Suburban Timewaster

I play video games and review them.

Fabulous: Angela’s Sweet Revenge (Gamehouse.com)

Emily’s fun-loving sister, Angela, moved to the Big Apple to start her career as a fashion designer.  Unfortunately, she has to work for Yum-mee, a stuck up boss who thinks she’s all that. To make matters worse, Angela’s husband, Jimmy, doesn’t support her.  Is it because there’s something going on between Jimmy and Yum-mee, or is Angela just being paranoid?

Yep, it’s a simplistic cheating plot.  Though, I have to say, I’m glad that Angela’s mad at both of them.  Warning, there will be spoilers for the game so read with caution.  The name of the game is Angela’s Sweet Revenge and she takes it out big time.  Don’t get me wrong, cheating is not a matter that you should take lightly but the way Angela goes about it seems very wrong.  With Jimmy, she goes so far as to throw seeds on his car so that birds will poop on it.  Yum-mee, on the other hand, gets to be publicly humiliated at an event she organized.

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Something similar happened in Emily’s True Love and I had a problem with that as well.  Once again, I will say that Angela has every right to be mad.  However, there are better ways to go about things like this.  I admit, people have screwed me over in the past and it is tempting to sink to their level.  That doesn’t mean that you should do so.  Let’s take the song, Before He Cheats by Carrie Underwood.

When I first heard it, I thought it was a song about empowering women by destroying the cheater’s car.  I told my mom about this and she said that the behavior is destructive and insane.  You can take the moral high ground by confronting the people who’ve hurt you honestly and openly.

The game play is similar to Delicious with clothes replacing food.  You deliver the required clothes to customers and check them out at the register.  Some of the customers will try on an outfit before they purchase it.

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During each level, you can make new clothes and complete a mini-game associated with each one.

Unlike previous games, this one’s layout is made of Facebook entries for each level, and you can like each comment.

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I thought it was a unique system.  It also shows how different Angela is from Emily.

The game is short but fun.  I give it 7 out of 10, it doesn’t take up that much of your time.

Fashion Boutique (Bigfishgames.com)

Maya’s dream has finally come true.  She has her own boutique and she’s ready to make her name in the world of fashion.  Can you help Maya balance her career and her personal life?

It’s hard to talk about the storyline because what the comics say changes depending on Maya’s stats.  They might focus more on Maya’s career, her personal life or both.  I’ll admit, I did like that aspect of the comics.

The game play is something else.  You take customers to whatever part of the shop they request, bring their orders to the sales clerk and then give them back to the customers.

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My favorite part is at the end of the week, when you can pick actions for Maya that bring up her stats and help her balance her career with her life

This game is interesting but can get dull.  I give it 4 out of 10, unique but doesn’t really have much else to offer.

Game of Thrones Episode 2: The Lost Lords (Steam)

After Ramsay Snow murders Ethan Forrester and hands their livelihood over to their rival house, The Whitehills, the family struggles to maintain their once great house.  Fortunately, Rodrik returns to become the new Lord under dire circumstances.  Meanwhile, Mira Forrester secretly plots to overthrow the Whitehills while working as Lady Margeary’s handmaiden in King’s Landing and Asher, the exiled Forrester, is on his way home from Meereen with an army of sellswords.

I should warn you; this is the second episode of a TellTales game, so spoilers are unavoidable.  For instance, Rodrik supposedly died in Episode One and then came back in Episode Two, his death turning out to be an exaggeration.  Personally, I felt that was a cop out that they centered so much drama around Lord Forrester and Rodrik’s deaths, forcing Ethan to be the new lord.  Then they destroy all the drama surrounding it by revealing that Rodrik’s alive and he can take over as the New Lord.  I’ll admit, I actually liked Ethan and his struggles with having responsibility thrust on him at a young age.  This was why I wasn’t happy to see Ramsay kill him at the end.  I think it would have been more dramatic to keep Ryon dead and see how the Forresters truly struggle.

