Jess, I can't believe I've never reviewed anything you've written before. I've been meaning to review this since I read it when I was on the Maurader era QSQ committee. Your warning at the beginning made me snigger slightly. I thought having Snape as the main character was automatically a warning that there was delusion and borderline obsession in the story…
My favorite part of this was Snape's characterization. Far too often Snape is portrayed as a nice person, who just had a bad childhood and made a couple bad choices. However, I think he's just a rather nasty individual, and in this story you didn't try to imply that he was just misunderstood; you showed his obsession, delusion, and cruelty. The first section of this piece highlights his obsession with Lily, by emphasizing his observation and over-analysis of minute details, such as the way she smells. His delusion is incredibly apparent in the section in which Snape sees Lily's picture and becomes convinced that she forgives him. And, the enjoyment he gets from seeing Lily's parents terror emphasizes his cruelty.
I thought that including Dolohov worked really well; it accelerated plot and character development by forcing Snape to directly face what he was doing to Lily's parents. Without Dolohov, Snape would have killed Lily's parents without so much internal conflict because he would have just have blocked himself from thinking that they were Lily's parents. Dolohov wakes up Lily's parents, reminding Snape of his relationship with Lily and that her parents' murder will deeply hurt her.
Dolohov also forces Snape to keep up his analysis on what other people will think of his actions, and his desire for acceptance and to be chosen, in my opinion, is a driving force for his character. Throughout the story he overanalyzes almost everything he does, preferring to focus on how that will affect the way Voldemort perceives him.
I thought the first person worked beautifully for this story. It allowed you to get across his obsession and delusion far more clearly than I think you would have been able to do in third person. Being told what Snape is thinking or having it shown through his actions is completely different than actually hearing his thoughts. The section about Lily forgiving him for killing her parents, was especially potent in first person.
The first person narration also allowed you to clearly establish the connection between the adult Snape, whom we see in the books, and the younger Snape in this story. The voice of Snape in this story sounds exactly like how Snape sounds in the books. His voice is very eloquent and formal, which I thought made his delusion very apparent. The only critique that I have about his voice, is that it sounds slightly too sophisticated for a nineteen year old. However, I honestly think that the amount that the formality of voice made me pause for a second is minor in comparison to the amount that it added to his characterization and the overall tone of the piece.
In the sentence in the seventh paragraph, "I do want to be chosen; I had never been chosen for anything in my life", the changing of tenses made me pause for a second. I assumed that the statement, "I had never been chosen for anything in my life" referred to before Voldemort chose him to receive the dark mark. This is supported by the fact that the two clauses are joined by a semi-colon and that the first clause refers to receiving the dark mark. It's relatively minor, and I only caught it on my second reading of the piece.
This is probably my favorite Snape centric fic that I've read. In my opinion, first person present is one of the most difficult tense/voice to effectively write in. You nailed the tense and voice completely, and you used it to effectively show his delusion, cruelty and obsession.
Sorry sorry sorry that it's taken this long for me to respond to this. Honestly, every time I read this review, I sort of wonder how the story was worthy of such a great analysis, let alone any words I might have in response. But, as you are amazing and deserve an answer at some point, here I am.
One of the first things that readers brought up is that JKR said that nothing sinister surrounded the deaths of either James's parents or Lily's, yet they all died within a five-year span. Yeah...whatever. Not buying it. So, I loosely interpreted this and went with the 'that we know of' track. This allowed me a bigger swathe of leeway to make this story work. Honestly, if Snape still pines after Lily for THAT long, he has to be not all there in some fashion. Putting up with Dumbledore's games and pretending to still be a Death Eater for the memory of a dead woman, at least to me, says he's crazy pants, at least to a degree that allows his obsession to prevail. Hence why I chose this moment to capture.
Honestly, I think Voldemort had doubts about Severus's loyalty when he learned about the (albeit ended) relationship with Lily, so this was the Dark Lord's way of assuring that his new toy was going to do what the box says it does, so to speak. And throwing Dolohov in there to make sure that Snape saw the people he was killing as the family of his precious Lily was a way to ensure that he didn't, as you say, kill them without looking and run off. In a sick way, Snape passed the test.
First person while writing this felt all gross and crawley, I won't lie. Not only was it because it was a relatively unfamiliar thing, but it was also just a bad place to put your head, inside the mind of someone who sees things that aren't there and vice versa. I think it was integral of driving home the delusion. By seeing things in his perspective, it became a matter of the reader wondering just *how* Snape could earnestly believe the things he was thinking. Being told he's delusional and coming to that conclusion on one's own is the difference, I think, between this being a pile of rambly words and something that is effective in its intent.
