Finished this a while ago, but never followed up on a final review. Sorry, but since beginning the next book in the series, I'm less clear on my impreFinished this a while ago, but never followed up on a final review. Sorry, but since beginning the next book in the series, I'm less clear on my impressions. Still you can read what I wrote half-way through my reading, below.
**** **** ****
I'm a little more than half-way through this book and am enjoying all the details that did not get to the movie of the same name. In fact, that so much was not included, perhaps because it seemed a sideline to the main plot line, seems to me a weakness of the movie. Namely I'm talking about the story line in which Hermione attempts to bring notice to the plight of the house elves that service Hogwarts. I remember this idea of social conscience and its misuse was presented in E.M. Forester's novels, the desire of the upper middle classes, in a bid to use their influence and upward mobility to lift up lower classes and the dilemmas that develop. One can guess there is a warning in this moral lesson, but the sentiment is not lost on me and is perhaps more complex than can be reasonably dealt with in a Young Adult that focuses on other things. I suspected there was a thread of this in "Catcher in the Rye", but was disappointed to find Salinger avoided anything blatantly social minded when I finally read the book a few short years ago. He preferred using the grittiness of the city to represent what was wrong with this society that held itself above anything so self-aware.
Anyway, the whole Dobby The House Elf story line is problematic and suffers from the "Jar Jar Binks syndrome" of being a such an unlikely straw character, that it parodies its self. You either love or hate Dobby and all similar characters, not because they parody the extreme hypocrisy of slavery, although that does nothing to inure you to them, but because they ring false and effected in their application. These are Punch and Judy stereotypes, which beat themselves like Catholic penitents simply because they are misguided in their implied humor. Rowling may have included them because their sadomasochism amused her own children, but they only work in the story because she allows them into the action of the plot and uses them as "deux ex machina" or quick fixes to plot dillemmas.
Again I have to raise the criticism of weak writing, but I've never held the writing of these books in high regard, only their ability to tap human conscience and ride the popularity wave. So it almost reads that I'm coming in both directions with my opinions and perhaps I am. I'm disappointed that the S.P.E.W. sections were expunged from the movies, but their very existence in these novels seems off putting. At the same time, while Hermione's activist tendencies are applaudable, the message I think Rowling wants the reader to take away with them is that these things have their own momentum that we cannot rush.
I could also go onto Rowlings implied criticism of Divination, which is also weak, but not because she doesn't have a strong argument. Instead she uses it more as a foil for her characters to balk and chaff at school subjects that seem beyond them. Because Divination has a reputation for being elusive (and I do have to agree with Hermione's comment in one of the movies "Divination's a very woolly discipline."), it is treated as folly by the characters although prophecy and prediction are very much a part of the whole series's plot. Asking how useful is Divination and is it worthy of serious consideration is perhaps beside the point. Afterall, this is a fantasy novel where all sorts of dubious activities are given credence and remain entangled with the whole plot.
I've not finished the novel yet, so I may have more to add. But for now, I'm enjoying reading this novel, if only for the unfamiliar bits....more
I began reading this long after deciding the movie that was based on this book was my favorite of all the Harry Potter movies. I own several hardcoverI began reading this long after deciding the movie that was based on this book was my favorite of all the Harry Potter movies. I own several hardcover copies of the various novels because I figured one day I'd be interested enough to read them, but I have to admit the simplicity of the story telling and having already watched all the movies have kept me from spending more time on reading the original sources.
My assumptions are turning out correct, by the way. The text is simple, and a quick read. There is little reflection or internal commentary by the main characters that isn't already contained in the movies, so I have to admit disappointment that the writing wasn't better. Still, it is the same stories and even the movies did not offer much in reflection or internal commentary, so my disappointment isn't coupled with any surprise or dismay.
These are solid children's novels and while they lack much depth, they are fun and carry the same resonance within our modern society. I can see how the stories lend themselves to the level of interest that has been sparked by their publication and the subsequent movies which manage to build upon that without squashing it.
