Top positive review
This is how you do a Mary Sue.
Reviewed in the United States on June 4, 2014
I've written this review with aspiring self-published authors in mind:
Do you want to write a Mary Sue story? Do you want to tell a tale about a character with a genius-level intellect, preternaturally physically gifts, supermodel looks, who never really puts a foot wrong, never really loses her temper, handles every situation with calm and aplomb, rises above provocations both intentional and unintended? Do you want to put her in a world where only the worst of men oppose her, everyone else misunderstanding her potential despite her genuine and proven accomplishments and abilities, eventually to be won over by her overwhelming humility and prowess? Then take this book as a model on how to do it. I'm serious - I'm not a fan of Mary Sues, but this series is absolutely the pinnacle of its type.
A lot of Mary Sues just give their characters awards and abilities without justifying them. But Dahners gives his character a basis in realistic-sounding pseudoscience and a proper foundation for all of her abilities. By the time this book ends, Ell Donsai has four Olympic gold medals in gymnastics that she won by benefit of her mental and physical abilities. She has a Medal of Honor, won for an act that actually would get the Medal of Honor in real life. She has revolutionized the communications industry and space travel, and created a technology with the genuine potential to transform human life. She has created an entirely new area of mathematics beyond the comprehension of almost everyone, gone from poverty to having nearly a trillion dollars, saved all of the astronauts on the International Space Station, and by the end of this book, won the Nobel Prize for physics and saved the world from impending cometary doom. With no signs whatsoever of any arrogance or hints of an existence of an ego.
All of this before she turns twenty-one. (And she never takes advantage of any opportunities to drink illicitly!)
Sorry if I spoiled anything there, but if you didn't expect that after reading the previous five books, you may wish to check out Dick and Jane. The plot twist at the end will leave you stunned. And shattered. Sha-ttered.
I know that I come across a little tongue-in-cheek, but I'm serious. This is a Mary Sue worth reading. Action scenes are excellent. Dialogue is outstanding. Pseudoscience and invention scenes, expertly done. And it's all done with a contagious enthusiasm.
Of course, character development is lacking, but what do you expect? Ell is the quintessential Mary Sue; she is literally perfect from the beginning of the series. Her only real problem is that there aren't any men who are really good enough for her. The author tries, but up to the end of Book Five, he never can quite pull it off. There is a tacit acknowledgment that neither Phil (highly intelligent, "Norse God" attractive, and an Olympic medaller himself) or Roger (even more intelligent) come anywhere near Ell.
One small quibble: in this book, they use the claim that "one may not shout 'fire!' in a crowded theatre" to shut up someone who wants to warn the world about the coming cometary apocalypse. That's not true. One absolutely can shout "fire!" in a crowded theatre - particularly if it is on fire. Also, prior restraint almost always unconstitutional, etc, blah, blah.
This review is for Books 1 through 5. I am a little burnt out now, so I am going to take a break from the series. Nevertheless: Recommended for pleasant, escapist reading. Highly recommended as a primer for bad self-published authors who beat their readers to death with poorly conceived Mary Sue characters. If you can't figure out how to write a realistic character with reasonable character development, this book is very definitely the next best thing.