Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne

Harry Potter and the Cursed ChildHarry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts One and Two (Special Rehearsal Edition)

by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne
Series: Harry Potter, #8

Hardcover, 308 pg.
Scholastic, Inc., 2016
Read: September 2, 2016

I went into this with low expectations for a few reasons (negative buzz being one of many), and sadly had them all met — I don’t think anything were exceeded.

This is fan-fiction, pure and simple. Sure, it’s official fan-fiction written in conjunction with Rowling — but it’s not the same series, it doesn’t feel the same. It feels like someone’s trying to recapture what they had, in just a slightly different form. I’m fine with that — if people want to throw money at Rowling, Tiffany and Thorne for doing this? Let them. Let’s just not pretend it’s more than what it is.

The story primarily focuses on Harry and Ginny’s middle child, Albus. Albus is pretty uncomfortable living in the shadow of the Boy Who Lived — he doesn’t like the notoriety or pressure that comes with that territory. Which is absolutely understandable — especially now that he’s at Hogwarts, where Harry’s legend is strongest. Between that, and typical teenager strife with Dad leads Albus to take some really big risks with banned magical technology.

These risks center on time travel — and this is where it lost me. I just can’t stand the kind of stories where someone goes back in time with perfectly good intentions and messes things up, changing the future so much that it’s not recognizable. So then they (or someone else) have to go back in time again to prevent/minimize the damage. And magically, this second (or third) intervention restores everything back to the way it was before the time travelers left. Sure, this is a series in which magical things like that are clearly possible. But there’s possible and too-incredible. It almost doesn’t matter how good this story/execution was, I wouldn’t be crazy about it.

The writing was . . . okay. Nothing spectacular, nothing that had the same …”magic” as the other books in the series. It’s not as bad as many claim — but it’s not as good as others claim either. How some of this can be staged, I just can’t imagine. I’m not saying it can’t be — but wow, that’s a real technical challenge, I’d think.

There were some nice moments, some great fan-service stuff — and I’m very glad I got to meet Scorpius Malfoy. I’d rather spend time with him than any of the rest of the descendants of the original series, there’s something very cool about this kid. I should also mention that there’s some nice father-son moments with Harry and Albus.

On the whole, I’m glad I read this, but I really can’t get crazy about it.

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3 Stars

Non-Fictional Feelings for Fictional Characters

A slightly different post this morning, I’ve been trying some behind-the-scenes work here on the blog this morning — composition, infrastructure, design, etc. The books that I’m overdue to review are hard to write about, I’m plugging away at 4 different reviews right now that I absolutely want to get right , and that’s time-consuming. Also, Grossman’s YOU: A Novel took 2 or 3 days longer to read than I’d expected — worth the time, but it did sort of mess up my schedule. So, like I said. Something different.

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I saw that picture on Grammarly.com‘s facebook page*, and as one does, shared it, which prompted a friend to ask what some of my favorite fictional characters were. I decided to limit the list to fictional characters from books (a. see the picture and b. see this blog), and to characters I had “non-fictional feelings” for — Hannibal Lecter was a favorite (for 2 books, anyway), but I had no emotional attachment to him, or Evanovich‘s Ranger — fun character, but don’t really care about the guy. Here, with added commentary, is my list.

