All the Young Dudes

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Author: MsKingBean89
Genres: Fantasy, Fanfiction
Pub. Date: 2017 (read Dec. 2021)

I debated whether I would take the time to review this, but I spent such a lengthy time reading it and I enjoyed it so much, that I have to give it the praise it deserves.

Let’s say off the bat – this is fanfiction. All the Young Dudes is not a published book, though you can buy 3 volumes of it on the Book Patch, I opted to read it for free on Archive Of Our Own. It’s over 500,000 words, which works out to somewhere around 1700 pages. I have never read fanfiction before, but started hearing about All the Young Dudes and was really intrigued, so I decided to read it. I know there’s a lot of bad fan fiction out there, but this was an eye opening experience to me that there’s also some really quality fan fiction and that there shouldn’t be anything embarrassing about reading it!

All the Young Dudes is Harry Potter fanfic about the Mauraders. It’s set primarily in the 1970’s, though it spans some 25 odd years, and is told from Lupin’s point of view. It is totally canon compliant, with the exception being that it is Wolfstar, which features a relationship between Lupin and Sirius. While there’s no indication in Harry Potter that either of these characters is gay, I didn’t find it a stretch or unbelievable. Every other part of the fiction complied with original harry potter canon and I thought the addition of this relationship actually brought a lot of depth to the story.

All the Young Dudes is a substantial piece of work and honestly felt like an extension of the HP universe to me. Every character is well crafted and acted exactly in the way I would expect them to. It was so fun to revisit this world through the eyes of the Marauders and I loved returning to Hogwarts with them. The first part is largely fun, with lots of childish antics and pranks, like what you would expect from a bunch of 11 and 12 year olds, but as the children age, so does the story. 

In some ways I thought this was maybe even a more accurate portrayal of teenagers at Hogwarts than JK Rowling. The writer includes a lot of 1970’s pop culture into the story, which I liked because it created a more integrated world with both Muggles and Magic. In retrospect, it’s hard to believe wizards wouldn’t be just as crazy for pop sensations like Bowie and the Beatles and the boys get participate in classic teenage shenanigans, like partying and messing around with alcohol, pot, and girls.

There’s just as much depth to the side characters and I loved seeing so many other familiar characters from the series. Lily and Snape also feature in the story, though I would have loved to get a bit more about both Lily’s relationships with Snape and James. Because this is Lupin’s story, he and Sirius are the primary focus – my ideal fiction would probably have a more well rounded telling of the Marauders, with multiple character perspectives, but this was still great and incredible in its scope. 

There’s A LOT of character development and angst and I loved that this focuses on Lupin’s struggles with being a werewolf (and how the wizarding world treats werewolves parallels how the rest of the world also treats gay men, especially in the 70’s). We also get a lot of time dedicated to Sirius’ family and how he struggled with being the black sheep in a family full of dark wizards. It’s a bit of a brutal read in that it’s heartbreaking to spend over 1000 pages falling in love with characters that you know are going to be devastated before the end. The first volume is a fun romp while the second volume is a really meaningful coming of age story during a dark time. I read the first two parts back to back, which covers the boys 7 years at Hogwarts, and then took a break before attempting the third, which I knew would be filled with heartbreak.

The third volume spans from the end of school all the way up to the start of the 5th Harry Potter book, so it has the largest time period and is by far the most depressing. I found the war really interesting, but I kind of wish it had ended when Voldemort was defeated the first time. I understand why the author dragged it out until Sirius got out of Azkaban, but I didn’t find a lot of value in the in between time and would have just preferred an epilogue about Sirius and Remus being reunited. It’s still a great story, but while I would definitely re-read the first 2 volumes, I don’t think I would ever re-read the 3rd. Either way, the whole thing was a really fun experience for me. I’m not sure whether I’ll be back for more fan-fiction, but it was fun to give a try! Let me know in the comments if you’ve read fan-fiction and what you thought, I’m genuinely interested to know!

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Author: J.K. Rowling (illustrated by Jim Kay)
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade, Classics
Pub. date: 1998 (read Nov. 2019)

My re-read of Harry Potter continues! For some reason Chamber of Secrets seems to be one of reader’s least favourite of the series, but I’ve always enjoyed it for the mystery element, and later for it’s heavy foreshadowing of Voldemort’s horcruxes.

