Slow start for me this year. I'm finding my bored now reaction on a bit of a hair-trigger. Under the cut are four reviews: one Dean/Sam, and three Jared/Jensen.
A List of Typos Made by God by cherie_morte
Dean/Sam - NC-17 - 45,000 words - mentions underage but does not depict, depicts a sexual relationship with a person with memory loss and all consent issues attendant to that
In multiple parts on LJ or available in a downloadable PDF - no accessibility issues on the LJ version (site scheme), but I used Readable anyway for the line length control
Author's Summary: "The summer before Sam leaves for Stanford, Dean begins to forget his relationship with Sam. Every morning he remembers less, and Sam is just waiting for the day Dean forgets him completely."
Dean does forget. The story begins with Dean and Sam in an established relationship, but with Sam intending to go to college after the summer is over. As Dean starts forgetting things about Sam, Sam has to confront who he is if he's not Dean's brother, and Dean gradually becomes someone else whose life doesn't revolve around Sam in the same way it had.
The ideas of changing identity and how who you are is dependant on who you are surrounded with are fascinating and kept me intrigued enough to get through the weak first section of the story. (Surprisingly the writing gets stronger, which is not the usual fic pattern.) The opening section is a little too much of Sam telling the reader--who seems to be sitting in for his therapist or his penpal--what's been happening. When the story settles down into showing how Sam relates to the various versions of Dean as Dean gradually forgets more and more, it really improves.
I enjoyed the characterization of Sam as a snarky almost man dealing with some things that are a little over his head, and unlike a lot of fic written now but set pre-series, he stayed convincingly 18 throughout most of the story. The story fits into canon very well, and while that may give the ending away a little, ignore the cutsie author's note that is implying this is a very unhappy story. It's emotional, maybe a little OTT with the angst at times, but it isn't a downer.
The story is good in terms of basic technical quality with only one real clunker of a gun terminology error that comes in a pivotal scene and could have been fixed with a quick Google. The sex scenes are too by the numbers at times. But, the plot device of limited amnesia allows for an interesting and complex look at John as a parent.
This was a good read, and the ideas in this story are all interesting enough (to me!) to make up for some of the weak parts.
Aiming to Shoot You Down by mistyzeo
Jared/Jensen - NC-17 - 33,000 words
In multiple parts on LJ (with art embedded, some NC-17) or in a downloadable PDF. LJ version is in site scheme. Beware--comments have been redirected to the masterpost so it's likely crawling with spoilers.
Fun and fluffy AU where Jensen is a nurse and Jared is a cop. If that seems familiar, the author has written two short fics this is the prequel to.
For all the fluffy, this is an adult story about a grown-up relationship with real conflict, however mild it is. I enjoyed this a great deal. The opening dialogue, when Jared is stoned in the hospital and he's artlessly hitting on Jensen is funny and engaging and I immediately liked them both.
It's got lots of sex in it--I'm going through a phase where I find sex scenes generally boring, but these were often good, and it's got my #1 button pushed when they're laughing and joking during sex.
Surprisingly good light read. It's perfect for those days you want a chocolate chip cookie, because this one is homemade with real butter and the good chocolate. Mmmmm.
Seek to Know No More by chiiyo86
Seek to Know No More (36189 words) by chiiyo86
Jared/Jensen - Explicit - 36,000 words
In multiple parts on LJ (not in site scheme) or use the AO3 link for downloadable formats and single page reading. (Just a reminder that even if you're not a writer, an AO3 account lets you use custom CSS site skins, and there are many now that let you adjust your reading experience to suit you. I use one that lets me set the line length to the most comfortable for me. Nothing, absolutely nothing, beats reading at the AO3 for me.)
Interesting fantasy story about mutants living in the world. I liked the prickly romance and the mystery plot both. The strengths of the story are the characterizations and how they deal with their mutation abilities and how the world perceives them because of it. This is about 1000 times more subtle than X Men and I liked it for that too.
The story could use another edit for missing words, clumsy phrasing and wrong word choice. It's not competely off-putting, but the story would benefit from a more careful presentation.
Don't Hide Your Light (27383 words) by madame_meretrix
Fandom: CW Network RPF
Jared/Jensen - Explicit - 27,000 words
Only on AO3.
From a very young age, Jensen has been told what it means to be a man, and he does everything he's supposed to. His next-door neighbor, Jared, doesn't seem to get it.
Jensen moves to New York after college and loses touch with nearly everyone in his hometown. Everyone except Jared, who, even though he's unashamedly, flamboyantly gay, is Jensen's best friend.
After years of solitude in New York, Jensen's life is turned upside down when Jared moves in with him, following his dream of being a fashion designer.
Jared's easy charm and the way he can make friends anywhere have always inspired Jensen, and he wonders if maybe there isn't one more lesson he can learn as he watches Jared become an overnight success.
Disclaimers of bias: I have read one fic by this author, a kind of anti-kink kink meme fill that deconstructs the abelism in a H/C disability prompt. The deconstruction was brilliant and subtle, the execution of the fic, which I thought unironically mirrored badfic style and tropes, was not and actively worked against the ideas.
This story is about gender expression and sexuality. The author says in her notes, "It started with the idea that gender presentation and sexuality are frequently conflated in American society." To which, I say, I think you mean, nearly always, not frequently. And the other thing I'm thinking is that the gay and queer subcultures are not walled off from American society. They conflate with the best of them, albeit for different reasons than the Cis-straight-male power that burns gender essentialism as one of its primary fuels.
I was expecting this story to have interesting ideas, but I wasn't expecting it to ever challenge that conflation from the queer eye side of the imaginary walled garden.
I'm very happy that the execution of this fic lives up to the ideas. I didn't get the dual look at conflation of gender and sexuality, but I did get a story that was interesting, touching at times, and an understated telling of a man who doesn't know himself because he's refusing to look at himself.
There's a bit where Jensen is reminiscing about Jared playing with dolls as a young boy and Jared says something about never having a chance to not be gay. Which is where the fic actively reinforces that conflation idea from the queer side, but this is a much lighter dose of that than I was expecting.
I really did like this story, but I found myself wishing that Jensen was a straight man who could learn to kick a few holes in the Man Box he's trapped in by being friends with Jared. I found the almost throwaway scenes where he tries to date Alona heartbreaking because he has no script in his head for how to interact with women that isn't a very rigid form of dating. He never does learn a different part, not even when a few other women try to be his friends. Alas, that's not what the story is about, that's not what slash is about, and it's not fair to blame the story for that. After all, there is never a heterosexual explanation for a man breaking out of the cage of traditional masculinity, is there?
Good read, if you take to a subtle depiction of a disparity between mind and actions. Good side characters. Bit of a schmoopy ending, but that's also my bias talking there.