Reviews: Backward With Purpose

Moving comments to reviews pt 2

Amdijefri: A brilliant twist on the Peggy Sue I don't know if it's original to this fic, but it was new to me. Completely obvious in retrospect. I should have spotted the existence of a Merlin much sooner.

Psalm of Fire: The fic is swiftly paced in many places, making me feel as if I'm just reading the highlight reel, and ponderous in others where Harry spends his time stressing over the same issues. It does strike a happy medium semi-regularly though.

The writing itself is peppered with over-explanations ("That's ridiculous, you're driving me crazy," he said, annoyed) and adverbs. Grammar, punctuation, capitalization, spacing, all are very good. The Dialog is good, and almost entirely in-character.

Frequent flashbacks to horrible times are hard to read like the awful cough medicine you're supposed to take because it's good for you so that you might appreciate the story more. I've been conditioned to cringe every time I see italics.

But my mind breaks at the way he treats causality. So let me get this straight, your great plan was to let the glance=kill basilisk run around the school with all the people you've loved and come back to save? And you think that every person this basilisk encounters is going to be just as lucky as last time and only ever see the filtered/reflected image of the eyes? And you're willing to risk their deaths, their deaths, when there are alternatives? I would call it lazy writing but the author is not lazy. Harry went along with this decision, nay, only contested it for Ginny's sake as if she were the only one at risk. At that point my suspension of disbelief shattered into many little pieces on the floor. It just seems so... heartless, unintentional though it may be.

To be fair, they do seem to learn a lesson from the Chamber, and Harry openly admits that it was a mistake to try to let things play out. After the chamber, the plot diverges far more.

Also, if we're going to compare this to Nightmares of Future Past it is important to mention that S'Tar Kan writes on a very emotional level, ladling it up thickly for one scene or another. Bw P strives to incorporate emotion and does, but the individual moments I've encountered [[up to chapter 9]] have never had as much build/preparation or payoff. Don't level such expectations against this fic, lest you forget to enjoy it.

Perhaps the author wasn't creating a bunch of "take that"s at No FP. But if you don't like Harry's approach in No FP, this more inclusion-oriented approach may be for you.

Conclusion: I recommend you read it, but also that you keep your expectations reserved. A lot more love and effort went into this than went into much of what you will find, and for that I must give full props to the author though I remain reserved on the fic. Good work, DWP.

Moving comments to reviews

Anon: Moves the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism several notches towards cynicism (though not nearly as far as Nightmares Of Future Past or DAYD), and is thus much more violent than the original.

Anon: May be the only Harry Potter Peggy Sue that's actually better than Nightmares of Futures Past. Deathly Hallows-compliant. Well-planned out, and reads very much like Rowling's style, save for the occasional profanity and the willingness to include sexual content and references. And those don't really get in the way of the story at all.

Jack Butler: This troper was the primary editor/beta-reader for this story, and I've got to tell you, the hoops the author jumped through to get it all right... you would honestly not believe the differences between first draft and the final product.

Lavanya Six: All the above said is right on, but let me just add that this fic was the first one to ever make me like the character of Ginny and believe in the Harry/Ginny ship. Also, Deadwoodpecker's ability to plot is insane.

Clendy 82: Very well-written and definitely comparable to Nightmares of Future Past. There are just a couple of things keeping it from being truly great. The premise of the Peggy Sue is used much too potently. In No FP, future!Harry merges with his past self, creating an almagram of both their personalities and skills. But here, the future personalities completely take over. Leaving aside the issue of, well, basically killing off their younger selves, it puts a complete roadblock on any further character development on their part. It's incredibly jarring to the suspension of disbelief to picture an eleven-year-old Harry speaking with forty years of experience, out-knowledge-ing Dumbledore and Snape at their own game, and so forth. In addition, the story falls into a trap common to many Peggy Sue fics, and that is to have the protagonists become much more proactive, with the antagonists becoming reactive. Despite the fact that Death Eaters are dropping left and right, the yearly storylines proceed mostly on schedule with little adaptation. I really hate sounding like I'm bashing this story, because I'm not. It's quite well-written and there are hints and peeks of a great overarching storyline; it's just that when you see the potential lying there in plain sight, the aforementioned flaws become that much more apparent. Highly recommended.

7.5/10

Re read this after leaving Harry Potter fanfiction alone for a few years. I remember having some misgivings first time around and they feel much more amplified now.

The story is good. The pacing works; once the characters are established they don't break character; the writing itself flows naturally. And the decision to make the Weasleys anatagonistic but not villainous was damn brilliant and worked beautifully. But there's a lot that'll leave you feeling put off.

At the top of the list is Voldemort. In the bad future he damn near destroyed Wizarding England. But once the trio jump to the past he becomes completely ineffectual. He fails to recruit any worthwhile base, the minions he does claim are so obviously evil the good guys spot them a mile off, and his most triumphant moment is murdering an old woman in her bed. All he manages to be is an especially powerful killer.

Then there's the heroes themselves. Sure they're scarred war veterans so their comfort with assassinations and the like makes complete sense but why is Dumbledore going along with it? Or Sirius? Or Remus? They more or less give Harry and Co. a blank check to do whatever they want, ethics be damned.

