Sunday, February 22, 2009

Guest FicRec: In which Rialle recommends two oneshots.

Title: 'In Defence of Mike Newton'
Author: Subtlynice
Status: COMPLETE, Oneshot
Genre: General
Summary: Step into Mike's shoes for a while… what you find may just surprise you…
Mike Newton's perspective of the Twilight Saga.
Rating: G
Wordcount: 3152

Title: 'Absolution'
Author: meinterrupted
Status: COMPLETE, Oneshot
Genre: Post-Eclipse/AU/Angst
Summary: 'It isn't absolution, but it'll do for now'
Rating: R
Wordcount: 782

(In which Rialle recommends two oneshots which are tenuously linked by their use of narrative perspective and the fact that they both feature characters that are regularly butchered in fandom)

It's a rarely mentioned truth that, within the constraints of Twilight Fanfiction universe, being a minor character is the equivalent of drawing the shortest straw every single day of the week.

Any side character entering the murky world of 'Twi-fic' must immediately resign themselves to the fact that they will almost certainly be relegated to one of two positions: In the prominent, popular stories they'll get little to no air time, and any paragraphs that they are mentioned it'll usually be to either to provide comic entertainment at their expense OR to act as foil in comparison to whom the major characters can appear more beautiful/admirable/brave/fabulous/sparkly.

If, once in a blue moon, a minor character ever finds him or herself lucky enough to be given a one-shot (or, la crème de la crème, a chapter fiction), it'll usually be overlooked, under-appreciated and avoided, no matter how well written it is. Why? Because the simple fact of the matter is that people prefer to read about Edward, Bella and their part in 'The Greatest Love Story Ever Told'. Which is simply spiffing… for everyone but the unfortunate side characters who fall by the wayside.

And, without a doubt, no character is more long-suffering and maltreated than Mike Newton.

Oh, don't pull those faces of faux-surprise; you're not fooling anyone. You, your grand-mother, your next-door-neighbour, the local cop-on-the-corner (or bobby-on-the-beat), the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker all know that I speak the absolute truth. Mike Newton is the Wile E. Coyote of Twilight Fanfiction, except that at least Wile E gets some sympathy from the audience every time he fails in his quest to catch Road Runner, whereas Mike remains one of the most unfairly lampooned characters in fanfiction history.

Still not convinced? Okay, so answer me this: Out of all the stories you've ever come across in your fanfiction reading career, how many of them did NOT portray Mike as one (or more) of the following:

a) a smarmy, greasy no-hoper who makes a fool of himself chasing after Bella
b) a sinister, abusive stalker/rapist
c) a comic idiot who frequently comes a crop of the Cullens' innuendos/ pranks
d) a sex-crazed loser
e) gay*?

(*NB- Before you start, I have no problem with gay!Mike provided there's plausible explanation/reasoning/character development to back it up. Personally, I can see absolutely no argument or possibility for it but, you know, whatever floats your boat. Creating backstory to justify it = cool. Making him gay just so you can have him wear pink leopard print spandex? Not so much.)

If you can truthfully say that you've never read one of the above 'Mikes' then you have my permission to scroll on through this recommendation. You are as of yet unpolluted by clichéd fanon characterization, and therefore do not need curing.

The rest of us (and I suspect that makes up 99.9% of the people reading this), however, are in desperate need of re-education. And that's where the wonderful Subtlynice and her masterpiece of a fanfic come in.

Her story, aptly titled 'In Defence of Mike Newton' (IDoMN), is written completely in the second person and is an epic (in the true sense of the word; it spans all four books, from Twilight to Breaking Dawn) account of The World According To Mike. From meeting Bella to being jealous of Edward, to going through the ultimate epiphany of adolescence- that the people you initially overlook are usually the ones you grow to love the most- and his eventual romance with Jessica, IDoMN gives us a Mike who is not only believable but with whom we can identify and even- dare I say it- like.

It is important to note that Subtlynice is not trying to convince us that Mike is perfect. Indeed, it's her total acknowledgment of the less appealing facets of his character- his occasional arrogance and shallowness, to name a few- that makes this story all the more brilliant. Perfection is overrated and, as Subtly so clearly grasps, ultimately non-existent. The best characters are three-dimensional and flawed, they have bad habits and they sometimes think horrible thoughts and say nasty things, regardless of how good a person they are; these imperfections form part of the very basic idea of what it is to be human.

