Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Cursed Child by JK Rowling

Image result for cursed child bookOriginally, I didn't give Cursed Child that much thought. A few of my friends who live in the U.K got tickets to see the play, which I was insanely jealous about, but I figured I would hear it from them about how good it was and then move on with my life.

When it was revealed that The Cursed Child was going to be released as a book, my first thought was... 'that's odd. Isn't it a play?' Sure, we read plays all the time. It's the bulk of our English classes in high school and college. However, I don't go out and purchases plays to read for fun. I like seeing them but the phenomenon of reading plays are reserved for Shakespeare.

But, I was a bit curious to read what the contents were, especially since the play opened, and the play date of my friends to go see the it draws nearer and nearer. I received the book for my 1st wedding anniversary, so even if the book blew, it would still hold a special place in my heart.

I managed to stay away from all the think pieces and reviews of the book, and so when I read it, my initial knee jerk reaction was that... it was awesome. I took it for face value, I imagined seeing the play while I read it, I loved the characters and I thought that JK Rowling did exactly what she wanted to do, she wrote a sequel using a new medium to do it.

Even though I still maintain that JK Rowling never intended to write anything else after the books, or else she would have given Harry's kids better names, (Come on, Sirius? Hagrid? Anyone else?) I thought the characterization of Scorpio (another terrible name) and Albus were great. Both in Slytherin, both act heroic, like Slytherins are also capable of doing. I thought, the time turners, and the multiple possible universes were entertaining and gave the Potterverse a unique spin. Did I expect it to be exact? No. But the point of play wasn't to follow canon exactly. It's to entertain.

But man, fans are the worst.  I know everyone is entitled to their opinion. However, did people lose everything they were taught in high school English? Have they not matured as an adult at all? Doesn't anyone remember how to read a play?

I've read many fan critiques of how this wasn't a sequel, there wasn't any magic, Harry said things he would have never said, blah blah blah... I want to remind everyone that in this PLAY that was co-wrote with 2 of the most famous playwrights and show producers today, Harry is 40 years old. He spent a good part of his life doing more stressful things, holding down a very stressful job, being a husband and then learning how to be a father... you know, generally growing up and learning how to be a person. Many fans have stated that telling Albus that he was never his son was something Harry would never do. How do you know what you'll never do? How can you be the same person at 18 to 40? Did everyone forget how awful he was during the 5th book? Finally, it wasn't like Harry said something, and then refused to take it back. By the end of the play, they reconciled in a meaningful way that could only tackle the issue of being Harry's son.

This play about relationships and about growing up. This is about Albus' future, how he connects to it and how, being the son of one of the most famous wizards in the world, he becomes his own person. I'm not sure how that theme turned into a "a terrible sequel" but then again, super fans of all genres don't like it when their fictional universe expands in a way they didn't intended.

Fans, it's not yours. It was never yours. It's JK Rowling's world and we are just lucky to experience it.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Discworld #1, Rincewind: The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett's books have been in the peripheral of my "to read" books for a long time. I didn't really grow up with him, so when he passed away, many of my friends were devastated (he's a national hero in Britain), but since at that moment I hadn't read any of his stuff, I didn't feel a connection to him since I hadn't read any of his books. But the devastation (which was on the level that I presume will be my devastation when JK Rowling eventually passes away) peaked my curiosity, and when Josh and I joined the library, I thought now would be a good time to read some of his stuff.

Currently I have not acquired book number 2 of the series, (though I've read you don't have to read them in order, however, I'm not sure if my OCD can handle that), which is the only downside of the public library. Lots of holds and a lot of waiting.

Nevertheless, I am really excited to read through the rest of the series. Before I read the book, some of the reviews praised the creation and the utilization of Discworld and how innovative Pratchett was with hatching out and exploring Discworld. As someone who enjoys world building, fantasy and science fiction, it's very easy to find patterns in how authors create these worlds based off of trends in the market place. Dystopian "the one" novels (Hunger Games, Divergent, etc.), suffering vampires (Anne Rice, Twilight, Vampire Academy, etc.), so on and so forth. Discworld does not follow trends and there seems to be nothing else like it, even now, even years after this was written.

I was under the grave assumption that Discworld was a YA novel, so therefore, I had to work harder to understand what the heck was going on in the first 20 pages than I had all of Rick Riordan's YA book series... and Hunger Games combined.

However, once I got the hang of Pratchett's style and wit, which is inherently British (and therefore, made bit a bit homesick for Britain), I thought it was creative and funny. The Color of Magic follows two characters, a failed wizard and the first tourist to ever come to Ankh-Morpork, Twoflower and Rincewind, the wizard who failed out of magic school and only knows 1 magic spell (that will essentially end the world if he ever utters it). The bumbling pair, one plagued by ineptitude and the other by FOMO, get into all kinds of shenanigans where they almost died, but also, see a lot of Discworld that either of them never seen before (Rincewind does not care to see it, but Twoflower is elated too).

It's colorful, inventive and Pratchett does not waste a word. Those who've read the other books in the series state that there are much better books, but this one is good. I was entertained and I can't wait to read the others.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Which is Better? The Maze Runner

Finally! This post series is back! The movie was on HBOGO for a while, but then was taken off, and now it was put back again! It was a double feature of this movie and Scorch Trials (which will be discussed in another post), and I was very much entertained by The Maze Runner.

I was very pleased with the adaptation of the novel. The Maze Runner was a straightforward YA dystopian novel where the end of the world happened, but it's a mystery through the eyes of a young protagonist. Usually YA have a female protagonist (the one) but this time it's a guy.

Who has the personality of a foot, but we'll continue on.

The characters are expertly cast with Thomas as the blandly handsome one who the audience is supposed to identify with and Mr. GOT and Love Actually as Newt. He has definitely 12 year old face but since they were looking for young actors, he suited the role. It took me a moment to recognize the actor for Alby (Sens8), but he did a really good job of playing "younger."

I thought the maze, the glade and and the Grievers were really well imagined. Dashner wrote vague enough so that the reader could imagine it in their own way, and the movie also rendered something that's not offensive. The maze is imposing and confusing with lots of foliage and dead ends, though I wish they kept in the parts where Thomas outruns the Griever and climbs up the vines, and then the Griever learns and follows him the second time.

Much of the book was condensed in the movie, but the major plot points were hit. It was even a bit suspenseful because even the movie altered some of the action scenes in the book to just major ones.  

I wonder if The Maze Runner would have been better as a TV show. I understand that it was a movie, but a lot of the personal relationships and the strengthening of these friendships fell by the side, so when that pivotal moment when Chuck jumps in front of Thomas and sacrifices his life for Tom, you don't really feel the awfulness that you do in the book. It would have been more emotionally wrecking to build up that connection to Alby, and him being ripped from the reader's hands two/thirds of the way through the book.

I really liked the way they characterized Gally. Someone who wants order and believes in how things have always been done, but isn't necessarily a bad person. 

Before I saw the movie, I couldn't imagine why, or how they would change the book for the movie, since it was pretty action packed and clearly visualized. Sure, there were some things that were changed and sped up, but overall, pretty good.