Discussion in 'The Alternates' started by Stan, Aug 2, 2015.
Because it's completely contrived to have a completely different Ginny, but identical plot.
Yeah... but Ginny has nothing to do with the overall plot in the Harry Potter books either. If she vanished, nothing would really change in the ultimate battle against Voldemort. So while I would have liked to see some changes in HP plot, I didn't really need it to really enjoy this story with a very interesting Ginny.
This story is a Slytherin redemption fic and a Ginny Weasley character piece, in that order. That is what the story tried to be and neither of them necessitates giant changes in the plot. Infact, you can actually argue that this fic shows how easily a less maligned Slytherin house fits into the structure of canon without changing its plot, which does seem to be the biggest aim of the story. Substantial changes in the plot actually undermines that theme.
The change that did happen from canon was of course the biggest change that needed to happen for this story: Pansy Parkinson being shut up by her own house when she tries selling Harry to Voldemort, and a few Slytherin members staying back for the final battle. All the actual changes in the story - the changes in the social dynamic between Slytherin and the rest of the school - had been leading to this moment. And that is a big change, a permanent change to the social dynamics of the school, but it is not the kind of change that would necessarily lead to changes in the big picture. A few extra Slytherins stayed back, and that is a huge change for Slytherin house and Hogwarts, but it is still just a few extra people and not likely to make a huge difference in terms of how the battle goes.
I can understand the problem some people have with nothing changing in terms of the big picture, but I think it is realistic and prefer it this way regardless. More changes in the social structure that resulted from Slytherin's redemption will probably be explored in a sequel.
Read this in basically one sitting over the weekend; it's an excellent story. Very well-written, with possibly the best depiction of a Slytherin character I've seen in a while. The Parlor felt a little under-developed, and I was in two minds about the 'women's magic' - on the one hand, it doesn't seem to fit the essentially canon setting, but on the other hand it reminded me of Discworld, which is no bad thing at all. Talking of the Parlor, the whole Slytherin girls thing (dangling that guy off the tower, the business with Crabbe and Goyle) was perhaps a little OTT given, again, the essentially canon setting, but it was satisfying to read, so what the hell. Other than that, I can't really think of anything I'd criticise. It's a really smart, compelling read.
I thought I'd gotten away from Harry Potter fanfiction, save for the occasional cross over, and then I read this. Suffice to say, I really enjoyed it. The prose, the characters... it made me feel a bit nostalgic - took me back to my tweens when I would stay up all night reading what I thought were riveting stories. That hasn't happened in a while. Five stars from me.
There's a sequel that is up, and 40k words in. I didn't realise this was what she was writing, so I've yet to start.
Do we still lump an entire series in one thread? The Changeling seemed very complete, so I'd rather start a new, distinct one for this.
I'm not too fond of the sequel. The Changeling had great character work, but no plot at all. I'm not sure the author is capable. This continuation is nothing but drama, and the characterization is slipping, considerably. Without something to rehash and provide structure for a character exploration fic, I don't think this is going anywhere.
I don't think that the characterization is slipping. The characters were traumatized by the war and this fic explores that. I expect that it will be about recovery, but sometimes (most of the time?) you don't recover fast.
Usually fics have the characters be well, in a good place mentally (or good enough), just after the war, and I like to see a fic that explores the consequences of being in a war, tortured, and losing friends and family members (something that is never easy, and to top it off the main characters were only teenagers).
It's different from the Changeling, so I get that people may not like it, but I don't agree that the characterization is slipping, no.
I think the sequel is superb. Hiraelle said everything else that needs saying.
I actually feel the canon story and Ginny herself would have benefitted from her being in Slytherin. As in Changeling, because of the blood relation, there's reason and motive for Harry et al to have a positive acquaintance with a Slytherin. It adds that Slytherin perspective that canon sorely lacked and it also makes Harry/Ginny more reasonable of a canon pairing because the Gryffindor/Slytherin match up means that Harry possibly gets to have an actually nuanced view on house prejudice.
In the context of Chamber of Secrets, though, it would have made Ginny stand out too much, when she needs to fly under the radar for narrative purposes.