I'm not going to mention anything specific, because the movie that this is based on does a great job of covering the main points of the story and I wouldn't want to be accused of presenting any spoilers. But I was surprised how much the movie improves upon the book's plot. I didn't expect that, but Rowling doesn't seem to always have everything planned out as much as I was lead to believe....more
I don't give many books five stars before I read them in their entirety, but I am so impressed with Lisa Randall and her philosophical arguments in thI don't give many books five stars before I read them in their entirety, but I am so impressed with Lisa Randall and her philosophical arguments in the first part of this very timely book. Namely she tackles the issue of religious thinking vs. scientific thinking head on.
While she is clearly prejudiced in favor of the latter, being an honored Theoretical Physicist and Professor, she covers many salient points that concern both and manages to assert her understandings of the arguments without being condescending and disrespectful of the religious viewpoint. She does express surprise and confusion at encounters with people who feel they can reconcile the two viewpoints, but she does so with an understanding of the history of scientific thought and how it has evolved over the centuries from dogmatic thinking to more open ended theorizing.
This is merely an introduction to the real subject of the book which is the development of the large Hadron collider in Cern, Switzerland and the ideas that lead to its construction, but her observations are pointed and focused enough that you sense she understands the human need for certainty when approaching the subject of science.
I will have to return this to the Public Library eventually, but I'm hoping that despite the dry subject matter, Randall's engaging text and discussion will help me delve deeper into this subject before my loan expires....more
I really enjoyed this book and the movie that was based on it. There are some uneven points in the plot line, but over all this is a quick and enjoyabI really enjoyed this book and the movie that was based on it. There are some uneven points in the plot line, but over all this is a quick and enjoyable read....more
Rick Worley is not afraid to express himself, on any subject he deems appropriate. That his interests range over the narrow focus of Internet porn, reRick Worley is not afraid to express himself, on any subject he deems appropriate. That his interests range over the narrow focus of Internet porn, relationships with cute, emotionally unavailable young men and the music of Bob Dylan is merely a reflection of who he is. You may not be interested in any of these things, but you will enjoy reading his works in spite of yourself; that is if you can get past any prejudices you may already have about those particular subjects. You are now warned....more
Jane McGonigal wants to change the world by getting us all to play games more. She has already established a reputation for generating play around basJane McGonigal wants to change the world by getting us all to play games more. She has already established a reputation for generating play around basic ideas and putting them to work with the support of many multi-national corporations and non-profit organizations. I think she has very admirable goals and she certainly has the enthusiasm to promote them, but will this book really solve the most pressing problems in the world?
"Reality is Broken" is a manifesto. McGonigal is convinced that by playing games mankind can attack the most troubling of social issues, from poverty to hunger, and solve them through play. She lists the ways that we can do this and often sounds like a self-help guru; "do more satisfying work", "participate wholeheartedly wherever, whenever we can", and "have more fun with strangers".
I like her ideas and she been actively putting them to work in her career as a game designer and social engineer. Designing games that can encourage and teach people is a noble idea and McGonigal has worked on many projects that seem to have accomplished this. But where are the results? Unfortunately, McGonigal has only saw fit to list Internet sites where she's implemented these games. Where is the statistical data that shows the real effects of these games? Where are the first person stories of how playing these games really changed people's lives? Only online apparently because they are not in this book.
Modern humans are already playing games more and yet global problems still persist. I think the failing of this manifesto is that the gaming community is not unified in the same humanitarian values McGonigal clearly espouses. Also, while McGonigal acknowledges criticism that games can be used to escape reality, her rebuttal focuses only on the positive aspects of games and sidesteps any negatives of gaming addiction. It would make sense to design games to minimize this potentials, but that is outside the scope of this book.
I do want to watch her career for the next decade and see if she manages to attach herself to any project that applies itself to real world problems and manages to solve some of these dilemmas. It would indeed be a coup for the modern commercial world for a game designer to win a Nobel prize as she asserts is a personal goal. Unfortunately, this book has not changed my gaming habits and fails to convince me that we are really entering a new era of gaming. I'd like to be proven wrong. ...more