Posted in Blogging, Book, Reading, Review

Review: The Cursed Child (Spoiler-free)

Back when it was announced that there would be a Harry Potter play, a sort of eighth instalment in the HP series, I didn’t care much about it. I literally started looking forward to it only in the beginning of this summer, and even then, I was skeptical. Though Rowling was one of the writers, I feared a new story would ruin the previous books. And let me make it clear, the first few pages reinforced this idea in my head.

I kept reading, though, and soon, I was drawn into a mess of a plot, with all its flaws, out-of-character behavior and moderately predictable villain (though it took me a while to see this particular twist) and I…

LOVED IT.

Reviewers are divided, it seems, some claiming it reads like a fanfiction and others pointing out the amazing emotional parts of the play and the great characterization of the two main characters: Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy.

I’m leaning more towards the second camp; I laughed and cried on the journey with the brand new characters, and did the same as we met the (unfortunately deceased) characters we know and love. It involves several impossible (according to Einstein and common sense) scenarios with alternate realities, but I was able to ignore these inconsistencies because, as I’d mentioned, there was great characterization (the lovable duo Albus the Reckless and Scorpius the Dreadless). I also particularly enjoyed the Relative (’cause I’m heavy on Einstein today) Redemption of Slytherin (and Draco), Harry Potter’s Great Fear of sort of spoiler, sort of funny (I can’t even), Ron Weasley the Most Chilled and McGonnagal the Badass Troublemaker-Sponsor. Oh, and Fathers and Sons. That’s a great theme, one that I didn’t expect to be explored in such a way, but it was done nicely, in my opinion.

Spoiler-free is so hard, I hope I’m not doing it wrong.

I’ll give the play a proper rating in the spoilery review, but it’s definitely a firm 8.5–9 out of 10, and I have no regrets.

This is it for the quick spoiler-free review. I couldn’t hold it in.

Anyway, have you read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child? If not, would you like to? If yes, did you love it/hate it? What were the enjoyable parts for you and what did you dislike about it?

I’d love to discuss this so feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

Posted in Best Quotations, Poetry, Reading

Paradise Lost: No Thought of Flight

Before (finally lol) the review, here are some highlights from the battle between Lucifer’s rebellious crew and the faithful angels.

So Raphael begins his tale to Adam:

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Talking about Lucifer, obviously. I like this as it shows how much damage sheer envy can do, even if you’re in a pretty good position. You start to feel jealous of something petty and insignificant, and sometimes, no money, power, success or high school popularity you have, this may become a problem. Which is why jealousy should be avoided like the plague.

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So Lucifer speaks to his (still angel, I guess?) army. Even if the angels weren’t all equal, they were all equally free, he says. Even if all men on Earth can’t be equal (some are born with disabilities and some are Mozarts, we can’t do anything about that) they can, in theory, be equally free. Or are we already equally free, in choosing what we do with our lives for example? Yet some governmental regimes preclude certain freedoms. What is freedom anyway?

Rant ended. But those are something to think about, I guess.

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Abdiel was the only angel who stood up against Satan and said yeah, you’re doing something wrong. Of course, his speech was bigger than that one line (and more poetic) and he was a bit harsher than “you’re wrong” but the important thing is — he did it.

He didn’t succumb to the overwhelming majority of angels who were readying to fight against God, even though, I’m sure, he was tempted to. Translating this to our lives, how many times do we face similar peer pressure, so to speak? And how many are afraid to be themselves because of the majority simply isn’t like them?

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The last is directly from the battle, a description of the faithful angels. Just beautiful words that I felt like sharing with the world.

Feel free to share your thoughts with me in the comments!

Posted in Best Quotations, Poetry, Reading

Paradise Lost: Knowledge of Good

And next to Life
Our Death the Tree of Knowledge grew fast by,
Knowledge of Good bought dear by knowing ill.

Another thought-provoking line from Paradise Lost, and it’s definitely one of my favorites. The “knowledge of good bought dear by knowing ill” has many analogies: how would we know what light is if there were no darkness? Put differently, how could we appreciate and value happiness if we didn’t know sadness?

Of course, Adam and Eve knew inherently that their state was pretty much awesome since God had given them Happiness and Immortality, but I guess the true implications of what good means and its connection/contrast with evil is what was kept in the Tree of Knowledge. If they were happy, though, how did Satan manage to tempt Eve? I think the answer lies in these lines:

But apt the Mind or Fancy is to roave
Uncheckt, and of her roaving is no end…

I don’t even want to remember how much time I spent (wasted?) wondering about deep philosophical things and (even more time) about impossible but cool physical phenomena (what would I see were I too travel faster than light?). Well for that last one, I have an excuse since I need this for my book, but still, my mind spent hours “roaving uncheckt” instead of doing something useful. The continuation of the phrase above:

Till warn’d, or by experience taught, she learne,
That not to know at large of things remote
From use, obscure and suttle, but to know
That which before us lies in daily life,
Is the prime Wisdom, what is more, is fume…

So, settle for simple because striving for superior knowledge is useless? It sounds logical because really, the more we know, the more difficult our lives become. Then again… when has humanity ever gone for the easiest route?