I don't profess to be a Sevgirl (Merlin forfend!), but I do think I understand him as a character, as well as his motivation. The language in the story allowed me to instil it with a heavy sense of relation to his canon portrayal, both for me as a writer and for the reader, and this is important, I think. Thinking about the things he does in the books when in the light of him being delusional puts a bit of a twisted spin on him, as well as Dumbledore for taking advantage of someone in this state of grief and denial. And as for the language, I do think it was probably too sophisticated for someone nineteen years old, but I think, as you mentioned, that the benefits of it outweighed the drawbacks.
When you first left this review, I actually went back to fix the line you indicated with the tense error, but as this was submitted before the archive coding errors started, I decided to leave it. If I edit, a bunch of stuff will go haywire, and it's sort of not worth it at this point, as I doubt anyone still reads the story, lol.
I am deeply honoured that you consider this a high quality Snape fic. I just suppose that, after being mentally bombarded with ridiculous tripe like American Snapewives who teach him to love again and voluntarily procreate with him, a darker, more realistic version of his character was in order. :)
Thank you so, so much for this review, and I think the score you received for it was well-earned. I shall treasure my first Meg!review, and here's to any further review page encounters we might get!
Excellent, suspenseful story! First person worked very well and captured Snape well. I also enjoyed your perspective on Snape's thoughts about Lily during those last two years they didn't speak. Very good writing!
Hello! I'd you enjoyed the story. I have to admit, climbing into Snape's head isn't a pleasant experience, especially considering the myriad of psychological disorder which he could very well have. It's a bit disconcerting, to be sure. First person was probably the best way to get that discomfort across to the reader without the over-the-top way second person POV would've done.
Even though Jo said that there was nothing sinister about the death of Lily's parents, it's actually very, very odd to think about the fact that both James's and Lily's parents died in the same timeframe. It would almost be ridiculous to think that were possible. So I decided that it wasn't, and here you have it.
Anyway, thank you for the visit and the review!
I suppose I just wanted to pick teh character that less people would write, since J/L fluff would probably dominate this particular catEgory.
Nice spelling. ;)
And what's wrong with J/L fluff?!?!! You do realize I wrote a J/L fluff for this very same challenge, do you not? Are you poking fun at me? Hm? Because that sort of makes me want to torture my favorite pairing a bit, you know. ;)
I jest. I'm incapable of that, I think.
As to being able to write something like this easily - I don't think it means you are dark or obsessive or crushing on Snape. After all, I've written a few darker pieces, and I'm nothing like 'Shattered' or 'Blood on my Hands.' And I've written a lot of fluff but I am certainly not a romantic sop. I think it means that first of all, JKR developed Snape enough for you to be able to extrapolate something like this. And it means you are a damn fine writer who can put herself into a separate frame of mind and just go there. And when I write something easily, it means the story was already out there and I merely discovered and transcribed it.
This is why I wish we could respond to review responses. Ah well. I will say again this was very cool because it's not a very sympathetic Snape. In fact, it makes him even more of an enigma, to think he could do this while still doing all that he does for Harry. Fascinating character. Have you ever thought of shipping him with Harry or Hermione?
Just kidding. Don't.
I think the only way I could write a sympathetic Snape is if it was an early childhood, pre-Hogwarts story. But otherwise, by this point in his life, he's pretty much the sum of his influences. He simply wasn't capable of understanding why Lily turned on him, since he had no basis of comparison for a healthy relationship. That makes me think that his mind couldn't rationalise family dynamics and their inherent value to someone like Lily, so hence he thinks that she would actually understand the idea that he was compelled to kill her parents. Also, he didn't care about them in the first place outside of their deaths' effect on Lily. He just doesn't, you know... get it, lol.
Wow, Jess - you wrote Snape! In first person! Present tense! And you really nailed it, too. :)
Using first person and present tense really conveyed his character well, and I couldn't imagine it any other way. You totally captured his darkness and the obsessive side of him that must have been present to have driven him all those years. Plus you touched on the reasons he joined Voldemort. I find it interesting that you don't see Snape as waffling in his beliefs for Lily - meaning, he didn't compromise his inner self in order to win her. In fact, it was very interesting to see him thinking that she would approve and forgive him, since she clearly would not. It shows a rather delusional side of him that I would suspect a lot of Voldemort's followers shared.
I agree that it's much more interesting for Lily's parents to have died in a suspicious way. I don't know if I buy that Snape was the one who did it, and with enthusiasm. I personally think a more canon Snape would have been far more reluctant and remorseful. However, you justify your Snape's actions perfectly - it's something he has to do, it doesn't bother him, and since LIly will forgive him, it's no big deal. Fascinating, really, because I wonder what your Denial!Snape would be like in the books.
Great use of Occlumency/Legilimency, and I really liked Voldemort here. It's a wonderfully dark and twisted story, Jess. Nice job and good luck in the challenge! ~Gina :)
Yay to a visit from Twin!
