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5047Story rec (minor spoilers)

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  • rachel_martin64
    Jun 5, 2003
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      Jus ad Bellum, by Jenn

      Novel-length, adult. Violence, some explicit sex. Mature themes.

      Rogue finds herself in an alternate universe in which the Mutant
      Registration Act was passed. In this world, the mutants liberated
      themselves from Nazi-style experimentation camps, fought back and
      won. You'd think that would be the end, not the beginning, of a
      novel/movie/TV show. Good guys win, end of story. Right? But this
      story explores the effect of victory on the good guys.

      The novel features a love story between Logan and Rogue, and a
      profound friendship between Scott and Logan. John, Bobby, Erik,
      Kitty, Jean and Hank are strongly featured, John especially. The
      character of John is particularly well explored.

      In this novel, Rogue very unwillingly comes to grips with the
      complicated nature of evil. It is very uncomfortable to see how
      naturally and believably Scott and Logan evolve into the Adolf Hitler
      and Heinrich Himmler of this timeline. Jean is frightening. And
      dammit, they're all still nice guys. Rogue (and the reader) has to
      deal with this paradox. At first Rogue struggles to find some black-
      and-white truths to ground herself in. Then she becomes mired in the
      gray areas: "This is how it happens. Put everything in grey and say
      there's no such thing as right and wrong. Make it simple." In the
      end, with John's help, she finds her footing and makes a choice.

      The author doesn't make anything easy for readers. I found myself
      sympathizing first with one side and then the other. I'd feel outrage
      on behalf of a character, then I'd feel appalled by his/her actions
      in another part of the story. In one scene, for example, Scott has
      ordered the execution of several "norms." And just when I was ready
      to feel horror on behalf of the "norms":

      [Kitty's] hand gripped the sill. "I need this time, to see them die.
      When--when Logan and I got out of the Miami camp with the others,
      there was the explosion--but I never saw the bodies. I never--I never
      knew if they were even there, or if they were out in the city, having
      a nice dinner, and escaped. Maybe one of them got away and is out
      there, and remembers what he did to me." Her voice choked.... "This
      time--I need to know for sure." Kitty's face broke, and I saw tears
      leak out of her eyes. "I don't care if it makes me a bad person
      anymore. I just--I need to know."

      The author made me understand why the X-Men turned into the people
      they are in this timeline, and then she made me do something even
      tougher -- not allow myself to excuse them.

      How Rogue and AU Logan fall in love all over again is a complicated
      and moving plotline. The friendship described between Logan and Scott
      is profound. It's difficult to tell if Logan is devoted to Scott the
      person or Scott the icon, but devotion is there. There's a paragraph
      in the story that got to me precisely because it's so low-key. In
      this particular scene Logan is handing over a bribe to rescue Scott:


      It was a plain envelope. Legal size, white, and [Logan] knew to the
      dollar what was in it--if anyone had been interested and he'd been
      drunk enough to tell, he could have told them that every single bill
      was symbolic. He could remember what he did, what he sold, how much
      of himself he lost, with every single payment. But he didn't get that
      drunk and he sure as shit didn't get that introspective.

      The author doesn't take any shortcuts on characterization or world-
      building. The political and social environment is realistically
      complex and contradictory. The "evil" AU characters are developed
      naturally and are completely believable.

      This could not have been an easy story to write. I'm glad I read it.
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