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Of Bastard Saints by [livejournal.com profile] nilchance and [livejournal.com profile] beanside

Gen, Dean/OMC, hints of Dean/Demon

Novel length story published in a serial format of short, fast paced chapters the thrill of anticipation lead to this story being wildly overpraised for its first ten chapters until the inevitable backlash occurred when readers realised that there was no immediate end in sight (the story is 36 chapters long - it's hard to maintain your audience's interest through 36 updates).Viewed objectively in the cold light of day the story is neither as brilliant as early buzz suggested or as weak as the naysayers would have you believe.

The plot is simple. Set post Devil's Trap Dean (deeply paranoid following a bad reaction to sedatives) awakens alone and suffering from amnesia. Believing that the police are after him he runs but the demon and his minions are close on his heels. Meanwhile, Sam and a badly injured John are told that Dean died in the accident.

What works? Dean's characterisation. As much as I love Supernatural one thing that has always annoyed me is that we are frequently told what crack soldiers the Winchester boys are but in truth the show rarely portrays them as competent much less a force to be reckoned with. Not this Dean. This Dean is capable, organised and very lethal. You never once question that this Dean is a very dangerous man. His internal battle as the demon sinks his hooks into him and Dean allows his bottled up rage free reign is utterly compelling. I love Dean in this story. He's beaten down, stripped of much of who he is and hunted down by the forces of hell until there is no refuge for him not even in his own mind. However, he still won't quit, won't give up because he wants so desperately to keep his family safe. Dean is completly raw in this story and the sequence where he contemplates suicide is haunting.

John's characterisation - John is a difficult character to get a handle on.JDM is an engaging actor but the writers approach to the character has been inconsistent. He can't be bothered to phone his dying son in Faith and yet he's doling out bear hugs in Shadow. John's characterisation is very strong in this story. He's couragous and loyal, a man who clearly loves his children. But at the same time John is a very flawed, very real figure. You may not always like him in this story but you do understand him.

The Original Characters - It's incredibly difficult to write original characters without producing armies of Mary and Harry Sues. The OC's in this story are wonderfully realised. Andrew is fascinating and your appreciation for how richly this character has been drawn improves dramatically with a second reading. And the inhabitants of the Viking bar? Hilarious. The depiction of the demon (Belial) also deserves special mention. He's seductive, chilling and deeply disturbing as he attacks Dean through his dreams.

The epilogue - It's a little out of left field and reminds me of the novel Good Omens but nonetheless it's clever and did have me eagerly anticipating a sequel.

However, there is plenty about the story that doesn't work.

Dean is possibly the least curious amnesiac ever. He makes no attempt to ascertain his identity instead having it handed to him by a chance encounter with Bobby. Considering how quickly the amnesia arc becomes an irrelevance to the plot I wish the authors had ditched it entirely. Cannon provided the authors with a perfect excuse to keep Dean moving even when he realises his father is alive. All they needed to do was show Dean typing his name into Google - discovering that he is a serial killer and you have the perfect reason to keep Dean eternally moving.

Dean's belief that Sam is dead (a belief sustained for 20+ chapters) based on nothing more than the demon's say so when he could call either his father or Bobby or hell look up Sam's obit in the paper is contrived and tear your hair out frustrating. The fact that the plot arc is resolved by a visit from Mary's spirit really doesn't help.

The story isn't always entirely logical. Dean believes he is wanted by the police and so in order to remain inconspicuous he dyes his hair....bright blue? Who the hell did he learn the concept of low profile from? Sydney Bristow?

The Sam and John chapters (especially early on) bring the fast pace set by the Dean chapters to a grinding halt. They're overlong and filled with clunky exposition. I would have preferred to read the piece purely from Dean's pov with Sam and John only putting in an experience when they get to Lawrence. Ditching the Sam/John chapters would have ratcheted up the pace as we would experience Dean's trials with him with no switching pov's to grant respite.

