NO OHMYGOSH WHAT IS HAPPENING?!?!
So... I reviewed chapter one of TFWMS a while back for the Ravenclaw Review Battle, but I always read the new chapters when you update, and I just couldn't let this one pass by without reviewing...
Because EVERYTHING KEEPS HAPPENING TO THESE CHARACTERS AND I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO UNTIL THE NEXT CHAPTER COMES OUT WHY
. I'm going to leave that paragraph^^ up as a testament to what's going on in my head right now, but the rest of this review will attempt to sound rational.
First of all: Why I like this story so much, an essay
Your characters. They are so believable and so likable--even when they do awful things like Holly did to Albus. They all come with their own problems and anxieties, and they all have their own special niches. When someone said that Albus is a humanities guy and he feels like he isn't as smart as the science-y members of the group, I thought, "YES, THAT IS ME. I AM AN ENGLISH/MUSIC MAJOR. I FEEL YOU, BUDDY."
So on some level, all of these characters are so easy to relate to, while also being ten times more brilliant than I will ever be, and that's a fact! Their dialogue... Gosh, I don't even know what to say. It's snarky. It's intellectual. It's perfect. When Albus made that Narnia reference, I nearly died of mirth. When Scorpius was reminiscing about when he told the Sorting Hat where to get off, I lost it. These characters say all the things that I wish I could say, but my brain isn't quick enough to come up with them until after the fact. And I guess that's all down to you--because behind brilliant characters are the brilliant authors who created them. :)
And the "rainbow" that is Ravenclaw House? Well, on that level, I can only identify with Lester, but you write all of the varying sexualities so honestly and realistically. There are a myriad of examples in fanfiction of gay characters, but the bulk of what I've seen are the typical "fabulous" guys who carry purses and act as the "sassy gay friend" that the Burnseys are looking for. That's all fine and good, but your characters are not like that. They aren't painted with the same colors, or even the same brush. They have a variety of preferences and quirks--and that assortment is unrivaled, at least as far as I can see. So for doing that, for writing people (albeit, really smart GENIUSES) the way they were meant to be written, thank you.
Wow, I ramble a lot. Sorry, but I just wanted to chime in with more praise for your wonderful writing.
And the last thing I wanted to comment on was that ending... JUST WHY?! I forgive you for writing it because it made the story that much more compelling and intriguing--after all, happily ever after doesn't always happen--but I really want everything to turn out okay. WHY did Albus break up with Scorpius? What did they say to each other up there in the dorm? Will Scorpius tell Rose about it? (I hope so... I'm curious!)
I suppose while I'm commenting on that, I should comment on the catalyst--Holly's insult. This is really important to me because THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT I DO SOMETIMES. It's like I don't even know I'm being mean until someone gets offended. And I saw myself in Holly in that particular moment. It was all there--the snarking that was taken just a bit too far, the anger, the instant remorse... It's pretty narcissistic for me to say, "Oh, that's me!" all the time, but seriously, I feel like you're holding up a mirror and showing me who I am. (That's so darn cheesy... Sorry, it's the truth...) So that hit pretty close to home, and it was marvelously executed to boot.
So yeah. That's what I think. Sorry that this review is pretty rambling and annoying, but I had to say it in some way/shape/form.
And I hope that things go back to pleasant sailing very soon, because this chapter is just full of sadness and thorns. :)
Author's Response: Firstly, I apologise for taking so long to respond to this review - I normally respond as soon as I get them, but you left me speechless for about twelve hours and I've been trying to think of ways to articulate how much this review means to me, and I don't think I've quite been successful but here goes anyway.
These characters mean so much to me personally and I'm so, so glad that so many people are identifying with them and appreciating them - especially for the reasons you've pointed out. I do draw on a lot of personal experience - it's self-indulgence, in a way, because I have Very Strong Feelings about representation and the importance of seeing characters in any media - even fluffy Next Gen fanfic - that reflect people in the real world (having said that, though, my experience is of course limited and I can't write the full range of human experience) but yeah, Albus's strengths lying in the humanities definitely falls into the 'personal experience' category - I'm a Classics major at a university that's famed for Engineering, so I feel your pain (and Albus's.)
Honestly, the vast majority of the time the dialogue between this lot writes itself - I don't know whether to give credit to the Muses or some kind of benevolent writing deity, but I swear there must be divine intervention happening on some level. (Though I will take credit for the Narnia reference - I use it all the time to describe my high school experience. People in real life never seem to find it as funny as I do. Alas)
I've always been quite careful about avoiding any potential stereotypes when it comes to these characters and their sexualities in particular - I guess I'm quite aware that there is so little lgbtqa representation on the archives and I feel a certain ~responsibility~ as a writer to portray everything as accurately as possible. Personal experience comes into it, again - I don't think I've ever really come across any super-camp purse-toting gay boys (though I'm sure they exist because the stereotype must have come from somewhere) and I tend to take my cues from real life more than other fanfic with regard to treatment and characterisation of my queer characters (not a difficult thing to do when the queer-to-straight ratio in your group is about the same as the Claws in this story) There are far more identities and orientations than just gay or straight, and I've tried my best to explore a few of them in as realistic a way as possible, while not making their sexualities the be all and end all of their personalities, if that makes sense. It's an important part of each character's identity, but it's also only one facet of it. (I could talk about this till the cows come home, I really could, but I'll spare you the essay and just say thank you so much for your comments on that in particular because this is something very close to my heart)
When I was writing that scene, I managed to sort of build it up in my mind a lot more, and when I went back and reread it I was surprised at how the whole thing seemed to come out of nowhere - I considered rewriting it before I realised that's exactly what happens in situations like those - one hurtful comment that wasn't intended to be hurtful and then everything blows up. I think everyone's been there, and I really felt for Holly in this whole bit - especially because her whole "thing" is being a lovely and compassionate person, and she suddenly finds herself in a situation where she's really hurt someone she cares about. (and that's not cheesy at all - it's honestly the highest praise I can receive that you see yourself in my characters, and I'm so honoured and flattered)
This review is hands down the best I've ever received on the archive, and I've been here nearly four years. Thank you so, so much for this - I don't think I've even begun to articulate how grateful I am, but I hope you get some idea anyway.