Will we ever?

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

Posted in Blogging, Reading, Writing Wednesday

Writing Wednesday: Likable Villains

In almost every good fantasy story, I sympathize with the villain in some way. Or just outright adore him. Note that I said good fantasy story; in many books, unfortunately, you may find a villain/antagonist who does bad things because… you know, just because apparently, his moral compass broke when he/she was a fetus or something.

When I’d started writing, it was definitely a problem. I dedicated all my planning and character building to my protagonists and then, after trying to write the story, I spent hours wondering why it seemed like a crappy piece of fanfiction. It took me a long time, lots of writing AND reading as well as a bunch of Limyaael’s fantasy rants to get that no, my antagonists didn’t have to be soulless individuals who existed just to spawn their EVUL on the world.

After all, some of my favorite characters are antagonists.

Anakin Skywalker. Corrupted? Sure. Selfish? Uh-huh. Relatable? Definitely.

Another instance is the wonderful novel by Guy Gavriel Kay, Tigana. There, a bunch of rebels try to overthrow Brandin of Ygrath, who used to magic to erase the very memory of a province named Tigana (because they’d killed his son). I as a reader understand that this is bad, yes. He essentially destroyed a whole nation… but he came across as more likable than the obvious protagonists. His character is built perfectly, his motives are clear and relatable, and he is very charismatic. Kudos for that.

And finally, my favorite of all favorites. The eventual antagonist of the Chronicles of Amber tries to literally destroy the world and remake it in his own image. He is arrogant, power-hungry and mad. But the few descriptions of him from the viewpoint character, the several pages I had to get acquainted with him ‘personally’ were enough to make me fall in love with him and sympathize with him until the very end.

Credit: coupleofkooks on DeviantArt

So what I try to do with my ‘villains’ (although I try not to have those and am more in favor of antagonists with their own motives, it’s sometimes unavoidable because evil is needed, lol) is I get into their heads and figure out why they’re doing what they’re doing. The novel I’m working on right now has to have a finale where the antagonist tries to kill billions, if not trillions, of people, and although he is under the influence of a power which makes him mad, I couldn’t attribute his actions solely to this force.

So yesterday, I sat down and wrote his speeches to the people he would be rallying to support his evil cause. In this essay manner, sort of like free writing, I’d discovered so much about his childhood, his career, his motives and ultimately, I figured out how he persuades the masses to follow him. I will admit I was inspired by Donald Trump’s persuasive skills and thus got my own practice at writing populist messages. And it was a great experience. Have I mentioned how much I love writing?


Do you have any particular way in creating and refining your antagonists? Do you sympathize with them in any way? Do you have any favorite antagonists from fantasy books/films/TV shows?

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

Posted in Best Quotations, Blogging, Book, Literature, Reading, Review

Best Books: To Kill a Mockingbird

So yesterday, while thinking about what to write in the review of To Kill  Mockingbird, I seriously considered taking my average review word count (600 words) and writing perfect perfect perfect perfect… you get the idea.

Because really, what can I say about this masterpiece? It’s an amazing book that I think everyone should read at least once. It’s tender and beautiful, heartbreaking and joyful, hopeful and thought-provoking. Aka, everything a book should be.

Instead of doing a proper review, I’ll recount the lessons I learned after reading this book and share some of my favorite quotes. Here goes…


You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.

Atticus

The most important lesson in the book, in our lives, in the multiverse. I’m guilty of often being stubborn and unable to view things from other people’s perspectives (I need a lesson from Tyrion Lannister, it seems) though I’m working to improve on that. The book opened my eyes to how this is, essentially, the core of all interpersonal relations. If you lack this understanding, it inevitably leads to conflict.

And we have far too much conflict in our world already so we can’t afford to disregard others’ feelings.

Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.

Miss Maudie

In my view, Tom Robinson was a mockingbird who was killed for no reason. He wasn’t guilty, that much is clear. All he did was feel sorry for a white woman and helped her practically every day, he literally sang his heart out like a mockingbird, and what did he get in return? Hate, anger and death all because he was unfortunate enough to be born black in a segregated society.

The sheriff points out that dragging the reclusive Arthur Radley into the limelight after he killed Bob Ewell would be a sin, and he is, of course, right. Arthur, too, did nothing but care for the kids, saved their lives in the end and as Scout points out in the end of the book, “We had given him nothing, and it made me sad.” But they did give him something—the opportunity to be part of their family, if only for a few minutes as he acquaints himself with Scout and says goodbye to Jem. His storyline in the book ends on a happier note that Tom Robinson’s, yet he returns to his isolated existence. Which brings me to another point…

I think I’m beginning to understand why Boo Radley’s stayed shut up in the house all this time… it’s because he wants to stay inside.

