Tag Archives: review

We need to talk about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Dear J.K Rowling,

I sincerely enjoyed with every fibre of my being the series you created, so much so that it has defined me as a person today. I dressed up as Hermione for Halloween two years in a row, felt the crushing disappointment of having waited in line for copies of the books and tickets to the movies to no avail, re-read the series as a college student looking for a window to the past and I thank you for all of this and more. Having grown up in the Potter generation and proudly identifying as a Potterhead, my curiosity was piqued upon hearing about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, so I went out and bought a copy the day it was released. I regret to say that I wished I hadn’t. I need to tell you that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was an utter disappointment and I feel betrayed that this has even been performed on stage much less published.

This script cannot and should not be marketed as the eighth story in the Harry Potter series, and since it has been monstrously tagged as such, I feel the need to compare it to a gangrene infected foot that needs to be cut off in order to preserve the rest of the body i.e the original series. The Cursed Child seems like a parasitic invasion of  your wonderfully crafted  Wizarding World with your stamp of approval which makes your judgement highly questionable. It does nothing but pander to fan expectations, reading like author-approved fan fiction with co-authors pitching in. You’ve made your money and now Cursed Child is a further ploy to rake in extra cash from the fans who are easily susceptible to dish it out.

It’s a light read in the sense that I cannot for the life of me take it seriously and while I read it I couldn’t help but ponder over the poor trees that had to be felled in order for this to be printed. This parallels a  nicotine patch for smokers, anything Potter related is more than welcome especially after the number of years that have passed since the 7th book was released. But I want the damn cigarettes not the nauseating nicotine gum laced with cinnamon that is The Cursed Child. If I can’t have the real thing, I don’t want anything else.

It’s very obvious that you’re trying to keep Harry Potter relevant, what with all the new snippets of information regarding the series and new short stories via your Twitter feed and Pottermore, but the fact is it needs to be left alone. We never forgot, we’re all still at Hogwarts after all these years.

sincerely,

an outraged Ravenclaw

p.s Weasley is our king. You have successfully destroyed one of my favourite characters a.k.a Ron, having reduced him to nothing but mere comedic relief and filtering out all substance. You have created a character I love and utterly mistreated him, something I don’t quite know how to forgive. 


Also, dear reader this article is so relevant. Give it a read, if you agree with the above epistolary rant.

Book Review- Shutter Island

Rating: 4/5

Goodreads Synopsis: The year is 1954. U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and his new -partner, Chuck Aule, have come to Shutter Island, home of Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane, to investigate the disappearance of a patient. Multiple-murderess Rachel Solando is loose somewhere on this barren island, despite having been kept in a locked cell under constant surveillance. As a killer hurricane bears relentlessly down on them, a strange case takes on even darker, more sinister shades–with hints of radical experimentation, horrifying surgeries, and lethal countermoves made in the cause of a covert shadow war. No one is going to escape Shutter Island unscathed, because nothing at Ashecliffe Hospital is remotely what it seems.

 

The golden rule is to read the book before even bothering to watch the movie, although I’ve been known to occasionally break that rule. Admittedly, this is one of those rare times and as I’ve learned in the past, there is a certain proactive interference in how you interpret and imagine the story. Thankfully, when it comes to Shutter Island, the book and film are almost synonymous.

The suspense was loaded with questions surrounding the whereabouts of Rachel Solando, the missing patient, Teddy’s past, Dr. Cawley’s masked intentions and what exactly is going on at Ashecliffe Hospital. The mystery builds as Teddy and Chuck investigate, starting with a missing patient to wondering if they will ever be able to get themselves off the island. Sometimes, it’s as if Teddy doesn’t care, his personal connection to the case making it difficult to leave the past behind.

Character-wise, there was little diversity to look forward to. Dr. Cawley was a one-dimensional character as was Chuck, whose only redeeming quality is the levity he balances out Teddy’s intensity with. What propelled the suspenseful plot of Shutter Island, clearly, was Teddy’s candour in his unintentional exploration of the depths of his mind and even his demons. Peppered throughout his quest to solve the mystery surrounding the island, are thoughts concerning his insecurity on being partnered with Chuck who was good with people, his latent suicidal ideation coming to the forefront, and his inability to let go of the horrors of the war and his late wife Dolores.

