The sporking of DAYD is finally finished. It's been a long journey. I'd like to clarify a few things.
I started this sporking more than a year ago because I had found it through TV Tropes, clicked to the first chapter, and found it to be pretty awful and not to my taste (the characterization of Hannah clenching it for me). I wondered why it had been recommended so highly. I bookmarked it in my mind for a possible sporking, as I had been reading a lot of them and wanted to give it a shot. Then when the stuff about Thanfiction's past exploded, a lot of people on fandom_wank and such admitted to liking DAYD, and I found out it was far more popular than I'd ever thought. I went back, still found the fic to be pretty bad, and decided I would spork the first chapter to lay out my problems with it. There was no malice towards Thanfiction as a person intended, and it wasn't backlash capitalizing on dark secrets being revealed, I had a problem with the fic long before that. Personally, the only way Thanfiction's cons affected me was that they made for interesting wank. The sporking caught on, and so I continued. I got an email from Thanfiction telling me to go ahead, and plenty of anon trolls. The full experience.
The main reason for sporking this fic is that I read a lot of sporking back then and thought it would be fun to try it myself, especially using my own "parodying" versions of the characters to do a lampoon. I like coming up with character based jokes. But another reason is so that whenever someone asks if they should read DAYD or gushes about it, and I say "NONONO", I can point them to a thing that laid out my problems with it. I felt this fic deserved an in depth examination and criticism of what I perceive to be its flaws and issues, since it's so widely read. In fact, the reason I decided to resume the sporking after giving up on it was a friend/person I follow on Tumblr asked if they should read the fic in response to someone's gushing. I think a lot of people who share my point of view would appreciate a warning that fic isn't perfect, and definitely isn't better than canon.
A lot of the criticism I received from various anonymous trolls has to do with the fact that the issues I raise about DAYD may be present in canon as well. They insinuated that I thought of canon and JKR as perfect and untarnishable. I definitely, definitely do not, and the year of doing my sporking has only made me more aware of the flaws in canon. Canon is not without its own gender issues, race issues, fatphobia and occasional stereotype. I love the Harry Potter books, and I am a huge fan, but it's true. PoC characters aren't given the spotlight in HP, there's unfortunately no working mothers in the text (though there are in interview canon) who live, there's some issues with queerness people better qualified than me should talk about and hey I could go on for a while. The majority of literature isn't free of these issues. However, as I stated in the "Women in the DAYDverse" essay, problems in the source material don't excuse the same problems in fanfiction. Fanfiction has a great opportunity to seriously examine and perhaps rectify these problems. This fic has made the dubious claim of being better than the source material (yes, the author has said as much) and instead of rectifying issues in canon, it chose to exacerbate them.
This fic took any flaws that may have been present in canon and dialed them up to eleven, making it frankly unbearable and unreadable to me. Probably the most illustrated example of how over the top Thanfiction would get with any comparatively smaller issues in canon was how Hannah's attempted murder of Neville over a perceived slight (and Neville saying that this means it makes sense the craziest Death Eater is a girl!) being dismissed because she's female is somehow equivalent to Hermione attacking Ron with canaries in canon over a real slight, which Ron was pretty pissed about. Another illustrated example, Seamus Finnigan has bit of an over-the-top name, so this fic makes him a Leprechaun Warrior.
This is not even getting into all the other issues Thanfiction slathered on. He took Neville, who could be considered a positive example of a pudgy character being a hero, and gave him a pro-wrestlers physique, and then gave Hannah a supermodel's physique with the weakest justification possible to be worthy of being Neville's girlfriend. The lookism was ridiculous. He made sure to call the girls dainty every chapter, and frankly, all his women were interchangeable- perky, bubbly bits of arm candy who roll their eyes and get exasperated at the silly boys. This fic greatly reduced Ginny and Luna's role in the DA, and lent no development whatsoever to their characters. The fic adhered to very strict ideas of masculine and feminine, and made sure the characters stuck to those rigid categories. A woman was raped in one chapter, but it was the men's feeling about it that were focused on and their revenge, and said rape was never mentioned again and said woman only showed up again to be killed violently. Her ordeal was a pointless little interlude to show off the male characters while assuring the reader repeatedly the girl they're defending was no slut.
