I’m still kind of in shock from this book. Shock that it was so…bad. I don’t even think I’m disappointed. I’m just not surprised. I’m shocked that I’m not surprised. I had so much faith in this book.
I’m not angry like Star Wars fans are angry. I’m not. I think this may be a lot more complicated than an artist ruining their own canon.
I just finished it like…ten minutes ago. I’m just wanting to give an initial reaction. Which is: I didn’t like it I didn’t like it I didn’t like it. This was kind of the third strike for me. I was let down by A Casual Vacancy, and felt denied by her use of a pen name for the Cormoran Strike novels. The fact she has so much money and could therefore control what kind of play this was but didn’t seem to…This shocks me most of all.
I’ve read headlines that the actual play gives it the richness it deserves, and I do believe that seeing it acted out could be better (God, it would have to be). I kept making excuses for why things seemed cheesy or melodramatic or cringe-worthy.
Because the text made it seem more like a musical without the music. It was like some attempt at Wicked or Matilda. Except those musical adaptations were good and only enriched the canon. In the case of Wicked, it was better than the book–a book based off a now-mythologized story based on an actual book that not many people read anymore. It became it’s own thing. With this “story,” though… I think this canon…harms it. Muddles it.
Spoilers from here on out.
The biggest complaint I have with the story is the time travel part. Not only does it ruin Rowling’s perfected use of time travel used in Prisoner of Azkaban, but it tries… Well, let me just stick to the time travel thing. In book three, time travel worked because it already happened. They never saved Buckbeak from being killed because he was never killed. They only thought he had been. There’s no alternate timelines involved there. It’s the same one just looped–nice and clean. I’ll not continue to rant about time travel theory, but the one used in this book is not the same as the one used in book three.
NOW: Not only that, but the reason it’s a time travel story is super cliche: It’s a “Let’s go back and kill Hitler” story. Except it’s more like a “Let’s bring back Hitler!” Congratulations, you’re soooo original.
The final major thing I hated about this book was that it wasn’t literary. Like I mentioned before, it was like it was trying to be fanfiction–a musical without the music. I was hoping for something like…I don’t know. More of a closet drama in the sense of Goethe. Except now with all our fancy props there need not be closet dramas.
Even if the play had been small–had tackled a more minimal topic rather than a huge time traveling, Voldemort-involving epic–it would have been more meaningful to me.
I think part II of this review will explore my notes I found myself writing in the margins–reactions I was having. And my thoughts on why J.K. Rowling keeps letting her art be squished and pulled into something that doesn’t work…
I wouldn’t mind seeing the play. Just to see where J.K. Rowling got caught up in this whole mess. How was she OK with any of this? How? What rose colored glasses did they put on her?
My hope is that she wanted this to go out, get bad reviews, and then let the world see how fucking terrible it is that we don’t give authors more control over their work. Something like that.
OF ALL THE FANFICTION TO CHOOSE FROM. TO PUBLISH. THIS WAS IT?
I’m going to bed now to dream of a story that could have been. Talk about a cursed brain child. Honestly.