This twisted romance acting as a shadowing prologue is both painful and wonderful. Teddy’s longing for his wife Dolores is ensconced in ache and ghostly reminiscence, constantly showcasing the wrecked remnants of a man that Teddy really is. I was pulled in by Lehane’s writing style with descriptions like “Those eyes, Teddy thought. Even frozen in time, they howled.” and “…he held her and held her and wept his terrible love into her faded dress.” making me turn page after page, despite knowing the ending.

Not only did Shutter Island deliver in terms of writing style and suspense, it was intriguing because of the themes it tackled, including human experimentation and mental illness.

If you’re fascinated with psychology, I’d say that this book does well to represent the time it was set in, when pharmacology was on the rise and lobotomies were on the fast track to extinction or at least used only as a last resort. At times, the spew of information on topics such as  narcotic neuroleptics and the war between the different schools of thought on psychological disorders can sound dry as if it were being taught to you, an amateur effort on the part of the author in convincing the readers, “Yes, I’ve done my research and here’s everything I know.”

Also,having an avid interest in Holocaust literature, I was intrigued by the parallels between Shutter Island’s human experimentation with its patients and that of the Nazis with the Jews.  In light of this underpinning, the Nuremberg Code is mentioned a significant number of times, which is fascinating to read up on considering how it has shaped our modern approach to ethical conduction of research. 

Overall, I’d recommend reading this book, particularly for its ending which may seem obvious but is fascinating in how the events unfold. Without divulging too much, I find that its ambiguity is perhaps the best part, leaving you to ponder over what it means. For some people, it is quite clear yet there other ways of interpreting the ending which establishes the fact that even after the last page Shutter Island isn’t done with you yet.

2014 in review

This was a lovely way to review my first year of blogging. Thanks to everyone who stopped by, liked and commented, I truly appreciate it 🙂

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,500 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Music Review- The 1975

I’ve been listening to this album for a while now and it’s the best thing to listen to when writing, blogging or reading so I thought I’d write a review!

First off, The 1975 is a Manchester-based alternative/indie-rock band consisting of  Matthew Healy (vocals, guitar), Adam Hann (guitar), George Daniel (drums), and Ross MacDonald (bass).

The band is extremely talented, with Matt Healy’s unique vocals adding to their fantastic sound. In an era where pop culture dominates the Top 40 and iPods across the world,  The 1975 prove a point of their own: undiscovered gems or underrated musicians are the ones you ought to listen to, although at the rate they’re rising, they won’t be underrated any longer.

Massively popular in the UK, they are now touring with The Neighbourhood as their opening act. I’ve heard that The 1975 put on a great live show, blowing away the minds of the audience in the span of a few hours, not many complaining. All that without dancing half naked or choreographed dancing, how about that. No wonder because their eponymous, debut album is unwavering in musical quality, letting their music do all the talking.

Having a 1980’s sound, I particularly enjoyed listening to these songs off the album:

Chocolate

Their catchiest song by far, Chocolate is the notorious single that stole its fair share of attention from many listeners. A radio favourite, it is an upbeat tune with a dark undertone of a meaning beneath it. Chocolate is in fact, not chocolate at all and the euphemism-ridden lyrics about guns hidden under petticoats, a car smelling of chocolate and running away from the boys in the blue make for lyrical and hidden entertainment. Really listen to the lyrics and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

The City

Unlike everyone else who fell in love with this band over Chocolate, I discovered them by listening to The City. This one is more of drum based track, inspiring listeners to take some chances which will relate to those of us who are still trying to figure everything and ourselves out.

Healy explained, “It’s a love song I suppose – a love letter to the baffling cacophony that is teenage self exploration in places loud and inspiring.”

Just like the song’s lyric ‘If you want to find love, then you where the city is’ the same applies to the album. If you want to find good music, then you know where the album link is.

