So here we go. Check my klaine fanfiction tag before you start reading. Contains a lot of disclaimers and clarifications. :)
Without further ado, here is the list:
Important! For each of my favorite fics I’ll write a brief list of things that I like (“Reasons” why it’s on the list) about it and another one of things I don’t like (“Problems”).
1. First prize goes to Courtney and If I Die Young
Reasons: Brilliant writing. Perfect characterizations. Her Kurt and Blaine are arguably the most canon-compliant characters out there. She has such a good feel of who they are both as individuals and as a couple. Add to that the masterful dialogue, the emphasis on interaction, the deep emotions, the fact that everything is so genuine and real… We really get into their heads, into their lives, into their hearts. We truly live with them. I’m still amazed that she could accomplish such immersion experience with characters that are not her own. They are living, breathing creatures and the Kurt and Blaine we know and love. Also the writing… Great use of words and expressions, flowing dialogue, beautiful and meaning-ripe descriptions. So great overall! A million times, well done!
Problems: Occasional pacing breaks. Doesn’t read like a purposeful succinct story, although every chapter does read like an episode, like a story in its own right. Given the fact that IIDY is based on a TV show, though, I guess the format works even if it’s not exactly a novel-type format. Blaine and career plans based on trying to please his parents at first is a little OOC for me. I was glad Trip and Karofsky got together within the narrative, but treating the Tripofsky relationship as an epic love story doesn’t work for me. Why are they even together? What can they possibly give each other that they cannot receive anywhere else? Especially given the contrast with Klaine… Not epic at all. Tripofsky taking over during the Blaine death-scare didn’t work for me, because I didn’t really get where it came from. Rachel, Burt, Finn, Wes could have done a better job (maybe together with Trip). The insistence of the narrative that we were made witness to all of Klaine’s interactions for the duration of the story was a little weird at times because it didn’t particularly make sense for them not to try to spend more time together or have more intimate moments and so on. Keep in mind that all of this is really nitpicky because the story is truly wonderful and contains the very best Kurt and Blaine out there, even if it’s not absolutely flawless.
(Oh, one last thing, I hate it when someone tells the person they love to find another significant other after they die. People can actually live without a partner, you know. This just makes me irrationally annoyed, as in I-would-be-so-angry-with-someone-trying-to-pull-that-bs-with-me annoyed. It’s my choice after all. It’s not so easy to find epic love, and I want nothing less, so please, shut up. If I ever find such love I’ll just want to be yours forever and ever and ever, even if you are not alive. Doesn’t matter. I can be as happy (or happier) alone as I would be with a person I only kind of care about or even love. And it’s my choice! The end. But this applies to a lot of stories and ‘mature’ pre-death notes, so not specifically about IIDY. Just had to get it out there.)
Reasons: Beautiful writing. Unique style. Fully-realized world, to the point that it has its own media outlets and political system and reasons behind everything. In-depth analysis of trauma and PTSD. The extremely difficult dynamic of Kurt and Blaine’s relationship given their positions, their own feelings and needs. Kurt’s internal struggles. Kurt and Blaine who are to varying degrees different from their canon counterparts but are still Kurt and Blaine in a believable way given their very different circumstances. One of my favorite chapters was the young Blaine chapter. So I guess I embrace the characterizations in Def and can’t wait to see who Blaine will be once he gets over the trauma and awful memories. Another reason I can’t stop reading is that I can’t totally see how romance can develop out of what we have Kurt and Blaine going through in this reality. I really hope Sarah won’t take the easy way out and just jump a few years into the future when Blaine is healed enough and, having lived as a free man for years, is actually ready for a relationship with his former holder Kurt. I don’t even know if it is possible, but I very much hope to see Kurt and Blaine as equals within the frame of a supposedly unequal relationship. Complicated solutions are so fascinating. But as I said, I am not sure such a thing is even possible and maybe a time jump and explicitly granting Blaine his freedom is the only way Klaine romance can work in that AU. Still a fascinating story, either way. One of the rare ones, where I agree the author can actually work on turning it into a novel, because the PTSD thing is just breathtakingly well-developed and the reasons behind the PTSD are very real and relevant to our society, too. I’ll just say, Def definitely teaches you a lot of things and stop there. I absolutely love all the other characters, too. Also, I forgot to mention the brilliance of the close-psychic-distance POV narrative. It’s so real and well-written. We are truly submerged in Blaine’s thoughts, no matter how scattered and disconnected they are. This is not easy to do, because the author actually knows what is going on even if the character doesn’t. So you have to be able to see it all through the POV character’s eyes. And it’s so hard. And I just love Sarah and Def for how masterfully the POV is done. Stunning, really!
Problems: One problem I can think of is potential out of character behavior as the healing continues. And potentially taking the easy way out as mentioned above. Or potentially making someone other than Kurt fully responsible for Blaine’s healing. Just potential problems though, no actual ones so far. Can you tell I love this story? :) Make sure to read the extra stories set in the universe, too.
Reasons: Most beautiful, love-conquers-all story this fandom has produced. I find everything about it totally fascinating if completely heartbreaking at the same time. The brain injury, the recovery, the medical information… The familiarity the author has with the subject. What it takes to go through all of this. Kurt! The incredible strength of Klaine’s love and connection. The optimistic tone despite the tragic circumstances. The reality of setbacks dispersed among the numerous small successes. Kurt’s thoughts and feelings, his unconditional, unquestionable adoration of Blaine now, before, in the future (whatever it may hold), his holding onto what Blaine used to be, his dedication and eternal patience. Blaine’s frustration. And love, love, love. The questions, the doubts, mainly coming from the readers: could I do this if I were them, would I even want to try, I wish I could do this if anything like that ever happened to my partner… The fact that there are almost no questions and doubts within the narrative. Because Klaine’s function has always been to inspire, and nowhere else is it as fully realized as in this story. Favorite chapter: Hold on to the Sun. Also, as a whole, very nice, flowing, soft writing style.
Problems: Not impressed with the sex in the last chapter (found): the whole thing is getting a little redundant and porny in a somewhat cliched way. Pretty much love everything else about Lovesong. But it’s so bittersweet, it’s definitely hard to wrap your mind around it. I am also really wondering about Kurt and his career goals. Which of course makes me feel so bad about it all. So, so sad. But so beautiful.