I saw Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and I have some thoughts

Hi everyone! Originally, I was going to make this post about my favorites of 2018 but I ended up seeing the newest movie in the Fantastic Beasts franchise tonight. In my previous post about having “too much story,” I admitted that I was hesitant about this movie and if it was messing with the original lore too much. You all know that I am a die hard Harry Potter fan, who also enjoyed the first Fantastic Beasts movie. Let me tell you what I thought. Spoilers Ahead!

I wanted to start by talking about the thing I liked about this movie. First, I loved seeing Newt again. I really enjoy his atypical characteristics. Eddie Redmayne is charming as anything and it comes through again. In addition to Newt, I also enjoyed seeing him and Jacob back together for adventures. I can’t go any further without mentioning how I loved seeing Newt and Tina together. (I really ship it.) As for the story, I did enjoy seeing the lore of Grindelwald come to life as that was a very important part of what led to Voldemort’s rise to power. Along with that, seeing Dumbledore before in his teacher days was one of the best parts of the movies. There was some really good world building and great character development. I can’t completely say the movie didn’t have some great elements. 

Let’s get to what I didn’t like. First, I’m still not happy about Johnny Depp being casted. He did a fine job in the movie but they should have replaced him with someone less controversial. I shouldn’t feel guilty supporting this movie. There was definitely some muddling of the lore that seemed to appear out of nowhere and with no preface. With the reveal of Credence possibly being a Dumbledore and not a Lestrange, I found myself a bit baffled. I know it’s mostly for sequel bait but it’s still a weird reveal. Along with the whole familial confusion, there was also infanticide! I was not expecting to see babies being murdered and I was disturbed as any other person should be. My biggest gripe, beyond all of that, is that there were not enough beasts in the movie. I wanted to know if Newt had made any progress in helping people learn to understand magical beasts but that was completely thrown away for the Grindelwald plot. The actual beasts are what drove the first movie and I really enjoyed seeing all of that. The charm of the first movie just got lost in this one. Only Newt, Tina, and Jacob were the driving forces of what made the first movie so enjoyable. 

In conclusion, I don’t think this movie gave “too much” story. Instead, I thought it told the wrong story. It wasn’t a badly written story by any means. It was just too much of a turn from what the first movie delivered. The plot twists felt as though they were mostly there for shock and sequel bait as opposed to story building. Now, I am aware that this is JK Rowling’s world and she can do whatever she wants with it. There, however, has to be some consistency. I understand we can’t know everything about the Wizarding World. I am just saying, though, that the world building felt lost in the epic-ness of the movie. I’m not hating on this movie by any means. I would definitely watch it again. I’m just intrigued as to where the story is going to go from here. 

Where the World Ends is Where You Must Begin: Reviewing The Gunslinger (Book One of The Dark Tower Series) by Stephen King

Hi everyone! It’s time for me to stop padding this blog with random posts and start giving you some actual book reviews. I was grateful to receive the entire Dark Tower series from my aunt not too long ago. I have mentioned in the past that it has been awhile since I have read a series. I’m also a Stephen King fan so this was all very serendipitous. Now, here are my thoughts on The Gunslinger. 

The mysterious man called the Gunslinger is on the hunt for the equally enigmatic Man in Black. As he travels across the desert, the Gunslinger must survive many magical obstacles in his path as well as protect Jake, a kid from Earth in order to reach his arch nemesis. King’s mix of epic fantasy and classical Western tales provides a surreal backdrop for the thrilling and dark tale of the Gunslinger and his quest.

As you have probably seen, I have reviewed King’s horror novels in the past but I have not read one of his non-horror novels yet. The Gunslinger had a surreal and gritty atmosphere that brings together all of the classic elements of a Western story with the kind of fantasy I’ve read in Lord of the Rings. The story is certainly not structured in any traditional way. It took me a bit to realize that as the story simply flows together and isn’t broken up by so many chapters. The Gunslinger is actually a quick read but the story makes you pay attention to detail as King certainly follows the “show don’t tell” rule of story telling. I finished this book feeling intrigued. King does inject his usual gory form of story telling into this novel, so you have been warned if you are sensitive to violence. At times, the writing did carry a certain sexual overtone that made me a little uncomfortable. It wasn’t enough to deter me but, again, you may not enjoy this if you are sensitive to this kind of content. In the end, I found myself very intrigued by The Gunslinger. I love the mashup of two very different genres and will definitely be reading the rest of the series. I’ll go ahead and recommend this novel to fans of fantasy novels. The Gunslinger is an epic exercise in pushing the limits of action and fantasy.

Note: I know the movie adaptation came out a year ago or so. I haven’t seen it but let me know if you think it is worth watching. I would like to know.

We Fought. We Persevered. We Rose.: Reviewing Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Hello everyone! It’s been way too long since I’ve posted anything. I wanted to wait to completely finish this novel before talking about it but, I’m just going to go ahead and tell you my thoughts about it. I’ve had to put this book on hold more than once due to graduation and now work. Anyways, I am incredibly excited to tell you all about Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi.

