Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts One and Two (Harry Potter, #8)
Author: Jack Throrne, J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany

Info: Little, Brown UK, copyright 2016, 343 pages

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn't much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted.  As part and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

~Goodreads Description

So.  Yeah.

I've started reviews out like that before, I know, but this one.  Well.  Yeah.

I didn't love it.  Not even sure I even liked it.  But I didn't hate it.

When it comes to Harry Potter, I've always had the ability to separate the books from, well, the rest of it.  I loved the movies.  I loved the books.  But I loved the movies differently than I loved the books.  I never got worked up when something was left out, and I was able to accept changes made for the purpose of filmmaking.  It's about storytelling, and different mediums demand different types of stories.  I think I loved the movies as much as I loved the books because I could see the book characters in the movies.  They were connected.  Maybe not perfect representations, but the heart of each character was the same.

And then there is Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.  A new medium.  A new type of storytelling.  And a new story, which complicates things.  It takes into consideration (sort of) the context of our favorite character's lives, but it forgets the characters themselves.  And that was my biggest problem with the story.  I didn't "see" the characters that I had come to love in this story.  They were identified by name, but that was really it.  They were paper characters that lost their verve, their wit and their heart.  Hermione was reduced to either a spineless administrator or spinster.  Ron became a ridiculous parody of himself.  And Snape and Dumbledore were forced into confessions that I don't really believe they would have ever really offered.  And that's just naming a few.

On the plus side, you get a Draco Malfoy who has been changed by his experiences and a Scorpius who redeems him in a sense.  (I kind of really liked the Malfoys.  A lot.  And definitely a lot more than I liked any of the "good" characters).

There's so much more that could be said about this story, and so much more that has already been said about this story.  And maybe it comes across differently on a stage, with an audience.  But in this format, it's definitely missing what I loved most about Harry Potter and his friends.

What did you think?  Did you love it?  Did you hate it?  Do you accept it as is?  I'd love to hear!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Top 10 Long Overdue TBR Books

Top Ten Long Overdue TBR Books
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

Feels sssooo good to be blogging again :)  I was a little under the weather last week, and focusing on anything was kind of out of the question.  But I'm back, and totally ready to talk about ten books way overdue on my to-be-read list.  That list is about 600 books long, so picking ten was no big deal.  There just never seems to be enough time.  Or there always seems to be something different to read.  But perhaps I'll make that a priority next year.  Knock a few of the books off the list.  Or I suppose there might be time this year to tackle these particular ten.

What's on your list?  Any of these you highly recommend?

Happy reading!!

The Luxe (Luxe, #1)
1) The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

Little Brother
2) Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Mister Pip
3) Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones

The Road
4) The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Boneshaker (The Clockwork Century, #1)
5) Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

Pulse (Pulse, #1)
6) Pulse by Patrick Carman

Lair of Dreams (The Diviners, #2)
7) Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

The River of No Return
8) The River of No Return by Bee Ridgeway

The Rithmatist (Rithmatist, #1)
9) The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

The Unbound (The Archived, #2)
10) The Archived by Victoria Schwab

Thursday, August 11, 2016

A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War

A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-18Author: Joseph Loconte
Info: Thomas Nelson, copyright 2015, 256 pages

The First World War laid waste to a continent and permanently altered the political and religious landscape of the West. For a generation of men and women, it brought the end of innocence—and the end of faith. Yet for J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, the Great War deepened their spiritual quest. Both men served as soldiers on the Western Front, survived the trenches, and used the experience of that conflict to ignite their Christian imagination. Had there been no Great War, there would have been noHobbit, no Lord of the Rings, no Narnia, and perhaps no conversion to Christianity by C. S. Lewis.

Unlike a generation of young writers who lost faith in the God of the Bible, Tolkien and Lewis produced epic stories infused with the themes of guilt and grace, sorrow and consolation. Giving an unabashedly Christian vision of hope in a world tortured by doubt and disillusionment, the two writers created works that changed the course of literature and shaped the faith of millions. This is the first book to explore their work in light of the spiritual crisis sparked by the conflict.

~Goodreads Description

This came highly recommended by my father who took forever to read it because he needed to "contemplate" for awhile after each chapter :)  I get it.  The book is filled with ideas, philosophies, and explanations that get to the heart of two authors and their incredible work, and it was a read I might not have picked up on my own.

Joseph Loconte doesn't present a history of Tolkien and Lewis, and it's not a lesson on World War I.  The book felt a lot like the assignments I connected with the most in college - using historical context to better understand the life of an individual, or in this case, their literary works.  How did the war experiences influence the narrative?  What were the prevailing philosophies during early-20th century Britain?  And how did those philosophies find their way into Middle Earth and Narnia?  (Sidenote that is only interesting to myself...but this here is my blog so I'm sharing anyway...I wrote a paper in college connecting the historical context of yeoman in the 15th century with the ballads of Robin Hood that appeared around that time and vice versa.  It was kind of fun with a similar intent :) )

The discussion that I found most intriguing was toward the beginning of the book.  Loconte explains the impact the Industrial Revolution had not only on Britain, but the war, and as a result, soldiers fighting in the war.  The warfare in WWI was a new brutality.  Men could be killed quicker and in larger numbers in unbelievably horrific ways.  A result of new technologies and mass production.

While the conversation eventually goes on to discuss the impact on Tolkien and Lewis's views of fear, courage, and death and how those views are displayed throughout their works, it was statement Locate made about progress that struck me (and reminded me of Jurassic Park - cause it wouldn't be an Emily review if a book didn't remind me of a movie).  During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, people were so enamored with the fact that they could, that they seemingly didn't stop to think about the ultimate consequence.  Bigger weapons, tanks, airplanes, bombs, biological warfare - it was all possible and brought power (the "myth of progress" discussed throughout the book), but the death toll and terror was beyond imagine.

John Hammond: I don't think you're giving us our due credit. Our scientists have done things which nobody's ever done before... 
Dr. Ian Malcolm: Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should.

That line in Jurassic Park always stuck with me.  And while I've taken it out of context a bit, I feel like the intent is the same and can be considered about new technologies, scientific advances, and "ease of use" that see today.  Yes it's possible, but should we, should it worth it?

While I've read The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia, I've never really read much about the men who created them.  I knew Lewis was an atheist, but I didn't really know the part that Tolkien played in guiding him toward Christianity.  I knew they would get together to philosophize and share their work, but I didn't understand how close these two men became.  And it makes me wonder if people ever get together now, in the 21st century, to talk about philosophy and religion.  To debate and discuss civily.  To stretch their understanding of the human condition, to find their own truth.  I hope so, because the genius that can come out of those conversations can change the literary world forever.

They were two men shaped by war.  And in the end, those experiences have left a legacy in the stories they wrote.  And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to Middle Earth again to do my best to see the world, and Samwise Gamgee, through the eyes of Tolkien.

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