I really wasn't fond of Sam's characterisation in this story. He's fine in the last 6 chapters but for the proceeding 30 chapters Sam is very "off" to me. He just doesn't grab me as Sam and I rarely hear Padalecki's voice when I read Sam's lines. Also, the revelation that Sam cruelly cut Dean out of his life at Stanford because he was ashamed of his brother is a very significant obstacle to me liking this Sam.

The resolution to the demon plot line left me bewildered. Can you say deus ex machina? I was speechless that after such a long and compelling build up the demon was vanquished not by the Winchester boys but by external (and poorly characterised) forces. The resolution seriously strains the credibility of the piece and as a reader I found it deeply unsatisfying. I wanted a huge final battle. I wanted Dean to overcome the hooks that the demon had sunk into him and vanquish the evil bastard.Instead the plotline is resolved in a blink of an eye ending with a real whimper than a bang. Massively disappointing.

Overall OBS is a solid, entertaining and sometimes compelling story in need of a ruthless editor to capitalise on its moments of brilliance and to trim the deadwood and the more credibility straining sequences.

Backfire by [livejournal.com profile] maygra

Sam/Dean

Adorable, angsty and hot story which follows Sam and Dean on a lazy morning. Very sweet.

This is the Way the World Ends by [livejournal.com profile] storydivagirl

Gen

The apocalypse Winchester style. Sweet and sad and you just know that if the boys had a chance they would go down fighting.

What Comes Around by [livejournal.com profile] spastic_visions

Gen

Very imaginative Dark Angel cross over which has Alec having been cloned from Dean. I'm not a fan of cross overs but Sam slips into the world of Max and the Manticore mutants surpisingly well. Engaging and just a little creepy.
fairyd123: (Default)
Supernatural

Candles and Cake by [livejournal.com profile] ignipes

Gen

Wistful, bittersweet look at Sammy on the eve of his birthday as he re-evaulates the things that really matter in life.

Prayers to Summon the Destroying Angel by [livejournal.com profile] esorlehcar

Sam/Dean


Set in the aftermath of Devil's Trap this piece is utterly heartbreaking as Sam and Dean come to terms with the death of their father. The passage starting Dad's in a box on the table actually had me in tears.

The Flow of Darkness by [livejournal.com profile] halfshellvenus

Sam/Dean

Sweet, sensual plot based first time story.

Dark Angel

The absence of Supernatural from my TV screens has had me turning to Dark Angel for my Jensen fix. It requires a stiff drink or two to fully enjoy it - Alba can't act, Weatherley is a gaping black hole where charisma should be, the dialogue (especially the forced "Bip bip bip." Gotta Blaze" slang the characters use) just makes me cry and there's a frakkin dogboy but hell a dark haired Jensen as a happy go lucky sociopath is totally worth it.

So I've started looking at Dark Angel fan fiction. The very thought of a Logan/Alec pairing makes me shudder so any recs will be strictly het. I understand that Valjean seems to be universally acknowledged as the Dark Angel author to read but I believe you have to e-mail her to get access to her NC-17 stories and frankly I like my porn to be more freely available than that. So here are two decent helpings of Max/Alec - both are in their way cliche fics (and neither are anything like the standard of the stories we see in the Supernatural fandom) but they're both good fun.

Pick Me by Worrie

Max/Alec

Max goes into heat and needs Alec to protect her. One thing leads to another......

Any show that features a storyline in which its female lead goes into heat is just inviting bad fanfiction. This is very much the cliche fic you would expect but it is decently written and the Max/Alec characterisation is strong and hey the smut is pretty smoking too!

Out of the Future by Vee107

Max/Alec

Max's future daughter returns from the future to prevent Manticore killing Max. Yes I know future daughters and Terminator 2 all in one package stop rolling your eyes! Despite the slight silliness of the subject matter this is an extremely fun romp. Might want to skim read the bits about Logan/Asha though!

Finally just a reminder to vote in The Lawrence Awards. I believe the initial round of nominations for stories closes soon.

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August 2009

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