Jem

Let’s look around. Orlando. Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights, Dallas. Nice. That’s not all of the tragedies that took place and that’s, what, only the two past months?

Hate and anger surround us, creating a nightmare out of what can be a happy world. Discrimination still persists although it’s the twenty-first century. AD. After thousands of years, we still cling to prejudice and refuse to see things from others’ perspective. If Jem is right and Arthur isn’t inclined to be social because the bigotry, segregation and injustice in Maycomb County is too much to bear, who’d blame him? It’s a scary planet, a scary country, a scary city, etc. to live in.

But let’s hope. I’ll never get tired of saying this, even when things are downright terrible. Let’s hope that someday, discrimination will be eliminated and nothing close to what happened to Tom Robinson will take place in the real world. Let’s hope that people learn to be kinder to each other. Let’s hope that those innocent souls who do nothing but good won’t become victims of injustice. Through all the tears and laughs this book evoked, I retained this feeling of hopefulness and serenity, that not all is lost and humanity will change.


I did a review of the movie To Kill a Mockingbird yesterday, and I’d like to thank everyone who commented on the post. I loved reading your insight on both the book and the film!

Feel free to comment below and share your favorite quotes from this book.

Till next time!

Next Sunday Review: Paradise Lost by John Milton

Posted in Best Quotations, Literature, Poetry, Reading

Paradise Lost: Infernal Monologue

This amazing track by Two Steps From Hell goes great with these quotes.


This isn’t actually infernal, even though these are all quotes from Satan while he is on his journey to Eden. In fact, this is where he expresses self-doubt about his planned endeavor (corrupting Adam and Eve) and thinks (oh my!) of repentance. Though fleetingly. Let’s start with this:

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As Jane Dougherty had mentioned in a comment to a previous post, Milton’s “poetry gushes when he’s writing about the fiend.” It really does. You see how the verses liven up when Satan starts talking, and it’s all Shakespearean and Hamlet-like, full of quaint metaphors and deep philosophizing.

Here’s what Satan says about his revolt against God, who only required love and praise from the angels he created:

paradise lost long post 2

How can good prove ill and wring malice? The fact is that God, knowing that his creations living in complete obedience to him would be wrong, created both angel and man free. Freedom plays a large part in Milton’s poem–and in our daily lives.

What does it truly mean though, to be free? Certainly not being limitless and egocentric. Freedom to make your own choices, both good and bad ones, freedom to choose to learn from your mistakes or go on repeating them, freedom to choose one in millions of possible career choices, romantic preferences, places to live in, mottos to live by… that is true freedom, in my opinion. However, there’s a problem–all of that is crammed into one lifetime. That’s a lot of energy we have to use to try and choose the right path. And not to end up in a predicament like once-pure angel Lucifer.

The devil born from Lucifer says this after he recalls the admiration of his demon allies:

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“Such joy ambition finds…”

And, returning to freedom, this is what Satan says about the other angel, who proved stronger in terms of willpower and didn’t follow him in his battle against God:

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Conclusion?

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But does it? Maybe, he just didn’t want to accept–and give back–the love? Which leads to:

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This connection he feels with hell stems, in my opinion, from the deadly hate he is buried by at this point. He rejected the goodness God had gifted him, and now finds the only way forward is to hell. However, he does attempt this curious thought:

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He views repentance as submission/losing/giving up. Then again… God is forgiving. God is love. As the Father says to the Son (quote from Book 3):

Mercy first and last shall brightest shine.

Beautiful wording and so much meaning. If only, Satan had tried going on this path of repentance he thought about. If only, Adam and Eve had been truly remorseful after eating the forbidden fruit, if they had admitted their disobedience instead of pointing to Eve and the serpent respectfully… the story we’ve heard a thousand times and more could have gone very differently.

But the arch-fiend abandons all thoughts of remorse and, with these words, sets out to find Eden and the unsuspecting couple there:

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What are your thoughts on these quotes? If you’ve read Paradise Lost, how do your views differ from mine? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

P.S. I want to create a John Milton fan club. Anyone with me?

Posted in Best Quotations, Literature, Poetry, Reading

Paradise Lost: Pleasure and Pain

Not the most harrowing descriptions of hell, for sure, but the vivid language Milton uses earns him a lot of kudos, at least from me. Here he describes the four rivers of hell (Styx, Acheron, Cocytus, Phlegeton) and the river of oblivion, Lethe.

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I love Milton’s mix of Ancient mythology and biblical references. It creates a magical universe that’s fun to read about–even if it’s about these dark hellish depths.

