The Student in Question – Jan. McNeville
The Basics: Classic Era (compliant only up to GoF), Humor/Romance/Action, 150k
Warnings: Original Characters, Underage, Time Travel
WARNING: PARTIAL REVIEW
As with many of my low-rated fic reviews, I only read a few chapters into this story before skimming to the end.
If anything in my review is inaccurate or misconceived as a result, please feel free to let me know and I will amend my review.
This fic starts out well enough; Hermione is working on a Potions project, Dumbledore is twinkly and meddling – classic, right? Wrong. About 3-4 chapters in, it becomes very clear that this fic is going to heavily involve original characters – Cassandra and John, American werewolf Aurors. I had just finished reading Snape Gets His – by Clarity, a great fic that is heavy with original characters, so I wasn’t much deterred by Cassandra and John’s presence.
The writing style is the biggest problem in the fic for me. The majority of the text is rapid-fire humor dialogue, delivered in a rush without preamble. The author is obviously witty and creative, but I felt that the vision was not transferred well from mind to text. There is no painting of the scene or characters, and very little internal monologue – just dialogue dialogue dialogue that becomes increasingly difficult to digest. I missed a lot of the humor because the speaker was unclear, or the subject of the joke was unclear. The author jumps from person to person and subject to subject, without the trail of breadcrumbs necessary to bring the reader along.
For example, John and Cassandra are treated as old friends almost immediately, with winking jokes being made about them by canon characters – jokes that I was unable to ‘get’ because I didn’t understand John and Cassandra’s personalities yet. Some of these jokes were contridictory, as well; John is described as intelligent, verbose, and affectionate in his first scene, and then suddenly a joke is made about him being silent and aloof in the next. What? I found myself reading without comprehension until I slowed down, scrolling backwards constantly to see what I had missed (and more often than not, no explanation was there.) It was not pleasurable reading, so I gave up the fight around chapter 8 and skimmed to the end.
I was glad that I did. The last four or five chapters hardly mention Snape and Hermione at all – it’s all John and Cassandra (though in fairness, I think there was some sort of time-travel plotline that explained a connection John and Cassandra had with Snape and Hermione.) I read the reviews for the last chapter on fanfiction.net and many of the readers seemed to be in agreement with me – many people were confused and apparently there were major plotlines left unresolved at the end of the story.
Aside from the trouble with writing style and original characters, the romance is also eye-rollingly bland. There are a lot of ‘convenient coincidences’, which are a pet peeve of mine. ‘Oh dear, I ran into Professor Snape in the hallway in the dark and now we are in a compromising position!’ ‘Oh dear, Professor Snape is filling in for Madame Pomfrey today!’ Both characters are far too interested in each other at the get go. Hermione has had sexy dreams about Snape as early as her sixth year (and indulges the fantasy, rather than dismissing it.) Snape has a hard time taking medical care of Hermione because he is noticing her smell and her skin. These are common fic devices, yes, but NOT in the early chapters! It’s out of character, and worse, it’s lazy writing. Snape and Hermione should not be in an already-attracted-to-each-other state. It’s not interesting and it’s not canon.
The bottom line: This fic is the reason I started this site. I read all the way to chapter 8 of this mediocre fanfic because it seemed promising in the beginning, but it quickly falls apart. Let me save you the trouble – skip it. You might enjoy it if you like humor and original character fics – many of the reviewers on FF.net really loved John and Cassandra.