Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a play by Jack Thorne, John Tiffany, and J.K. Rowling

Hello readers!

First of all I know this is SUPER late considering when this book came out in July of this year.

Second of all, wow.

As someone who grew up reading and cherishing the Harry Potter series, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from The Cursed Child. As it turns out, the play is short, snappy, and uses wit like a fine garnish on your favourite dinner. The characters are more or less as I remembered them, so it was almost like visiting old friends who’d grown up rather a lot.

As far as the plot goes, it’s easy to follow and keeps your interest. I managed to get through it all in the equivalent of a day, which is record breaking in terms of speed for me. It explored a lot of facets that the original series didn’t quite get the chance to cover – most notably an alternate world where Voldemort’s forces prevailed during The Battle of Hogwarts – , and it was definitely refreshing to get the take of other writers. The Cursed Child wasn’t written purely by Rowling, although she did have major say in how the play was not only performed but constructed. Tiffany and Thorne are both prolific playwrights and directors, and their experience really shows in the way that the characters are delivered to the stage. The humour is emphasised, expressiveness is key, and their skills combined with Rowling’s familiarity with the world and her characters makes for a spectacular combination to bring everything to life. I found myself laughing at the wit of Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy, following the two unlikely friends through their world almost like I had their parents, who had grown into fine adults. It’s that sense of magical charm and wonder which has been so carefully preserved that makes The Cursed Child so enjoyable, and the same reason I’d gladly read it again for many years to come.

All of that said, though, a few things still niggle at me when I think back on it. First of all, Ron. Something seemed a little off about him and I wasn’t quite sure what it was. He always seemed too eager to be funny, trying too hard to fit into a world where he already belonged. That had never quite been the case with his younger version, even after the events of The Half Blood Prince and The Deathly Hallows. Harry seemed perhaps a little too neurotic, too. Of course it’s to be expected after what happened during the series, but there’s only so much creative liberty you can take with a set of characters which are so well established in the minds of their fan base and readers all across the world. Finally, the method of scene presentation – the constant jumping between time periods, the lack of a linear flow, and multiple use of flashbacks – was a little jarring for the purposes of the play, and perhaps could have been handled with more fluidity.

The Cursed Child is definitely getting a permanent home on my bookshelf next to its brethren. It’s a solid read with a fast pace, a gripping plot, and – I won’t lie – just a hint of nostalgia which is more than welcome in these post-Potter years. If you’d been dubious about reading it because of stage reviews, throw caution to the wind. It’s worth the time.

That’s it from me for now, until next time!

AdmiralCarter

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Review: Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake (SPOILERS)

Hello readers!

So I very recently finished reading through my copy of Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, and let me tell you this is one heck of a book.

oryx_and_crake

I bought the book going purely off of Atwood’s name, having read The Handmaid’s Tale and adoring it. Oryx and Crake certainly lives up to Atwood’s reputation as a stellar writer, and the longer I read the book the more I was drawn into her world.

It’s set in present-day Earth, perhaps a few years from now. Human society has been separated into the haves and the have-nots, and is starting to crumble despite our best attempts at rescuing it with technology and medicines, and more exciting and different ways to pass the time. Companies have begun to try and find new ways of existing, as resources run out and diseases become widespread.

The story itself focuses on a young boy named Jimmy, and tells the story of the decline of human civilisation through his eyes as he grows up. He’s an old man when the story begins, living in a desolate world with nothing and no-one to keep him company but other strange humanoid people. People he calls Crakers. We slowly find out the story of how these people came to be, and how one of Jimmy’s childhood friends – Crake  – was involved in their creation, and in the subsequent destruction of civilisation as we know it.

Crake himself was a boy genius, who became Jimmy’s closest friend through circumstance. Over time the two grew close, and -though it escaped Jimmy’s notice – Crake came up with his grand plan to help ‘fix’ humanity. He became a genetic scientist of sorts and created the Crakers, genetically modifying them for efficiency and to avoid wars, diseases, and hatred. He befriended a woman Jimmy had fallen for whilst still young, and she became close with both men. It wasn’t until Crake came up with a pill which was advertised to ‘increase sexual activity and repress the need for maladaptive expressions of energy’ that things started to go horribly wrong.

