BOOK REVIEW: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

This was a DNF for me, unless you all can convince me to pick it back up again.

There was not enough fandom in the first few pages. She didn’t seem much like a fan of anything in the chapters I got through. Wait. Except for the Wikipedia-like entry on page one that describes the fictional fiction Simon Snow Series (that seemed a lot like Harry Potter), you can’t tell she’s a fan of much. 

Why couldn’t Rowell have just said Harry Potter instead? Would have been an instant connection with the MC. I would have understood her. Now I’m hesitant and I feel like fair use wasn’t utilized here. I wasn’t going to be able to “fangirl all over the place” with the main character if I was going to have to learn about a fictional universe that…isn’t real (oh, the irony). That’s too much work. This kind of book didn’t seem like it had to do what Lev Grossman did in The Magicians series–where he had to change names and plots in order to not get sued. Rowell isn’t going to have her MC go into the fictional world of Harry Potter, only write about it. I feel like copyright wouldn’t have been the same issue. I don’t know. I’m not a lawyer.

But I am a copyright librarian, so…

It would be interesting to see how this kind of story would play out in court.

Rowling vs. Rowell.

I don’t think Rowling would have won if Rowell had just gone with Harry instead of Simon. But I guess we’ll never know.

In this case, it seems like Rowell wanted to write her own version of Harry Potter versus pay homage. It’s just Harry Potter fanfiction. Without the fans. Seems to work against the message she’s wanting to project about fanfiction….

Am I wrong?

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BOOK REVIEW: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Initial Reaction; or, as I like to call it, “Part I”)

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.

JK Rowling: Should Authors Control the Digestion of their Content after it’s Published?

I love how her comments on her characters always bring up the Author-as-God topic. I definitely can’t read or think about her work the same after she gives her “insights.” It *does* change things.

PINEkindling Wordsmithery

Not to jump on the internet fandoms bandwagon, but in an interview with Wonderland Magazine, JK Rowling told readers that she should have paired Hermione and Harry in the end, rather than have the leading lady wed Ron, the hero’s best friend. She suggests that the pairing was a “mistake” based on “personal reasons.”

Pairing preferences aside–I find the engagement of the author in post-publishing alterations particularly interesting. Certainly this kind of announcement is not completely out of range for JK Rowling. Several years ago she announced that Dumbledore was gay, though there was no real evidence to that assertion in the text. There was also no evidence to the contrary, so, hell, why not?

This announcement is quite different. JK Rowling suggests that a major subplot was a “mistake,” and that her choice had nothing to do with “literature” but more to do with “personal reasons.” First, what does that…

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That time I thought Alan Rickman’s death was a hoax.

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I usually find The Guardian to be pretty trustworthy, of course, but I was still really hopeful because I found this other website (that was only updated long after the fact):

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For a while, The Guardian was the only one saying he was, really, dead yesterday morning. I was waiting for a post that said “We were wrong” or “We were hacked” or, “Early April Fools!” Anything.

Moral of the story: never trust anything from MediaMass again.