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facetofcathy ([personal profile] facetofcathy) wrote in [community profile] facetsoftext2011-07-18 04:06 pm

SPN J2 Big Bang 2011 Part VI

Er, this edition of the Big Bang reviews is not a very happy one. I really enjoyed the first one on the list, despite a few issues with the story, and I found one other worth my time. Other than that...

Hearthstone by [livejournal.com profile] mollyamory

Hearthstone (43006 words) by faviconMolly

Jared/Jensen - 43,000 words - R

On LJ in multiple parts, on the AO3 with embedded art, and also available in three versions of downloadable PDF, one optimized for Kindle.

This is a very restrained and somewhat realistic take on a Jensen with past trauma meets Jared the wonderful. I really enjoyed this, and I think because I don't read this sort of thing in the versions that glory in the trope, I didn't find this to be an anemic take on the idea.

The conflict is one that often pisses me off--you didn't bare your soul to me on our first date! HDU!!! Eleventy! But since Jared has reasons for his reaction, even if they're a bit thin and self-centred, I was okay with it here.

The story itself has great bantering dialogue, and the J/J has a solid foundation of love, respect and friendship despite their misunderstandings, which makes it a much more complete relationship than the he's hot, I can't live without him, that seems to be the norm. Their interactions and Jensen and Gen being friends are the highlights. Oh and Loretta Devine dispensing (slightly sassy) advice, but as Jensen's accountant not his therapist is a delightful bit of not quite type-casting.

The minor characters are interesting, but they are way too invested in Jensen's life and his issues, and Jensen seems to not know anyone who thinks men should "just get over" their pain when they've been harmed by others. Lucky him.

Jared's family issues, which he mentions but the story doesn't dwell on, were really well done examples of the subtle homophobia families inflict on their LGBTQ members. Lovely change from the usual trope of the evil!hater family that Comes Around®.

I think the way Jared's past is portrayed, the realistic relationship he has with Jensen and the general lack of emoporn makes the too supportive friend group seem like it's in the wrong fic.

Very enjoyable read though, quibbles aside.

Both Ends of The Rope (45852 words) by faviconRocketbalm

Jared/Jensen - 45,000 words - Explicit

Jensen is rich, Jared captains his yacht. They cruise up the West coast of Mexico.

Chapter 3 contains some of the most painfully embarrassing earnest attempts to not be racist that end up being racist I have read in a while. There's white teeth and dark skin and a woman who just wants Jared to eat! Guess her name, guess. If you guessed Rosa or Juanita you were very close. The Mexicans have a cute nickname for Jared, because he's so tall and they've never seen tall people before. (In Cabo, that is.)

The Mexicans in the scene--it's basically one long scene that exists only to show that Jared's not racist--are all cardboard stereotypes, but they're good stereotypes, not those horrible ones that Jared's heard of, not that he lived where there were any brown people, no, he lived in a nice white neighbourhood, and he knows those racist slurs people use--here, let's put them in the fic, just to show how Jared doesn't think like that, though. It's an educational use of pejoratives so it's okay. And besides, Jared loves how happy the poor Mexicans are even though their poverty gives him a sad.

And I guess they're all poor? Like there's no Mexican entrepreneurs in Cabo, just beggars and women running restaurants who obsess about how much some white guy eats. They're noble and have "more authentic personalities" or something because of their poverty.

I have no idea if the rest of this fic is full of this faux-sweet ichor that stains your soul to read, and I never will.

Treasure by [livejournal.com profile] sonofabiscuit77

Dean/Sam - 48,000 words - NC-17

On LJ in multiple parts in site scheme. Downloadable PDF available.

This is a future fic where Sam and Dean end up in a quasi-military compound fighting off a new form of zombie creature in a world that has collapsed.

The story is well-paced, fairly gripping with some interesting looks at Sam and Dean having to stay in one place, hide their existing sexual relationship (not very plausibly) and get along with a variety of people. The plot itself is interesting, and the mutated human monsters are very, very gross and relentlessly threatening.

The world-building doesn't bear up under much scrutiny--there's no realistic explanation for how isolated they are since radio is a simple technology. Sam is so clever he can be a self-taught geneticist and biologist, but no one can make a decent prosthetic leg?

And there's the thing. This fic features a Sam who gets injured in the opening scenes and has his leg amputated. And the way this is handled, through a host of sex scenes and brotherly angsting over various things is totally great right up until it all goes to hell. (Well, mostly great--Dean has some fairly realistic and IC issues with trying to manage Sam's disability for him, and a mention of a grab bar in the shower or something similar would have been a nice bit of verisimilitude, but for the most part the disability is just backgrounded and normalized.)

The last part of this fic is a clusterfuck of abelism and OOC nonsense. [And this review is now chock full o'spoilers.] Suddenly Sam just has to go on a mission outside the compound, and Dean is all worried because Sam has a "useless leg" and no mobility at all cuz it's outside or something. But he agrees to have Sam come along because he doesn't like how everybody thinks Sam's just a gimp!!! Which up until now, no one has seemed to give a shit about Sam's leg.

Then Dean helps him get dressed! Because Sam usually wears scrub pants and the combat pants barely fit over the bulky prosthetic and it's too bad no one could make one of those high-tech prostheses like they used to use in the "Special Olympics". Protip author: do five fucking minutes of googling and you'll find the very low-tech devices manufactured in South and South East Asia that work really well. People can actually walk and dress themselves and everything. Hell you might even stumble upon the fact that the Special Olympics is not the Paralympics.

