First, rules, both my own ones and the ones that I am sticking with re: reviewing.
- No less than 5:1 ratio for books : fanworks (and honestly I reviewed two fanworks** last year in the course of reading 130 books, I am not often called to write page-long reviews) (although I always comment!)
- It’s okay for selection bias to enter into the picture re: reviews, since I finish books that I am 3* about but almost never fanworks that I am not enthused about
- Only those that are significant length will be reviewed (for me that’s about 100k words)
- And most importantly, while critical views and literature-esque critique will be okay, shame will not be
So! A long journey through many fandoms* has led me to that favorite hot take, Reylo (or, Rey Nobody + Ben Solo) (I cannot hear you, are you saying Palpatine? He died at the end of Return of the Jedi, I’m not sure why he’s relevant right now). In a non-shame-driven way, I’ll say this : I don’t do fix-it fics. I think as plotted in the movies, Ben/Kylo is a mass murderer full stop. I do, however, like all manner of AUs, either in-universe (a different, Star Wars-compliant story with the same characters) or modern. Some of the former type are superlatively great, packed with detail from the wide Star Wars universe. Many of them also have the benefit of thousands of words to dedicate to the inner lives of characters who were shafted in the films.
* including but not limited to: Card Captor Sakura, Harry Potter, MCU, Bones, Castle, books aplenty (e.g. Spinning Silver, Princess Diaries, Enchanted Forest Chronicles, His Dark Materials)
Then, if I dislike the ship as it was done in the movies why do I like this ship welllll let us turn Anne of Green Gables, and a passage I used to justify my like of a different book I will not name (clearly some shame there):
“Why did you kill MAURICE LENNOX?” [Diana] asked reproachfully.
“He was the villain,” protested Anne. “He had to be punished.”
“I like him best of them all,” said unreasonable Diana.
“Well, he’s dead, and he’ll have to stay dead,” said Anne, rather resentfully. “If I had let him live he’d have gone on persecuting AVERIL and PERCEVAL.”
“Yes — unless you had reformed him.”
So you see, the point is that villains just make for more interesting characters. And Adam Driver is attractive. So that’s all I’m going to say about that.
JK I’ll say more because I am reviewing a 130k modern AU which is loosely dependent on Star Wars for nothing more than character names and tragic backstory!
To be honest this is really just an excuse to write a screed on fanfic and loosen the gates, so to speak. For some balance, on the whole my critique of fanfic is this: at the end of the day, unlike in a conventional book, the author has their work cut out for them to get you invested in the characters, because by seeking out their work you’re basically feeding yourself stories about characters you like. Much like new Sherlock stories, or endless Group Of Wealthy People In City reality shows. I don’t think the Housewives of Miami(?) gets particular credit for their ratings, since they’ve basically tapped into the love of The Housewives of Elsewhere. I don’t by any means think that writing good fanfic is easy (it’s not!) (50 Shades of Grey exists!) (many someones paid MONEY for that!) but that the level to which it has to rise to be great is an easier burden than with an entirely new property, featuring new characters whose personalities I can’t fill in to my satisfaction.
So with that long intro aside, (won’t you let me) walk you home from school is cute! Judged on its relative merits in comparison to romantic comedies, which I do read a lot of as well, I think it did an excellent job with the whole enemies to lovers trope, with a really solidly built “I hate you on sight!” conceit that draws from both misunderstandings and so-so emotional regulation and plain old stubbornness. The plot goes where you think it’ll go but it does so in a way that feels fresh, or at least interesting enough to pass for fresh in a genre that doesn’t have very many surprises. As with Bloodline, I enjoy that there are no real snap your fingers and everyone’s happy type conclusions as well–in this modern universe there aren’t planet-killing-genocides to forgive, but it’s almost harder to get over plain old hurt feelings, which humans are notoriously great at creating. And hey, to date this year it’s the best thing I’ve read!
** I will be remiss if I don’t call out said two works I reviewed: Like Young Gods and To Kingdom Come, together the Sword of the Jedi series by diasterisms. Not a hidden gem by any means–might actually be the most popular thing out there–but considering that the Jedi Academy books tie for tops in the Star Wars EU for me (other than Mara Jade books, RIP), it’s not a surprise I fell head over heels for this well done, in-canon work that gave! Rey! a! proper! arc! and delved into why someone would fall and had some frickity frack as well.