|Reviews for Cassie Lang: Matchmaker|
| Mikaelus chapter 1 . 12/14/2019
CASSIE LANG: MATCHMAKER — REVIEW
Despite how long I’ve been a supporter of Scott and Hope, it was only in May 2019 — right after I got home from seeing Avengers: Endgame — that I finally decided to look up some fanfics. I’m not sure what took me so long or why that day, but I suppose the relief that both Ant-Man and Wasp made it through the final clash with Thanos alive might have given me that final push I needed. And strangely, it was good way to end the day that I saw the biggest Marvel movie to date. Cassie Lang: Matchmaker was one of the first fanfics I stumbled upon thereafter. And I was instantly hooked.
I would say more about the story in general, but the problem is, though I recognize this is one multi-chapter story (all on one page, though), I tend to see it more as a collection of short stories that complete a bigger picture. I feel like I’d be lacking focus if I didn’t give a solid review of each chapter, and if I’m not going to do this right, then why do this at all? I’ll give a detailed review of each chapter of Cassie Lang: Matchmaker and, in the end, how they work as a whole. So let’s have a look. (And yes, I’m acutely aware that I’m only reviewing this over half a year after first reading it.)
I suppose I’ll give a brief look over the intro. Given the summary right under the author’s name, these few paragraphs don’t add much, but I’ll give points for the final paragraph detailing Cassie’s desire to see Scott and Hope together. If Cassie wasn’t already a great character (though of course she was), this shows both determination beyond her years and unwavering care for her father. My only complaint so far is that it doesn’t end on much of a note. “Cassie worked hard to keep the two close” doesn’t show that same stubborn determination that resonated not two sentences earlier, though I have nothing against the sentence itself. It’s just that, had I been in the author’s seat, I’d have added something along the lines of “And so, Cassie’s quest to bring her dad and Hope together began.” But maybe I’m being dramatic.
CHAPTER 1: To be clear, I don’t think I’m a better writer than you. So if I give examples of what I’d have written in your place — case in point, I just did a few lines above — I don’t want an acid response like “Then YOU write it if you’re so perfect”. Everything I’m writing here is constructive criticism — take it or leave it.
With that said, right off the bat, you earn points for establishing the situation in the first paragraph. We don’t know what (in your universe) has happened in Scott’s life since Ant-Man — certainly not the Civil War (I’ll have things to say about that later on) — so it’s good of you to clarify the circumstances early on, and not just in this chapter, but all of them. I’ll also admit that you write Cassie not only cute as a button, but rather accurately to the film version, too. Every time I read this, I can barely restrain myself from smiling. Scott and Hope are also represented pretty faithfully, though I’d have liked to see more of Hope’s sarcasm and dryness that we know from the movies. For instance, after the “I missed her too” line, I’d have had her add “You on the other hand…” with a coy smile at Scott, only for him to respond with a sincere “Well, I missed you”, leaving her speechless. There’s not much else to say. It all seems rather representative of real life, and I mean that in the best way. As far as I’m concerned, this is the ideal start to a relationship between a single dad, his new girlfriend, and his child of his prior marriage. You don’t have Scott and Hope jumping into bed together too early on, and you show that there’s more than two parties involved. We’re off to a good start, and if the quality can be maintained, then we’re in good hands.
CHAPTER 2: In a story like this, it’s inevitable that readers will have their favorite chapters and their least favorites. It might seem surprising, but this is my second least favorite chapter. I’m not entirely sure what it is, but I feel like there’s not much development to Scott and Hope’s relationship in this chapter — which is especially odd, because I know that’s not true. Hope has been around more, she’s had an obvious influence on Cassie (kickboxing and all), it’s implied that Scott and Hope wind up sleeping together, and they start living together at the end. All of these are big steps in any relationship. So what about this chapter doesn’t do it for me?
