Friday, April 4, 2014

REVIEW: We Were Here by Lola-Pops

Some stories have such a big following that it’s hard to remember where you first heard about them because every-freaking-body you know is reading them.  They're the stories that are recognized by initials or stand-apart details and are immediately connected to an author's name. They get you talking, screaming, and swooning about fic, and often become the standard by which other stories are compared. These are those stories.

We've invited three guest reviewers to share their thoughts on some of our recent ‘we can’t stop talking about them’ favorites.

banner by Lola-Pops

We Were Here by Lola-Pops
Upon waking, there's a brief, blissful period in which you don't yet recall the sins of the night before, but eventually, you have to open your eyes. I'm Bella Swan, seventeen years old, cheerleader. This morning I woke up in the wrong bed.

Rochelle Allison ~

Upon waking, there's a brief, blissful period in which you don't yet recall the sins of the night before, but eventually, you have to open your eyes. I'm Bella Swan, seventeen years old, cheerleader. This morning I woke up in the wrong bed.

Like most of us, I read a lot. Lots of fanfiction, lots of books. Over the years, quite a few have impacted me, but because there are so many more stories to be read I rarely reread. I do make exceptions, however, and Lola’s stuff makes the cut. I’ve reread Summer of Salt more times than I care to admit, and We Were Here...I just finished my fifth or sixth re-read. Sometimes it’s favorite passages or chapters, other times, it’s the whole story.

We Were Here recently completed. Because of life stuff (marriage, a baby), it took Lola a while to post the last chapter and then the epi, but it was so worth the wait.
You see, Lola’s brand of angst is the real kind. There’s nothing contrived or melodramatic about it: it’s real people living real lives. The events might not be exactly like ones we’ve encountered, but the emotions behind them resonate because we’ve all been there. I love that. I love being so invested in a story that I breathe with the characters. It’s easy to write crazy, overblown drama - much harder to create subtle, nuanced moments that hit home and drive the story along.

We Were Here is about a Bella on the cusp on a late-teen crisis. Seemingly overnight, she goes from a popular cheerleader with a jock for a boyfriend to a girl wanting way more...

I’m so fucked. Literally. Figuratively. But I get ready for school like it’s any other day, and as always, my cheerleading uniform feels constricting, but looks perfect. It’s a metaphor for my entire existence.

 ...and that includes the sexy, brooding graffiti artist Edward...

He’s always, I guess....attractive in a way that makes girls unconsciously lick their lips, but he doesn’t seem to care much about dating, or maybe he just doesn’t care about the girls at our school.
...The things that are said about his sexual prowess solidify him as a legend, but most of the time you don’t hear those things from people who’ve actually done them.
It’s all true, though. I know it is. I flush and cross my legs, my heart beating hard.

These two burn for each other, when they’re together as well as when they’re apart, and while the story opens with their beginning, it takes a lot for them to realize that they’re truly meant to be.

This story isn’t always easy to read. The characters are authentic, so they make mistakes, doing and saying things that frustrate and upset. I related so much to Bella, even when I wanted to shake some sense into her. Her pain was so tangible, as was Edward’s.

And I won’t even discuss how hot this Edward is. I can’t. Let’s just say he’s a top 5-er for me.

This story is amazing. It hurts, and it feels so good. It’s got a great, well rounded cast of characters, a driven, sometimes-gritty plot, and plenty of good lovin’. So worth the read...and the inevitable re-read.

Jayhawkbb ~

Memorable characters.  Great plot.  Incredible storytelling.  Three of my favorite things in fic.  All three of those things come together in a way that feels effortless in We Were Here by lola-pops.  If you haven’t read it yet, please don’t waste your time reading this.  Go read that instead.

While reading this fic (again and again), I devoured each chapter like I’d been on a low-carb diet and it was a warm slice of sourdough.  The characters are deliciously imperfect and behave like real people – they make bad choices along with the good; they have fears that sometimes consume them; they fight for what and who they want.  Through all their ups and downs, I felt what they felt and wanted what they wanted.  I rooted for them even when they didn’t deserve it, and I think that speaks volumes about the talent of author lola-pops.  It’s not easy to weave a multi-layered plot with such complicated characters into a cohesive story, but she does it brilliantly.  It never feels contrived or forced.  It never reads as through she’s fitting the characters to the plot or vice versa.

As I write this, I know that we only have part two of the epilogue left, and then we will say goodbye to this fantastic story.  It’s always bittersweet to let go of characters we love, but how can we complain?  We’ve been lucky enough to live through them as they’ve grown – and grown up.  I will savor the final chapter like it’s the last glass of wine from an expensive bottle of cab.  Oh, who am I kidding?  I’ll scarf it down… and enjoy every second of it.

VampiresHaveLaws ~

Teen angst is my fic weakness. So of course when I read the excerpt lola-pops shared in her Spotlight Interview with Fic Central many moons ago, I knew there was no way I wasn’t going to become obsessed with this story. And I was right.

I can’t go any further without talking about Bella and Edward’s initial hook-up. Because it’s the best.


He's looking at the ground when I look up, but I know it was him. I throw my books in the back seat and slam the door.

"What did you say?"

He shifts uncomfortably and won't meet my eyes. I stomp around the car and right up to him.

"Damn, E, who is this chick?" One of the guys asks. I don't look to see who it is, though, because my eyes are trained on him.

"No one," he says, and turns his head to nod toward the shop. They file through the door talking in low voices, leaving us standing in the dark spot between street lights. He leans back against the brick wall and finally makes eye contact. I realize that I haven't really looked at Edward Cullen in a long time. I lose my breath for a second at the intensity of his expression, the symmetry of his face...and something else that I can't put my finger on. There's anger, which I expect given the fact that I just called him an asshole, but also lust, which is so out of touch with his words that it doesn't make sense.

His words echo through my head. No one.

"Fuck you," I whisper, but there's no fire behind the words. Maybe that's because I know he's right.

He moves that slow gaze to my lips and then...and then I'm not really sure I can explain what happens next. I take another step forward and he drags his teeth across his bottom lip, and then I'm fisting his shirt and that bottom lip is between mine.

I mean, right? For the two people in the fandom who still haven’t started this story, I forgive you for flouncing what else I have to say in favour of reading this. It’s the smart thing to do. Also, don’t even get me started on chapter 18. I spaced out twice while typing this just thinking about it.

What I love most about lola-pops is her style. She manages to capture a certain feeling not many authors can achieve. Like, I can instantly tell if it’s something she’s written, without having to look at the penname at the top of the page. It’s a really special quality to have.

Now, I could go on and on about this story, but I don’t want to spoil it any more than I already have for those two people, so I’ll end it with this: dog tags. Just dog tags.

1 comment:

  1. I read this post around 10 this morning. I finished the story at 5 pm. :-)