 

 

Posted in Best Quotations, Literature, Poetry, Reading

Paradise Lost: Life for Life

Below is another one of Satan’s musings. He plans to corrupt the new race God has created (us, humans) so God may, “with repenting hand abolish his own works.”

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This does turn out well for him at first. And yet, as Milton so beautifully describes (after God foresees that Satan will succeed in corrupting Adam and Eve):

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The Son of God volunteers to die for mankind’s salvation, and these verses are beautiful to read. Free of the emotional turmoil that we see in the undoubtedly enticing lines from Satan, Book Three, mostly set in Heaven, has a gentle serenity to it. This is a favorite of mine–the Son of God says:

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A heart-rending sacrifice, which leads to another beautiful conclusion:

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Don’t all of our problems here on planet Earth ultimately come from the lack of love? I hope I don’t sound moralizing but really, many crimes, many arguments, many estrangements could easily be prevented by this feeling of love, the readiness to sacrifice your own comfort for another person, even an enemy.

Anyway, returning to Milton, this act earns the Son of God the praise of the angels, and I’d like to share another verse, just because it’s awesome:

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Posted in Best Quotations, Literature, Poetry, Reading

Paradise Lost: This Deep World of Darkness

A line from the discussion between fallen angels. After proposing that they, though fallen, could thrive under evil and “when great things of small, / Useful of hurtful, prosperous of adverse / We can create…”, Mammon says:

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And of course, the Daily Prompt today would be cowardice. Mammon says the demons shouldn’t fear hell and its dreadful darkness, that they can imitate light and prosper if only they try hard enough. This, ultimately, leads nowhere because they, chiefly Satan, use evil means to achieve this goal. No attempt at remorse or repentance; that would be, of course, much harder than spreading evil around. After all, as Satan later says:

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Well, I’ve started Book Nine of Paradise Lost and I’m more and more impressed with Milton’s work. Whether you share this sentiment or not, feel free to leave a comment below! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the work in general and these particular quotes.

Check out my other posts on Paradise Lost if you want.

Posted in Literature, Reading, Saturday Stories

Saturday Stories: William Wilson (Poe)

I stumbled upon this story while studying for the literature exam last semester. One of the books we had to read was Lolita, and since this is Nabokov, I couldn’t help but delve deep into analysis. Boy, was I surprised to find the many a curious allusions to Poe in Nabokov’s novel, ranging from the shout-out to the poem Annabel Lee to the anagram Vivian Darkbloom. One of these allusions happened to be the vague similarity between the Humbert-Quilty plot and the story of William Wilson and his mysterious twin in Edgar Allan Poe’s short story. Upon reading it, I was amazed, as I always am with Poe, and here are some reasons why.

The narration—

Is pleasant, flowing nicely and gradually building suspense. William Wilson (pseudonym) actually reminded me somewhat of Humbert Humbert. The way he talks about himself and his past, concealing no flaws, admitting that he is “self-willed, addicted to the wildest caprices, and a prey to the most ungovernable passions.” He poses this question in the beginning of the story though:

…although temptation may have erewhile existed as great, man was never thus, at least, tempted before—certainly, never thus fell. <…> And am I not now dying a victim to the horror and the mystery of the wildest of all sublunary visions?

This opens many possibilities as to what happens next. What horror has this person suffered through? Physical, mental torment? Which brings me to…

The plot—

Is simple yet intricately told about, cautionary but not preachy, thought-provoking but not too philosophical. William encounters a student at school (later: Wilson) who seemingly looks like him, acts like him, apparently mimics William to irritate him. After they part, the narrator still fails to find peace; his twin pursues him like a shadow, his goal seeming to be “to frustrate those schemes, or to disturb those actions, which, if fully carried out, might have resulted in bitter mischief.”

Cornering Wilson one day and murdering him, William is faced with a mirror in which he sees his ‘antagonist’ who says:

You have conquered, and I yield. Yet, henceforward art thou also dead—dead to the World, to Heaven and to Hope! In me didst thou exist—and, in my death, see by this image, which is thine own, how utterly thou hast murdered thyself.

The themes—

You cannot evade conscience. By destroying it, you damage yourself. That much is clear. But another meaning I derived from this story is the danger of false assumptions, pride and anger, all of which hasten William’s downfall.

First, he assumes that Wilson means him harm, mimics him, trying to evoke his wrath. Second, William feels more and more irritated as he finds more and more similarities between himself and his ‘twin.” His uniqueness and superiority undermined, he is angered. Such a destructive emotion brings nothing but harm, so what ultimately happened to the character is no surprise.


I won’t post any ratings for these stories because for ‘Saturday Stories’ I’ll be sort-of-reviewing the classics and they all deserve 10/10 stars as far as I’m concerned.

What interests me is your opinion. Have you read the story? If so, what do you think of it? If you haven’t, would you like to? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Till next time!