Mira Forrester’s scenes are some of my favorites, partly because they include Tyrion, who’s my favorite character in the show, other than Daenarys.

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Don’t get me wrong, I actually like Mira, her struggles and how you can make her a total badass, if you so choose.  Though I think Tyrion might have been a little sloppy in his assistance.  Let me put it this way, this is the same man who told Lady Stark that, if he were to plot an assassination, he wouldn’t hand the assassin a dagger that could be easily traced back to him.  When Joffrey’s killers frame Tyrion for the murder, he points out that, if he were to murder Joffrey, he wouldn’t do so in a way that leaves him standing there holding the cup.  Tyrion also had to see who Cersei’s spy was on the council, so he deliberately told each member of his plan to betroth Myrcella to a different ward.  I think that, if Tyrion were to ally with Mira, he would do so in a way where his alliance would not expose her or himself.  For one thing, he approaches Mira while she’s with Sera, the other handmaiden, and not asking to speak to Mira in private.  Tyrion also failed to dismiss the Lannister guard before bringing Mira to the meeting.

Speaking of Sera she has a small part in this and it’s something I actually like.  She is a bastard and, while we see many male bastards in the show and learn how hard life is for them, we never learn what it’s like for females.  In the world of Game of Thrones, no matter how bad things get for men, women always have it worse.  Therefore, you can bet that life would be worse for a woman bastard, something I wish the show would explore and, I hope the game will take the chance to.  No matter how bad things get for men, they always have the Night’s Watch as an option.  I’ll admit, it’s not a great one but it’s better than nothing.  How would a woman bastard be able to cope in Westeros?  In the case of Sera, she needs to secure a marriage to a man of high rank in order to establish her security.

Gared joined the Night’s Watch and he hasn’t fared well.

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I don’t know what the popular opinion about The Wall is, but my mom absolutely hates it.  She finds it dull with only a few matters of interest.  Personally, I like The Wall but that’s because I’m in love with Jon Snow, who gets to make an appearance in this game and advises Gared in life as a member of the Night’s Watch.

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So far, nothing really happens except that Gared gets into a few fights and has trouble getting along with many of the other recruits.  Gared also talks to Jon Snow, the one redeeming feature about The Wall, about the Red Wedding.  They even discuss why Gared wants to be a ranger.

We heard about Asher in Episode One, but we never really get to meet him until now.  I’ll admit, I like Asher’s journey as well as his companion, Beshka.  You can tell that they’re both good friends who’ve seen each other through the good and the bad and are trying to survive in a harsh climate.

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They both made a living as sellswords and have quite a few enemies to deal with.  I was happy when Malcolm comes to get them and tells Asher the plan to save House Forrester.  I already said their plan is to hire an army of sellswords to take back House Forrester, but what will they hire them with?  Sellswords cost money, which they don’t seem to have in abundance.  Maybe they plan to pay them with Ironwood, which is their livelihood, but you only get to keep half of it if you managed to convince Ramsay that the Forresters are the better craftsmen.  Even then, you give over another half as dowry to convince Elaena Glenmore to marry Rodrik.

I particularly loved how Episode Two ended.  Talia sings at the funeral for Ethan and Lord Forrester and the former’s last words influence the lyrics in her song.

I found this particularly moving not only because of the beautiful song, but also because of the shift of scenes to the other Forresters and Gared dealing with the aftermath of their own decisions and their own struggles to save their family, even if they don’t live at Ironrath anymore.  It’s enough to make you cry.

The game play is typical of TellTale games.  You make dialogue decisions for each character you play and the game compares the more important ones to what the other players decided.  I’m just going to say right now that your decisions don’t really matter.  For instance, there’s one scene where you have to choose whether Rodrik kisses Lord Whitehill’s ring out of respect in order to let his younger brother, Ryon, the Whitehills’ hostage on Ramsay’s orders, attend the funeral for his father and brother or refuse and allow Rodrik to keep his dignity.