I won’t say any more on the plot, it’s much more intricate than what I’ve described here and well worth the read.

Atwood’s writing clearly shows her mastery of storytelling, especially in the way she describes her characters as if they’re real. As if you could look up and find that person standing in front of you. Jimmy is a figment when the book begins, but slowly he becomes real. Crake and Oryx, too, become real, and you see them as Jimmy does. They reveal themselves slowly and with import, as they are remembered, and you remember them, too, after the book is said and done.

The grasp on setting here follows the ‘less is more’ rule with strict adherence. A genetically modified pig on a rampage here, a destroyed building there, an apocalyptic vision against a majestic sunrise in the distance. You don’t need much to show what a disaster looks like, or to give it the gravity and feeling it deserves.

Anyway go read it! It’s a very poignant tale about what could be a possibility in the near future, and for me it was a solid reminder to always keep your perspective straight.

That’s all from me for now, until next time!

-AdmiralCarter

Review: Rebecca Makkai’s The Borrower

Good afternoon readers and welcome to my review of Rebecca Makkai’s debut novel, The Borrower.

The first thing I want to say about this novel is that I picked it up off a bookshelf at a small bookstore, curious about its contents after seeing the cover and the blurb. It sat on my shelf untouched for a year or two, until I picked it up a few weeks ago and decided to sate my curiosity. The Borrower, published in 2011, is a novel about self-discovery, and about coming to terms with one’s own past. It’s not my usual fare, as some of you may know, so I was mildly surprised when I found myself enthralled by its characters and wanting to know more about their lives. The main character, Lucy Hull, finds herself getting deeper and deeper in the life of young Ian Drake. So deep, in fact, that Ian demands to be ‘kidnapped’ by her in a journey which takes them across America and almost into Canada, in order to find Ian’s dead ‘grandmother’. The reason Lucy is so attached? She believes that Ian is gay, and that his heavily religious parents are attempting to have his ‘illness’ taken away by the grace of God, and Pastor Bob of Glad Heart Ministries. The ever anxious Ian is attempting to run away from his parents, but not all is as dire as it seems. The two protagonists go on a journey in which they both learn some things, and Lucy is reminded of her Russian family and their history as runaways, leaving a hardened country to come to the land where there’s nothing to run from. Nothing, of course, except yourself.

Like I said earlier, this isn’t the type of book I would usually read. And yet, I found myself enjoying it for its witty content and very solid character portrayal. The only issue I had was  the sometimes slightly out-of-character depictions of the ten- and eleven- year- old Ian, who constantly threw tantrums like a five year old and seemed to be making decisions of increasingly questionable basis. Though I suspect it was out of a desperation to escape his own demons, it still seemed a little strange to me.

The thing that stuck with me the most about The Borrower was the way Lucy began to discover things about herself and her family, in ways that perhaps took her by surprise. It really spoke to the meaning of the word family, and how its different for everyone. Sometimes in ways you never even dreamed possible.

That’s it for me for the moment. I haven’t yet decided what I’ll read next, but stay tuned for the usual updates!

-AdmiralCarter

WINNING CAMP NANO!

Hello everyone!

Yes it’s super late so I’ll make this short.

I just won Camp NaNo for 2015! I’m so excited! I only had a limit of 30k this time around, as I started late and there was no way I’d get through the usual 50k. Even so, Dreamstealer is taking great shape and I’m very excited to see what happens next!

For now though, dear readers, I’m signing off. The bed calls.

Don’t stop reading!

-AdmiralCarter

The dragons are laughing at me. But they haven’t won yet.

Cryptic title, right?

