Could this fanfiction really be the best “Harry Potter” novel?
I lived in transformative fandom spaces for 20 years, give or take, because I was a kid with incredibly unsupervised internet access that wouldn’t let something as silly as a language barrier stop her from scouring FanFiction.Net. And in all these 20 years, there are very few things that still shock me like the whole thing Harry Potter universe.
I’m sure the facts are practically in the public domain by now: how JKRowling is the poster girl for TERF and is immensely proud of it, how the warning signs were always present in Harry Potter (but not all readers had the means to understand them at the time), how playing a game that lets you be a student of Hogwarts isn’t worth the tangible damage that supporting the Wizarding World franchise does to people.
What confuses me, though, isn’t that an author has turned out to be an active advocate of anti-trans politics who is using her considerable monetary and social wealth to actively harm people—not that it isn’t awful and shameful , obviously , because it is a lot. But what I still fail to understand is how much the fandom has taken on a whole new life, and much more so than with other properties. It’s a fascinating phenomenon, really.
Now, I may be biased in the sense that I was raised Harry Potter and the impact this saga has had on me cannot be understated. Then again, I think that’s a fairly objective thing that anyone can observe. It’s a story written by a very conservative woman, who has poured into it a large part of her personal beliefs, and who has somehow cemented herself in the minds of readers as something completely different; something that lives in the transformative spaces of the fandom in a way that has become very distinct from its canon.
Fans have transformed the original Harry Potter story pretty much from the start, thinking critically about the world and its rules, filling in plot holes, diversifying and questioning its cast, and delving into supporting characters barely mentioned in the source material. And sure, this is all very standard transformative fan work; look at any decades-old fandom and you’ll find years and years of incredible headcanons that have taken on a life of their own.
However, I think the Harry Potter the fandom takes it to a whole new level. Maybe it’s because the characters mean so much to the readers, many of whom decided they needed to be snatched from the hands of their terrible author. If you need proof, just look All the young dudes.
What is it All the young dudesExactly?
Let’s start with the facts. All the young dudes is a fanfiction written by Archive of Our Own user MsKingBean89 and published between March 2017 and November 2018. It consists of 118 chapters (plus some extra scenes and fragments published during its publication) and has 526,969 words, almost half the length of the whole Harry Potter series, or 1,084,170 words. Honestly, the incredible gift fanfic writers give us on a regular basis will never cease to amaze me.
The story begins in the early 1970s and focuses on Remus Lupin, wizard and werewolf, as he embarks on his journey to Hogwarts and meets the group of people who will change his life forever, most notably James Potter, Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew, with whom he will find the notorious Marauders.
The Marauders enter the game for the first time Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, where we learn about Harry’s father and his friends. The group were determined to do harm at Hogwarts when they were students, and they immediately signed up to fight in the First Wizarding War against Voldemort.
While there aren’t many details about them in the canon, fans have latched onto them from the get-go. It’s about their friendship at Hogwarts, where they learned to become Animagi to keep Remus company during the full moon; it’s the tragedy of their end, with James and Lily dying and Sirius being thrown into Azkaban for a crime he didn’t commit; it’s Remus and Sirius meeting again after 12 years, only to die soon after.
There’s always been a lot of fanwork about them, including the iconic 2010 fancasts that have now become legend—so much so that Ben Barnes and Andrew Garfield are both well aware that they were cast as Sirius and Remus, respectively—but Then All the young dudes came along and cemented the fandom’s core canon into its own kind of canon.
AND All the young dudes canon?
Then no, All the young dudes it’s not canon. It wasn’t written by JK Rowling and therefore isn’t part of the official wizarding world, then again, that’s just a technicality. After all, we are all about transformative fanwork. And that means that for many fans, myself included, All the young dudes is the prequel to Harry Potterand that’s the end of the story.
Like all good prequels where you know things are going to end horribly, looking at you Star Wars prequel trilogy—All the young dudes it absolutely tears your heart apart and leaves you in an emotional mess by the time you’re done reading. And that’s just an added bonus.
AND All the young dudes LGBT?
And why All the young dudes it’s not just a well-written story of friends, war, happiness, and loss. It’s also a love story that tells how Remus and Sirius meet, become friends, fall in love and are completely torn apart by war. It’s glorious. It’s heartbreaking. I love it so much.
Remus and Sirius being shipped together—under the ship name Wolfstar, which is just perfection—is nothing new. I’d argue that the queer subtext has always been there, even if Rowling didn’t mean it to be, or she added it with malicious intent.
You can’t just create two characters – one ostracized by society for his otherness and one who actively rebels against his conservative, fascist family – and expect people not to read something weird into them. And let’s not forget that passage in chapter 5 of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix where Remus stares at Sirius for forty uninterrupted bars. Forty. I have nothing to add.
All the young dudes it makes the story of Remus and Sirius realistic and beautiful, immersing it in its historical and cultural context and offering the high stakes that the characters are experiencing. But it’s not just Wolfstar that MsKingBean89 takes to new heights: the entire werewolf subplot is a masterclass in writing, taking the scraps that JKRowling has bothered to tell us about this particular part of the wizarding world and turning them into a incredibly significant character arc for Remo.
And that’s without mentioning the perfection that is Grant Chapman’s character, or the manner ATID extension expands on some members of the original Order of the Phoenix that were just mentioned, like Marlene McKinnon and Mary Macdonald. Or the beautiful soundtrack that is given to each chapter, perfectly in line with the real time period and always relevant to that particular story beat. Or even how Remus himself is very different from his canonical counterpart, yet much more compelling, angry, kind, brave and selfish—all at the same time.
How many books are there All the young dudes?
All the young dudes it started out as a fanfiction that operates in chapters rather than separate books. The whole story unfolds in that single fanfic, while the other works in the related series on Archive of our Own are short stories, snippets, and the beautiful extra epilogue titled Out of the blue.
However, the fans decided to divide the entire work into three separate books. Book One follows the Marauders from their first year at Hogwarts to the end of the fourth, Book Two covers years five through seven, and Book Three, aptly dubbed “‘Til the End,” chronicles the events of the First Wizarding War. and its consequences. .
(image: Warner Bros.)
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