only at first did it have its appeal

“Well, I’m not trained in massage, by any means, but that’s not what this is about. Let’s call it… an experiment in touch.”

[There is a word for that. That word is “masseur.” As in “I’m not a masseur by any means.” It is a common word. I imagine John would know it.]

A few paragraphs later…

Running up the stairs to his bedroom, he grabbed the bottle of massage oil from the back of his nightstand then headed to the kitchen, where he filled a bowl with hot water and stood the bottle in it, flipping the top open at the same time.

[Why. Why would you have that. Why. The entire story up to this point has been about Sherlock being unaccustomed to and uninterested in touching and being touched by other human beings, which John has understood and respected. There is no one else living at this house. John is not a masseur “by any means.” I really doubt he had any of his previous girlfriends up for a casual back rub. Why massage oil, just why.]

Those excerpts are from Chapter 8 of The Heart In The Whole, which is a very popular fanfic I had been meaning to read for some time (or so I assume, as it’s apparently been in my “Marked for Later” AO3 file for quite awhile). I gotta say, I think I’m missing something, because this work is not living up to the considerable hype. Aside from the aforementioned Convenient Plot Device, I find Sherlock to be wildly out of character and John’s dialogue to be uncharacteristic as well; the author hasn’t “captured his voice,” as they say. Not to mention, and I don’t know if this will change by the time this odyssey culminates in its twenty-first chapter, the writing is just not that good. It’s serviceable, to be sure, but commas are overused like mad, the grammar is fine but not great, and despite all the alleged sensory descriptions (given that Sherlock has temporarily lost his sight and therefore is using his other senses excessively), I don’t feel particularly engaged and I certainly have difficulty accurately envisioning or viscerally experiencing the scenarios.

I’m torn between wanting to finish the story to find out what happens, and skipping ahead to Chapter 17 or something (I think that’s when Sherlock’s sight comes back, or the end of Chapter 16, maybe) to save myself the slog. I think I’ll keep going on course but at a brisker pace; maybe skimming it will make the writing flow better.

ETA: Right at the top of Chapter 9:

Considering how eager he had been to come in to The Yard today, you’d think he could put a bit more effort into being pleasant. Then again, that didn’t really sound like Sherlock.

Count the first: mixed conditional with bonus second person narrative.

Count the second: “that really didn’t sound like Sherlock” should be the subtitle for this entire fic.

Oh god, “au pair” is capitalized in every instance and then Sally looked hopeful as she offered Sherlock information about the case. And then offered to drive him and John to the crime scene. And then said, and I quote: “What?” she demanded. “I’m not a total bitch, you know!”

“So, it’s OK. Yes, you do take me for granted, but only because I let you.” He squeezed Sherlock’s knee and turned to face him. “You can’t take advantage of someone against their will. It’s my choice.”

Dangerous characterization alert! John is letting Sherlock take advantage of him rather than cooperating with him. A big part of BBC!John’s character is that he is willing to accept Sherlock’s eccentricities while still being willing to put him in his place when he is too out of line. They are codependent. This is not that John.

Molly had wheeled in the trolley then burst into tears and disappeared, leaving them with the body.

Molly is a mortician! She is very good at her job and she is not a prissy little drama queen.

ETA: Apparently Molly is feeling “somewhat emotional” because she has the impression that her involvement with Moriarty somehow led to the woman’s death?

I see… After the premise of Sherlock going temporarily blind, the story devolves into maladroit sexual innuendo and experimentation and weird preservation of the sanctity of mouth-to-mouth kissing? Whereas handjobs, blowjobs, and kissing just about everywhere but the mouth are apparently totally fine. Oh, and there’s also a case, and Moriarty does a thing, and apparently there’s some trauma or something.

“How do you feel?” “I feel loved.”

Oh my god.

This thing is a fucking train wreck.

P.S., skimming doesn’t make the writing seem better, it just draws out the clichés faster.


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