Well, one thing for sure is Cassie’s absence. I suppose that in a story called Cassie Lang: Matchmaker, I expect her to be around as much as possible. You can argue that Cassie bringing Scott and Hope together is exactly what leads to the changes in their relationship here, but we’re just not able to see much of it through her eyes, unlike the other chapters. Another problem is that the bigger developments are only given in the final three sentences. I get that the author was probably just trying to leave us with one last sense of awe, but the buildup really isn’t there. These are big steps for any couple, and they deserve real attention, not just a footnote at the bottom of the page. I understand how necessary this chapter is — if anything, skipping from chapter one to three would leave us with questions — but I’m sorry, despite how much actually happened, I’m just not feeling it. Fortunately, this is not the shape of things to come.
CHAPTER 3: Quite an interesting contrast we have between chapters two and three, wouldn’t you say? Two had next to no Cassie, focused largely Scott and Hope, and didn’t quite work (again, in my humble opinion) — whereas three focuses largely on Cassie, little on Scott and Hope… and actually really works. Not only does Cassie once again shows her unusual maturity — while still very much a child — and complete adorability, but Maggie is both represented accurately and explored as a sympathetic character. I’m okay with her just being "the ex" in the movies, because she is just a supporting character, but in a chapter where she was arguably the main character, I’m glad we can at least find out why she’s taking steps to make sure everyone gets along. She is a good person, but that’s not all there is to her. To top it off, one could argue that the steps Scott and Hope take as a couple are smaller here than last chapter, but they seem more tangible. And I think that is what’s at the heart of this chapter; by focusing on Cassie and Maggie, you once again show that, when it comes to a single parent dating again, there’s more than two people in the area of effect. Case in point, not only is the relationship having an obvious effect on Cassie, but it will inevitably affect Maggie, and even Paxton. And on a side-note, I have to give credit to Maggie for taking the initiative and ensuring the effect is a positive one. If I had to find anything to complain about — and I’m REALLY reaching here — the choice of words “Maggie had been a child of divorce” do sound melodramatic. I won’t pretend I have a better idea for you, but all I can say is that a “child of” anything sounds like a title with some sort of weight to it. But if that’s the worst this chapter does, then it’s doing okay. We’re back on track.
CHAPTER 4: If chapter two was one of the weakest points of this story, chapter four is easily one of the strongest, and arguably my favorite. And again, it’s a case of doing so much with so little. When you really get down to it, not a whole lot actually happens in this one. It’s not that big of a step for Scott and Hope, as it’s been clear Hope is on good terms with everyone, especially Cassie, from the get-go. Cassie inviting her to the play alongside her mom has made it clear that she’s started seeing her as a second mother. And Maggie allowing Hope to accept the invite, as well as double dating with her, has already demonstrated her acceptance of her joining the family. So this including her in Mother’s Day is really nothing more than a sentimental formality. But that’s the keyword where this chapter is concerned; sentimental. Chapter four is all about the feels, and it delivers wonderfully. No fanfiction has brought me closer to tears — let alone tears of joy — than this one, and Cassie giving Hope a Mother’s Day card was the moment that did it. Just to ram the point home, I confess, I sometimes come back to this fanfic just to read this one chapter, because it’s so beautifully written — mostly. There is one thing that kind of distracts me in this chapter, and it’s the verb conjugation. I know it’s low to point out spelling, grammar, or otherwise in a fanfiction written by a writer who has no professional editor, but it’s worth pointing out that a few times this chapter, the story seems to be told in present tense as opposed to past like the rest of the story. “She PERCHES comfortably”, “Scott TURNS back”, “Maggie HANDS Scott”, they all stick out like sore thumbs because, had they followed the format of the rest of the story, they all would have been “perched”, “turned”, and “handed”. The random changes from tense to tense are definitely mistakes to be looked out for in the future. But on that note, that’s really all the negative I have for (I reiterate) arguably my favorite chapter. I don’t even really mind that Janet Van Dyne’s return is brought up rather at the last minute — I think we’re just meant to take certain plot elements from Ant-Man and the Wasp and connect the dots to the best of our abilities, essentially ignoring Civil War, Infinity War, and the coming Endgame (again, more on that later). The emotion is the real focus here, and the focus is just where it should be. Things can only get better from here.
CHAPTER 5: Let me just get this out of the way; as someone who loves the holiday season, I immediately award this chapter bonus points for making good use of it. The Christmas spirit and sense of family are absolutely felt this chapter, and that’s not even the best part. Once more we are shown the growth of Scott and Hope’s collective family when Cassie begins referring to Hank and Janet as her grandparents. Scott, Hope, Janet and of course Cassie are all wonderful in this, but for me, Hank really steals the show. His reaction to being called grandpa goes from surprising to priceless to endearing with unbelievable smoothness. I can absolutely hear Michael Douglas’s characteristic voice uttering his one defining line here — in fact, I can hear all the respective actors delivering these lines. Once again, the author has written each character faithfully to the movie renditions, and it really makes this fanfic worth reading if nothing else does.
With that said, I can think of a couple of things I would fix were I the author, but they are both minor nitpicks probably not worth a second look. For one, I’m not crazy about the way you finish the first paragraph with “and the pairings just seemed to work.” The parallels between the two couples were obvious to us all already, so that last statement was pointless in and of itself, but that’s not the real issue here. The problem is the WAY it’s written. I know it’s really nitpicky to point out grammar like this, and even weaker to do so to a fanfiction of all things, but I just think the way it’s tacked on to the end of an already-long sentence makes it sound more like an excuse than a summary. Had the author broken the sentence up — replacing the “and” with a period, allowing “the pairings just seemed to work” to be its own sentence — I wouldn’t have batted an eye, but as it stands, it sticks out in a way not befitting of this story.
The only other thing that kind of nags me is the way winter is treated here. From what I understand, December in San Francisco doesn’t even get as cold as October in Toronto. I’ll admit, I’ve never been to San Francisco at any time of the year, but do the local families out on group Christmas-shopping day-trips really all get hot chocolates together when it’s not even cold enough to snow? If so, then you can forget this remark entirely, but until I know otherwise, it makes me question just how well the author knows their climates.
But bad grammar and (possibly) poor knowledge of weather by global region are the worst of this chapter’s sins, and compared to all the good it does, it more than balances out. I said above that chapter four was arguably my favorite — and I emphasize the word “arguably”. Because that also applies to this one. Five chapters in, and we’re still going strong.
CHAPTER 6: … I’m not exactly sure why this chapter is called “plus one” instead of six, because it’s hardly a “bonus chapter” like the next and final one — no, it’s the end result that we all knew was coming as early as chapter two. I know I’m dwelling on this, but when a good fanfiction’s latest chapter starts you off with a sense of confusion, it’s worth noting.
With that out of the way, that’s all I had to say about this chapter that could possibly fall into the “bad” category. So what falls into the “good” category? The answer is EVERYTHING ELSE. This is the pinnacle we’ve been building up to, our reward for reading thus far, and does it EVER pay off. I’m thrilled to see Scott and Hope finally make it official, and even more so that Hank, Janet, Maggie and especially Cassie — truly our beloved matchmaker — all participate in their own way. Admittedly, I do enjoy the prior two chapters better because they’re less typical parts to write in this kind of love story, but what better way for Scott and Hope to finally get hitched than with an elaborate scheme actually going according to plan? There’s nothing truly negative I can say about this chapter (though I do think Scott’s proposal could’ve been shortened to “Will you?”, but that’s a personal, minor preference), and to list any more positives would be to deprive it of attention that it’s most certainly earned. It’s all lead up to this, and it was all worth it.
BONUS CHAPTER: I dunno if it has anything to do with the confusing “1” title of the prior chapter, but somehow, I can’t help but see this “bonus chapter” merely as chapter seven. In a way, yes, I can see what the author had in mind when calling it a bonus — when you get down to it, it really has nothing to do with Cassie Lang: Matchmaker, it’s more of an epilogue — but sadly, I just can’t separate this from everything else I’ve read thus far. And what’s sad about it is that this is honestly my least favorite chapter of the story.
And it’s BECAUSE it’s a bonus with little relation to the rest of the story that makes it work so little. “Cassie Lang: Matchmaker” is the perfect title for this fanfiction, because that’s what it focused on; Cassie trying to bring her dad and Hope together. But here, the matchmaking is done, they are together. Nothing more need be said, so why are we still here? This is especially ironic because I know your next fanfiction also revolves around Scott and Hope having a baby — you could’ve just said Baby Bumble is a sequel to Matchmaker, and we wouldn’t have questioned it. (PS: My next criticism applies to Baby Bumble as well, so consider this my review for both works.)