It’s been a very slow day/night, and I can’t seem to get anything out on either Dreamstealer or Pirates of Time. Not only is this worrying (because heck I have a word count to meet), but it makes me wonder if perhaps I started Dreamstealer off on the wrong foot. Is it time to rehash the introduction, give my characters more space on their pages? Perhaps. After the long conversations I’ve had with my characters, they’re all asking me for more than they have and they’re worried about each other’s safety in the world I’ve dropped them into. I suppose that’s a good thing; if my characters are worried then I’ve got a good world for them to work with. But even so, there’s some polishing to do and I’m glad they pointed it out to me.

I found myself reading this article http://www.laurellkhamilton.org/angels-demons-and-the-writer/ just a few moments ago and it made me think about just how much our own personal ‘demons’ do influence us, as writers. Especially when we’re writing genre fiction. I guess it’s something that we all deal with on some level, and it’s up to us to tame those demons and pull another card from our sleeve, hoping that this time it works.

I’m going to try and get back to my novels, and keep you updated.

Don’t stop reading!

AdmiralCarter.

A Day in the Life of AdmiralCarter

Hello all!

So I know I blogged yesterday, but I thought as it’s lunch time (and tea time when is it not tea time) and I was just reading this post on what bloggers actually do during their days (http://aopinionatedman.com/2015/07/07/what-do-bloggers-actually-do/), I’d add my daily plan to the rundown.

As a writer, blogger, and musician, I find that my day is usually broken up into a few manageable chunks of time. I’ll wake up usually around 8 or 9 in the morning, grab some breakfast and start plotting things out in my filofax (yes, I’ve got one. Yes, I love it.). Once that’s done, I’ll do chores (dishes, washing, clean the dog, dust, other general housework), then sit down to nut out some words on my current WIP. Lunch comes around, I’ll grab food and another full pot of tea and check blog stats, Facebook, and my other social media accounts. Emails get a look in too. After that it’s back to writing and/or music practice until 5. Then dinner, dishes, anything the dog needs done. Then more writing until I get so tired I end up going to bed. If I have any other things to do during the day, like run errands, I’ll usually squeeze them in as soon as I can.

So that’s pretty much what I do with my days. Fairly straightforward.

Best get back to Dreamstealer before Eri gets herself into trouble with another dragon.

AdmiralCarter

Dreamstealer and Camp NaNo 2015: An Update. Also libraries are cool.

Hello all!

I will preface this post with the fact that it’s currently 0200 hours here in Aus. It’s damn cold, and I can’t sleep.

So as you can judge by the title, I’ve been keeping myself very busy with work on my newest WIP, Dreamstealer. It’s shaping up to be a surprising novel, not just because I’m writing in an unfamiliar style (first person limited) but also because it somehow feels more full than my other pieces have. I am behind on my 50k word count, but I’m making solid progress towards catching up within the next week or so (7205 words and counting). I’ve always enjoyed reading fantasy work, so perhaps that has something to do with it? Who knows. My characters are amicable and easy to work with, in contrast to Jeremiah who’s sulking something wicked because I haven’t worked on Pirates of Time in just over two weeks. I’ll get to you, buddy. No need to get your sails in a twist.

In other news, I recently made a research trip to my local library and came back with five books which ought to help me with both WIPs. Most are fiction, except for one non-fiction book about the kings and queens of the middle ages in Europe. The fiction books are mostly to help with pacing, but also to get a better idea of how steampunk worlds are built. As much effort as I’ve put in, Google’s abilities to help me have unfortunately come to an end. It’s a very tall stack of books and my D&D dice are sitting on top, waiting for my next game in a week. Things are getting busy. I plan to go back to the library and put some other books on hold from the other libraries in my district; all the good ones seem to be ages away from me. The minute I came home with the book stack my father asked me how I’d get time to read them all in between the 100 or so other books on my shelf which have yet to be opened. I justified these ones as ‘research’.

Anywho, that’s it from me for now. I’ll be giving more frequent updates as the month goes on.

And yes, I’m still reading Dune.

Never stop reading/writing!

AdmiralCarter