Before we begin, let me say thank you to the Dueling Ogres people for allowing me to jump in here with a sort of stream-of-consciousness review/blog entry. I know this may not be quite what they were intending, but the developments of this day have been so extraordinary, how could one NOT blog it?
First, let me say how much of a Harry Potter fan I have been and how I began paying attention to the unfolding events of the Potterverse. My children were in grade school and I was working an early morning shift at an area radio station. This necessitated my turning in early each evening – sometimes before my children did – and as I relaxed and was dropping off to sleep, I would frequently hear my wife reading some book to the children in the other bedroom.
About the time that I heard about spiders marching off in a line and Ron being quite terrified of them, I started to register that this was some book called “Harry Potter and the something or other.” As I asked more about this, I was shown the library book that was published by Scholastic Books, and that all the kids at school had been talking about. There were two or three books out, and the kids seemed to be quite taken with them.
That was the beginning. Seven books later – purchased from Amazon in hardback version and read aloud to our children – we were all confirmed Harry Potter fans. We also stumbled upon the spoken word version, read for books on tape by Jim Dale, a British man of some note. We would listen and re-listen to the books while driving long-distance to a relative in another state, and relive the adventures.
So, when the series came to an end and we had finished the last book, it was doubtful that there would be any more in the series. And we were satisfied to see it come to an end. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that an 8th book was in the works, and that it would continue the story as Harry was an adult.
Now, I had recently enjoyed this as an adult in “Doctor Sleep,” the sequel to the Stephen King novel “The Shining.” And as an unusual and stand-alone story, it works without mining the original story to death for ideas, characters and storyline.
But somehow, the release date for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child crept up upon us without us knowing it. Finally, some information came down that it was a play, being performed in London and this new book was the hardbound version for those of us who would not/could not get to London to see it performed.
Several of my co-workers pre-ordered the book, or made arrangements to pick up the book at a midnight release, July 31st. We even checked to see if we could still pre-order it as late as Friday evening with an Amazon gift card that was lying around, until we found that the card had been used up.
So, the afternoon of July 31st, I strolled down the book aisle of Kroger and found they had the hardbound book on the shelf “marked down 40%” to $22.95 and I decided not to screw around, but to buy the darned thing and read it at my leisure. I also figured my wife and kids would want to read it in turn.
Sitting alone on the couch on a warm Sunday afternoon, I opened the book and started with the dust jacket, recognizing this was exactly the same description I had read on Amazon about how the world of Harry Potter was 18 years after the end of the series, and there was a new crop of students going to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
I read about three scenes in, imagining how the line might be delivered upon the stage, but missing something. There were no descriptive passages of the setting, the props, the environment, and no introduction of each character. However, each line was preceded by a name, a character who is speaking, and minimalistic stage direction showing what they are doing.
In short, it’s not the same experience as either watching a movie, or reading a well-developed book. This is going to require some getting used to – to adapt the format and imagine the characters in your mind’s eye. They jury is still out on whether this will be a hit or a flop, but I already have some ideas on who the cursed child may be. I am looking forward to where the story will lead me in just over 300 double-spaced pages.
In the meantime, another special release had crept up on us; and while skimming the Harry Potter book, I noticed that I have just missed the re-airing of the very first Sharknado movie on Syfy. The sequel – Sharknado 2 – had just begun, and the opening scene was concluding as the opening credits ran.
I admit I have never seen a Sharknado movie before. I was curious, and I was won over to “watching” this flying bloodfest instead of reading my book. Maybe that says something about me, but by the time the third film was starting, my whole family was tired of the formula and no one was paying much attention anymore. Did I mention that these re-runs were in preparation for the world premiere showing of Sharknado 4 later tonight? Yeah, another release date that had snuck up on us. But somehow this one doesn’t seem to matter anywhere near as much as Harry Potter. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have as much invested in it.
For further comment on the Sharknado-fest that is airing on SyFy this evening, I will yield to my daughter for her pithy and snarky comments on the series, since she saw the first movie in a group setting a couple of years ago, and has a better sense of distance and perspective upon it. Enjoy.