Meanwhile, the other characters were just a mishmash of stereotypes depending on nationality. Ernie switched between violent Scotsman who spoke inscrutably to the worst English Prep School stereotype I've ever heard. What did we know about the Patil twins other than they liked rice and yoga and snake-charming? Li Su's only real line has her inexplicably knowing about Indian culture because she's Chinese and China is nearby! If Dean and Cho had gotten any face time in this fic besides dying, I shudder to think what would have happened.
The fic is praised for giving development to background characters, but the development they are given is superficial and only seems to exist so they can be killed off as violently as possible for daring not be a main character, to the point where even the little girl who was named in tribute to a real life cancer patient is tastelessly killed off.
The bloodbath at the end, as well as the grating army stuff, is the worst. Thanfiction claims he's trying to say something profound about child soldiers and war- but child soldiers don't train themselves, war isn't torture porn fest where everyone is unendingly heroic and iron-willed and feels nothing and the bad guys are black and white evil complete monsters. None of the characters in this fic act remotely like children anyway. One of the best things about the source material is that the teenagers do act like teenagers- terrified, immature, bickering, reckless. The have-no-fear manly men who calmly plan their deaths and talk like they stepped out of a thesaurus aren't anything remotely like teenagers, and thanfiction only tries to get them act like it by having the occasional "boys will be boys" misogynistic fooling around, which just comes off as adult douchebagginess.
In the meantime, the issues of prejudice are thrown out the window and made to be about "free speech" instead, and blood prejudice is condoned within the text by the main character who flaunts his pure blood.
The gorefest at the end is just gratuitous and gross, and done without any real attention to impact or meaning other than war is brutal! Most of the characters who die are barely characterized, and so barely missed. There is no real feeling of grief.
Thanfiction wears his issues with canon on his sleeve in his writing, particularly his problems with Snape, Harry and Dumbledore. That's fine, but it feels like getting yelled out from a soapbox, and it's readily apparent the author is speaking through the characters.
The fic is also lazy. It takes the easy way out several times. It starts in media-res and makes Neville already ridiculously confident, respected by his peers and automatically elected leader because it's too lazy to show his character developing INTO a leader. The plot is disjointed and several plot elements go nowhere, such as the whole plant-magic bit, Dumbledore's telling Neville he is the One… and it's inconsistent to boot. In the last chapters, we have the text flat out admitting things like Dumbledore telling Neville he was backup made no sense, and that Crucio shouldn't have been shrugged off like it was throughout the fic. In the same vein, Snape seems to be warped out of character just because Neville needed a truly evil villain.
Finally, the writing is ridiculously purple in a lot of part. It drips with adjectives, and honestly, the prose could have been significantly cut down. There's a fair share of tortured metaphors. It even creeps into the character's dialogue, and makes them sound nothing like teenagers. TV Tropes claims the style to be a passable imitation of Rowlings, but I see nothing in common at all. Rowling's prose is rarely purple and not nearly so rambling.
There you have it, folks. I hope you've enjoyed this sporking and forgive me for my many mistakes. It was all in fun, not like I'm going sell it like Thanfiction did with the fic proper. I hate DAYD and I just explained why, but hold no ill will towards any fans of it (if they don't bother me). Maybe one day I'll do a skim-through sporking of Sluagh, but I doubt it. My brain has had enough for now.
I'm really glad in particular that my sporking allowed me to join HMS STFU and meet all the wonderful people there, even if the site closed before I could finish this project. Thanks to everyone who read this sporking, and especially those who commented on it (provided you weren't trolls). A lot of you had clever things to say, and I also appreciate the support. You were invaluable and wonderful and I'm very grateful. Thanks so much for listening to me rant, and good wishes to you all.