As much as i like the original, this version needs more
“You fucked up. If you touch me again, you will bleed”
I debated a lot with myself on whether or not I should post this review, and then I thought “why the hell not ?”. But this is going to be a really rambly fandom talk, I need to get all of this out of my chest so, seriously, just skip this. Please.
It feels really weird for me to say this but, my fandom now has a published work. That’s right, Gnomon is originally a fanfic, one of the most popular fanfics in this fandom, and to know that it’s now an actual book is very unsettling. To be honest, this is not really the kind of book I would have instinctively picked up if it weren’t for the fact that I already know and love the story, and that it’s about my two favourite idiots. The fanfic itself, I was sold from the beginning because, knowing the dynamics between the characters, and knowing what this group of people stands for, a terrorist!AU isn’t so much of a stretch. It actually makes sense and showcases their relationship in a very interesting (if very fucked up) way. It all happened so fast. I even debated whether or not I wanted to read the book, but I decided I wanted to support the author.
I think I’ll always like the story, but mainly because, to me, it’ll always be linked to my OTP. The tension and the miscommunication were too good for me to pass up, the fact that you see the dark side of “he was a charming young man capable of being terrible“, that R’s loyalty and self-doubt and lack of self-preservation are portrayed in such a brutal way. It was amusing to see what became of each character, and how they changed from one version to the other : the two entities forming Carope totally make sense, and the combination was actually quite clever. The nicknames stayed, which made me flail helplessly. My two favourite quotes were there, so I didn’t need to be worried.
There are a few things that I’m still not quite sure about / that would need some improvement :
- the names were a bit difficult to get used to. Knowing the original work, no matter what the names on the page were, I thought about others. I would also want to applaud / shake my head in disbelief at the names the author chose : Emile Delaurier is such an awful, pretentious name and yet, it kind of grew on me. Renaire is awful, I get that she couldn’t use the original name, but I’m still sad we’ve lost the pun in the process. Glasson, Carope, sure, if you want, but the others are a big no for me. Jules is a fucking brilliant alternative and, Matthieu and Céline sort of work, weirdly enough.
- the excessive use of italics. I never noticed that there were so much in the original fanfic, but it’s really too much here. I get that emphasis is important, I’m definitely the kind of person who would use it too much, but sometimes you have to let the reader breathe.
- the fact that it gets rambly at times. It is a difficult task to bring about characters, you don’t think enough about that. When it comes to fanfic, you don’t even need explanation : every one knows who the characters are, why they’re here, what they like, what makes them tick. All that information would be superfluous in fanfic. You just have to write down a name and the reader knows exactly what it’s about. The introductions, for a new reader (as in, who wasn’t there when this work first took shape), can be a bit rough around the edges and lengthy.
It’s really difficult to think about selling points. What would make a non-fandom-related person want to read this book ? I don’t know. For me, the appeal was elsewhere. But, no matter who the characters are, I still think the story is good ? The tension is beautiful, the clash between them will always be my favourite scene. I love how raw they are, how completely fucked up but how it’s not romanticized.
They both have big issues, both individually and as a couple, they’re well aware of that, the author is aware and so, the reader can see it too. By all rights, it shouldn’t work between them, but somehow it does, and that’s great for them, but you’re never left thinking “Oh my god, I want that too !” because who in their right mind would want that ?! Even when it was a story solely about two different idiots, you could see how fucked up they were and, even though I tend to prefer the stories in which they are happier, more domestic and flufflier with each other, I can’t help but like the way they were written there.
And I love how, despite everything, it all stays completely consensual (if not completely healthy) and we’re not seeing some 50 shades of Grey crap. This story has issues too, but at least it doesn’t let down on that front.
Also, yeah for diversity ? It’s mostly secondary characters but, knowing my fandom well and how much we love to play with gender and society norms, it’s great to see a trace of it still present in the published work.
A word of caution, though : this book contains very graphic scenes (both in terms of violence and sex), so stay away if you don’t want any of that. I wouldn’t exactly categorize this as Erotica, because that’s not quite the image that I have, and above all, I think this story is about a lot of things, it just happens to have some explicit scenes in there. I would also like to say that both are just passing scenes, but that’s not the case …
Sidenote : DUDE ! I was on the lookout for any mistakes, and let me just say that one name, in the part about Vienna, really shouldn’t be there ! I’m glad it is, though.