  • Archie Goodwin — this is the name that jumped immediately to mind. Archie’s the big brother I never had — the quick, agile wit; the athleticism; the way with the ladies — and the rest of the things that older brothers so often exemplify to those of us who never had one (on the other hand, we didn’t have to share a bedroom). ‘Course he makes the list.
  • Spenser — it’s almost impossible to spend as much time in a guy’s head as I have Spenser’s (or Archie’s) and not have some sort of emotional bond there. Everything I said about Archie applies here too, actually.
  • Harry Dresden — Chicago’s resident Wizard P. I. He feels like a friend. Hanging with Harry for a night of RPGs, Double Whoppers, and McAnally’s beer sounds ideal.
  • Scout Finch — she’s plucky, honest, a born-reader, and loves her pa (even when she doesn’t understand him). She’s had a soft spot in my heart longer than most of the people on this list.
  • Hermione Granger — sure, her famous buddy still gets all the press. But it’s this brave, clever, stubborn and resourceful gal who’s the most consistent hero in the series — and the one you can count on for genuine emotional moments. (this isn’t to take away anything from Ron, Luna, Albus, Neville, Sirius, Dobby, etc. — but Hermione alone manages to do it in every book in the series)
  • Chet Little / Oberon — it felt like a cheat listing these separately, and it just looked wrong to leave one of them off the list. So…I cheated. Both of these charming gentlemen will win you over within a few pages (in Dog On It and Hounded, respectively), and after you spend a few books with them, they’ll have stolen your heart. They make you laugh, they make you worry — and in Hunted, Oberon commits himself to one of the bravest acts I’ve seen, and choked me up a bit. The humans these guys live with almost make the list just on their testimony.
  • Angela Gennaro — if you hadn’t grown attached to Angie already, especially after Darkness, Take my Hand‘s events, there’s just no way you can’t fall apart with her at the end of Gone, Baby, Gone

Let me hear from you, reader/follower/happener-upon-this-post — who do you have non-fictional feelings for?

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* I looked but couldn’t find the source for this, otherwise I’d have cited it. If you know who should get the credit, please let me know.

Dusted Off: Living with the Top of Our Son’s Head

This is pretty much all we’ve seen over the last week of Frodo. It’s mostly encouraging, but a little strange at the same time.

Frodo, like his siblings, reads more than your average kid–he really has no choice in this household, like I’ve intended it all along (TLomL has intended it, too…probably not as intensely as me).* I should add that it’s not all by coercion, he actually enjoys reading. Granted, he’s not at the level I was at his age, but that’s probably a good thing. He might actually have a social life in a couple of years.

Things changed a week ago, though. After repeated suggestions from his parents over the last few months, he pulled down Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone from the shelf and dove in. I’m not going to be one of the roughly 97 bazillion people to use the line about Rowling casting a spell on him, but…she basically did that. He’s been plowing through them at a rate he’s never hit before–seven days after he started Sorcerer’s Stone, he started in on Half-Blood Prince. Samwise has been following his lead, but not at the same rate.

What’s more, he’s devoted hours to this project–he’s ignored opportunities to play outside, to play video games (not every opportunity, mind you), to do basically everything he normally does so that he can sit with a Potter novel open in front of him.

I do realize that parents all over the world have experience this phenomenon. It’s just great to see this in action. Never would’ve figured the top of his head would be such a great thing to look at (cowlick and all).

* Can I legally call that a sentence? Someone grab a Defibrillator for my inner-editor…

Dusted Off: Dumbledore’s Outing

I’m assuming by now you’ve all heard that J. K. Rowling outed Dumbledore in Australia last week. Now obviously, I’m not going to be excited by this–but I’m not going to use this an excuse to rant about the morality of a fictional character. One of the strengths of the series was that every character was flawed, they all did heroic things (well, except You Know Who and some of his cohort), and they all acted foolishly and immorally. Dumbledore was no exception to this at all. So adding one more sin to his list really doesn’t affect what I think of him.

And that’s what bothers me the most about what Rowling did–it doesn’t really add to, or detract from, the character. There’s one attraction in his youth, apparently unrequited, which has really no affect whatsoever on the events in the series. So was this just Rowling needing to get her name in the headlines again? (not sure I buy that) Her trying to make some sort of political statement? (eh, maybe). I’m not sure, it seems so purposeless, senseless to do this.

Now, is Deckard a Replicant or not? That makes a difference. Is Hobbes really alive or a stuffed toy? That makes a difference. This? I just don’t see how it matters. No more than knowing what third-world country Fez is from.

Then John C. Wright weighs in on the issue, and helps me see another problem with her announcement (Fabio Paolo Barbieri’s comments are great, as well). Potter fans, take a second or and read ’em.

H/T: Thanks, bluewoad for catching the typo.