"If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun." - Katharine Hepburn
Question #92315 posted on 06/08/2019 10:54 a.m.
Q:

Dear Dragon Lady,

About a year ago I accidentally started reading some Harry Potter fan fiction: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. I say "accidentally" because I thought I would just casually glance at it out of curiosity, and did not realize until too late that I was stepping into a very, very long novel. It also didn't register as "fan fiction" for me for quite a while, because "fan fiction" sounds, you know... lame. Poor quality. Embarrassing. But this book, surprisingly, was very well written, original, thought-provoking, and incredibly fun and enjoyable to read. It showed Draco as a much more real and complex person, it explained Slytherin house (and the other houses) in a much more 3-dimensional way, it showed magic from new perspectives, and it reimagined some characters in really fun and interesting ways. While also teaching logic and rationality along the way. If you can get past the fact that Harry Potter is essentially a different Harry Potter, I think it's a great book.

So, the question is, have you read it? And if so, what did you think?
Or if you haven't read it, would you?

-Pear

A:

Dear Pear ~

I have heard many people rave about it. I have not read it. Possibly because of the length. Possibly because even the movies have disappointed my purist nature, so why invest so much time into something that might do the same? (Seriously. Being a purist can be difficult.) 

That said, I like that it explains Slytherin house better. I'm constantly trying to convince people that good people can be in Slytherin, too, and that the house isn't all bad. We just see it from Harry's perspective, so it looks like it.

To answer your question, I have not read it. Maybe someday I will, but it's not currently on my to read list.

Sorry to disappoint.

~ Dragon Lady

A:

Dear Pear (deer peer? dare pare?),

You could say that I also "accidentally" started reading HPMOR. Like I mentioned in Board Question #92282, another alumni recommended it, so I looked it up and started reading it. It was only the second fan fiction I've ever read, so I was also not prepared for the sheer magnitude of it. Unlike that other answer, this one will contain SPOILERS, so other readers beware if that's a thing you care about. In general, I like how the politics, lore, and magical mechanics or the Harry Potter universe are fleshed out 3904852% better than in anything Rowling has written. Where things are not explained, at least we get an acknowledgement of that fact. Yeah, it's not canon, but it make sense, so I like it. However, there were some things I didn't like that much too.

Things I liked:

  • Harry and Quirrell acknowledged that Voldemort was a really dumb villain who didn't make any sense and that the Ministry had to have been incredibly incompetent not to deal with him properly.
  • The focus on transfiguration - its impermanence and the rules that result from that, Harry's research into partial transfiguration, and true power of the Philosopher's Stone - is super interesting, because usually the focus in Harry Potter books is on DADA and potions.
  • Draco says and does terrible things, but Harry recognizes that it's because his father is a terrible person and tries to be a good influence on him instead of blaming every bad thing that happens on him.
  • As you said, the characteristics of each house are presented in a more three-dimensional way. Along the same lines, we get a fresh perspective on the motivations behind each character, and the story plays out in a way that's consistent with that.

Things I didn't like so much:

  • More than anything, I didn't like it when Hermione died. It felt awful, and it led Harry to do a lot of things that I wish he hadn't had to do. 
  • I also didn't love that Hermione was brought back. Or maybe what I didn't like was the way she was revived.
  • It was pretty obvious that Quirrell was Bad News, but Harry kept working with him. Hermione kept telling him that he was obviously evil, and Harry definitely realized that himself when they went to Azkaban, but he cared too much about what he could learn from him and I didn't like that.

The things I didn't like didn't make it badly written or less recommendable, I just didn't feel good when I read them. Overall, it was an interesting read and definitely changed my mind about what fan fiction can be.

-The Entomophagist

A:

Dear Pear,

I've read Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality twice now. Despite it being nearly 2,000 pages long, my first read-through only took 8 days. Needless to say, I did not sleep well. I think I still went to class, but barely.

Recently, I read it again, four years later, and it was just as wonderfully crafted, refreshingly intelligent, and loads of fun.

I love that it takes the amazing world of Harry Potter and makes it make sense. The magic and the motivations behind the characters are so much more fleshed out. And Harry's passion for all things nerdy is infectious. He is so different in this one (for reasons eventually explained), and I enjoyed the character. My only real complaint about the story is that the writing is slightly glib at times, especially in the beginning. Though mostly it's just for fun, and the tone shifts as the story goes. Things get heavy, and some of the character development is really impactful.

SPOILERS BELOW

The part where they fight in Ender's Game-style armies is awesome. This is nerdy Harry at his finest. There's so many pop culture references throughout the story and a lot of them are just brilliant.

Seventh-year Tonks is SO COOL.

Time-Turners actually matter. Throwaway Charms get used frequently because they're actually super useful. So much is explored that could easily be overlooked.

I really liked how even though Harry is extremely intelligent, he still struggles with making a lot of mistakes along the way. A lot of mistakes. He has much to learn, and it's fascinating to watch him fight against his nature and learn some important lessons.

I respect that Ento didn't like the death he mentions above, but for me that was one of the most impactful moments in all of literature. Most fiction puts us in a bubble of safety, where you know nothing TOO bad can happen, and suddenly my bubble was popped. I've been craving that level of realness from my media ever since.

I realize that I love this story too much to give anything other than a glowing review. I'm overlooking a few faults, I know. But if you're ever going to read a fanfiction, read this one. It builds on the Harry Potter world we love in such a wonderful way, and it introduces some powerful new perspectives.

-Kirito