I love The Changeling, and think it (mostly) serves as an improved sidestory to canon, but I don't see it developing naturally for Rowling. It's only in retrospect that we can appreciate it.
I kinda stayed away from this fic for a while, mostly because it was Ginny centric and the angst tag is usually a graveyard. But I ended reading two of the author's other fics and found that I enjoyed them very much. So seeing the praise here, and setting aside some of my misgivings I decided to take the plunge and read it.
Now keep in mind that I have read about a quarter of the story and am currently in the 4th year, so this is only a review of how the story starts really.
I don't really like it. In my opinion the fic suffers heavily from a few narrative choices the author has made. The fic is written in a distant sort of way where every event, instead of being shown to us directly, is filtered through Ginny first and presented to us by her thoughts and feelings. This is probably my most subjective criticism as a lot of you in this thread really like that aspect of the fic, but I can't really say I do.
It's obvious from the author's profile that she is a really big fan of Ginny, and that leads me to believe that this fic spawned as a character study. For her to explore Ginny's character, motivations and personality. And that's fine, and can be very interesting and engrossing if done well. The problem here bleeds into my second criticism; the fic is very boring so far.
Nothing really happens here, in fact I'd say less than nothing happens because this is a canon rehash that kinda got rid of the whole canon bit. Annerb has taken the original books, changed a detail that is insignificant to the larger plot line and focused on it to the detriment of pretty much every thing else. Everything regarding the actual important things happening in the world is handwaved away, explained in one or two paragraphs with little interest or excitement. Umbridge's speech is forgotten in favour of Ginny being confused and eating some food, the events during her second year with Sirius are left behind and not touched again until she comes face to face with him. There are no characters, there are cardboard cutouts who walk and talk like they're expected to but they don't do or want anything. Smita literally appears out of thin air so Ginny's second year has a bit more flavour to it.
You can't really write a story like that, this fic doesn't have a plot or characters, it's not going anywhere. Some of this could be excused by the nature of it as a character study. This is firmly about Ginny, everything is second to Ginny. But here's the kicker: Ginny is kinda boring too, and a little annoying and definitely uninteresting. The problem with your story and world being barren of characters and events is that it leaves your character with nothing to do. And Ginny doesn't do anything, she stares at the scenery, she does her homework, she plays badly described quidditch which we are told she enjoys very much. Non of that is, sadly, interesting.
I had to force myself to keep reading at points but it proved much easier than usual because Annerb is a really good writer. Her prose is excellent and can really draw me in as her other fics have proved. And here's the thing, for all I know the rest of this fic could be excellent and every single criticism I've had could be dealt with and brushed aside. And if that happens I will gladly edit this review and leave a much more appropriate one.
But as it stands I felt like I had to leave a review about how this story starts because it's kinda bland and uninteresting.
So, I burned through this in the last few days and I have to say, it has been quite a while since I last enjoyed a Harry Potter fanfic this much.
The way I understand it, there are three stories planned, two of which are complete as of this point, the first one about Ginny through the years 1-6, culminating with the Battle of Hogwarts, than the period after the war and before her return to Hogwarts to finish year 7 and then the last story which has yet to be posted about year 7.
I think the way this story stands out to me is the way it handles the Harry Potter cast in general, in that it has an excellent handle on each and every character. Every person is pretty much their canon self. Malfoy, Snape, Fleur, the Weasley's, they're are all perfectly in character. I think this is pretty much the most perfect depiction of Draco Malfoy that I have yet to see in fanfiction. He is exactly as he is in the books, no dumber and no smarter. Ginny, of course is changed but not in a way that replaced her character with someone else entirely but rather that she is still Ginny, only changed through her different life experiences.
I didn't mention Harry, because him I felt the one changed the most, but also in a good way. With Ginny being a different character and thus actually a bigger influence on him did allow for some genuine changes in his character and an openness to reflect on himself and others in a different way than before. He is still a good character and distinguishably himself but a bit more developed.
The OCs, speak all the Slytherins and some Ravenclaws I actually really enjoined. I completely agree with @Newcomb in that Antonia, the whole time, reminded me also of Ophilia Karait, only not as a cheap knock-off but rather based on the same character archetype, that of the immensely competent, cunning and mysterious older Slytherin girl.
