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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child | review

Harry_Potter_and_the_Cursed_Child_Special_Rehearsal_Edition_Book_Cover

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling, John Tiffany, & Jack Thorne

First off, let me preface this by saying (for those who don’t know): I LOVE Harry Potter. Like so many others, I grew up reading the books, wanted to be Hermione, went to as many midnight releases as I could (both books and movies), instilled a “Harry Potter week” at the camp I used to work for, and even have a Harry Potter tattoo. Harry Potter is life.

Some people hate the continued content J.K. Rowling has put out since publishing the final book but I eat up every little bit, wanting to devour as much of the Wizarding World as I possibly can. Did I think she made a mistake in some of her history of the wizarding world in America? Yes, absolutely. Do I hate that she said (spoiler) Ron and Hermione shouldn’t have ended up together? 100% (R/H is my OTP and I even named my wedding table after them – they were all named after literary couples, so this isn’t as weird as it initially sounds). BUT, any additional information about her fantastic world is welcome to me.

Despite that, I was hesitant to pick up Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I still bought it at midnight (here’s the link to my vlog of that night: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESwSguiwfLQ) and read it first thing in the morning, but I was apprehensive going in. Would she break up my OTP? Did I really want to read about Harry’s humdrum life at the Ministry, about him adulting? Was I ready for adult issues from my favorite, golden trio?

11adf1b0-fd14-0133-805a-0e31b36aeb7fHarry Potter and the Cursed Child picks up with the epilogue of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (a section many fans dislike), with Harry sending off his eldest two children to Hogwarts, and a young Albus is nervous about the sorting.

Here’s where things start to veer from the books, however. The Albus in the Deathly Hallows epilogue seems quiet, nervous, but overall a happy and well adjusted kid. The Albus in Cursed Child is not. This eleven year old boy is conflicted, troubled, and living in a heavy shadow of his father.

And so Cursed Child begins.

The story itself is a fun throwback to Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire (sometimes a little too on the nose), and it’s classic Harry Potter adventuring: kids think they know everything and make decisions that affect the entire wizarding world without consulting adults. We get to explore the effects of the decisions Harry and co. made so many years ago, and see how some of our favorite characters have fared post-Voldemort.

2333The hardest part for me, however, was seeing the trio as adults. It’s been nine years since the last Potter book hit the shelves, but we’re catching up with Harry in today’s timeline. When I read the books growing up, I was aging with Harry (I was 10 when the first book came out and 20 when the final one did), but now, Harry is way past me. He’s in a different stage of life than I am, and I found it harder to relate to him. I’ve never been 40, never had kids; I don’t know the struggles of parenting yet.

I also associate these three as teenagers saving a world that’s bigger than them, so to see them in their boring Ministry jobs and home lives, away from Hogwarts and Voldemort and the thrills (and anguish) that came with it, was difficult. I miss the precarious attitudes and adventures of youth.

The other thing that Cursed Child suffers from is the play format, which did it a bit of a disservice because the limits of the story are constrained by the time and scale, and reading it left something to be desired. Novels allow for nuance, slow build up, strong character development, thoughts, emotions, and details, but plays rely on the actors’ performances and set designs. Cursed Child is already a two part play, and I still feel like so much was skipped over or left out. Plays are meant to be performed, and I think this one is no different. On stage, it’s probably magical and a theatrical wonder, but on the page it’s lacking that dynamic layering that performances can give.

On to spoilery thoughts:

I wasn’t a fan of the reveal that Voldemort secretly had a child. I thought it was way too simple and also out of character for He Who Must Not Be Named, a loveless shell of a man who never cared for anyone other than himself. I just didn’t buy it.

tumblr_oawwevXdqo1uhoadvo1_1280Albus’ sorting into Slytherin and friendship with Scorpius made me happy, however. I thought it could’ve been simple for her to put him in Gyffindor and struggle to live up to Harry’s legacy in his own house, but putting him in Slytherin shook things up. It showed not all Slytherins are evil (finally) and allowed him to sort out his own legacy (even if he made some stupid decisions and I just wanted to shake him half the time). Scorpius is my new favorite character, though, and I’m glad Malfoy got to redeem himself.