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No matter what choice you make, the outcome is inevitably the same.  So don’t kiss the ring and let Rodrik rule the house with his head held high.  You can also explore scenes with the character you play and collect items for your inventory, even if that doesn’t really accomplish anything.  There will be quick time events where you have to press the right button, so don’t drop your guard for even a second.  The Wall also has a game play event where you can demonstrate Gared’s skills in strength, swords and crossbows.  I’ll admit that I actually liked that part, even if shooting the crossbow is a little tricky due to the constant movement.

This game is intriguing yet doesn’t seem to explore its potential.  I give it 6 out of 10, a bit of a letdown but maybe it will get better.

Dripping Mascara (Birthday Message)

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Dripping Mascara is a story on the iPhone app, Episode: Choose Your Story, about a young girl named Shelley who moves to California to reunite with her childhood friend, Matthew.  She also discovers that she has magical powers and is the reincarnation of a Queen.  Believe me, it’s not nearly as stupid as I make it sound.

Just so you know, this is not a review.  Genevieve, the author, has a birthday today and I thought I could post a message on my blog.  I consider apps on your phone video games and, since Dripping Mascara is a story on the Episode app, it qualifies.  I first heard of her when I saw the winners for the Valentine’s Day contest and played Wasted Roses.  Through there, I went to play Dripping Mascara and discovered a whole new world through Episode.  I met many people through Genevieve and became an honorary member of the Episode Community.  It’s because of her that I decided to post all of my original fiction on Episode, even if I want to publish it in the future.  Even if my work is still being outlined.

So, Happy Birthday Genevieve and thank you for introducing me to a wonderful community.  As for the rest of my readers, be sure to check out Dripping Mascara.

Game of Thrones Episode 1: Iron From Ice (Steam Store)

It’s a time of darkness for the House of Forrester.  House Stark has fallen and Ramsay Snow, the illegitimate son of Roose Bolton, sided with the rival house of Whitehill.  Can the House of Forrester survive Ramsay Snow and restore themselves to former glory?

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This is HBO’s second attempt to enter the gaming world, the first one being The Sopranos video game, which was a failure.  Now Telltale attempts to bring Game of Thrones into the gaming world, HBO’s new cash cow.  The game starts out at the Red Wedding, which is where, as many Game of Thrones fans know, Rob Stark dies.  Since the lord of the Forresters and the main heir perish as well, a child inherits the responsibilities.

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Sadly, that’s usually how things went down during the time period the game models itself after.  Apparently, boys who haven’t gone through puberty made better rulers than fully-grown women.  Though I do like how the game shows that things are changing and how hard it is for Ethan, the new lord, to follow in his father’s footsteps at such a young age when all he wants to do is keep playing with his siblings.  Even if his fate is unavoidable which, I admit, almost made me cry.  As for what that is, keep in mind that you’re dealing with Ramsay Snow.

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For those of you unfamiliar with Game of Thrones, Ramsay Snow is someone who skins people alive in his spare time.

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Definitely not someone you want to get on the bad side of.

As I mentioned, Ramsay Snow makes a few appearances throughout the game.  Let me tell you, he’s not the only Game of Thrones character who does so.  One of the Forresters works as Lady Margaery’s handmaiden, so you can bet that you’ll be seeing much of the Lannisters.

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I’ll admit, I knew that characters from Game of Thrones make an appearance but I thought that it would be as cameos.  I had no idea that they would be a huge part of the storyline.  However, I will say one thing. As scary as Cersei and Ramsay are on the show, having to deal with these people makes them far more intimidating.

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The game play is standard Telltale Games.  You make choices for each character you play with some of them supposedly having a huge impact on the game.

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I’m not sure how big yet, since I’ve only played the first chapter.  I’ve already told you that one of the characters has an unavoidable fate, no matter what you do.  At some points, you can explore certain places and read the codex for background information.  Unlike other Telltales games where you only take control of one character, this one let’s you control different members of the House of Forrester at different times.  So far, their situation and personalities seems very similar to the Starks but I’m hoping the game will expand on the Forresters so that they’re more than just Stark copycats.  You can even compare your choices with those of the other players though, let me tell you, I’ve found myself restarting the game many times over fear that I’ve made the wrong choices.