Here is a confession of mine: I fucking love the immensely competent, cunning and mysterious older Slytherin girl archetype. Honestly wish there were more of her pulled off competently. Her taking Ginny under her wing is something I was super happy about.
As such, her presence was enjoyable whenever she appeared and she never overstayed her welcome as she's used sparingly. (Here I confess that I also was shipping her with Ginny, but it never broke the story for me as the Harry x Ginny thing is being built up rather organically)
Ginny has two friend-groups in Slytherin, one being her two best friends Smita and Tobias and the other being the girls of the parlor and I find that while the latter group may not have been developed as much as I would have liked, I still appreciated each and every character.
The friendship between Tobias and Ginny worked really, really well for me. It's true that Tobias is not a groundbreaking character, however, there is such a profound sense of friendship in the way that he interacts with Ginny, that he actually became one of my favorite characters in the fic. I thoroughly enjoyed his interaction with others and the interesting parallel he served to Snape. In a way, it was very subtle and clever critique of Snape. Tobias and Snape serve very similar roles, only Tobias never allowed himself to be broken and twisted by life as Snape and never took it out on the helpless by being incredibly bitter and mean-spirited.
The story also had me genuinely fooled that Tobias and Ginny had grown apart, that what happened to their group, the incident at the Ministry and Smita's absence were enough to break apart their group, especially with Ginny spending less and less time with him, clearly not knowing how to handle this. So much so, that I it was an actual surprise that Ginny told Neville that Tobias had been spying for them. I guess my only complaint in that regard is that I wish there had been a hint or something to foreshadow this, or maybe there was and I missed it.
Which leads me to Smita and while she is the less impactful person, her role I actually enjoyed even more. Yeah, her character doesn't leave much of an impression, I honestly had already forgotten her name but it's so rare to see such a realistic portrayal of the development of friendships in a medium where friendships are celebrated to the point of giving you unrealistic expectations of them.
Sometimes, people grow apart, for better or for worse. Smita was an incredibly important person for Ginny for a few years but that's simply not something that necessarily will always stay that way and that's fine as well. There wasn't a big fight or an ideological rift between the girls, just different priorities and life took them on different roads. Sometimes friendships can't be saved and that's not necessarily a bad thing. I honestly loved this.
The Parlor was something that I also loved. It's a clever invention, one that feels particularly fitting into the Harry Potter mythos and works exceedingly well in the story as it serves to explore Ginny's characters in a multitude of ways, as both a regular member desperately seeking advice, companionship and a place to belong and later as a leader who is responsible for each and every single individual in it and is probably the thing I am looking forward the most in the third story, to see Ginny trying to rebuilt the Parlor, to invite new girls into it and see on whom she will ultimately pass the torch to.
In general this has been a great story exploring Slytherin, one of the best I have seen in fanfiction. There is no Slytherin wank, no bashing. Slytherin is not a "pit of snakes". It's not Game of Thrones with schoolchildren where every character is Littlefinger, Varys or Cersei. No senseless scheming or arbitrary ranks or whatnot. They are just kids for the most part, but it is still distinguishable from the rest due to its unique nature.
As a whole, Ginny has been an excellent character to use for this, genius even. Since she is a year younger, the story gives us a new cast to play with and at the same time, removes her from canon events enough that the focus is always on her journey and not necessarily derailing the plot, although the canon elements are still happening in the background and shaping her life. Ginny finding her place in Slytherin has been a gripping journey, one told expertly with not a spelling mistake in sight and with smart stylistic choices.
For example, I loved that her first year was basically a haze, as both her worldview being shaken and being controlled by Riddle had a tremendous impact on her, one that she couldn't shake for a while.
It was carving her own space with Quidditch, the life-line that the Parlor threw her and making friends with Tobias and Smita that ultimately allowed Ginny to get on her feet and finally claim her place in Slytherin, which was, on a whole, really satisfying to read.
