Zack is pretty much how I expected him to be, and the others of Avalanche are how I expected them to be. Except for Vincent and Yuffie to some degree.
I covered the Vincent/Cloud thing above, so I'm not going to go into much detail. Other than that, Vincent is for the most part in character. Yuffie is kinda clingly to Cloud and it kinda skims the boarderline of her being OOC, but I think given the story flow, she remains IC for the most part.
Cloud is how I expected him to be as well, given what he's going through. Though I do wonder why he isn't more screwed up than is.
Reno and Rude are funny as always. The Rufus/Cloud moments are more 'mindfuckery' than anything, so I can let that pairing slide. But again, what's with everyone wanting in Cloud's pants? It works in the guidelines of the story, but I did actually sit back and say 'Why does everyone want into Cloud's pants!?'
For the most part, the characters retain themselves and the little OOC you may see can be made up for it because of the story itself. The only problem I see people having is the pairing issue.
Negativities: Dark issues, squick, Fangirl Japanese (STOP FANDOM!), Cloud needing to start his own Harem (~_~)
Summary: Zack's been asleep for a very long time and finally wakes up... to a very different world. Regardless, he searches for the one he tried so hard to protect... Only to find things are never easy.
Overall: 7/10 - A fic that has some problems, but still definitely readable. Please note the warnings and the pairings, cause this fic is definitely not for everyone. I'd still recommend it, more for the issues the story handles, but if you have a hard time accepting the first 3 pairings, you might want to stay away from it.