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This game is intriguing but emotionally overwhelming.  I give it 7 out of 10, a promising start for Telltale’s Game of Thrones adaption.

Delicious: Emily’s Home Sweet Home (Gamehouse.com)

After having Paige, Emily and Patrick move to a house that they like to call a fixer-upper.  When they get on the bad side of one of their neighbors, she vows to have the house condemned.  Can Emily and Patrick get the house up to code before they lose it forever?

The game has a dilemma and Emily and Patrick do have to struggle to end it.  I do mention that they get on the bad side of one of their neighbors due to a stage mom’s child injuring herself in their house.  Let me tell you that said stage mom is a woman who has power in their neighborhood to the point where she can ruin a man’s life for not voting for her daughter in a pageant.  However, I have to admit that she does have a point about condemning Emily and Patrick’s house.  Sharon’s daughter (the stage mom in question) didn’t simply bang her head on a table; she fell down a hole in the floor caused by a fallen chandelier.  Their house is a deathtrap and I really can’t blame Sharon for wanting to have it condemned.  Yet, we’re supposed to see Sharon as unreasonable for trying to shut down a death trap.

Another problem is, I can’t feel too much sympathy for Emily and Patrick when the former’s parents let them stay in their house while all this drama’s going on and will let them stay permanently in the event that their house turns out to be condemned.  In one level, Emily complains about how her house is condemned, many people are taking the side of their enemy.  Emily even mentions how she and Patrick will be living with her parents until they turn sixty.  Many people can find themselves in a situation like this and don’t have their parents to turn to.  In a promo for Two and a Half Men, I saw one of the character’s beg his mother to take him in because he’ll be out on the street.  The mother blew him off and told him to pick a street in Beverly Hills so she can visit him.  To someone like that person, Emily would sound like a whiner.  In this game, Emily’s isn’t the only one with problems.  One section has to deal with a guy coming to terms with the fact that his daughter is not the great adventuring scout he wants her to be and that technical knowledge is every bit as important as the hands on activities.  Another has a guy who runs an amusement park dealing with children who don’t want to work there and would rather spend all summer playing.  The third section deals with an overprotective parent dealing with being a single mom to her only son.  One who is also trying to have a life outside of her son.  The fourth section is about a stage dad who dreams of his daughter being a great Olympic skier, one she doesn’t share.  Every section is about a parent’s relationship with their child and, all the while, a stage mom is trying to ruin Emily and Patrick.

The game play is like the previous ones in the Delicious series with you delivering food to your customers, trying to get the highest score possible in each level, and purchasing upgrades in-between.

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There are differences, such as being able to change the menu for your restaurant by serving enough of a product.

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Each level also comes with an extra task for you to complete.  Do so to get a diamond for each level and use them to purchase items for your house.  In the case of Paige’s room, you have to fulfill certain conditions to get a trophy.

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While this was a fun addition to the game, some of the rooms in the house seemed a little too traditional for my taste.  For instance, why does Patrick get his own man cave and Emily doesn’t get a woman cave?  I did some research on the concept and, apparently, the idea is for the man to stick all of his stuff in one room while the woman decorates the rest of the house.  The problem is this idea enforces gender stereotypes.  As a woman, I do have a love for flowers, candles, stuffed animals and dolls (provided that they’re Monster High, Ever After High, or DC Superhero Girls products) but I also like action figures, video games, Game of Thrones and super hero posters.  Therefore, I find the idea that I wouldn’t allow such items in my house insulting.  Another problem is the idea that the man needs to get away from the stress of it all but women have the same desire.  Some of the things said about the objects in Patrick’s man cave enforce gender stereotypes, such as Emily making a remark about how most wives hate it when their husband plays video games.  If I did get married (big if), the only thing I’d hate about it is if my husband hogged the game cartridge and wouldn’t let me play.