Ron dressing in Slytherin colors to cheer on his sister was also one of the more heartwarming moments in HP fanfiction that I've seen in a while. It deserves mention that I also loved how her family reacted to her being in Slytherin, how they tried but their prejudices would get in the way at times and say thoughtless things but which they also ultimately were able to overcome.
As to the negatives, I guess I agree that there could have been a bit more characterization on the Parlor girls, although I guess that will come in the third story. Still, some more distinction among the girls outside of what they pursue wouldn't have hurt. And while I appreciated the story not having Ginny derail the plot by overtaking it, as this is very much a Slytherin Ginny story and not a Dark Lady Ginny story, I have to admit it's a bit weak that Ginny's influence on Slytherin hasn't really altered anything so far. Sure, I guess there will be a slightly more positive perspective on Slytherin as a whole, especially in the younger years, but the fact that Ginny and the additional Slytherins who stayed had virtually no impact on who died and who didn't is a bit weak, especially since Ginny had a device that was able to suck up all magic which, in hindsight, was a bit OP, way too good and ultimately still pointless. "I'll have twenty" indeed, that thing is probably the best magical device after the Hallows and better than the freaking cloak.
I liked that the Slytherins faced stark consequences for their bravery. There was death, injury and fallout from that, stuff that the second story explores in an interesting manner, only that the impact is really only felt by them, not by the plot at large, if that makes sense. Their impact is restricted to them alone, not the larger picture. Could have led to more or less deaths of canon, something like that. Make things better or worse and not have them stay exactly the same. Looking back, that is really disappointing.
The second story, while still interesting from start to finish, does get a bit overly angsty at times, especially Harry but at the same time, Harry's conflict with the Ministry is something that I really appreciate and found to be the most realistic I have seen and I am including canon in that. I quite like the trajectory that is being set up and I hope this will ultimately lead to Harry to becoming something other than Auror and that this will allow the story to throw off the last shackles of canon.
Snape (and I don't think there is any chance of Ginny naming any of her children after him, if they have any) has been handled really tastefully, I have to say. Also rather in character, he hasn't been glorified or bashed. Instead, there was nuance in the way the story used him and different characters saw him differently and all for good reasons. As I said earlier, Tobias is a nice contrast to Snape and while admittedly he wasn't in as extreme of a situation as Snape ultimately found himself, he managed to handle himself much better than Snape did at that age.
Characters in general haven't been whitewashed, the Malfoy's being great examples of that. Even after their turn, they didn't do a 180 but rather remained their slightly antagonistic, aloof selves who aren't suddenly super regretful and nice but rather awkward, distanced people who don't quite know what to do. Narcissa going "you might not have helped me but rather doomed me as a traitor if I'm still getting thrown into prison" was one of my favorite lines in the story. Not a lot of stories do that. Even Harry, he's not being treated as the next Merlin or something but rather the rock to the scissors that was Voldemort. Sure it was important but that doesn't mean they like him any more for it or value his input outside of the public perception of him. The fact that Harry is not leading the Ministry in any shape or form and rather has only some minimal influence that he has to carefully balance is fascinating and super believable.
I think, ultimately, that is the greatest strength of this story. It is so very grounded and mature that it never overextends itself and knows exactly what it is it wants to do and then efficiently does it. This is not a story that has been written on the fly but rather was meticulously planned and edited and the effort is shown and has paid off in every line.
It has its flaws but nothing at all game-breaking and if you at all like Harry Potter fanfiction and the wizarding world, you owe it to yourself to at least check it out.
Sorry for the wall of text >_>
For anyone who was a fan of the changeling and the sequels, the author posted a small blurb of what would have happened to Ginny if Harry Potter died on the night of the battle,
It's simple yet beautiful. The writer continues to amaze me with her writing skills. The woman's magic was perfect, and the title the wizarding world came up for her is brilliant. It almost... almost makes me wish this had been the real ending.
The author has - as far as fanfic writers go - an exceptional talent of conveying imagery and tone with concise prose. I haven't read The Changeling in a while, but I remember that being true even then. It's even more exemplified by this excerpt that Lindsey posted. I eagerly look forward to whatever she writes next.
