Status: Complete, Word Count: 59,800, Pairing: None
Read the Fic Here: https://archiveofourown.org/works/5377742
Author’s Summary: Harry doesn’t want to learn magic or go to Hogwarts – he just wants to be normal, like the Dursleys. But a meddling, crazy old wizard won’t take “no” for an answer. Harry might have to learn how to be a normal wizard instead. But who will teach him what that means – Light wizards or pure-blood friends?
Characterization: This is an interesting fic right here, because I really like what is done with a lot of characters in this story, but I worry where it will go in future sequels. Now, the first thing you need to know is that this fic’s narration is biased as fuck. Like, just as an example, Petunia tells Harry that all wizards are bigots, and Harry then meets Ron and immediately thinks to himself “this guy must be a bigot” because he’s an idiot eleven year old, so why would he know better? In that way, a lot of Harry’s arc in this fic is him trying desperately to be normal in this new world, and as a result, accidentally turning away from the beliefs that Vernon and Petunia tried to instill in him. I honestly think that’s really interesting, and I think it’s the best excuse I’ve ever seen for Harry giving a flying fuck about wizarding culture and customs. Another thing he’s driven by is his desperation to find a family who actually wants him, and learning that Pansy is his second cousin means that he’s much more willing to consider her beliefs than he would be for a normal bigot, such as Malfoy. This makes for a really interesting contrast, as he’s torn between his family in Slytherin, and the close friends he’s made in Gryffindor, such as Hermione and Neville. This is good conflict, and I think the author pulls it off really well. While we’re on positives, I actually think Pansy and Millicent are also written quite well. Nothing too unique about either of their characterizations so far, but there’s nothing bad either, and I just like that they’re used instead of Daphne for a change, so this also gets points in that regard. Now, arguably, Harry is convinced of certain things a little bit too quickly, and this worries me going forward, but there’s nothing too egregious yet. Now, my main issue is that I think Neville, Hermione, and Ron are all a bit weak. This seems to be a story where Harry becomes a bit more pureblood-supremacy sympathetic on his quest to be normal, and I feel like the author made some of the light side arguments a bit too flimsy in order to get Harry to a certain point by the end of the book without earning it, and I’ll admit that that annoys me a fair amount. Neville, in particular, has a really interesting idea behind him that falls flat in terms of execution. This is also the case for Dumbledore, although I’ll be charitable and say that it’s entirely possible that Harry’s biased narration is messing with the fic’s perception of Dumbledore. I didn’t get that vibe, and I’m sure we’ll have to see going forward, but I’m very concerned that this fic will do some dumb bashing shit with his character, and if it does do that, that’ll be a real shame. However, one character who is fucking awesome in this fic is Professor Motherfucking Quirrell! He is hands down the best version of this character that I have ever seen. He is ruthless, he is manipulative, he is intelligent, he takes opportunities that are granted to him, and he never lets the mask slip. My biggest issue with Year One AUs is that they always end with the same old boring confrontation with Professor Quirrell (or his female equivalent every now and then) in front of the Mirror of Erised and the fact that this fic doesn’t do that is a breath of fresh air. This is how I wish Voldemort operated more often, and I love that this fic pulls it off. I think this balances out to characterization that fluctuates between being mid level great tier and low level good tier, with a few flashes of absolute brilliance, and a few points where it dips into mediocrity. Overall, it’s a fairly good product that made for an entertaining read.
Plot: There are some parts of this fic’s plot that I really like. For example, Harry’s whole journey to try and become as normal as possible at everything is really interesting. I think the places that this takes him are really interesting, and it continues to be a premise that I like. I also really like the entire subplot with Quirrell. From the moment he was first introduced, to the very end of the fic, Quirrell was a bright spot for me, and any scene with him was instantly more enjoyable. Unfortunately, I felt like this fic dragged quite a bit. It did not need to be almost 100k, and there were large chunks that felt largely boring to read. I also have to mention that this fic uses the whole “wizards celebrate Samhain and Yule” trope, which I find to be very tiresome and obnoxious. Overall, despite the great premise and brilliant moments here and there, this fic’s plot barely scrapes the low good tier.
Dialogue: This series has, thus far, had dialogue that I would describe as decent, and I think that trend continues in this fic. There’s nothing especially memorable, but there’s also nothing particularly bad, so this balances out to low good tier. I wish I had more to say here, but I just don’t, because it’s bland.
Writing Mechanics: The writing mechanics are about as good as they are in The Definition of Normal, but there also isn’t much improvement either. This basically means that, once again, there are a fair number of grammar mistakes that do occasionally detract from my enjoyment of the story, and there are no spelling mistakes to be seen. Once again, I think the mechanics are low good tier.
Overall: This fic is decidedly worse than A New Kind of Normal, and that’s honestly quite disappointing. While it still has some great stuff in it, it’s dragged down by some questionable character choices, some dumb plot shit, and a general sense of bloat.
Final Thoughts: If you liked The Definition of Normal, I do recommend giving this fic a shot. However, you should probably go in with tempered expectations. If you didn’t like The Definition of Normal, you can probably skip this one, because it’s worse in most of the ways that matter.
Tier: Good Tier
Written on 06/06/2021