Like many games in the Delicious series, you can pay extra for the platinum version.  One of the extras it comes with is more levels about Emily throwing a housewarming party and finding a nanny for Paige.  Since Francois has his own plot about finding his calling in life, you can imagine that he’s the obvious choice.  However, I do have one question.  What happened to Francois’s interior decorating business?  For those of you who don’t remember, Delicious 2 introduced him with this pitch.  Sharon is also part of the plot, but this time as an ally to Emily and Patrick.  However, she doesn’t lose the traits that made her a threat to them, as so often happens when the bad guy joins the side of good.

This game is fun if not a bit traditional.  I give it 7 out of 10, a fantastic addition to the Delicious series.

Delicious: Emily’s New Beginning (Gamehouse.com)

Emily just gave birth to a beautiful baby girl and she and Patrick couldn’t be happier.  That is, until Emily goes back to work.  Now she has to learn how to balance running a restaurant with taking care of a child.

You read that right, the plot is about career vs. family.  Emily’s trying to run a restaurant while keeping her baby under control.  Surprisingly, some customers don’t like having a baby bothering them while they’re eating.  This starts to become a plot point in the cafe portion of the game where many of Emily’s regulars don’t like Paige (her baby).  I can’t say I blame them.  When I go out to eat, I don’t really want some stranger’s baby bothering me.  Though it really becomes a plot point when Emily has to work for her competitor, Wu, after her family restaurant burns down due to her father and her uncle competing to be Paige’s favorite relative (I’ll explain later).  Wu doesn’t allow babies in his restaurant, so that means Emily has to sneak Paige in there behind Wu’s back.  Wu also won’t let Emily have any say over the menu, though I do see Wu’s point about having a baby in the restaurant and I’m not sure if pies fit his atmosphere.  However, that doesn’t give Wu the right to treat Emily like his slave.  Therefore, I can’t hold her rebellion against her.  This doesn’t end even when they get a restaurant together, with Emily having no say about how her restaurant’s run, though she does stand up to him and makes it clear that she’s the one in charge of the menu.

Again, Emily’s family is a huge part of the plot and you can always count on them to make the plot fun.  For starters, I mentioned Edward and Antonio competing to be Paige’s favorite relative.  This escalates into them buying similar presents with one of them being better than the other and even buying similar toy cars, then racing them around the restaurant to prove that their toy car is better.  Of course, this results in them accidentally burning down Emily’s restaurant.  This forces her to work for Wu.  Though Edward and Antonio learn their lesson, they still have to one up each other at Christmas by dressing up as Santa.  Truthfully, my favorite family moment includes Jimmy when Emily yells at him for buying Paige (who’s three years old in the Christmas levels) a lighter.

The game play is similar to the previous Delicious games with Emily serving customers who sit down or order from the counter.  After the customers at the table finish eating, you clean up after them.

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In between levels, you can purchase equipment to help run your restaurant including an entertainer that you can send to your seated customers to cheer them up.

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The only problem is that the entertainer takes a little too long doing their job.  The game also has a new feature where you can decide your menu based on what customers will be going to your shop on that very day.

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Choose right and you can get generous tips to help you achieve a three star goal.  Some levels will require you to complete an activity relating to the story.  Another thing that separates this game from previous ones in the series is Paige, who will crawl around exploring the restaurant and bother some of your customers.  Therefore, you have to take her back to her playpen.  This feature still exists in the Christmas levels, when she’s three years old, which makes no sense whatsoever.

This game is simplistic yet fun.  I give it 8 out of 10, a fitting installment for the Delicious series.  Though I do have one question.  If Emily’s so busy with work, then why can’t Patrick take care of the baby?

Cake Shop (Bigfishgames.com)

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When Emily lands a job at the Cake Shop, she couldn’t be happier.  That is, until she starts to miss home.  Can Emily bring the shop up to perfection while keeping her mood up?

