Friday, August 26, 2016

An Open Letter to Sarah J. Maas (and everyone else)

So I have a lot of feelings. 

Empire of Storms, the 5th book in my favorite series, is coming out soon and some stores put it out early (lol and that mistake bookstore in O'Hare). And there are a lot of angry people out there mad about people posting spoilers, which isn't what I want to discuss. (My opinion on THAT, real quick, is post it carefully and know where not to look but also don't get mad if someone posts a picture of the FIRST PAGE?! That literally reveals no new information whatsoever?!)


This is an open letter to Sarah (and other writers and kind of to myself?).  Because she's a wonderful and hilarious person who (hopefully) won't even need to read this because she's a badass and knows how great she is. But in case other people are frustrated, and just to sooth my soul, I wanted to write this. 

Dear Sarah, 

I love that you love Legolas. I love that you are a nerd. I love that you posted this story you loved online and people liked it enough for other, more powerful people, to see and want to publish it. I love that you dressed up the first time I met you at ComicCon and you were so excited about EVERYTHING. I love that you are open with how your friendships have changed you. I love that you write characters that I love, and if I don't love, I respect. Obviously, I love a lot that you do. 

I love that you continue to write stories from your heart and soul. I think once at ComicCon or somewhere you called Throne of Glass "the story of your heart, while ACOTAR was the story of your soul" (sorry if I got that way wrong). A lot of people on Twitter are upset with you because the story is not going as they wanted. And while everyone is entitled to their opinion, their hurtful words do nothing more than attack an incredibly talented person for writing their own story, the story of their heart. Disclaimer: I love your books because I think they are well written, with interesting and ever developing characters, with a fearless look at sacrifice and stakes, and developed and interesting world. The guys are cool too, I guess. But it's not the honest reviews or critiques that get me. It's not the story or writing for some, and I'm super okay with that. It's the hateful words over character relationships that irk me. It's the ones that, in a very hurtful way, say "I know better.". Well, in my opinion, no one knows (or should know) better than the writer. 

So while this is a letter to you, I guess this part can be to any and all authors. As an aspiring writer myself, the scariest part is putting your work out there. I was terrified giving my half-assed stories to the 12 people in my creative writing class, none the less a story I loved to thousands of people I don't even know. So kudos to you, for even doing that. Kudos for writing a story you needed to write. Kudos for writing a story YOU loved. People become so invested in a story and a world and characters that they feel some sort of ownership over them, which isn't always a bad thing and I personally think is a tribute to the author and the storytelling. 

But in the end, it's all yours. 

And while your monetary success relies on the people reading, while, perhaps even more importantly, you are a storyteller and want your words to reach people, only YOU know the story you are trying to tell. Sometimes parts of it are scrapped, sometimes parts of it are changed, sometimes parts of it are there from beginning to end (kind of like a person). Sometimes it goes in a direction you didn't want, despite the fact that it's yours (kind of like your life). It keeps you up at night and makes you pull your hair out in frustration and causes you all sorts of emotional and physical pain (kind of like a relationship). But it's yours. And most likely, it's developing the way it is for a reason, whether that be personal or otherwise. And. It's. Yours.

You probably already know this. There has been all sorts of chatter since Heir of Fire, as if you were somehow purposely not doing what fans wanted, somehow rebelling against what the story truly wanted, somehow blind to the story's truth (lol). Hopefully none of the negativity bothers you, even if it reaches you. Hopefully you can sit with Annie and Susan Dennard, watching The 100 or something on TV and cackle at people who are so upset things aren't going their way. But just in case you do see it or it does reach you: It's yours. And I think it's that ownership and growth and change - and sass and hot guys and hilarious characters and hot guys and strong female protagonists and hot guys - that makes the series great, makes it my favorite. 

TLDR: You're amazing. Keep on keeping on. 


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne - Review

The Eighth Story. Nineteen Years Later.

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

---------------------------- Amazon, B&N, Goodreads ----------------------------

This is a hard one. One, because it's not a novel, it's a play. Two, because it's Harry Potter - beloved, crazy-fandomed, loved-by-most-of-the-world Harry Potter. And three, because it's a play about Harry Potter. But I'm going to try so here it goes.

I can already see why some readers won't like this. It. Is. Not. Like. The books. Looking at it in comparison to the novels, the story is rushed, some key characters and points are left out, and Albus appears to be grossly underdeveloped.


I think it does a great job emulating and expanding on the stories - it reimagines who Harry and Draco (whose character becomes so important towards the end of the original series) could have been. Really, it explores what could have happened if Harry was sorted into Slytherin. What if Harry allowed his anger and his hurt to rule his judgements and relationships? What if Draco didn't bend to the pressure of his power hungry, cowardly father? How do the choices we make, both internal and external, effect everything and everyone around us?

I think the Cursed Child does a great job in telling a completely different kind of story with the same message. Both Harry and Albus feel alone and misunderstood. Albus is flawed and makes a crap-ton of (really big) mistakes. He's prideful and reckless and doesn't think things through. He's angry. But he's also young, and learning. He doesn't judge people by their legacy (like Scorpius), since he can't figure out how to grapple with his own, much like Harry doesn't judge Ron for being from a meager family. He gives in to the darker side of his nature because everyone expects him to be good, while Scorpius is the opposite, because everyone expects him to be bad. Lily's love was a very particularly kind of sacrificial love, and both Albus and Harry have to learn that there are different ways to express themselves. Growing up is hard, and so is parenting, and the world often isn't fair.

The play itself is a wild ride. No spoilers, but the way the plot moves is kind of hard to understand when you read versus when you watch (I'm assuming). The writing is pretty good, though it didn't seem particularly original to me, and the way the characters plunk along is similar to the way Harry, Ron, and Hermione survived, but if Hermione basically wasn't there and Harry and Ron were stumbling about trying not to die.

The reason why I didn't walk away being like "awww man, really??" are Albus and Scorpius. They are so perfectly depicted as these two boys who feel alone and suffer from this extreme pressure of their parents' legacies. They are both great depictions of complicated kids grappling with who they are, who society things they should be, and who they want to be. I think it brings up great conversations on the lasting effects of trauma, dealing with depression, and trying to find and create your own unique identity, at any age.

If you are even a little curious, I suggest reading it. As a play, it goes by quickly, and as long as you go in knowing it's not going to be the 8th BOOK, but rather secondary exploration of Harry's legacy, I think it's a story worth reading if you are a fan.

Find out more about the author here:

Happy Reading!