The time travel element felt cheap to me, but it was a good way to bridge the stories of Harry and Albus together, to bring readers/viewers in, and it also allowed for the idea that every death and detail in the original story is important, that without each of those elements, time would have moved in a very different way. Death, particularly of the innocent, is hard on those around it, and sometimes we can’t get over it, but that might be the reason the war is won.

This meddling with time also just proved how much Ron and Hermione are right for one another, despite Rowling’s later admission. Every time time tried to rip them apart, they always found one another in the end (even if Ron’s character was very much a comic relief and pushed to the side for Harry and Hermione to run the world… he read more like Steve Kloves’ version of Ron rather than Rowlings). As this was one of my biggest concerns going into the book, I’m grateful Rowling kept with the canon, despite her misgivings.

End spoilery thoughts

Overall, it’s Harry Potter. Although I may not have felt that same rush I felt when reading the original seven, I was still giddy and excited to return to the world and characters I love so much. The characters – old and new – were wonderful, and the story was a reminder of why I fell in love in the first place.

Harry Potter has always been about relationships, being true to yourself, and finding a light in the darkness, and Cursed Child is exactly that.

So despite my misgivings, I absolutely loved it and am happy to have another Harry Potter story on my shelf.

Can someone buy me tickets to the stage show (and a ticket to London)? Now I really want to go. 😉

5/5 stars

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Just Kidding, J.K.

Romeo and Juliet. Bella and Edward. Katniss and Peeta. Ron and Hermione. All of these epitomize true love and are the kinds of relationships readers fall in love with. In the case of Ron and Hermione, author J.K. Rowling spent seven books developing the relationship from friends to lovers.
harry-potter-hermione-ron

When a book is published, the story and facts established are then known as canon, or an absolute truth. In early February, Rowling upset many fans with her anti-canonical comments in an interview with Hermione actress Emma Watson.

She claims she “wrote the Hermione-Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment,” and that “for reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron.” She goes on to say the couple would have needed marriage counseling and that “in some ways Hermione and Harry are a better fit.”

The young witch and wizard started on less-than-stellar terms, as Hermione was an “insufferable know it all,” and Ron an insecure sidekick to the famous Harry Potter, but they eventually became friends and the trio of Ron, Harry, and Hermione was born. In book four, The Goblet of Fire, Hermione was asked to the Yule Ball by Viktor Krum, an act that ensnares Ron with jealousy and ruins Hermione’s night. In the fifth book, The Order of the Phoenix, Ron and Hermione’s friendship blossoms without Harry. Finally, in The Deathly Hallows, a year spent on the run from Voldemort and his cronies, was full of the most tension between the two, with Ron even leaving his friends for a time, leaving the opportunity for Harry and Hermione to come together. But they didn’t. Ron returned, and in the midst of saving the wizarding world, Ron and Hermione finally came together as a couple. As it should be.

hermione-harry-j.k.-rowling-interviewFor an author who claims she was mistaken, the evidence for the “wish fulfilled” relationship is strong. Harry and Hermione have always been friends, and nothing more. Screenwriter for the Harry Potter movie series, Steve Kloves, constantly undermined Ron’s importance and focused on the other two of the trio.

Ron is the sixth of seven children. He has grown up with hand-me-downs and a life of trying to outshine his successful older siblings. His best friend is the most famous wizard of their generation. For once, Ron would like to stand out from the shadows. For him, that means winning Hermione, the girl whose heart guides him to happiness and away from poor decisions.

If an author writes something, has it published, and legions of fans adoring it, that something becomes part of canon. Despite the author’s feelings afterward, the canon has been established, and fans accept it as that. To announce seven years after the final book was published that she changed her mind is ludicrous, and fans are upset.

Perhaps Rowling’s backtracking hesitancy was brought on by similar relationships and realizations in her own life, but who’s to say Ron and Hermione would suffer the same fate as the muggles influencing them?

Despite her reasons, Rowling should learn to keep her opinions to herself. If she wants Harry and Hermione to end up together, she should join the fan fiction writers and write her new ending anonymously.

Ron and Hermione forever.

 

 

***originally published in the April 11 edition of The Southerner.

Camp is for Nerds! (Good Thing I Am One!)

