DNF at 21%.

I just couldn’t suffer through it any longer. I’ve been trying to read this book for almost three years now and every time I read a little further, I just find myself disgusted with everything the writer has done. Now here’s the thing…the idea was brilliant in its own right. But the execution was not only grossly unrealistic, but it was just downright awful in general.

I’d been really excited to read this, in part due to the fact that it somehow managed to find its way onto Goodreads as a fan fiction. I must admit I am utterly baffled as to how that came to be now that I’ve read as much as I have.IMG_0600 And here’s something to understand about this book. It’s massive. The number of pages I managed to force myself to read through would equate to a 400+ page novel.

And I personally don’t think this book deserved even that much of my time.

I think it’s thoroughly apparent that I wanted to like this fan fic. I truly did. There is a lot to be praised from intelligence and rationality, but instead of actually telling an important tale with themes of rational understanding woven in, Yudkowsky simply gives us asinine characters that are poorly written and a story that jumps around so much you wonder how anyone could say there’s even a plot at all.

Now, I had expected that there would be a fair amount of differences in the novel, especially on the part of Harry’s character. His entire backstory had changed, after all. But ultimately that doesn’t account for how an eleven-year-old boy never seems to have any of the traits of the young child that he is. Ironically, I think I might have been able to get past that–who doesn’t want an immensely intelligent Harry Potter to read?–had it not been for how disgustingly out of character literally everyone else was.

And then, somehow along the line, Harry becomes disturbingly sociopathic and thus even more difficult to empathize with. I can’t think of a single instance past the very first chapters of the tale where he didn’t come off as a self-obsessed little jerk for absolutely no reason at all. He’s manipulative and cruel on more than one occasion and does nothing to show intelligence in a positive light. This was immensely frustrating as it only furthered the often misconstrued notion that intelligent people are stuck up, snobbish assholes with no emotions whatsoever.

Harry’s intelligence is also portrayed in a deeply unbelievable manner. Instead of needing to learn (as someone at eleven years old, even a very well read someone, would need to do) Harry simply thinks…and then somehow knows in a short period of time. Intelligence is not a trait that one simply has, but rather something someone has to work at constantly and Yudkowsky completely ignores this factor in favor of simply parroting his somewhat misguided beliefs through the mouth of his main character. In fact, Harry’s solution to a great deal of events is simply to use a time-turner to travel back and re-do everything.

Disturbing jokes are made throughout the prose and the writing is mediocre at best, only serving to create more problems with the story as a whole. And to make matters worse, there is almost nothing going on at all aside from Harry acting like a little brat all the time and taking advantage of the people around him. I’m pretty sure that by the point I stopped, he was still in his first few months of classes in his first year. Which brings me to another issue I had. There is absolutely no continuity. The story arcs hop around idly at random as the author appears to simply fill in whatever idea he had at the present moment and say, “well, who cares if it fits?”

I just couldn’t stomach how unrealistic the entirety of this story was or how Yudkowsky regularly butchered characters in order for them to fit his own personal view of them. It’s not the first time I’ve seen Dumbledore portrayed as a bumbling fool, but it’s the first time that I’ve been thoroughly disgusted by it. He regularly degrades and insults well loved and kind characters from the original novels and does a horrible job of it in the process. The blatant disrespect the author shows the original story and characters is exceedingly difficult to accommodate.

It’s a real shame, because ultimately the idea was one I had been really interested in. But, I suppose I just have to say that if you’re interested in reading Harry Potter fan fiction, definitely read something else rather than waste your time with this one. There are much better ones out there and it doesn’t take too long to find them.


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2 thoughts on “Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality [by Eliezer Yudkowsky] (Book Review #41)

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