Never have I ever thought that I would write a 2* review on a Harry Potter play, but as it turned out, one of the most eagerly awaited books of the year is a grand disappointment. First and foremost, it is essential to point out that my opinion of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was by no means influenced by the fact that it is not an actual novel. Amazingly, some of the readers have missed out the Cursed Child is a script, but journalists are quite seriously to blame for this one. They also are to blame for the fact that almost every media outlet mentions something in the lines of “J.K.Rowling’s latest Harry Potter book… etc etc”. J.K.Rowling did NOT write the Cursed Child. The script is based on the original seven novels, and obviously, J.K.Rowling has given her go-ahead for the use of the beloved characters from the series and contributed to the story development together with John Tiffany, but she did not do the writing. Jack Thorne did.
MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD = MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD
19 years after the the events of the Deathly Hallows, the golden trio is reunited at the platform 9 & 3/4 to send off their children to Hogwarts. Harry’s son Albus Severus is nervous he’d get sorted into Slytherin. Not surprisingly, the boy does get into Slytherin. He also befriends Scorpius Malfoy, son of Draco Malfoy.
The sweet, geeky boy is the rumored to be the offspring of Lord Voldemort himself, which makes him an outcast. Albus Severus and Scorpius bond over their outsider sentiments (Albus being the inadequate “version” of his father, who now is the head of Magical Law Enforcement). Then, the plot gets outrageously bad…
During one of his raids on a former Death Eater, Harry Potter finds an illegal time-turner. Instead of destroying the thing, Hermione Grander (Minister of Magic, married to Ron, who runs Fred and George’s joke shop) decides to keep it. One night, Albus overhears the father of Cedric Diggory visiting Harry Potter and imploring the latter to use the time-turner to save Cedric (who died in the Goblet of Fire). Like any time travel ever ends well…
Harry refuses. Albus, being the rebel, decides to sneak into the Ministry of Magic, steal the time-turner from Hermione’s office and go back to the Triwizard Tournament. This does not end well.
As anyone, who has ever read any book or watched any film relating the story of time travel could tell, the things that are supposed to happen – will happen, and messing with the past could bring about a dark tomorrow.
What makes the Cursed Child such a dreadful story is exactly the time travel. Albus Severus and Scorpius attempt to save Cedric because it was unfair, but in the process they destroy the prospect of marriage between Ron and Hermione (and thus, Rose Granger-Weasley and Hugo Granger-Weasley are never born), then Albus ends up in Gryffindor… One time-travel-savior attempt fails, resulting in Cedric’s death anyway. The second attempt turns Cedric into a Death Eater, who kills Neville in the battle of Hogwarts. Harry also dies in the battle of Hogwarts, and so Albus, the instigator of all this mess is never even born.
Scorpius has to deal with the result of their actions, because their hero complex brought about the victory of Lord Voldemort and this new world with Cedric in it is the world where Mudbloods and muggles are routinely killed. Draco Malfoy’s son saves the day, and when the two irrational teenagers attempt to destroy the time-turner so nobody else would use it, Delphi Diggory, who is revealed to be Lord Voldemort’s long lost DAUGHTER (by Bellatrix) attacks them and forces them back in time in order to stop Cedric during the third task of the Triwizard Tournament…
Poor Cedric saves Albus Severus and Scorpius from Deplhi thinking it’s a task that he has to pass, but yet again, they are stuck in time – and this time, it’s the Halloween of the year Harry Potter’s parents were killed and they have to stop Voldemort from being side-tracked by Delphi, who wants to stop the fall of the Dark Lord… Oh, and in the end Harry Potter has to watch his parents die, because he had to time-travel to save his idiot of a son.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child sure reads like a piece of ridiculous and quite poorly plotted fan-fiction, and frankly, I sure am happy that I did not buy a paper copy, because unlike the original 7, this isn’t the continuation of the story that I’d be re-reading ever again. The Cursed Child is the book that made me convinced that when it comes to our most beloved characters, sometimes, not knowing that happens after the happy ever after is the only way. I was delighted of the prospect of going back to Hogwarts, even briefly, but the this Hogwarts, the one from the Cursed Child sure isn’t the one that is always there to welcome you home. It’s dreadful, the plot has huge holes and many “how the hell was this allowed to happen” moments that make it a complete waste of time.
