By Less Wrong
Status: Complete, Word Count: 127,000, Pairing: None, Genre: Drama/Humour
Summary: Chapters 86 – 99 of Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality
Listen to the Audiobook, Narrated by Eneasz Brodski, Here: http://media.blubrry.com/hpmor/p/www.hpmorpodcast.com/wp-content/uploads/episodes/HPMoR_Part_5.m4b
Disclaimers: Although this fic was uploaded to ff.net under the name Less Wrong, the name of the author is Eliezer Yudkowsky, and I will be referring to him as Yudkowsky for the rest of this review. I should also make clear that the way I experienced this fic is through the official audiobook (linked above.) While this doesn’t change any of the actual text being discussed, it is very likely that an especially excellent voice, or an especially bad voice could colour my judgement on certain scenes and even overall characters. So if this review persuades you to either read or hold off on Last Enemy, do keep in mind that all of this is just my opinion, and this is just one instance where that becomes a bit more obvious and quantifiable than it normally would be.
Hello everyone, I’m very sorry that it took this long to get this review out, but you have to understand that this is my fifth attempt trying to write this, as I just couldn’t get my thoughts out in a way that I was happy with. If you remember, back when I reviewed part four of Methods of Rationality, I mentioned that it was the worst part I had read yet, and well, there’s no kind way to put this, TLE makes that section look like fucking high art. It is aggressively, deeply bad, and it’s perhaps the greatest example of an author pissing on their own hard work that I can think of in the entire Harry Potter fandom. I am sorry to say that this will not be one of those happy reviews where I like the thing I’m talking about, this will probably look more like a rant. Because holy shit, this genuinely made me lose any respect I had left for MoR, and I am here to explain exactly why.
So if you remember, one of the biggest complaints I had about part four of MoR, which largely focused on Hermione, is that I felt like the fic reduced her character to little more than an archetype, through some truly baffling and poorly done character regression, just so that Harry can come into his own near the end and save her from danger while looking all cool. And while I acknowledged that the payoff with Harry worked quite well, I didn’t think it was worth the price of the entirety of Hermione’s characterization. Well, imagine my utter dismay when I realized that part five’s singular purpose is to destroy the characterizations of every single other character in the story, and in order to do so, it annihilates what little was left of Hermione’s original character.
The majority of this arc focuses on Harry and Hermione, as they both mope, moan, and angst over the events of part four, and like, on the one hand, I kind of understand it. At least, I understand it in the case of Hermione, as she went through something undeniably traumatic. But the thing is, characters in MoR go through traumatic shit all the time, and it never seems to get to them all that much. Hell, Harry went to motherfucking Azkaban in part three, and even though he was a tad bit shook afterwards, he quickly got over it and went on his way. So why are the characters suddenly acting like realistic character more than 2/3 of the way through the story? I assume the answer is to find something to write about, because I do remember hearing that Yudkowsky began losing motivation to write the story around this time, but either way it fucking sucks.
It just feels like not much really happens here, it’s all just angsty characters sitting around and feeling angsty. The climax of part four was quite intense and was supposed to have wide-reaching consequences, and there’s a little bit of Harry trying to deal with some of the shit he’s gotten himself into, but there’s far too much mope, and not enough thought or action going on. I’m not really normally one to bitch about too much angst in a story, as I think it can be an excellent catalyst for character growth if done right, but this is not that. Harry has been shown to be absolutely brilliant, and very capable of coming up with solutions to his problems — even if he often doesn’t foresee their consequences — and him just kinda giving up and feeling sad about it feels very out of character for him. This feels like kind of a feeble attempt at portraying a character’s all-time-low, but it misses the mark in every possible sense of the word.
Draco also loses every scrap of character development that he previously had over the last four parts, and just kind of reverts back into a generic asshole. I never had much investment in his character as his handling was clunky at best from the very beginning, but it’s still pretty annoying to see.
However, my real problems with Harry James Potter-Evans-Verres and the Last Enemy are mostly related to the ending. You see, this part ends with the first major character death of the series. I won’t spoil who it is, but if you’re at all familiar with the standard complaints you hear about MoR, you probably know already. This death shakes Harry to his very core, which could be interesting, but then the fic goes on this fucking nine-chapter long arc that is one of the most singularly edgy things I have ever read. The name of the arc is “roles”, and I just….I could barely get through it, and once I did, I was pissed off enough that I had to take a long break from the fic.
It’s such a blatant piece of character assassination, that ruins pretty much everything I found good about the fic previously, that I genuinely have a hard time putting into words how much I hated it.
I will say, though, that the Quirrell villain reveal was pretty well-done, even if not especially surprising. Although I will also say that it was pretty hard to take him seriously after part four, where he “owned feminists with facts and logic”. While I think it’s possible that part six will improve, I’m not sure anything it pulls off can be enough to truly redeem the fic after this, and for that reason alone, I feel no qualms about placing it low down in the Not Good tier. I don’t give out 0/10s, but if I did, this would get one.
It was boring, it was a blatant piece of character assassination, and reading it left an absolutely horrid taste in my mouth.
I will say, though, the the audiobook was still pretty good. The guy did a great job, and it’s absolutely not his fault that I didn’t enjoy it. If anything, he’s the only reason I got through it.
Tier: Not Good
Written on 11/10/2021