Rather than write a summary of this past summer’s camp season at iD Tech @ University of Miami, I figured I’d just show you the best parts…

I had lightsaber battles
I danced the Time Warp (and many, many other dances)
I auditioned for The Walking Dead (okay, not really, but how cool would that have been!?)
I became the Dark Knight
…and of course The Smartest Witch of Her Age
I took pretty pictures of campus
…and lots and lots of animals
I DIDN’T get eaten by a crocodile, because I heeded this sign
I was pied for my sixth time
I was turned into a Rainbow Unicorn Centaur
And was a member of a boyband, No Direction (find our video on my Videos Page!)

And of course there were typical camp activities going on… videos made, games played (and made), lots and lots of coffee, campers taught, LOTS of dance parties (including solo ones to “Taking the Hobbits to Isengard“), and always, a ton of fun. Here’s to next summer!

Let’s Run Around With Balls and Brooms!

One of the great things about living in Richmond is the proximity of VCU and UofR, and the therein abundance of hipsters and nerds. This is nice for 2 reasons:
1. As I am somewhat of a hipster nerd, I don’t super stand out, but can still find all my hipsterific needs, like sunglasses, thrift stores, Trader Joes, etc.
2. I am not the only Harry Potter witch-nerd in the area…

MUGGLE QUIDDITCH!!!

It makes me so incredibly upset that this sport became popular at the college level AFTER I graduated (not that UNCW even has a team, but by Gods, I would’ve made one had the League been around…). So while I don’t get to play (except at camp), Boy and I did take the opportunity of VCU’s Quidditch season to watch a match.

This is what I discovered:

  • WM is not very good, but mainly because of this one player, Joe, who didn’t seem to understand anything about the sport and had to be repeatedly told by the captain/coach what to do.
  • VCU has a really large team, but who I thought was their best player didn’t seem to be utilized.
  • I’m still not sure what the rules are regarding the Snitch…
  • This is a sport that brings together people of all types: the non-athletic nerds involved because of Harry Potter; the athletes that want to try something new; and a combination of the two.
  • I want to play.

100 Things That Make Me Happy

One of the many (101 to be exact) items on my 101/1001 list is to make a 100 Things That Make Me Happy list. I discovered recently that I’d started this list some time ago, but only got to the 60’s before I gave up. Upon re-reading of this original list, I decided not only would I finish it, but I would revamp it as well, adding new things and taking away the ones that didn’t seem relevant anymore (like “when a boy calls you for no reason”).

See the complete list after the jump:

Continue reading 100 Things That Make Me Happy

Big Lights Will Inspire You

Part II

Since we spent all day Friday waiting in line for tickets and then sleeping off hangovers and sleeplessness, we planned Saturday as our “tourist” day – waking up pseudo-early and finding Carrie Bradshaw’s Greenwich Village apartment, then finding the “Love” statue, buying scarves and hats, walking down Fifth Ave and into Times Square, armed with cameras and stopping in stores along the way.

It’d been about six years since I’d last been to New York, so the paving over of Times Square was new for me… and what a good idea! Too bad TRL and it’s consistent blocking of the roads died (and with it, the last music videos of MTV), but it’s still a madhouse of people now, rather than cars.

By pure chance, we happened on the Discovery Center’s Harry Potter Exhibition and knew we had no choice but to cough up the $25. Despite the line to get in, and the overpriced photos that photoshop you in front of Hogwarts, once we entered pure joy overcame me.

The exhibit starts by walking down a hallway lined with movie posters of each Harry film, and then into a room of numerous television screens, where they play a Harry Potter tribute, with different images on alternating screens. Watching the montage of the last ten years, I jumped up and down with giddiness and couldn’t stop smiling. Next, everyone was ushered into the next room, where a witch with a Sorting Hat was waiting, and she asked for volunteers to try their luck with the Hat. Naturally, I raised my hand, but it being a “kid’s” exhibit, I was beaten out by three boys who all chose Gryffindor. Fail.

And then, a walk into the World of Harry Potter, with the Hogwarts Express steaming and props and costumes from the movie out in the open for all to see and admire. Let me tell you, I didn’t care about all the people crowding around me, I was lost in the world, and wish I could’ve spent hours there, reading and examining every little detail… but sadly, the line had to keep moving.

In the gift shop, however, I did finally buy my wand… Hermione’s (naturally), and resisted the urge to drop $200 (that I definitely don’t have) on a Gryffindor Robe and $100 on the Gryffindor sweater… one day…

And then came time to prepare for yet more waiting. We made our way back to Broadway around 9, where we staked our claim at the front of the barricades, entertaining the crowds as they slowly filled in around us… and making fun of the teenage girls who had “VIP” access inside the barricades but outside the door, who brought Hershey’s Kisses (with a note) for Dan. Gag.