Deep breath. Okay. It's possible Dean could not know the difference between Special Olympics and the Paralympics. It's impossible that Sam wouldn't roll his eyes and correct him. But I think this is authorial nincompoopery here. Because Sam is the self-taught biologist, Dean is the canon tinkerer and mechanical genious that can rebuild a totaled car and make an EMF detector out of a walkman, but neither they nor any of the 6,000 other people in the compound can make a better prosthesis? I smell a rat. A big Hurt/Comfort plot device shaped rat that wants to make Sam's disability a Tragedy that their Love Can Overcome. Because the Zombie Apocalypse wasn't enough? IDEK. It is so fucking frustrating to have a disability be just a thing, like no big deal right up until the last part. ARGH!

There's also a moment where Dean confesses some fairly icky sexual fantasies about a very, very underage Sam that doesn't seem to fill much purpose other than reinforcing the idea that he thinks they're going to die. But I think it warranted a mention in the header, because that's a deal breaker on reading for a lot of people.

Oh, and then Dean gets his shirt in a knot and shoots a guy in the kneecap and their reaction at the end is a kind of shrugging oh, well, he's a dick anyway. Final curtain falls, and they live happily ever after. What the everloving fuck?

Seriously, I only read this because it's got lots of good sex scenes. Porn that makes me all raegy is not good porn.

Siren Song (71901 words) by faviconkillabeez, faviconKilla

Dean/Sam, Dean/OFC, Dean/Sam/OFC - 70,000 words - NC-17

There's an LJ version too, but I'm too cranky now to look it up. This is a sequel to a fic from 2007, linked in the header of the AO3 version. Therefore, there's no Castiel and no Lisa.

The pairings in the header are confusingly misleading. This is the story of Dean, who has a wife and kids, and also is involved with Sam, and it ends as a threesome. [ETA: I don't exactly know what the hell I'm talking about here. I think I found the pairings and the summary confusing in that you could take it to mean this was a consensual poly Dean/Sam that added an OFC who knew about the existing relationship, rather than a Dean/OFC long-term thing with cheating and lies and generally angsting that turns into a stab at poly.]

I reread the earlier fic, and it is very much of the Dean will martyr himself, even sexually, for Sam sort of fic. It's well written, but not my kink at all, and I found the Dean/Julie more compelling than the interminable angsty Dean/Sam hooking up.

The sequel is also well-written, and since we're at the part of the story where Dean is enjoying being with Sam, not just taking one for the team, there's less of the martyr complex stuff and just a lot of guilt about cheating. There is, however, a bit too much introspective rumination on their feelings here for me. Some showing of how they are coping or feeling about where they're at rather than all that staring into the coffee cup and perfectly articulating how and why they feel how they do would have been nice.

The plot is interesting, there's a couple of good OCs and the resolution to the conflict set up in the first part was really interesting. There's an accidental mirror of late season six canon in the plot which I think makes the story more interesting. As casefic, the story excels.

The big flaw for me is that we don't get to see Sam's relationship with Julie grow and strengthen over time the way I need to buy into the ending. His relationship with her needed to have it's own reality separate from Sam's fixated love for Dean, and there's a little of it, but it starts too late and builds too fast. Sex scene is very, very good, but I was having to work hard to suspend disbelief.

Of course, there's no social cost to the relationship, since the story ends with the get together. I'd have loved a scene where Julie's aunt or the neighbours joke about Julie and her two husbands, right while she was deciding to make that joke a reality, to add a little dose of reality to Julie's decision making.

I didn't find this story boring by any means and parts of it are very, very good, but people who like explorations of poly dynamics might find this a bit lacking.

When The World Is Burning (54347 words) by faviconMorgan Briarwood

Gen - 54,000 words - Mature

Also on LJ. Still too annoyed to look it up.

Header claims the fic is Dean/Jo and Lenore/Sam, but I'm calling that overstating the case by a mile. The story ends with a massive cliffhanger and the author plans other parts, so maybe they have pairing elements to them, but this is Gen as far as I'm concerned. (With about canon level of Dean/Sam, wincest goggles optional, moments.)

I found this to be a fairly gripping and well-told take on an alternate season five plot line. Jo has been through some mostly unstated, but clearly horrible crap and is more realistically fucked up than canon would make her. I like the scenes of her fitting in with Sam and Dean as hunters, and the ideas about a changing relationship between hunters and monsters were starting to get interesting.

Lenore was excellent--I expected that to be a pasted on pairing to give Sam something to do while Dean and Jo were pairing up, but that's not at all what this fic is about. However, the Sam/Lenore, which is one scene of not even close to sex, is dropped like a hot potato once her plot purpose is used up. Dean and Jo might go somewhere, but there's barely any there there so far.

And that's the problem. There is no real ending. The one issue with Sam and Lenore is resolved, but all the rest of the plot threads are left hanging or just get dropped. It was as frustrating to get no resolution to anything, while interesting plot elements are introduced and then abandoned, as it was watching season 6 of the show. I liked the story for some elements, the main characterizations, the author's portrayal of Castiel as not at all human, but I'm not going to go looking for part II, since nothing about the teasers in the cliffhanger interested me, and I assume the next part would be more of the same. I actually have some hope that season 7 of the show might get some plot coherency.