This ain’t it, folks.
I really did not enjoy this book. While the novelization of the movie was fine for the most part, the sequel destroyed my reading experience. (Most of my rating/review is based on the sequel as the first portion of the story is the same as the film. I gave it two stars because the novelization deserves a three for still being part of the novel, but the sequel deserves one.)
As for the first part of the story which is basically just a novelization of the film Hocus Pocus, I enjoyed it well enough. It was extremely accurate to the books and I believe almost all of the dialogue was lifted directly from the film. While listening to the audiobook, it had the sense of almost watching the film which was very pleasant. I felt it did a decent job of adding some more depth to certain characters such as the relationship between Max and Allison as well as the dynamic between each of the Sanderson sisters. The only turn off specifically related to the audiobook was I have the voices of the film actors so deeply ingrained into my brain, that I was disappointed when the voice/inflection of certain lines did not match my memory of the story. That’s not fault on the audiobook actor or the author – it’s just a result of listening to a different actor than what I’m used to. (Though I desperately missed the spectacular production that is “I Put A Spell On You).
My singular issue with the novelization which leads into the “all new sequel” is that there is ONE change that dictates the entire course of the sequel. It is a very obvious change that is not at all existent in the original story and the only reason the change was incorporated was to be the catalyst for the events of the sequel. This may just be a personal issue I have with the story, but if you are going to write a sequel to a cult classic film, you can’t change the original story to fit your idea of the sequel. I was having a good time reading at first, but this fact really set me off and I instantly became really disappointed in the story.
Moving onto the sequel, I was actually REALLY enjoying the first few chapters. Following the characters of the original story 25 years later added a different level of depth that I never imagined possible when watching as a kid. I felt the author captured the atmosphere of one of my favorite stories from childhood so well. But unfortunately, as soon as the Sanderson sisters appeared, I was totally out.
One of my biggest gripes of the book is that the magic system is not consistent. I would have been really excited to see the Sanderson’s magic used in new ways, but the rules and limitations set by the initial story were completely wrecked and transformed into something new. The spell the entire plot of the sequel is based on was just so nonsensical and dumb – it really set the tone for the rest of the novel. There was one moment where a spell truly mimics the original manner of magic-working and I was immensely excited, but every other spell was a huge disappointment.
The plot was just very simplistic and convenient. It should have had a greater intensity than Hocus Pocus but it was just so bland. A lot of telling and showing and not enough complex action to keep me interested. Certain characters essentially spoon-feed knowledge to the main characters so there’s no rush and no intellectual struggle for the protagonists.
When I started the sequel, I thought I was really beginning to enjoy the new cast of characters, especially given that they are much more diverse than the actors in the film. But as I grew deeper into the story, I realized I didn’t know much about them. They were all fairly one dimensional and not memorable whatsoever. I wanted to love Poppy and her friends so badly, but I honestly don’t know who they are outside of their relation to the original cast and their extremely flat personalities.
A few additional things I really disliked:
-The modernization/technology plot line – It was lazy and uncreative. It made the story feel so out of touch from it’s roots. Just plain dumb.
- The musical number – I don’t understand why this was included? The audiobook narrator doesn’t even sing it, which might have made it a little bearable. I’m all for musical numbers in film and television but gosh, was it uncomfortable in this story. So out of place.
-There were some interesting reveals and twists that could have done well but they were just executed so poorly.
Overall, Hocus Pocus & The All New Sequel did not deliver. I knew this book would probably be a flop going into it, but I so desperately wanted to be surprised. Unfortunately, it was even more disappointing than I imagined.