Hello again. Stopping back in with another review. It seems like every time I leave one for Jami, I'm inspired to pop back here, no doubt as a result of always seeing your name at the bottom of all her chapters. And this was another excellent chapter. I'm afraid my review won't be long enough to reflect my enjoyment of it. I usually take little notes as I go when I know I'm going to leave a review, but I sort of just got caught up in enjoying this one. But I shall do my best...
I really enjoyed the scene with Harry in the classroom for so many reasons. First, it's sort of lovely to imagine his character like this -- teaching back at Hogwarts. Somehow the less formal position of guest lecturer seems to suit him far better than being a full time professor. Maybe because he didn't ever love the academic side of school? Anyway, I just really like the idea. This job is almost like having him leading an aboveboard version of Dumbledore's Army.
I think even more than that though, I loved the intricacy and detail you added to the spellwork itself. The line about keeping your arm up or you'll wind up with a broken nose was perfect. And the lesson on handling spells fired in rapid succession was great. This may be an odd comparison but it reminded me of that moment in HBP (at least the movie version), when Harry shoots a spell at Snape, and Snape swats it away like it's no more a concern than a fly. You know the students learn all these individual spells at school, but there must be this level of expertise that simply comes from years and years of practice. It's like learning addition and subtraction in school, and how adding two numbers is a lesson in itself. But then you get to college and your doing multivariate cluster analysis by hand and you no longer think about how two and two is four. You just do it. The complexity builds without having to always go back to addition 101. Anyway, that's just my very, very long-winded way of saying I thought this was a brilliant scene and it expanded on something from the books I always wondered about.
As a random aside, I loved the line: Never set your wand aside, even when you're wearing your bathing suit. I rarely actually laugh out loud when I'm reading, but this honestly made me chuckle. The mental image was too funny.
Okay, so this is the point in the chapter where I stopped making notes, and truly, the rest of it was just as good as the first part. I was kind of expecting something to happen with Dennis that would push the plot forward -- this chapter did feel like it lacked in forward momentum a bit, at least in comparison to the last -- but it was still very enjoyable to read. I thought the references to teaching muggle studies still being controversial after all these years was perfect. It made me think of debates over what to teach kids in sex-ed classes.
I know I'm always looking for CC, so I usually try to include a little when I review. I'm not really sure how helpful it will be to you considering that you're already done with the story, and I'm sure that your writing has improved over time anyway and these may be non-issues at this point, but I'll post them anyway. Please feel free to ignore as you see fit.
First, there was a sudden change in POV during the dementor scene. For a few paragraphs there, we were in both Dennis and Artie's heads. Nothing wrong with using omniscient narration, it was just a bit jarring since the other 6500 words were in Harry's POV. Second, there were a few times where you broke up a character's "monologue" into separate paragraphs and you didn't leave open quotation marks at the end, or otherwise use something like "he continued on." It just muddles the clarity a touch so it might be something to keep an eye out for.
That said, I'm continuing to be genuinely impressed with your quality of writing. I just reread that sentence and it came off sounding super conceited, like I was *surprised* to find myself enjoying your writing. That's not what I mean at all. It's just that your style is clear and concise, and it reads effortlessly. It's not simplistic, just very reader-friendly. It doesn't "feel" like writing. It feels like your watching the story happen, not reading an author's attempt to convey to you what's happening. I am hugely envious of anyone able to do that.
Okay, so maybe not such a short review after all. I sort of feel bad about it, springing long reviews on people who didn't ask for them. Hope you don't mind too terribly much. For some reason, your chapters make me chatty :P
Author's Response: Beta reading for awesome stories has its perks! You don't think I just do it to find out what's going to happen between James and Lily before everyone else, do you? OK, actually that is why I do it. ;)
I enjoyed every word of writing Harry in class with the students. I loved the idea of him being very approachable in spite of the fact that he's famous. Or perhaps because of it. Kids have an interesting way of cutting through things like that and getting to the heart of a person, especially somebody like Harry who always seemed to have some very child-like qualities.
Math geeks of the world, unite! For my particular major, I didn't have to go any higher than complex analysis and linear algebra, but I completely understand what you're saying. I have twin four-year-old boys and when I'm trying to teach them math, it makes me aware of all the little shortcuts I take in my own head. To me, magic works the same way. You start out having to focus very intently on incantations and wand motions and as those things become second nature, you start to learn how to do things faster while combining spells and eventually when you get to be Dumbledore's age you're improvising extensively and doing a lot of things without a wand.
I *have* to imagine that Auror trainees suffer through a lot of practical jokes and hazing. When you have that many intense, Type A personalities, the game is all about dominance and pecking order.
Dennis's role in the story is somewhat practical and somewhat metaphorical. I can't really get into the practical part without ruining the surprise, but the metaphorical part is that his character represents a broader wizarding world that has become complacent and more than a little naive after almost five decades of peace and prosperity. There are two generations at this point -- relatively large ones at that. War babies ;) -- who were born after Voldemort's reign of terror. They have no concept of what it's like to live in fear for your life. They hear the stories that their grandparents and great-grandparents tell, but after a while it starts to sound like your parents who walked back and forth to school through 8 feet of snow, uphill in both directions. As Dennis begins to wake up to reality, so does the rest of wizarding society.
I always love hearing constructive criticism. Whether or not I ever go back and edit this story, I'm still writing other things and it's important to know what works and what doesn't.
Yep, you caught me on the change of PoV. It was one of those moments where I thought it was important enough to know what the two schoolboys were thinking that it was worth it. I promise I won't do it again. ;)
Thank you so much! Throughout the story, I tried really hard to maintain a high standard. Mountains of credit go to my beta reader, but I can't lay any blame on her for the early chapters since we didn't start working together until somewhere around chapter 7 or 8. Suffice it to say that you will probably notice the difference.
Oh, don't feel bad about a thing! I absolutely love getting peoples reactions to the story, and I don't mind one bit taking the time to read them and think about them and respond. That's a big part of what makes HPFF such a great place. Thanks so much for reading and reviewing!