Hi, there! This is the first of probably several Gryffindor May Exchange reviews, if you'd like to make this more than a one-chapter event.
I was both excited and kind of sad to find out that Jennifer was James's cousin. Excited because I think it broadens James's back story in a really interesting way. In the books, he's only ever portrayed as a spoiled, somewhat arrogant only child who suddenly transforms into this wonderful, upstanding guy late in his Hogwarts years and sweeps the saintly Lily Evans off of her feet. I feel like his quasi-brother-sister-relationship with Jennifer will really add some depth and complexity to that picture and I'm looking forward to it. I'm kind of sad because we know that Harry has no family left by the time he's left with the Dursleys. That doesn't bode well for Jennifer's future. :(
You did a nice job with Sirius, too. You made him refined and aristocratic in a way, which felt more natural to me than the stories I've read where he's in full anti-pureblood rebellion mode before he even sets foot on the train. I can see the beginnings of who he'll become, but also the roots that he comes from. Overall, it was very well-balanced. It feels, at least at this early juncture, like you're setting Sirius and Jennifer up as a potential romantic pair. That should also add some interesting depth to Sirius's character, as well as some curious dynamics between Sirius and James. No way to know how James will cotton to the idea of Sirius snogging his almost-sister.
I really like the start you're off to with Jennifer. You managed to define a lot of things about her without doing that horrible thing a lot of authors do where they roll out the proverbial Back Story Dump Truck and proceed to unload every conceivable bit of information about their OC in a long, pointless internal monologue that fills half of the first chapter. Instead you worked some important bits of information into the natural flow of events and left us some things to wonder about. I see similarities between her and James and also some important differences. I did really like the way she feels protective toward James and, by extension, Sirius. I assume she's destined to reconcile with Lily and that should be interesting when it plays out.
Lastly, there's Lily. You did a fantastic job of making her sound like what she actually is: a precocious and temperamental eleven-year-old girl who's also probably pretty frightened, seeing as how she's venturing into completely uncharted waters. The way that she didn't answer Jennifer in the dormitory seemed about right to me, although I'm pretty sure that her reason wasn't the one that Jennifer was thinking of. I'm guessing that she just didn't know what to say.
Let's see, what else? There were two passages that I liked so much I highlighted them as I was reading:
He had striking grey eyes that seemed to look like they pierced into your soul, along with the nicest head of hair I've ever seen on a boy.
It looked silky, lustrous, and well taken care of, though significantly longer than James's hair. -- I chuckled to myself when I first read it, thinking of how mortified Sirius probably would have been if she'd said this out loud. But the more I thought about it, this is the sort of thing that eleven-year-old girls notice.
In all honesty, it wasnít an ugly name; if I had to grudgingly admit so, it was a nice sounding name, even if it was a name that should have stayed in the 15th century. -- All I could imagine when I read this was Sirius making a crack like, "The 15th century called and they want their name back." Great stuff!
Then there was one passage that felt a little, I don't know, forced to me:
Honestly, the way that James was going on and on, a nearby passer would have thought Salazar Slytherin himself arose from the dead and told everyone that he was setting a basilisk loose in the castle. -- I know what you're trying to do here, but I was kind of struggling with the idea that an eleven-year-old girl would know what a Basilisk was. Recall that even Hermione had to go look it up and Ron, who came from a pureblood family, had never heard of it.
Lastly, I saw two typos that I wanted to point out:
I hadnít meant to be eavesdropping but it was impossible to live under the same roof as James Potter for the majority of your like without picking up some troublemaking skills. - majority of your life
"Yes, she was but distantly related..." I murmured, not knowing why I wanted to tact that last bit on in the end and certainly not knowing why I didn't like the idea of being related to Sirius Black. -- tack that last bit
Otherwise, I thought you writing was really good. It all flowed very nicely and I liked your word choice. You had a good mix of narrative and dialog and nothing sounded awkward or singsongy. Great start!
Author's Response: Thank you SO much for this wonderful review!
First off, I'm glad that you found the characterizations good because to me, at the core of a Marauders' story is the characters and their interactions, much less of the plot because we know the general gist of what happens. The plot of the story means nothing if the characterization of the key figures isn't correct, so thank you!
Also, I really did try to get as much into an eleven year old girl's head as possible. To me, it makes the process of all of them growing up so much more plausible and actions that take place later on much more sense.
I'm definitely going to go back and edit that bit about the basilisk. You are definitely correct that an eleven year old really wouldn't know that, and I will definitely fix the typos.
Thank you SO much for this review! Seriously, it's not only one of the longest that I've received, but it's definitely one of the most thorough that I've ever received. Thanks so much! (: