Reviews for Enemy's Heartstrings
Guest chapter 18 . 7/25
I really, really want to like this story. I’ve read your other stuff, and most of it is pretty decent. It’s hard to find decent Spuffy stories that are actually faithful to the characters of the show and Joss Whedon’s world, and for the most part, your stories did that. Sure, there were a few minor points here and there that didn't work, but those were nick-picks and it was all OK for the most part.

I especially want to like this story because of the awards it’s won at the SunnyD Awards and because some people I’ve talked to have said good things about it.

But…all I can say is that I think this story is overrated.

I’m actually worried about posting criticism, because judging by some reviews (I only skimmed over them) and some of your author’s notes, you don’t take criticism that well. And OK, some people don’t, I get that. But at the same time all writers should know that some people won’t like their stories and will say why, and it’s all part of life as a writer. Don’t worry, I won’t get nasty (I heard one reviewer got nasty and I’m sorry you had to deal with that).

So onto the review. For the most part your story is…OK. There are no issues with spelling/grammar and character voice is good in places (I think this is your strongest point overall; I especially like the voices of Anya and Tara in your other stories). But I have three major problems with this fic.

One: Spike

I’m not saying he’s completely out of character, because believe me, I’ve seen him written a hell of a lot worse than this. But I still feel that there’s a lot of Draco in Leather Pants-ing going on here (if you’re not aware of the term, just look it up on TV Tropes) in that he’s definitely been fluffed up. On the show he was one of the most complex characters they had; he was a genuine Big Bad when he first appeared who was evil for all intents and purposes. He wasn’t as evil as Angelus, but he was still evil. He went through a lot of character development during seasons five and six (and then in season seven after he got his soul) and that made his character all the more interesting.

But here, there’s barely any of that. It feels like you’re writing him as a guy who’s pretending to be evil for, well, reasons, and is actually a big softie on the inside once the right person shows up in order to bring it out of him. On the show, Spike was wild, ruthless and out of control. Here, that side of him has been toned down in favour of the softer, poetic side of him shining through. While Spike does have that side of him it doesn’t completely define who he is, and being honest, writing him as such is an insult to his complexity on the show. This is actually something that shows up in your other fics, too, but apart from in ‘Take It All Away’ (where it was really jarring) I could overlook it because it’s in later seasons, and therefore forgivable. But this is season two, where Spike should be at his evilest, and that’s really off-putting.

For an example of a well-written Spike, check out the story 'Forward to Time Past' by Unbridled Brunette.

Two: Buffy and Angel

Being a Spuffy supporter, of course I’m not a Bangel fan. But as a fan of the show, I acknowledge that Angel was a huge part of Buffy’s life back in those early seasons, and the relationship they had was a vital part in the development of both their characters. The romance served its purpose in season two, and I can at least accept that. But in this story the entire romance is completely overlooked in favour of focussing on the budding ‘whatever’ between Buffy and Spike. If Buffy really is in love with Angel, why is she getting lusty thoughts about Spike? (And for that matter, why is Spike having thoughts about Buffy when he’s supposed to be loyal to Drusilla, but that’s not as in-your-face as the other is.) The fact that Buffy sleeps with Angel earlier than in canon doesn’t help; it just makes the romance feel rushed and desperate, like you don’t want to wait patiently and develop these things realistically.

And then, when Angel becomes Angelus and Buffy should be heartbroken…she’s feeling sorry for Spike. I mean, yeah, Spike’s being tortured and whatnot, but it completely reduces the Buffy/Angel heartbreak to a footnote when it was one of the biggest plot developments on the show. Why side-line some of the most vital development for Buffy’s character? I know that in stories some things have to be put aside in order to make room for other plot points, but this shouldn’t have been one of them. This is the most important story arc in all of season two, and it’s not something that can simply be brushed aside because you want to focus on Spike and his supposedly torturous existence and make us feel sorry for him.

Three: The Plot

In your earlier chapters, you explain that the plot is about Spike getting tortured by Angelus and Buffy taking him in. That actually sounds like an interesting story. But instead you’ve turned it into a season two re-write where Spike is fluffed up to his late season five/early season six characterization and the Bangel plot is completely tossed aside in favour of what you feel is more important. There’s no reason for everyone to act differently than then do in canon. There’s no purpose. That really shows, I’m sorry to say, and while I do love a good season re-write, it has to make sense. There has to be a reason for such changes, the changes themselves have to be relevant and mean something, and there have to be enough changes in order to warrant and actual re-write in the first place.

There are also a lot of plot holes. The biggest one is in this chapter; Spike’s broken his back and has been tortured by Angelus for a month. How the hell would he be able to crawl all the way to the school library in such a state? And in a town like Sunnydale, of all places?

At the end of the day, this story is only one thing: wish fulfilment. You wanted to write a season two story with how you felt it should’ve gone down on the show. If that wasn’t you intention then I apologize, but that’s what I got from the story. I’m not saying that wish fulfilment is a bad thing, because that’s what a lot of fanfiction is. And so long as this is the intention, then that’s OK. People can write what they want. But if you really were trying to write something that could have happened on the show – if you wanted to write something that was faithful to the characters and the show itself – then this needs work, and lots of it. I suggest that you re-watch season two and take off the rose-tinted glasses in order to get a better idea of these characters, their developments and how their world impacts them.

I think you’re a great author, but this story is a miss in your library of hits.

And I don’t know, maybe this story is OK and just isn’t my cup of tea. Or maybe it gets better later on. But judging by the fact that this isn’t the first piece of criticism for this story, maybe you need to sit back and really take a look at it.
koolkat983417 chapter 30 . 7/12
YASSSS UPDATE I LOVE THOSE 3
TieDyeJackson chapter 30 . 7/7
Really enjoyed this chapter with Spike coming to terms with his attraction while also having prophetic dreams and worrying about her welfare. Also liked the Joyce-Buffy scene for the mother-daughter mini-party. Keep up the awesome work.
Ferris Ulf chapter 30 . 7/5
Ah, I do so love Giles and Spike conversations. You write them so well.

Considering all the talk Spike and Buffy have had on mothers, I still have an inkling that Angelous is going to involve Joyce somehow later on in the story. (Please tell me it won't be ending anytime soon!)

I was glad that Spike and Buffy patched things up enough. While it wouldn't work at all to have them instantaneously fall in love, I do enjoy the moments they manage to get along and amuse each other. And good on him keeping her from doing one of the cliche things that the heroes tend to do and go off by themselves and walk stupidly into a trap.

So out of curiosity: Is Drusilla's birthday her actual HUMAN birthday, or the day she was turned into a vampire?
EllieRose101 chapter 30 . 7/5
I don't like the sound of this at all :(
I mean, I know that Drusilla and Angelus are cruel, but I just can't fathom it. How could they want to hurt Spike even more? Pass him around like a toy? You've got me wanting to cry and I'm only at the first section!
Oh, but I do like the sound of Buffy helping put the spring back in Spike's step!
The mild flirting is nice too :)
evilteddybear chapter 30 . 7/5
Thank you for the update!
BookQ36 chapter 30 . 7/5
Great update! I'm looking forward to more. So glad you're continuing with this story. :)
nrdhrd3 chapter 30 . 7/5
I want to know what happens next!
squeeface chapter 30 . 7/5
Hey there! So I found this story recently and binge read it. It is one of the only stories that I actually have set to receive notifications on, and the reason I made an account. It is awesome! I seriously do think it is one of the best portrayals of spike in a fan fiction. I also really like how you aren't jumping into anything and keeping up the suspense. It is killing me though. Post soon please, and keep up the good work.
Luvgolds chapter 1 . 6/24
Still no update. Why do you leave us hanging?! This story is wonderful so far!
Obscurebookwyrm chapter 29 . 6/17
AGriffs! Greetings! I was beginning to think that burn you mentioned had permanently TKO’d your typing arm. I’m actually *relieved* to hear it’s merely ongoing writer’s block. Of course, then RL ate up all my time (How *dare* my cousin get married when I’m reading/reviewing one of your updates?), so I guess we’re even. Time to see what kinds of mischief your Heartstrings-verse can visit upon Buffy this week…

Grey and cloudy in SoCal? Yup, this is definitely a city with a Hellmouth. And based on Buffy’s conversation with her mother, it’s influencing the Summers household as well as the weather. Joyce seems almost as insecure as one of Buffy’s peers. Or Buffy herself. (Stray thought: I’m still betting that some of those “late nights at work” are Ted. That would explain a lot.) I liked that it was *Buffy* who took charge of setting the mother/daughter birthday misunderstanding straight. I remember that in “Surprise” she woke up *claiming* to feel more responsible and mature, but here she’s actually *showing* it. Good on her!

Spike? At school? Heaven forefend! This cannot end well. Unless they can get him to eat one of the *unrepentant* jerk-jocks, like maybe some of Larry’s old posse from before he saw the light. Then at least some good would come of it. Although between the crutches and the guyliner, I have a sneaking suspicion that Spike’s more likely to get decked by a jock than to eat one. He’d better draw on some human!William instincts and learn how to hide. Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe instead of a bully-magnet, he’ll become a girl-magnet. I mean… cute punk guy with poetry and an accent. That could work for him. Though with the usual SoCal sun, either one is likely to be an infrequent issue for him. Ah well. At least he gets a break from our resident love-struck librarian.

Awww, he whittled her a cross! How masochistically sweet! And… now he’s offering to make out and help her upset her dad by way of petty revenge. So much for my earlier bragging on Buffy’s newfound maturity. “Dating what Daddy hates” is the oldest trick in the book; Buffy’s riff on it is a common one. In this case it massively backfired, because it reminded Buffy and Spike that be they friends or foes they have great chemistry, while it did relatively little (compared to the rest of the exchange) to upset Hank. And I can see it backfiring again if Hank decides to either share that story with Joyce or use it against her as proof of her bad parenting.

While I’m not at all surprised by the idea of Buffy choosing to live in Sunnydale, and didn’t find the “piss off Hank” kiss too surprising, I was *gobsmacked* by the idea of Buffy refusing to see an ice show with Hank. Obviously she *didn’t* in canon!S2 (in hindsight I assumed the Ice Capades must have shown in LA on some night other than the 19th since the cancellation in S3 was such a shocker for her). But the idea of Buffy, who is so *hungry* for the approval and acceptance of her loved ones, outright refusing the chance to spend time with Hank is notably OOC.

The implied wealth of Hank was also an interesting touch. The show never much talked about Buffy’s material wealth pre-Calling, but the canon “Origin” comic made some allusions to it. For instance, Hank’s admonition not to drive the Jag while he and Joyce are away one weekend, followed by Joyce’s request that Buffy please remind Consuela the housekeeper that bras do *not* go in the dishwasher. Hank’s car and trophy girlfriend were nice nods to that.

Oh, Spike… just when you think the universe can’t screw with you any more than it has. I swear, his luck’s as awful as Buffy’s. Of course, what he’s forgetting as he agonizes over the “piss off Hank” kiss is that being in love with one person does not preclude being sexually attracted to others. And given the effect that making out with Buffy just had on him, it seems to me that he ought to be particularly grateful for that fact – at least, once the renewed crippling agony wears off. (Excuse me while I snicker. There’s a “true love’s kiss” joke in here somewhere. Maybe in the vein of “The Little Mermaid”.) A stray thought: for someone so smart, Giles sure can ask stupid questions. “Are you sure?” Pshaw.

On another tangential note, it looks like both Angelus and Spike were 100% wrong in their estimation of Spike’s prognosis. That’s not too surprising; given the easily-hypothesized fate of most badly injured vampires, I suspect Spike’s something of a rare clinical specimen. (Giles must be *thrilled*.) On the one hand, I find that just a smidge disappointing – I really liked my “bookends/mirrors” theory. Y’know, the one I mentioned a few chapters back where I was guessing that Buffy would gradually come to trust Spike and then *choose* to heal him as an indication of that love and trust, much as Spike just did for Dru or canon!Buffy does for Angel in “Graduation”. On the other hand… well, I’m sure Spike’s never in his life been so happy to be wrong. And that means he’s somewhat more inclined to make the people around him happy. Which has the potential to be endlessly fascinating, since I’m not quite sure what a chaotic-neutral vampire would do in that context. Either way, I’m sure that things will *continue* to be ‘very interesting’.

Snyder cameo alert! His attitude was spot-on. Loved the “and serve them right”! Joss Whedon and Arman Shimerman did the perfect job creating a character that everyone loves to hate. (I mean, if a half-starved vamp won’t bite him… Maybe they just have more discerning taste than snake demons?) And he *bought* that excuse for Spike’s presence? How can someone who knows about the Hellmouth live in such denial? No wonder Spike won’t bit him – that level of stupid might be catching. Of course, our resident vamp might change his mind after the swim team debacle. IIRC, that one nearly took out half the Scoobies (and could’ve landed Buffy with a simple battery charge) and Snyder played a big part in it. We shall see.

What to do about Ethan? He and the Dynamic Duo seem to be an ever-increasing threat. A threat that’s wrecking Buffy’s birthday, no less! This cannot be allowed to stand! (Oooh. Bad choice of words. Sorry, Spike!)

Why is Spike such a masochist? Is that a demon-thing or a him-thing? Either way, he should be happy – Buffy gets violent when she’s tense. Still, that’s just not healthy. For either of them. This situation is eerily reminiscent of canon!S6 and must be dealt with.

I loved your closing scene. You can always count on the Scoobies to some much needed, if (mostly) inadvertent humor.

Unfortunately I had no time to proof, but I didn’t see any egregious typos. Not too shabby!

As always, thank you for sharing this with us! I’m really hoping that your writer’s block disperses and you can post again soon.
Guest chapter 29 . 6/9
Come back to us Griffs!
Luv chapter 1 . 6/9
Why no update?! This story is so wonderful and getting so good but you leave your readers hanging. Was it something we said? Something we did? I can be a better reader! Just, please, come back and give more story! Q.Q
evilteddybear chapter 29 . 6/5
This story is the best! Thank you so much! It fulfils so many cravings I didn't even know I had!
Guest chapter 1 . 5/30
Alright now...we're all waiting for the next big chapter
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