Chamber of Secrets builds on the magical world Rowling created in the first book. I do always find it a bit annoying to have to be re-introduced to ‘Harry’s world’ at the beginning of each of the earlier books, as if someone would read it without having read the books that came before. But I guess it did serve as a good refresher of the previous book back before the whole world became infinitely familiar of all things Harry Potter.

I do love how Rowling’s writing style and narrative evolve over the course of the series. Chamber of Secrets (and book 1) do very much read like middle grade, but as Harry is only 12 in this book, it’s not really that surprising. We get the introduction to some more great characters in this book – Dobby, Ginny, Colin Creevey, Lockhart – and we get to learn more about the characters we already know – Hagrid, Dumbeldore, Malfoy, and Voldemort. I said it in my last review, but I have to re-iterate again, I love how Rowling is so good at developing her side characters and keeping them consistent throughout the entire series.

Rowling is also genius at integrating just enough humour and lightness into her stories. While each book has it’s own central plot, I’m still Immensely interested in the day to day of life at Hogwarts. I was genuinely disappointed when quidditch was cancelled and I realized I wouldn’t get to watch Harry square up against his opponents on the field. Rowling’s world is magical and interesting enough to be engaging on its own, yet she never wastes a scene. We attend all kinds of classes with Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and everything they learn or experience always fits into the plot or is later applied.

The other thing Rowling does wonderfully is make you feel just the perfect amount of indignation at what happens to her characters. She finds the perfect blend of injustice that makes you angry at how characters are treated, while still being believable (I’m thinking of plotlines like Hagrid being shipped off to Azkaban and Harry being misunderstood to be Slytherin’s heir). Rowling gives us just enough information that we could conceivably have guessed who was opening the chamber of secrets and what the monster was, but still keeps us in the dark until the critical moment, which of course thrills us when all is finally revealed.

Mostly, I just love how this book is so full of foreshadowing and the greater meaning that it will have to the series later on. Rowling’s forethought is what keeps her series so interesting and why I keep coming back again and again for more.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Author: J.K. Rowling
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade, Classics
Pub. date: 1997

I’ve never written a review for Harry Potter before, but I guess there’s no reason not to start now. I’ve probably read the 1st book at least a dozen times over the years, so there’s no pretending it’s not my favourite series.

When you look at the series as a whole, there’s no denying that the first book doesn’t really stand out from the books that come after, but it is still a wonderful example of world building and how much more depth a story has when the author is organized from the very beginning in where she plans to take the story. Whenever I re-read Harry Potter I am always impressed with the scope of Rowling’s vision. She didn’t rush into the creation of her world and gave time and thought up front to the complicated relationship that would exist between Harry and Voldemort. Even from the first book, it’s obvious the forethought that she gave to each character and storyline.

One of the things that I think makes Rowling such a successful author is her ability to extend her mystery elements beyond just a single book. She’s always balancing multiple storylines. There’s the immediate mysteries that get answered within the book (what’s the philosopher’s stone, who’s trying to steal it, what’s protecting the stone); and then there’s the greater mysteries that extend across the series (can we trust snape, why did Voldemort care so much about Harry). The question of what Snape did to unequivocally gain Dumbledore’s trust and whether that trust is misplaced is an element that spans the entire series. Rowling strikes a wonderful balance between sating her readers by asking the more immediate questions, but holding back just enough to keep us enthralled throughout 7 books.

The other thing that I think makes Rowling a great writer is her characterization. Harry Potter is filled with a huge cast of characters, yet it never feels overwhelming. She doesn’t rush the characterization and lets her characters develop naturally over the course of the series, but she still spends a lot time letting them grow. At a certain point, her characters do start to write themselves in that you begin to understand them so well that you can almost anticipate how they will react. But what I also love is her attention to the details when it comes to minor characters. We’re introduced to lots of other students and characters throughout the first book, but each character still has a distinct sense of self and I love how she dedicates time to this minor characters over the course of the books.

This was my first time reading the illustrated edition and it made for a wonderful reading experience. I do wish there were more illustrations though because they are so beautiful and at times felt a bit sparse, but I understand you can’t illustrate everything without having this be a beast of a book.

As usual 5 stars to this awesome book and 10 stars to Mr. Neville Longbottom