Tuesday, August 2, 2016

HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD - spoilers ahead

If you haven't seen the play in London, the only place you can currently see it, or you have not read the book/script, then you should go find something else to read. Don't say I didn't warn you.

I went to the midnight release at my favorite local Barnes and Noble, the same store where I bought my first Harry Potter books and the one where I bought all the remaining ones from Goblet of Fire through Deathly Hallows. When I bought that last book, I went alone. Everyone else had to work, so I was there with a lot of excited strangers. The store (and the parking lot) were full.

For the latest Harry Potter book, it was sort of the same; I went by myself, hung out in the cafe and waited till midnight. And there were people there, just not as many - maybe 100 or a little less. I didn't check in to get a place in line until about 10 pm, and I was number 17. So . . . not the same level of excitement.

My excitement wasn't really very high either, nor were my expectations. I did read a spoiler kind of review just the day before the release. I guess I wanted to keep myself from feeling a big let down. It's not something I did with any of the other books. I wanted to find out for myself, without the slant from someone else, what was in the new book.

I was home by 12:20 am, took time to get comfortable, fix a cup of tea and settle down on the sofa for an hour or so of reading. (I can't do the stay-up-all-night reading sessions anymore -- LOL.)

First of all, this is a play, and it is a script. They are just harder to read than a book. A play is meant to be watched, heard, experienced with people on a stage and you in the audience. So, it's always just a bit odd to read a play. But I found that that wasn't my biggest issue.

The characters are familiar; the setting is familiar (it starts with a revisiting to the epilogue from Deathly Hallows). That's a good way to start anyway. Harry and Draco's sons meet on the train and become fast friends. So far, that's kind of nice and interesting, even though it's clear Harry and Draco still don't like each other.

There are some complications with Amos Diggory, who clearly is still mourning the loss of his son. And then there is his niece, who from the beginning seems a bit off, though it's hard to see what. So far, that kind of misdirection is something in keeping with Rowling's writing. What is out of character is some of the dialogue. It just doesn't always fit or have the right feel. It's almost like the writers, who were not Rowling, are trying too hard. Sort of like the kind of writing in much of the fan fiction that has been out there for years.

Ah, finally, I have come to my biggest complaint about this new Harry Potter book. It reads and feels much more like fan fiction than like something that Rowling would write. I'm quite surprised that she agreed to it, actually.

The two sons, Albus and Scorpio go off on an adventure to fix the past with the use of a Time Turner by going back to change the outcome of the Triwizard Tournament in Goblet of Fire. The Time Turners weren't all destroyed after all in the Battle of Hogwarts. The use of the Time Turner in Prisoner of Azkaban was limited, even though it was used by Hermione throughout the book. We just weren't along for the adventure until she used it with Harry. But this new play makes extensive use and misuse of the Time Turner. It's too much, too contrived.

It also turns out that Harry can get as frustrated with a grumpy teenager as the rest of us. I wasn't too bothered by his lack of perfect parenting, though Harry in the play doesn't fit with the parent/Harry that we see at the end of Deathly Hallows. Of course, Albus was younger then.

I'm not going through scene by scene, too confusing, too repetitious, and I've only read through it once over a long weekend. I was glad that the story resolved the way it did in the end. There were some nice moments with all the characters. I'm sure that as a play it's much better than it was as a script with me reading to myself. From some of the stage directions, I'm curious how they pulled off the special effects; if they managed it, it would indeed be very impressive and probably accounts for the very good reviews from the audience.

Rowling said that after we read the play we would understand why it had to be a play and not a book. No, I don't. I don't know why this couldn't have been written as a book, but it would need to have been written by her, not someone else.

She has also said that this is the final Harry Potter story. I really hope she sticks by that. It should have ended with Deathly Hallows. The Epilogue, whether people like it or not (and I did), tied up enough of the loose ends about the main characters. We really didn't need anymore.

I'm glad I read it. I'm glad I have the book so I can re-read it at some time in the future. I will probably never see the play even if it comes to a theater near me, and that's a distinct possibility since I live close to Seattle. But the story is just not compelling enough that I want to spend a lot more time with it. I have read and re-read all the original Harry Potter books so many times I have lost count. Every time I read through one, I find something new or rediscover something I'd forgotten. This latest book/script, that Rowling embraced but didn't write, just didn't reach into my heart and soul the way the first seven did. Seven was, after all, such a magical number.




Friday, December 28, 2012

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I and II

When I opened this Christmas present from my husband, I was extremely happy and a little bit sad. I commented to him that it's the last time he will buy a Harry Potter movie for me. It's really the last time I'll buy much that's Harry Potter - I'm sure that Warner Brothers and the book publishers won't like the sound of that, but honestly, how many copies of the books, the audio books, or the movies does one person need?

