Monday, January 03, 2011

Deathly Hallows alternative version

I never thought I’d write this post, for two reasons:
1.        I never thought I’d read the thing I’m about to review.
2.       Even if I did read it, I never thought I’d be this positive about it.
I have just finished reading a 660-page fan-written version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  It was written before the real book seven was released, and is the author’s version of the book. 
I was emailed the PDF document by a good friend who knows my love of Rowling’s books.  He had received it from another friend who claimed it was ‘even better than Rowling’s version’.  Of course, this is both madness and heresy, but it caught my interest enough to make me read it.
Given my very low opinion of fanfiction in general and my hatred of all things commercialising the HP books, it is very surprising that I have anything positive to say about it.

The plot generally goes down the ‘destroy the horcruxes’ line, and this quest forms the backbone of the book.  Most of the fleshing out is character-based, rather than more backstory.  This has pros (I always love character development), and cons (JKR is all about backstory, so this book feels incongruous with the rest).
The book is mostly from Harry’s point of view, but Ginny and Hermione (and possibly Ron, I can’t remember) get sections too.  This is a nice change, but like the lack of backstory, makes it stylistically different from JKRs books, where (apart from a few lines in book 1), the only non-Harry POVs are from minor characters (Frank Bryce, the Muggle Prime Minister, Narcissa Malfoy).
The book reads in a not dissimilar way to the real HP books.  The writer has a similar style to Rowling and clearly knows the characters and first six plotlines well.  The meaning of Dumbledore’s phrase ‘in essence divided’ (book 5, chapter 22) is explained, for example.  Characters such as Fleur, Umbridge, Pansy Parkinson and Percy are nicely developed.
A few incidents are out of character, but that is to be expected from fanfiction.  Sometimes incidents are included for no bigger reason than to include them – they don’t tie in with the overall plot – here is part of the genius of Rowling – everything affects the plot.  In this version, it doesn’t.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a Ben Jiggins review without some heavy criticism, so, things that were disappointingly poor:
There were no mention of the Deathly Hallows – given that this is the title of the book, this is a pretty enourmous oversight on the part of the author.
The vast majority of the character development is based around the romantic relationships of Harry, Ginny, Hermione and Ron.  While mostly adequately done, this is not JKRs style and,frankly, stinks of cheap fanfiction.  Other character development includes everyone neatly paring off.  Vomitacious.
Some important characters get little or no page time.  These include Hagrid, Neville and Luna.
Wormtail is not redeemed.  He does not fulfil his debt to Harry.  An idiot could have predicted that he would do so at some point and in some way, but this writer missed it.
There is no explanation of the famous ‘gleam of triumph’ (book 4 chapter 6) – this was a classic discussion point pre-book 7, but this writer just ignores it.
The manner in which the horcruxes are destroyed is too convenient.  Essentially, they can all be destroyed by the creature that is guarding them.  This is neat, but way to easy.  And yes, I know that in the real book 7 Ron speaking parseltongue to access basilisk fangs is laughable, I agree.  But I’m currently reviewing this fan-written book, not JKRs version.
The explanation given for why Dumbledore trusted Snape so much is hugely inadequate.
There is no explanation of the significance of Harry’s eyes.
One particular revelation about Dudley is appallingly ridiculous, and it’s conclusion is painfully poor.
Like in JKRs version, there weren’t enough deaths, and the deaths that there were were mostly very minor characters.  It was too neat and not bittersweet enough.

Having said all that, I was mostly impressed.  I didn’t realise fanfiction could have this much quality.  While there were no actual jaw-dropping moments, there were several that raised my eyebrows or made me gasp.  The tension and menace in certain parts of the book was real and gripping.  The book was enjoyable to read.
I don’t think this will persuade me to read any more fanfiction, certainly not for the moment, and I don’t think it has enhanced my enjoyment or understanding of the original series.  But it has definitely influenced my opinion on fanfiction as a concept, and for that, it was a worthwhile read.

10 comments:

The Coloured Sultana aka Aamina said...

Please do mail that version to me at mandevian2003@yahoo.com

Thanks.

Omer said...

please mail that version of harry potter to me at
omer.uq@gmail.com

Unknown said...

sir, please, i beg u, please mail me that version.
parikshitdutta31@yahoo.com

sjlyons said...

I read this when it came out originally. Then my computer crashed, and I've been trying to fin it on and off for the last 5 years. I promised a friend I would find it for her. Please send it to mr.cingular15@gmail.com if you still have a copy. I beg of you.

blaaamanda said...

I am an avid Harry potter fan. A friend mentioned this particular alternate version to me years ago, and I have been looking for it ever since. However I have not been able to locate it. If you would be so kind, could you please send the PDF to blaah_73@hotmail.com. Thank you so much!

Unknown said...

Any chance that you could e-mail me a copy. Lost mine after a hard drive crash. Much appreciated.

oggyome@gmail.com

Unknown said...

Kindly mail me this particular version at maddyseeker@gmail.com

Unknown said...

Can you email me a copy please? If you still have it... I lost my copy when my computer crashed and i havent been able to find it again.
To lizz.madera@hotmail.com

Dude said...

Could you send this to me? valmanib@gmail.com

Unknown said...

Hi,
Could you please share the same with me at hiteshsethi@gmail