This is Mike Newton as you've never seen him before; realistic, convincing, heart-rending. I'll even go out on a limb here and say that, because his internal motives are properly examined in IDoMN, Mike is shown in a lot more depth than he ever enjoyed in the real books.

This is helped hugely by the second person narrative. Although the second person (where an author uses 'you', as opposed to 'I' or 'he/she/they'. e.g.: 'So, you're a seventeen-year-old boy. You live in Forks, Washington.') is a relatively unused narrative perspective, it can be used to great effect when done well. Needless to say, IDoMN is one of those instances. The second person lets us rummage around in Mike's mind and strip down the layers of his character without having to navigate the inevitable biased self-perception that comes with first person narrative. This makes for an engrossing, wholly unique reading experience.

My second recommendation, 'Absolution' by meinterrupted, also experiments with narrative voice. Completely ignoring Breaking-Dawn, this 800 word one-shot tells the story of a deadened, broken-hearted post-Eclipse Jacob in pursuit of mind-numbing oblivion.

Whiskey is his drink of choice. The devil in a bottle, the downfall of far too many of his people--including his Aunt Sarah--he knows what it can do. Still, Bella Swan's memory drives him to it.

The fic is written in the third person limited (i.e. a form of third person where the reader experiences the story through the senses and thoughts of just one character) and narrated in the present tense. This emphasises Jacob's sense of blank isolation, because although we are told what he thinks and feels, the fact that the story is not recounted in his own words makes us somewhat detached from him as a character. This anesthetized feeling of remoteness is crucial for the success of the one-shot.

… Okay, so that's the necessary 'somehow-link-this-rec-to-the-first' paragraph out of the way. Now for the real reason I'm recommending this fanfiction: it features one of the best, most heart breaking Jacobs I have ever read in any fanfiction ever. And, trust me, militant J/B shipper that I am, I've read a fair few of that kind. Maybe it's because I'm a masochist, or due to my championing a pairing which was doomed from the start or perhaps it's simply because I'm just naturally attracted to angst.

Whatever the reason, the 'Jacob-and-Bella-should-be-together-but-aren't-and-it-breaks-both-their-hearts-and-oh-my-god-it's-all-just-so-dark-and-depressing' genre of one-shots are my absolute favourite to read. Before you ask, yes, there are a lot of them out there. They're the ones your eyes skim over when they appear on the 'Most Recent' page simply because they have the word 'Jacob' in the summary; the ones which get next to no reviews ('Absolution has two on Twilighted) but are of such high quality that they're regarded as gold-dust by those of us lucky enough to stumble across them.

There's no doubt about it, 'Absolution' is a one-shot with bite. If the unflinchingly bitter style of story-telling doesn't have you drawn in from the start, the twist or 'sting' in the tail towards the end will most definitely seal the deal.

There's not much more I can say about 'Absolution' without giving the plot away. Just be assured that it really is phenomenally written; painful, raw, emotive and, most of all, real. Meinterrupted's portrayal of Jacob is similar to Subtlynice's Mike in that it is gritty and sometimes uncomfortable to read but consistently true to the original character.

Do not be deluded; if your main criteria in a fanfiction is light, fluffy humour and sweet-as-sugar characters, then these recommendations are not for you. If, however, you yearn for something that hits a little harder, cuts a little deeper and will resonate with you even after you've switched off your monitor at the end of the day, then look no further, for these are two of the most brilliantly characterized one-shots Twilighted has to offer.

Rialle/DQRC is the fantabuous Jacob-lovin' author of the AU, Seducing Ms. Swan. She also lends her lovely Brit vocals to the Temptation Podcast -- it's just like butter darlin's ... like butter.


  1. My apologies for the massive graphic fail for this awesome rec. It is so good and hilarious and original that it deserves so much better. Like flair and fireworks and flash and everything. If I weren't have a whole ton of my own fail at the moment, I would have given it the flair it rightly deserved.

    So sorry :(

    Thanks for the recs though. I love the idea of people writing Newton as an actual three dimensional character.

    I'm one of those authors guilty of using him in the aforementioned ways.

    "a) a smarmy, greasy no-hoper who makes a fool of himself chasing after Bella"

    Yes, that's me. So sorry, Mike. I'm glad to see other authors out there have decided to make you a more in depth characterization. It is lovely.

    Thanks so much Rialle for the double one-shot rec!

  2. you jakist.

    you're a jakist, dude.

    but you know i love you anyway.

  3. I tried posting this earlier, but the validation image wasn't loading. :-(

    Anyway, I just wanted to say that I'm glad to see Meinterrupted's story recced. It's excellent!


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