I’m going a little off track with this review today. As you all know, I’m a big Harry Potter fan, and I stumbled across this fan fiction about Lily and James Potter during their sixth year at Hogwarts.
So, you guys, real talk. It’s been 10 years since the last movie came out, and 20 years since the first book. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is wonderful, but has so far answered no questions about Harry’s parents or the Marauders, and Pottermore only gets you so far. So, like so many others, I’m left to reading fan fiction. While I usually only find short stories or a few pages worth entertaining, Jewels5 has practically written a novel for her followers. Therefore, I have yet to have time to crack another book in the past week- sidetracked, you could say, by the wizarding world again. Then again, with over ten thousand reviews, I’m sure I’m not the only one.
Now, with that being said, I do have some general critiques for Jewels5. The biggest thing that I have to say about The Life and Times is that the writing style is inconsistent and young. Reading this, I clearly felt older than what I imagine the average reader to be, based on the word choices and excess of dramatics. The writing starts out in a nice mix of narration and dialogue, but then quickly is overpowered by dialogue- much of which is like following bickering children (though I realize at times, this is the case with sixteen-year-old characters). It becomes tiresome, and much of it seems unnecessary to the root of the story, and this can also extend to include banter about dieting, who likes who, and other melodramatics. Jewels5 could have easily pared down her 50+ page chapters by deleting redundant dialogue.
The other thing that rather bothered me- and this may just be me- but the choices for chapter / title breaks in the action don’t relate much to the consecutive text. At first, I loved how she tried to connect the muggle music of the time period into the prose, but it seemed a stretch in any relation otherwise. As a huge classic rock fan, I first thought it would be neat combining the two… but by the fifth chapter, I was wishing it would stop.
Relating to that point, I also noted a lot of diction that wasn’t appropriate either for location, time period, or just for a general audience. The excessive use of the words “drama”, “angst”, “tart”, “F*ck”, “b*tch”, come to mind. I also disliked the overuse of certain words, such as “Agrippa” or “sodding”. The thing that I admire most about JK Rowling is that her writing always comes of as clever, not inappropriate, and on top of that, her word choice is extremely expansive, only repetitive when it counts. I’m not saying that the language offended me, but I’d rather read a witty innuendo instead, if you know what I mean.
I also disliked the amount of focus on the romantic relationships outside of the Lily and James relationship. I came here to read about Lily and the Marauders, not about the rando roommates and their conflicts. I understand the need for action and different types of characters to progress the story, but in all honesty, Jewels5 needs to prioritize her attention on the main characters and not the stock/ foil characters. The content of these superficial “highschool” type relationships is not something I want to spend hours reading about. Again, this is more likely her writing style and target audience, but when you are working within the magical world created by JK Rowling, one of which has a diverse following in different age ranges, this is going to stand out in a negative way.
Now on to the positive notes. There are so many moments that I really feel transported back to Hogwarts, and even a few are JKR reminiscent. Some of the James/Sirius banter is so clever that I can’t help but laugh out loud, and the canonical secondary character plots are pleasantly (although not exactly as I imagined or maybe not acceptably such) woven together. In Jewels5’s version of things, Neville Longbottoms’ parents are incorporated, as well at the Cattermole and McKinnon couples.
I also want to note that Jewels5’s writing gets better as she goes along, and the nice mix of dialogue and narration comes back together. Jewels5 has obviously done a lot of canon research and tried to hold true to JK Rowling’s work, and has stitched these points nicely into her narration. About half way through the chapter series (around chapter 18-19), things really start coming together for the plot lines and grab the reader’s attention, and the action that takes place is gripping.
Overall, I would say I’m rather on the fence about The Life and Times, and would suggest reading it only if you have time on your hands or are desperate for a little Marauders/ Lily & James/ new Harry Potter material.
If you are interested, here is the link: https://m.fanfiction.net/s/5200789/1/
If you have (already) read this, what are your thoughts?