So, there you go. Cursed Child, overall rating: 2*.
Two lonely people become the unlikeliest of friends and find that sometimes you don’t know you’ve lost someone until you’ve found them.
1987. There’s only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that’s her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June’s world is turned upside down. But Finn’s death brings a surprise acquaintance into June’s life – someone who will help her to heal and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.
As the events unravel, the reader begins to see that June’s love for her uncle has grown into an unhealthy obsession. Not in a maniacal sort of way, but still not quite right. Even her sister Greta used to tease June that she was in love with her gay uncle and by going through the first half of the book, it’s hard not to question whether in fact it was true. Sure thing, June grieves about the loss of her closest friend and confidant, but her loss becomes a sort of compulsion.
She gets jealous – four-year-old kind of jealous – of a life that Finn has led without her. The character is slow to realize that Finn was gay. As it turns out, Finn’s sister (June’s mother) put her brother before a choice – he could keep in touch with the girls only without the involvement of his boyfriend. June questions why would Finn keep his boyfriend secret, and while the homophobic attitudes of the family the answer is quite obvious. At one point June even gloats that Finn did not take his boyfriend Toby to the Cloisters Museum, where Finn and June used to go on their Sundays together.
Tell the Wolves I’m Home touches on many topics, perhaps too many to make it likable. It’s slow, at some points quite painfully so. June’s journey of self-discovery drags on and on, and the things that happen to her and the other characters (unfairness of life, judgments, loneliness etc etc) are quite tragic and yet Tell the Wolves I’m Home is no first-class drama, it’s a “meh” kind of book that did not leave either a positive or negative impression. It’s not a book that I would recommend, re-read or go see in cinemas if it gets an adaptation.
John and Jenny were just beginning their life together. They were young and in love, with a perfect little house and not a care in the world. Then they brought home Marley, a wiggly yellow furball of a puppy. Life would never be the same.
Marley quickly grew into a barreling, ninety-seven-pound streamroller of a Labrador retriever, a dog like no other. He crashed through screen doors, gouged through drywall, flung drool on guests, stole women’s undergarments, and ate nearly everything he could get his mouth around, including couches and fine jewelry. Marley shut down a public beach and managed to land a role in a feature-length movie, always winning hearts as he made a mess of things. Through it all, he remained steadfast, a model of devotion, even when his family was at its wit’s end. Unconditional love, they would learn, comes in many forms
If you love dogs – Marley & Me is guaranteed to make you cry. Of laughter and sadness in the end. Me, I ended up wailing in the public transport. None of my pooches were even remotely as naughty (understatement?) as Marley, a dog-loving heart cannot stay calm and not emphasize while reading the last of John Grogan’s memoir. It’s touching, it’s fun and if you have a “world’s worst dog” it would probably make you feel less alone.
The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule the world. To commemorate their Great Victory over Britain and Russia, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor’s ball.
Yael, who escaped from a death camp, has one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler.
There are books that draw you in and weave magic between the lines, there are books that are good, just good – not stellar that is, and then there are books that have brilliant storylines but lackluster execution. Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin is one of those.
Yael’s experiences in the concentration camp made her forget her face, but etched the pain and sacrifices on her soul, making her a loose the grip of her emotions. The life in hiding also made Yale forget what it’s like to deal with humans, the interactions and emotions that come with. While she has been preparing for her insurgency for years, her first mission, and the fact that she has to deal with the results of actions of Adele Wolfe, the young woman whom she is impersonating.
Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.
Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See is a masterpiece of great beauty, a true literary tour-de-force that sweeps the reader away and doesn’t let go, and as you rush through the pages some of the most persistent thoughts in your head are – I do not want this to end. I’ve recommended All the Light We Cannot See to my mother, grandmother and to my boss well, to almost anyone whom I’ve met since I finished it and who has the slightest interest in the written word. Doerr’s book is a stupendous and enchanting masterpiece that pulls you right in.