Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

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It took me longer than expected, but I have finally finished Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I'm having mixed feelings about the whole thing. I know there are Potterheads among us who hate at least the print version of the play, and I know that there are those who insist its faults lie in its being a play. The latter believe seeing it in person resolves those flaws. I fall somewhat in the middle.

I'm not going to speak to the story line at all in this review because the book is still fairly new. Also, I think you can say a lot about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child without giving away the plot, so I'll do that. Suffice to say that you'll see heroes and antagonists old and new.

I was off to a rough start with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I found the dialogue off-putting, to say the least. Old characters lacked the charm they possessed in the novels. New characters had stilted and even corny lines. I've had people tell me "That's because it's a play!" This isn't the first play I've read. The dialogue was not appealing to me. Worse, I didn't get caught up enough in the plot to make up for it.

Now, I told you I was somewhere in the middle in terms of my enjoyment of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I began to enjoy it more somewhere around the third act. Some of the dialogue got a little more compelling, the action was a bit more convincing, and the old characters weren't as stupendously out of character. I did enjoy reading the play from this point on, though it still had its shortcomings. I've yet to see how it translates to the stage, so I'll reserve judgment on the final product.

While, as I said, I found Harry Potter and the Cursed Child enjoyable to a certain degree, I wasn't moved by it. In the novels, I was at times in tears. I laughed out loud. I grew to love the characters. None of that was happening with this play, and I'm afraid it had nothing to do with the lack of prose that comes with the format. I've enough imagination to fill in the blanks. I just wasn't swept away enough to laugh, cry or anything close.

All of the above being said, I'm so ready for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. If this isn't the last of the bunch, I really hope Rowling is the only writer of canonical Potter texts in the future.

Review and Summary: "The Giver" by Lois Lowry

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What can I possibly say about Lois Lowry's The Giver that hasn't already been said about this award-winning novel? Probably not much. Many a more astute reviewer has rattled on about it in the past decades. Nonetheless, I've set out to tell you about most of the books I read, so I'm going to do that now in the knowledge that you should just stop reading this and go read The Giver. Seriously.

*Some spoilers

I was born in the 80s and had a developed love of literature by the 90s. Lois Lowry was one of the first writers to hit me square in the feels. She did it with Number the Stars–a kiddo-friendly look at the horrors of the Holocaust. Because I loved that book so much as a kid, I determined to read The Giver long ago, but have only just got around to it. I shouldn't have waited.

They say there are no original ideas left, but I think there are a few that come close enough or are executed so well that it hardly matters. The Giver is a bit of both. For some reason, I was nostalgic for A Wrinkle in Time and 1984 when I read it. Neither had parallel stories, but a similar feel definitely permeated all three (only for a brief section in the case of A Wrinkle in Time). That nostalgic feeling was there, but the story was also so individual that I devoured it.

In a world filled with Sameness, a young man named Jonas is chosen to be the only one among his people with memories of suffering and joy. He is to receive all of the memories of their history by a man he comes to know as The Giver. The Giver labors under the weight of these memories and, while sympathetic with Jonas, is eager to relieve his pain. However, as Jonas learns the truth about his life, he and The Giver must decide if it's time to release their burden.

The Giver is a short, simple read with complex, thought-provoking themes. Yes, it is categorized as children's literature. It's not. It is a book that people of most age groups can appreciate that happens to be at an easy reading comprehension level. This novel moved me at the age of 33. I've been thinking about it since I completed it last night and will surely remember it fondly for the rest of my life.

Shelly Barclay