There’s not much to say about the plot.  Instead of comic strips or cinematic scenes, you get Emily talking to her boss about her goals for the shop and her mood.  All this does is advance the game play, which is the selling point.  You create different cakes and use machines to serve sodas, ice cream and any other side treat.

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Make sure to serve it to the customers before they get angry and walk out.  You can also buy upgrades when your shop gets enough thumbs up icons.  Get a certain amount to gain a star for the shop.  As for Emily’s mood, make sure to stop by construction to build her the house of her dreams.

This game is simplistic yet addictive.  I give it 7 out of 10.

Christmas Stories-Gift of the Magi Beta Test

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When an evil spirit captures Oliver’s sister, it’s up to him to fill a magical amulet up with three good deeds to save her.  Can Oliver succeed, or will the spirit capture him as well.

The plot is your basic rescue the damsel in distress with the short story, Gift of the Magi, thrown in.  You guessed it; the first good deed is helping the couple.  Fortunately, the couple already sold their most valuable possessions to get each other gifts for Christmas.  Instead, the couple finds themselves in deep debt and you have to get them the money to fix it.

The game play is hidden object, with you going around collecting items for your inventory.  Sometimes, you have to play hidden object games in order to get one item.  If you’re stuck, use a hint.  The map is also there to guide you and believe me when I say that you’ll have to do plenty of backtracking.  This game also comes with a little helper elf who will assist you throughout the game.

This game is entertaining and still keeps the meaning of Gift of the Magi while still allowing you to help the poor couple.  I might buy the game when it comes out.

Marin Umino (Cafe 0: The Drowned Mermaid) *Major Spoilers*

A while back, I reviewed Cafe 0 which is still one of my favorite visual novels due to its Twilight Zone feel.  I also recreated all three versions of the main character, Marin Umino, as best as I could using the Azaleas Dolls game (Snow Queen Scene Maker), which you can check out for yourself on Azaleasdolls.com.  Despite the premise of Marin being a ghost who relives the past seven days of her life, the game is more tragic than it is scary.  For those of you who haven’t played it yet, be sure to check out the game on roseverte.com and be warned that there are major spoilers in what I’m about to say.

To me, what makes the game tragic is Marin and the characters that surround her.  To an outsider, it seems she has the perfect life.  Marin’s the most popular girl in school, she has a nice apartment, she’s the swimming team’s ace, dating the most popular boy in school, boys want her and girls want to be her.  However, just because she’s admired doesn’t mean anyone loves her.  Marin’s best friend, Ami, is only hanging out with her because they’re both popular.  Ami has no issue with stabbing Marin in the back if she benefits.  Marin’s boyfriend, Tooru, is only dating her to further his own ends and blackmailed Shou, her doctor who is also Marin’s secret boyfriend, into making Marin date him.  As for Shou, he’s an adult and Marin is a teenage girl.  So the fact that he’s involved with her in private means he’s basically committing statutory rape and also prostituting his girlfriend to protect his own career because Tooru made it clear that he will expose Marin and Shou together if Shou doesn’t make Marin date Tooru.  Keep in mind that Marin doesn’t even want to date him and is only doing whatever Tooru wants to make Shou happy.  Really think about that for a minute.  To anyone asking, “where’s her parents in all this?”  They’re off in who knows where and leave their kid to fend for herself without even a pet for company.  Even Marin wonders if she’s an unwanted child.  So this girl had no genuine love in her life.  Just people who took advantage of her and used her for their own ends.  Marin dies unloved and no one mourns her death.  I’ll admit, I’ve been used myself and I have trouble telling who my real friends are, but the worst that I ever happened to me was that I got called out on the internet, or I had a pool installed and people I’ve never even talked to suddenly wanted to be my friend.  Even if I was used to such an extent I know that, through it all, I’ll always have my mother and I also have pets that love me unconditionally.  I can’t imagine what it’s like to be in Marin’s shoes.  I’ll admit, usually, I hate the popular kid is sad trope, like how Smallville portrays Lana Lang, but here it works.  Marin is Lana if the writers of Smallville actually took the time to write her better.

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