I already have all the books in hardback and paperback versions, well read to be sure but in fairly decent condition. (There were a couple of books I replaced after I read them over and over and loaned them to my daughters who read them over and over and they finally fell apart.)

I have all the Stephen Fry audio books of Harry Potter and listen to them all the time. And now I have all the Utimate Editions of all eight movies. I love having all the deleted scenes and extra content, but I don't need the versions that come in a special box or anything else they will come up with in the future. Enough is enough.

To be honest, I was kind of expecting this particular gift. The one that took me by surprise is the book, edited by Travis Prinzi, Harry Potter for Nerds: Essays for Fans, Academics, and Lit Geeks. Cool.

My husband, Terry, who knows a lot about Harry even though he hasn't read any of the books and has only seen four or five of the movies, asked why I listen to the audio books all the time. I listen when I'm going to sleep. I started thinking about it and I think it goes back to my childhood. I've never fallen asleep easily, unlike Terry. I liked being read to as a child, I loved reading to our daughters when they were children but found that sometimes I was the one who got sleepy. There is something soothing and relaxing to me about someone reading to me. Listening to a book when I know the story so well lets me fall asleep quickly. It's different than listening to music. If the music is instrumental, I find myself keeping time to the music. If someone is singing, I want to sing along and pay so much attention to the words that I'm more wide awake than when I crawled under the covers.

A special gift indeed - one that I will cherish for years to come. And now it's time to find my place in Chamber of Secrets on my mp3 player where I fell asleep last night - just as soon as I finish my tea and have one more piece of Christmas fudge.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pottermore . . . and more

I'm not sure why I didn't post this back in April, 2012, when I wrote it, but I didn't. A little late, but there you go. Sometimes it just works out that way.This should really be posted before the one below, but I can't seem to change the date so it ends up in the right place. Hmmm.

Errol did arrive last fall and I thoroughly enjoyed my time on Pottermore in Beta - except for the times that my potion melted my cauldron even though I had followed all the steps. Or the times that all my comments went into moderation because . . .  Well, I never did figure out why my comments were moderated. I wonder if my account has been flagged because I'm over the age of 12. I finally fixed that irritation by just not commenting any more. I love the look of the site and the extra content from J.K. Rowling. But then the site was down for quite a while in the late fall and I got busy with other things. Before that I had been spending at least some time (sometimes a LOT of time) on Pottermore every day.

Our family had a busy fall with things that were more important than the time I could spend on Pottermore - shocking, I know, but there it is. And then it was Christmas and the New Year. About the time Pottermore was again available we had a nasty snow storm and lost power for a day and a half. I went back through all the chapters of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's (Philosopher's) Stone to see the changes. They aded sound and it does make it a lot better, but I couldn't see that anything else had changed.

I'm very happy that I was sorted into Hufflepuff. At first I tried to add to the House points, but I started watching the jumps in points and it seemed clear that people were cheating. I expected that they would fix it by making everyone start earning point at the beginning once Pottermore opened to everyone. But they didn't, so the points are always going to be off. That has taken the fun out of it for me so I don't really care much about trying to earn points anymore. Maybe it's an age thing, but cheating to win is just not something I tolerate.

After that, Terry and I were getting ready for a trip to Hawaii in March. When we came back we just had other things to do so I've not gone back to spending time on Pottermore every day. When they released the eBooks for all the Harry Potter books, I bought the set the first day for my Nook. I'm delighted. I'm looking forward now to the time when we can explore Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on Pottermore. So I will spend time there again when each book is added. Now that the Beta period is over, they have improved it, but it still has glitches (like my exploding cauldron). I haven't tried the comments again and probably won't.

Rowling has updated her personal web site. Actually, it's completely changed. I kind of miss the old one with all the things to do to get the information. But the new one makes sense as she has announced that her first non-Harry book will be out in the fall. It's The Casual Vacancy. I'm looking forward to it. It sounds like it will be a book full of interesting characters and that's what I liked best about all the Harry Potter books.

I still read/listen to all my Harry Potter books. They are like an old friend and I enjoy the visits. But I've been reading other things in the last few years just as I always have. In a way, I have moved on, but there is something about the writing and the stories in all the Harry Potter books that keeps me from moving away from the books. I just don't have as much to say as I once did.

I'll be back when I read Rowling's new book, even though it's not a Harry Potter book or when there are new things to explore on Pottermore.

In the meantime, keep reading - I know I will.

Pat