Harry: So are you ready?

My first thought when the play was released was ‘how can this work?!’

I did a lot of research. A lot.

Too much.

I just could not get my head around a two part play. I argued with myself. ‘Well Shakespeare did it’ ‘HOW DOES IT WORK WHEN SHAKESPEARE DOES IT?!’

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It made me reconsider a lot of things in my life. I thought, how does it work about people buying tickets? So you have to buy two? Do you HAVE to see both parts?

One of the begrudging thoughts I have with this is that going to the theatre (for me) is a treat and an expense. I don’t often go, but I do know that I am lucky that I can go as often as I do, which is a couple of times a year. To me this felt like a cheap, money making move. I have just looked at the website and I mean it kind of is and isn’t. Tickets start at £15 per part (so you pay £30 for both parts) Which I suppose isn’t tooooo bad for two shows. Also there is a schedule. Days with two shows, matinee is part one and evening is part two. Thursday/ Friday is part one and two respectively. When  you book your tickets it automatically gives you the same seat for both shows.

So I suppose, not as complicated as I may have made it out to be in my mind. I haven’t gone. I don’t know if I ever will.

I did however read the script.

As it is a script it’s not what a lot of people wanted. Stage directions are not the same as a full blown description and speech is not Harry’s inner monologue. As I have studied a fair few plays in my time for my degree, it didn’t bother me too much. Also I went in skeptical. I am a huge Harry Potter freak and when I saw the script was out I read it more out of interest rather than desperately wanting to read it. It was more to see what they had done.

Disappointment isn’t the right word to describe how I feel about it. Maybe just more indifference. It was ok. The story is a bit all over the place, the first act being heavily the act of setting up the mundanity of ‘normal’ life and the angst of teenage life. Difficult relationships, work, father/ son relationships, friendships all have to be set up before we can even get to the meat of the story. Hence the second half which is actually ok. An interesting look at how changing certain events in the Triwizard Tournament and how that affects the rest of the plot of the original stories.

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The one thing I do like is that I think they have managed to claw back the essence of Ron. I enjoy the films but I hate what they did to Ron. They made him stupid and selfish, which in reality he wasn’t. In the books he is intelligent, loyal, brave and funny. He is hilarious, probably the result of being the youngest brother in such a huge family. The play will remind audiences and readers of that fact.

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I imagine it is a real spectacle and if anyone has seen the play I would be interested to hear how it was. Maybe it is why I feel quite indifferent about it. Plays on page rather than the stage are quite hard to relate to, which is why when I tutored Shakespeare, I would encourage students to find a good film version as well. It brings the text to life and makes it much more exciting.

So as ‘The eighth story nineteen years later’ I’m sure on stage when you are distracted by the set and the acting and the special effects, I’m sure its enjoyable and entertaining. However, Voldermorts daughter is a bit of a stretch for me I’m afraid.

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‘Tell me how you want your story to go, he says, and we’ll write it straight across the sand.’

When I go on holiday I always like to treat myself with a couple of new books, and let’s be honest, after trying to organise yourself with packing and spending money a couple of books is low on the list. So, I’m standing in the bookshop in the airport and feeling the pressure to find the last of my offer books.

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So I grab Rebel of theSands as it looked ok. I read the back of the book and the first page and just decided it would do, its the offer book so even if its no good, no harm no foul.

Oh how wrong I was.

I struggled through the book that I thought would be good. Once I’d finished that and gave it away for someone else to read,  I started on the debut novel from Alwyn Hamilton.

I was gripped instantaneously, which does not happen very often. Books have a tendency to be slow burners, setting the scene and then BAHM, they’ve got you.

However this one, I couldn’t put it down. The need to know what was going to happen next was too strong. I think one of the main reasons is the genius which is the narrative voice of Armani, our young main character. She is a girl in a mans world, so much so that for most of the book she is dressed as a boy so she can travel and be taken seriously. Armani is witty, brave and engaging. She is blunt about the horrors of living in the world that she lives in, but hopeful enough of a better life that it is easy to relate to her.

When I did pick this book up I thought it would be an exotic romance. And of course there is the ‘will they won’t they’ of Armani and Jin which is wonderfully done. However, the book is more about the land and about magic and justice. It is so descriptively wonderful that while reading it I felt like I was in the oppressive desert. (but maybe being on holiday helped that one) As well as having a complex and imaginative fantasy world, the reality of living in an occupied land is also explored. Rape and violence is openly and bluntly talked about as a matter of everyday life. Armani is very aware and fearful of what could happen to her as a woman. This fear and other fears drive her need for a better life and keeps the pace of the narrative going.

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I love the slow growing romance of Jin and Armani and they’re witty conversations are a joy to read. This whole book is powerful and engaging, with just the right amount of magic and reality. A real coming of age and finding your place in the world, I am desperate for the next book to come out.

Happy reading!