Suppose an alternative universe where Harry Potter was raised not by Vernon and Petunia Dursley, but instead by Petunia Evans-Verres and her scientistSuppose an alternative universe where Harry Potter was raised not by Vernon and Petunia Dursley, but instead by Petunia Evans-Verres and her scientist-rationalist husband Michael Verres-Evans. In this world, Harry James Potter-Evans-Verres learns the surprising fact of his magical heritage and proceeds into the magical world possessing a strong background in science and logical thinking. How might this change J.K. Rowling's story? What happens when a scientific mind tries to harmonize the world of science with a world in which transfiguration, Time-Turners, and illogical monetary exchange rates hold sway? What happens when game theory, artificial intelligence, ethics, quantum physics, and other scientific (or at least Enlightenment-influenced) ideas are introduced into Rowling's soft-magic world?
The answer is, of course, much poking of fun at the canonical Harry Potter world's magic, frequent in-jokes (often lampshading) referring to canonical-series events that don't happen in this story (or sometimes do, but in substantially different manner). (And many, many references, explicit and implicit, to other works, especially SF/F ones: Ender's Game, Star Wars, Star Trek, and others I can't bring to mind quickly enough -- not to mention the references I doubtless missed.) This is a much darker story than the original, with rationalist Harry regularly tending Machiavellian, or amorally utilitarian, in his actions. But it's still quite good.
As far as potential demerits. This story's fairly heavy in what's clearly the author's viewpoints, but generally they're artfully conveyed within the story itself without being too heavy-handed about it (unlike, say, various Robert Heinlein or Ayn Rand works: and to be clear, I was able to enjoy those authors' works even when this happened, or at least to mentally disassociate at such times). The tone varies a fair bit through the course of the story, with occasional arcs that aren't quite resolved cleanly. Somewhere just past the halfway mark, the general consensus seems to be (and I think there's some merit to it) that the story bogs down a little. There's one arc that I think probably could be left out, with the important parts merged into the rest of the story, at little overall cost. And the story is loooooong: fully half again as long (if not more) as the longest Wheel of Time doorstopper. (I have no problem reading long epic fantasy, so this isn't particularly a problem to me [though the glacial increase in percentage read on my Kindle was mildly wearying]. But it is a very slow slog to read the entire thing.) Some of this might be attributable to its basis in fan fiction (though to be clear, I say that almost entirely on the basis of stereotypes, without much direct experience with fanfic myself).
Nonetheless, this is an entirely enjoyable story, as long as you're willing to accept its incredible length. Particularly so if you enjoyed the original Harry Potter (do not read this before reading that -- there are far too many jokes and references that you'll completely miss if you haven't), and especially if you want something a little darker, more systematic, more intelligent, and more adult. (Which is not to say that it exceeds the original: J. K. Rowling is a better writer, her stories' points resonate better, and I think are largely more important and more profound than this story's points.) If you don't typically appreciate hard-SF sorts of literature, tho, you might want to stay away....more