Besides that, I do have one other problem with this final chapter, though it may again be more a question of preference. Put simply, I don’t get why we need this — a new addition to the Lang-Van Dyne family — in the first place. It’s like Hope says, they have Cassie and they’ll always love her. So why, I ask, is she not enough? Throughout this story, Cassie has truly become Hope’s daughter as well as Scott’s, Maggie’s and Paxton’s. I admit, I don’t understand why so many parents, in this universe and many others, feel the need to create more than one new life, so I’m probably not in any position to question. And it’s not like I’m not happy for Scott and Hope; I am. But between the fact that we already have wonderful Cassie, and that this chapter connects with the rest of the story so little, I find this story kind of ended on a low note.
Had it been me writing this story — and if I really HAD to have one more chapter beyond the engagement — I’d have had it take place on the wedding day itself. It could have been beautifully written, would have connected to the rest of the story better, and it would have been the perfect conclusion to Cassie’s self-imposed mission to bring Scott and Hope together. I can just picture the final scene; well after the ceremony, while everyone’s dancing at the reception, Cassie would step out for some air, take a moment to let it all sink in, and finally congratulate herself on a job well done — a match well made.
But hey, that’s just how I would have written it. And again, don’t anyone go telling me to write and post my own fanfiction just because someone else’s dissatisfies me — this is an opinion put to words, no one’s making you read it. But who knows, since the author seems to be on a Scott Lang-Hope Van Dyne trip right now, maybe I’ve just given them inspiration for their next piece.
OVERALL THOUGHTS: All right, I’ve mentioned it several times, it’s time to get it out. While I recognize that this is a fanfiction, it does kind of annoy me to see Civil War, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Infinity War, Endgame, and any future Avengers or Ant-Man movies effectively erased from the continuity. Yes, you can argue that this is meant to be an alternate storyline where none of that ever happened, but here’s my counter-argument; these are Marvel characters. We fell in love with these people via the crazy adventures they embarked on. I love Scott and Hope, but I love Ant-Man and Wasp just as much. Even if this vetoes the events of the rest of the MCU, it nags me that not only do they never save the world, but Ant-Man and Wasp are never even mentioned. And again, I realize that this is what fanfics often do; they take characters that already exist and throw them into situations not typically seen in their respective franchises, even if that means entirely detaching them from their genre. But that’s just why I don’t personally respect fanfiction, even if I do read and enjoy them. If you’re going to write what could be considered an alternate take on an already-existing story, then ensure the tone, style, and characters remain faithful, even if they evolve. If you’re going to write something that could practically be canon to the official material, then make good use of absences and time gaps to write your own stuff without damaging what’s already good. But this fanfiction does neither; it takes the characters out of sci-fi and action, then places them squarely into romance.
So why do I keep reading it? I mean, when I once found a Bleach fanfic that was entirely romance (and poorly written at that), I gave up a few chapters in because it was clear I was no longer reading anything even remotely resembling Bleach. And yet, I didn’t give up on Cassie Lang: Matchmaker. Why? Well, for one, this is unusually well-written, especially by fanfic standards. For another, while it deviates from both the continuity and genre of the source material, it doesn’t go so far as to change the characters or tone. Scott is still carefree with a big heart, Cassie is still adorable and kind, and the style doesn’t go too real or lovey-dovey — in other words, too un-Marvel — like too many romance fanfics do. Between those, and the fact that I really want things to work out between Scott and Hope — though, as of the printing of this review, they haven’t yet in the official MCU — I’m willing to overlook the bad in favor of the good.
And that essentially sums up my review that has, I agree, been rather all over the place. In short, despite the flaws, despite the disregard for source material and the curious conjugational errors, I REALLY ENJOY this fanfiction — I’ve read it a hundred times already, and I’ll read it a hundred times before. I haven’t read a lot of Marvel fanfics, so I don’t have much to compare it to, but this is easily my favorite one. And I look forward to what author f-romano
| Justicerocks chapter 1 . 6/23/2019
This was so sweet and family centric. I just loved it.
| KikiPuppy chapter 1 . 6/7/2019
Aww this is so sweet and adorable!