Loved that short what if snippet and it would have made for an amazing launching point for a story. Would be curious to see how Ginny would juggle her new life from there on, especially with regards to the Ministry. I really liked Harry's position in the main story, where he had limited leeway and influence that he had to carefully leverage but was mostly ignored and Ginny starting similarly but still differently - and being a different, more aggressive person- would make for some fascinating clashes.
The author really knows how to convey emotion with her words, major kudos.
This was surprisingly good. Not quite 'On the way to Greatness', but still - 4/5
Picked this up after a lengthy break from fanfiction. I enjoyed it a lot, all the more because it stuck so closely to canon. It's a very well written character piece which takes a very small shift to canon and builds a richer world through it. A beautiful companion piece that I think improves on Rowling's world without changing the essence of the story - a major achievement in itself.
The first half of the story is solid, but the final year, which takes half the book, is superb. With very little to go on in canon, I think the author really nailed it here. She explains Neville's development into the character we see in Deathly Hallows. She manages to portray Snape presiding over the reign of Carrow terror, hated as a murderer, but still ambiguous, playing his part and not giving himself away (too much anyway). She doesn't slip into the common fanfiction problems of giving characters superpowers, creating a Mary Sue or bland OCs. This Ginny is far more interesting and likable than canon Ginny, not just Ron's little sister who has a crush on Harry, but someone with life breathed into them, flaws and all. The OCs are fantastic and only add to the story. The author gives Slytherin a nuance and meaning totally missing in canon - they truly become more than just Malfoy.
Easy 5/5 for me.
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I should add (can't seem to edit my post!) that I particularly loved this line, one of the most perfect I've read in a while:
"What's happened" she asks, already halfway out of her seat. Misfortune, after all, seems to follow Harry Potter around like a loyal pet.
"It's Ron," he says.
Merlin, no. Not stupid, wonderful Ron. She can barely hear Harry's explanation that he's been poisoned over the buzzing in her ears.
Stupid, wonderful Ron - somehow summing up the whole character in three words.
The writing in this fic is superb. It is beautiful, concise, and cohesive. Initially, I was quite wary of the fact that this story was written in present tense - yet it works quite well.
The characters were brilliant. Harry and Ginny grew the most. Tobias Burke was perhaps my favorite character in this fic, and I felt quite dumb to have believed his supposed betrayal. Though his portrayal in the first few chapters were nothing short of great, the last few chapters really did him justice. He is three dimensional and armed with realistic flaws. Smita, on the other hand, I felt weren't written quite as well as Tobias, but had an impact nonetheless. When Smita left Hogwarts, I had a strange feeling of loneliness - as if I was the one who had just lost a best friend of five years. Snape was another character which was written very well.
The writing style and pace was quite similar with On The Way To Greatness, another favorite of mine. The reason I prefer this fic over that, though, is because it's completed.
Easily a 5/5 from me.
(For those of you who don't know, there are two completed sequels to this fic. You can access them here and here. If I am not mistaken (and please do correct me if I am wrong), the author is working on another sequel.)
This is an easy 5/5 for me.
It's the best characterization of Ginny I've ever read. If it had been this good in canon, there would be all sorts of Ginny fanboys here. The author is exceptionally good at conveying the blind spots of a character's perspective. Ginny doesn't really understand that so many of her classmates are afraid of her. Harry doesn't understand how his behavior looks to someone outside the trio.
There is a bit of canon rehash, but that's unavoidable and forgivable in a story like this. It's a fascinating character study, and the most deftly-handled present tense narration I've ever seen.
For those who are interested in the sequels, I just read them. The quality of writing is the same, and Harry shares the spotlight with Ginny. They're not as interesting in terms of storytelling, because the primary conflict of book one has been resolved. The first sequel is about the characters trying to overcome the psychological effects of what they had to do during the war. There's plenty of PTSD to go around, and the hurt/comfort might grate on some nerves here. The second sequel is about the very slow-burn romance between Harry and Ginny as they figure things out. It focuses on Ginny's final year of Hogwarts and how things change at the school in the aftermath.
tl; dr about the sequels: they're quite good, but lack the tension of the original. If you like the original and don't mind some fluffy, angsty romance, they're still worth your time.
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