She Way Out

Although music critics have pegged this song down on account of its repetitiveness, I find it enjoyable for that very reason. This tune is a clear daylight example of what music in the 80’s would sound if it were infused with modernity. She Way Out is an up beat track like Chocolate; a pop injection about a girl with ‘a two-tone everything’ and ‘a face from a movie scene’.

Settle Down is another of my favourites, written based on Healy’s obsession with Michael Jackson, ultimately about the nonsensical dynamics of relationships, addictive and possessing.

Girls is a colourful song discrediting the significance of infatuation claiming, “They’re just girls.” On the other hand, Robbers is  an eerie and haunting tone, unique when compared to the rest of the tracks off the album.

The Book Thief Review

It’s quite funny how I came to possess my copy of The Book Thief. You see, I was gazing longingly at it in my favourite book shop but unfortunately, I didn’t have enough money on me to buy it. A few days later, by some odd miracle, my friend gave me that very book saying someone on a British Airways flight had left it behind and her aunt who works for the airline had given it to her and she in turn gave it to me.

All in all, it ended up in my hands… so thank you kind stranger and good friend.

Much like how I received my copy, The Book Thief tells the tale of Liesel Meminger,  a young girl in the throes of Nazi Germany who finds reconciliation in the form of books she happens across or happens to steal.  A dangerous habit to culminate in the country of book burnings, Liesel keeps her interest in books a secret. Yet it is a secret she cannot keep by herself.

“It kills me sometimes, how people die.”- Death

 

An omniscient narrator in the form of Death oversees the story of how the nine-year-old’s mother gave her up to live with her foster parents Hans and Rosa Hubermann in Molching. Shortly after, Hans discovers a book she’d kept for herself called the Gravedigger’s Handbook and he teaches her to read it. And so the secret was kept by two.

While starting her love affair with the written word, Liesel befriends a boy named Rudy Steiner, who always cheekily asks her for a kiss. Rudy provides a comic streak to the narrative with his obsession to be like Jesse Owens and it’s no wonder Death was particularly amused by this little boy to the point where it hurt him in the end.

“He does something to me, that boy. Every time. It’s his only detriment. He steps on my heart. He makes me cry.” – Death, talking about Rudy.

With books and some street football, it seems like Liesel is finally settled into her new life, only to be shaken up again when a Jew named Max Vandenburg, son of Hans’ deceased friend comes to stay in hiding in the Hubermann’s basement, threatening every souls safety below that roof. This is where the story really takes off. It touches upon hard times, sickness, snow and most of all, love and friendship.

Author Markus Zusak executes this style of writing with beautifully crafted sentences, reading like poetry.

“People observe the colors of a day only at its beginnings and ends, but to me it’s quite clear that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations with each passing moment. A single hour can consist of thousands of different colors. Waxy yellows, cloud-spot blues. Murky darkness. In my line of work, I make it a point to notice them.”

What makes the book unique is that although it is set in the time of Hitler’s regime, the story gives little overt importance to this fact. Also, for once, it does not take a Jewish German’s point of view, rather the other Germans who were also adversely affected, people who are often overlooked when portraying the Holocaust.

Overall, Zusak’s  critically acclaimed masterpiece has been well-recieved by critics and USA Today even went so far as to say, “The Book Thief deserves a place on the same shelf with The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank“. However much I like The Book Thief, this statement adds insult to injury to Anne Frank’s account of her experience in hiding. Although The Book Thief is artistically written, sometimes the gravity of the Holocaust and its times is lost and perhaps portrayed rather mildly.

If you wish to read a realistic account of the Holocaust, The Book Thief is not your cup of tea but if you wish to read a refreshing and ficitonal perspective  of this period of history, then please go ahead and get a copy (however you can).


 The Book Thief Movie

“A snowball in the face is surely the perfect beginning to a lasting friendship.”

As always, the book is indisputable when compared to the motion picture adaptation  but having said that, the film does the book justice and the cast is impeccable in their portrayal of these heart-felt characters. Go ahead and watch it once you’ve finished reading the book!