Zelie Adebola was just a child when the king targeted the maji and wiped out all of the magic in Orisha. Zelie lost her mother and was forced to hide her powers from the world. Now, years later, Zelie has the chance to bring back magic with the help of the rebellious Princess Amari. With her brother and Amari at her side, Zelie must race against the bloodthirsty king and ruthless prince in order to bring back magic to Orisha.

There has been a lot of hype about this novel and it has even been promoted by Jimmy Fallon. I am pleased to say that Adeyemi’s debut book lives up to the hype. It has a wonderful balance of world building and character building. It has a very Game of Thrones vibe as the narrative is a similar style with the chapters alternating the characters’ points of view. It also carries the same adventurous spirit as Harry Potter. This book is a journey in every sense and it is a great YA novel as it deviates from so many of the tropes in YA fantasy/adventure novels. Fans of mythology will also enjoy this as it is based in African folklore and mythology. I haven’t read many (if any) fantasy novels that weren’t told from a Western perspective so this novel is particularly unique in that sense. I highly recommend Children of Blood and Bone to anyone looking to an exciting YA novel that you don’t want to put down.

Note: I know that Adeyemi had released that title for the next novel in this series and that she is in talks for a movie adaptation.

Monsters, Fathoms, and Witchcraft: Reviewing The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

I’m surprised it took me as long as I did to get to reading this book. In a moment of weakness that I experience whenever I am in a bookstore, I decided to add yet another Neil Gaiman book to my growing collections. What can I say? I’m guilty of being a Neil Gaiman fan. I will now tell you about The Ocean at the End of the Lane. 

When a middle aged man returns to his childhood home for a funeral, he finds himself drawn back to an old farm where his friend, Lettie Hempstock, lived. As he stands by Lettie’s “ocean” (that was really a pond) behind her farmhouse, he remembers a frightening, magical, and fantastical time in his life that no small boy could have even imagined. The Ocean at the End of Lane follows the journey of children trying to make sense of a strange world where adults aren’t always right and magic inhabits the forest.

You are all aware of my bias as I am a Neil Gaiman fan but, regardless, this novel is a delicate and dark look at childhood and the struggles that come with it. Gaiman takes his signature dark storytelling and turns it into a fairy tale that is surprisingly relatable. It’s a quick read too, at only 273 pages but Gaiman makes every last page count. This coming-of-age story presents the reader with a new outlook on adulthood, humanity, bravery, and kindness. The Ocean at the End of the Lane takes you a whirlwind journey through the magic world that we grow out of.

As Above, So Below: Reviewing Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

I bet that you’ve been waiting for me to talk about how much I love Neil Gaiman’s novels. Well, I’m back to tell you about another one of his novels. I meant to write about this one a while ago but I forgot. I have since re-read the book and will now share with you my thoughts on the strange world of Neverwhere. 

Richard Mayhew was doing pretty well for himself with a nice job and wonderful fiancee  in London. All of that changed when he stumbled across a dying girl on the sidewalk. Soon, Richard finds himself trapped in the bizarre and macabre world of London Below where he must fight to get his life back and reach the surface against all odds.

Neil Gaiman is the master of creating vivid settings and characters with just his words. Neverwhere is a wild and wonderful take on the classic “Alice in Wonderland”-type story. Gaiman’s wicked sense of humor shines through in this whimsical novel. Neverwhere is a testament to Gaiman’s world-building abilities. If you are looking for a thrilling and special tale, then I recommend Neverwhere in order to escape from this world to one below.

Demons and Angels and Horsemen, Oh My!: Reviewing Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

It’s hard for me not to gush over a singular author but I am reviewing another Neil Gaiman novel. This one, however, is also co-authored by the late and great Terry Pratchett. If you know anything about these authors, you know that they both have written some of the more unique and profound novels. With ample amounts of wit and unconventional ideas, Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch is a hilarious clever read.

Good Omens starts with the friendship between an angel named Aziraphale and a demon named Crowley. The two develop an odd sort of friendship and engage in a friendly rivalry between Heaven and Hell. The two are assigned by the higher powers to be the godparents of the Antichrist and guide him to decide between good and evil. Unfortunately, they find out they had been watching the wrong kid. Now, they must go search for the real Antichrist who is blissfully unaware of his powers. Meanwhile, the four horsemen of the Apocalypse are plotting to destroy the world, a young man joins a witch hunting army out of boredom, and a young witch tries to see if her distant relative was actually a nutter. These strange but fascinating plots weave together to create one entertaining and amazing read.

Good Omens has a dry, sarcastic, absurd, and sometimes dirty sense of humor. Despite the initial strangeness of the narratives, its easy to get sucked in by the combined writing of Pratchett and Gaiman. Anyone looking for a humorous take on the supernatural and spiritual is guaranteed to enjoy this novel. It’s a quick enough read with an eclectic cast of characters that are both human and not. The story lines all come together to form a wild ride that will keep you laughing and intrigued until the very end.