This story was strangely easy for me to contemplate. Whether that makes me slightly screwed up or not remains to be seen, but I didn't feel at all incongruous with its relative darkness and obsessive undertones. I suppose I just wanted to pick teh character that less people would write, since J/L fluff would probably dominate this particular catEgory. :D
Wow!! This was so good... Your characterisation of Severus was really good, and I liked that you showed a really loathsome side to him (so often people write Snape pity stories, and while they're not necessarily bad, it was nice to see another side of him, which must have existed). First person was perfect for this story, because it is very introspective and very much about Snape's entire character, not just this short part of his life.
I thought your portrayal of Voldemort was also very interesting. I liked the fact that he respected Snape's abilities and didn't probe fully into his mind when he possibly coud have. I think that really sets up the relationship that we see in HBP and DH.
So yeah... I can't think of anything bad to say, this was soooo amazing!!!
I will tell you, writing an entire story inside Snape's head is daunting. Writing his mannerisms and dialogue is difficult enough, but to think as he thinks was a complete bear. I'm just happy I finished it on time, because it turned out to be even more challenging than I'd projected. I'm glad you enjoyed that aspect of it.
To me, Voldemort was the prototypical spawn of Slytherin. Yes, he values blood purity, loyalty, and cunning, but he also admires excellence and skill. He is also the consummate manipulator, making his subjects bend to his will and conform to his agenda without them even realising it, and few ever do (namely Regulus). It was interesting to work with a mind like that.
I'm glad you enjoyed the story, and thanks for reading/reviewing. :D
This was a brilliant story. The darkness in it was prominent throughout and I have to say, I always wondered what had happened to Lily's parents. But I thought that JKR said that there was "nothing sinister" about their deaths?
Thanks for writing :)
Lol, I just explained this in my last review... I'll get to that later.
I wanted this to be a dark reflection on the path that Snape followed to get what he wanted, which was acceptance and to be important and invaluable to someone, namely Moldy Shorts. :D
I realise the thing about Lily's parents not dying by sinister means, but I sort of interpreted that differently as 'that anyone knows of'. Namely, their deaths were declared as an accident by the Muggle investigation people. People fall down the stairs all the time, so hence, a tiny loophole used for my devious means. I should really put a disclaimer at the end explaining this. I think I'll do that, actually.
Thanks for the review. Have a good morning!
This is scarily good, Jess. I think the first person suited the story perfectly because the obsessive tone of first person suits Snape perfectly. I found Snape so utterly loathsome in this. His thought that Lily would forgive him for murdering her parents ... just so not the case, Sev. As a Gryff she'd sacrifice herself, just as I expect James et al would do. Saving your own skin is not an option for her. How deluded was he? Did he know Lily at all?
Canonically (is that a word?) I have a minor nitpick, cause JKR said that Lily's parents died normally and not at the hands of Death Eaters, but then that would ruin a truly brilliant story. I recently read another story where Snape and Regulus murder the Evanses and I kinda think it's better than them dying naturally - it certainly gives Petunia an extra reason to hate Harry and that world.
I was a bit hesitant at first at Snape's language. He comes across as very formal - which he is, of course - but he's also only seventeen/eighteen in this story, so I did think perhaps he should be a little more 'teen'. Ha- sorry strange picture of Snape using slang and acting like a jerk has just formed in my mind, but it's more that I don't think he was always as guarded as he was in later life. That's very minor, and can be argued either way, so ignore me.
Let me concentrate on the bits I really enjoyed. I loved Snapes ruminations on Potter (ha ha I hope they were fornicating) and his advanced Occlumency. I found it intriguing the way Voldemort decided that he wouldn't pry furthur into Snape's mind. He finds him useful and there is clear respect towards his talents. No wonder Voldemort chose him.
Amazing story, Jess. Fantastic look into one man's obsessive mind. Incredible (and now I've run out of praise) ~Carole~
Of all the things I didn't expect you to like, a first-person, present tense, introspective Snape story isn't one of them, honestly, so yay about that. It makes me happy that you don't find it all *headdesk* introspective or pretentious, maybe save for the language he used throughout the story. I suppose I wanted it to focus more on the way he thinks rather than a narration.
Truthfully, I actually found Voldemort much easier to write than I imagined. I guess I channelled my inner megalomaniac sociopath and decided that he respected Snape's balls for being willing to close off his mind. It was rather interesting to crawl around in Moldy Voldy's mind.
I remember that extra-canon bit about Lily's parents, and I know that by default because Terri's judging this challenge this piece will never, ever win, but I sort of took a liberty with this part. My premise is that their deaths were DETERMINED to be by unshady means. Falling down the stairs isn't a shady occurrence when one is home alone with the door locked and no one else around who can say otherwise. And as for Mrs Evans, well.... her death is destined to be a bit of a mystery. By that point in the story, Snape had already determined that Lily could and would forgive him for offing her parents because he 'had' to do it, so how she died was no longer relevant to the story. I hope that made sense, because it's very late and i'm stupidly tired, lol.
I really wanted this to be a story driven by bitterness and resentment and the delusion of idealisation, 'cause that's what Snape's all about.
Really, though, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Yay!