And of course there's the other time traveller. Supposedly he sets the plot in motion but there's no reason why this new prophecy couldn't have done that on its own. It also ruins some of the better themes from the canon series (the importance of choice and self determination for example) and as the series has so few to begin with...

Beyond that the whole "Harry MUST be the Chosen One" thing just grated me but I realize that's purely personal.

None of this becomes an issue until the last third of the story so it's a pretty smooth ride. You might not even notice to be honest.

Backward With Purpose

Quite good, unfortunately I agree with comments by Clendy82 and Psalm of Fire (from http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/FanficRecs/HarryPotterPeggySue)

"The story falls into a trap common to many Peggy Sue fics, and that is to have the protagonists become much more pro-active, with the antagonists becoming reactive. Despite the fact that Death Eaters are dropping left and right, the yearly storylines proceed mostly on schedule with little adaptation."

"So let me get this straight, your great plan was to let the glance=kill basilisk run around the school with all the people you've loved and come back to save? And you think that every person this basilisk encounters is going to be just as lucky as last time and only ever see the filtered/reflected image of the eyes? And you're willing to risk their deaths, their deaths, when there are alternatives? I would call it lazy writing but the author is not lazy. Harry went along with this decision, nay, only contested it for Ginny's sake as if she were the only one at risk."
  • Roo
  • 30th Jun 13
  • 0

Good, But Not Great

It's definitely a good fic, with some nagging little problems that keep it from becoming really great. Other reviewers have pointed out the treatment of causality — it really doesn't make sense that the time-travelers would so meticulously try to re-create the Chamber of Secrets plot in order to get the basilisk-imprented Sword of Gryffindor. Surely there would be other ways of destroying the Horcruxes that didn't involve putting Ginny through the same torture and risking killing dozens of innocent people? A lot of people seem to forget that the basilisk's stare normally kills and that it was sheer marvelous luck that the victims only ended up Petrified and could be revived the first time around. Not to mention, Ginny has to let herself be taken over by the Horcrux for it to work, and how could they know that the act of possession wouldn't clue Tom Riddle in on the fact that it was a plot against him?

I also wonder a bit about some of the characterizations... they're not off, as such, but the secondary characters often seem a bit shallow; like they're acting a certain way because the plot demands it and not because it fits their characterizations. I don't feel for them the way I do in canon.

It did keep my interest to the end, though, which is more than I can say for many other Peggy Sue fics. I'll admit the sequel wasn't anywhere near as engaging, and that's pretty much because Albus Severus Potter (or at least this incarnation of him) just isn't a very interesting character. He worked well enough as the mysterious benefactor in the first story, but he isn't capable of carrying a forty-plus chapter story all on his own. Especially not when the plot turns out to be so repetitive: He goes back in time to change things, but doesn't get the result he wants, so he goes back in time again to change more things, but doesn't get the result he wants, so he goes back in time again to change more things... Yeah, it got dull pretty quickly.

Ultimately, Backwards With Purpose has some neat ideas, and some great touches, and is well-worth a read... just don't expect it to be the Best Thing Ever.

Good, but Could be Better

Overall the story was very well-done, especially in terms of character development. I was especially pleased with the author's different take on Percy, Snape, and the Weasleys as a whole, and how these characters could have acted differently if the circumstances were slightly tweaked.

My one major complaint with this story, though, is that often the author seemed to be bending over backwards to keep the canon timeline intact, even when there was no good reason to do so. There are some situations when it would make sense for the characters to try not to change too much so that they can predict what's coming, but that ceases to be a viable option when it puts others' lives in danger (i.e. the basilisk), and there were other options. Had the author let them be more proactive and explored the consequences of a changing timeline this could have been a great story, on par with NoFP, but as things stand there are a lot of improvements that could have been made.

Review for "Always and Always"

Beautifully written story. The flashbacks were heartbreaking. The one about Luna's death made me cry like a bitch... especially Hermione's dialogue. All three that have returned qualify for woobiedom, especially Harry.

While the reveal was less than surprising, rest of the story was suspenseful. Harry's survival is much more uncertain in this new timeline, despite knowing about the Hallows.

Thankfully not just a sobfest. Every time you hear the words "always and always," you want to hug something. It even has rather funny moments. Highlights included speculating about Umbridge/Voldemort and Sirius losing is bet with James.

Great Time-Travel story, Sequel makes it better

To really appreciate this story, I would highly recommend the sequel as well. It just goes to show how and why everything's a little different. Fantastic characterization all around and the author clearly planned everything out to make this a cohesive story. The only issue I find is how they try to stick to canon too much despite what they're trying to change (2nd year in particular).

Okay story, but the reveal was anticlimactic.

The story was good, but the reveal of the Wise Asp's identity at the end seemed anticlimactic. On a more personal note, I was rather disappointed that Wise Asp's name was not, in fact, a Significant Anagram of Asswipe. =/
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/reviews.php?target_group=FanficRecs&target_title=BackwardWithPurpose