I just wrote an immensely long post in the Unpopular Opinions Thread
, and I thought I'd re-post it here, because it sums up pretty completely my opinion on BIONICLE's writing for the past seven years. BEHOLD!
On the subject of Greg's writing abilities...
I would say that he's a very uneven writer, but not a bad one. When he's writing in an elevated style, he's fantastic. The main problem with Greg is that he can be self-limiting; he'll write in jokes and one-liners where they don't belong, and it comes across as lacking in confidence. (Think the embarrassing Wizard of Oz references in "Brothers in Arms.".) When he treats the story with appropriate dignity and really gives it room to breathe, however, he can produce some great stuff.
His 2001-2003 comics kept a straight face, and allowed you to take them seriously. Same thing with the first half of the 2006 novels, before they degenerated into monotonous action sequences; those Karzhani and Voya Nui scenes were wonderful, and contributed to some of the best worldbuilding since 2001. Parts of the 2008 books were very good as well—Krika had some great character moments, and I was a big fan of the ending. Makuta's appearance in the stars was as dramatic a moment as anything from 2001, and in a sense it re-deified him. He was suddenly Nothing and Everything—a god of destruction not seen since the MNOLG.
Greg's biggest problem is that he'd always let too many mundanities seep into the story. The worst example I can think of is the way he handled the big reveal of Mata Nui's true form. Watching Mata Nui awaken in that CGI animation was awe-inspiring: what WE saw was a towering god, his head reaching into the clouds, rising from an endless sea. His body contains the entire universe that we've explored for years. All-encompassing.
But what did Greg call him? A giant robot.
Well, jeez, I guess. Technically speaking, yeah, sure he's a giant robot. But isn't he a bit more than that? I mean, he's alive, he's full of living things—is he really any more of a robot than, say, Tahu? What a shockingly boring way to talk about something so grand! Now, for contrast, let's look at a quote from Makuta's Guide to the Universe. Narrated by Makuta himself, Greg adopts an elevated style:
The heroic Toa returned to Metru Nui, even as the Great Spirit Mata Nui began to rise. Of course, no one but I truly knew what that meant. I had been to places no one else had ever seen. I have learned the ultimate truth - that Mata Nui did not rule the universe of the Matoran - he was the universe. The Great Spirit was a vast being of metal, a thing of armored power, within whom dwelled the Toa, Matoran, Makuta, Vortixx, Skakdi, Zyglak, and every other species. The land masses we dwelled upon were but parts of Mata Nui's substance, existing to keep him functioning. We had looked to the heavens for our Great Spirit, when he was truly all around us.
That's what I'm talking about! Grand, eloquent, mythological... Effective! Why did Greg have to refer to him as a "Giant Robot" every other time when he's clearly capable of writing stuff that captures the grandeur of BIONICLE? Why did he have to hold back and give us mundane one-liners and comic book action when he could write so much more? I think it's a shame, because he really can be a great writer when he pushes himself. Even his simpler stuff can be great when he handles it without a sense of irony; look at Journey of Takanuva. It's a wonderful little book that quickly establishes a vivid world and mysterious tone, and it works as well as anything from 2001. And to boot, it's a story about parallel dimensions, which I've always hated in BIONICLE... But it makes it work.
Anyway, I think it's unfair to say that Greg is a bad writer. He's produced so much that I sincerely love, and beyond that he's also a great, hardworking guy. His main flaw is that he often chickens out and fails to live up to his potential.