We met John Larroquette and other members of the cast, and then… Daniel came out, amongst a mix of screaming and hushedly-excited girls. Autograph-hounds asked him to sign DVDs, and he ignored the item, claiming, “Not when you’re selling it, Dude.” The girl behind me complimented him, telling Dan he was awesome, and in a dreamlike state, I echoed her, hearing his bumbling thank you, and as he did so, he glanced upward and did a double-take, telling me, “Nice hat, by the way”.

The rest of the night was spent in a giddy stupor, calling everyone I know (only one person picked up, and the others told me later they were glad they didn’t) and reliving that moment. It’s become my “Happy Place” at work when Jellyfish screams an inch away from my face, and I ordered a frame for my signed Playbill.

I know he’s just an actor and not actually Harry Potter, but seeing as how the “real” Harry is a fictional character whom I have no chance of ever meeting in this world, Daniel is the closest I can come (besides maybe J.K. Rowling), and that moment will live on, next to the framed Hanson autograph and photos, my two passions hung neatly, side by side.

Like I do everytime I see Hanson live, I’ve been bitten and have already begun planning a return trip this summer.

Two Great Passions

Foreward to “These streets will make you feel brand new, big lights will inspire you” (coming up after these messages!)

I have two great passions in my life – Hanson, and Harry Potter. I fell in love with both during that first decade of my life, and both have been consistent presences ever since. Both make up a large portion of who I am, and to fully understand me, you need to understand them. Even my own mother does not “get it;” she thinks these are passing obsessions via the likes of *NSYNC, Star Wars, Peter Pan (all of which I still love but no longer devote to). She has yet to even finish reading all the Harry Potter books (much less the movies) or attend a Hanson concert (though she will listen to songs when I play them for her).

For me, Hanson defines passion. They put so much into their music, and have fought so hard to continue making it, and that love comes through in every lyric and stroke of the piano. They are constantly fighting against perceptions and connotations, associations with “mmmbop” and the fact they became famous as pre-teens whose voices hadn’t yet dropped. I have grown up listening to their music, hearing the changes that come with maturity – both emotionally and musically – and relating them to the emotions tormenting me.

I met Hanson, in particularly Zac, in 2005 outside of a show – the first show of theirs I’d seen since 1997 and become an adult. The moment was life-changing and brought my childhood and adulthood together. To actually meet the man I obsessed over, my first love, who I’d listened to countless times and stared longingly at posters of, was surreal, and I felt my life was complete in many ways. He is still the man I consider my “ideal,” though I am mature enough now to realize the reality of life. 

Harry Potter is a different kind of love. I read the first story and immediately fell in love. In fact, when I read it now, over a decade later, I can still remember the way I felt reading the words for the first time. I still become enraptured with the characters, the wonder, the magic of it all. Like Hanson, I grew up with Harry Potter. My generation, and those a few years younger, were roughly the same age as Harry and followed his journey, relating to the emotions and turmoil like no one else could, because we were living it. I waited impatiently between book releases, scooping them up at midnight and reading them in a single sitting. Harry represented so much of what I wanted to be, and his battles became my own.

This summer I started working at a technology camp, where every week we lived a different theme – Greek Mythology, The Last Airbender, and Harry Potter. I pulled together a Hermione costume and we transformed the camp, complete with Muggle Quidditch, a Sorting Hat and House Cup, and Wizard Duels. As instructors, we carried wands and cast spells, handing out raffle tickets tocampers who “performed” them for us. (For instance, if we yelled “Lumos!” and a camper turned the lights on, he or she was given tickets). Essentially, we lived Harry Potter for two weeks.

Since then, my costume has grown – thanks to Halloween, movie marathons and premieres, and Dress Up as Your Favorite Literary Character days at work – and I find excuses to wear the costume whenever possible. This summer, my fellow Harry-loving instructor (who would be made fun of with me for our incessantconversations while the boys talked about programming and/or sports, depending on the person) and I are moving to a different camp location, and are bringing Harry with us.

So you understand the magnitude of my meeting Daniel Radcliffe, the boy who grew up as Harry Potter, after over a decade of loyalty, and the excitement when he looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Nice hat, by the way.”