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Tag Archives: Harry Potter

Has it All Been Done Before?

I just recalled a discussion I had during a class I had with the professor who had me start this blog. She taught a metafiction class and started it off by asking “Has everything been done already in literature?”

A great question – certainly split the class in two immediately, with people insisting that we’ve borrowed ideas over and over again with different names, time periods, and plots over the years.

I remember telling her that I didn’t believe that. Poe’s The Tell Tale Heart would serve as a foundation for modern detective stories we read today. J.K. Rowling painted a world where the terms “witch” and “warlock” didn’t mean the leering, sinister figures, hungry for mischief and revenge – instead, these could be a mix of smart, kind, and evil figures who used magic and witchcraft for good and evil.

I’ll admit that with the recent surge of YA literature in the Dystopian genre, its easy to argue its all been done before. Many fans have dubbed Divergent and The Maze Runner to be Hunger Games copycats while I feel differently. While all three speak of bleak, somewhat extreme time periods, each one focuses on something different.

The Hunger Games touches on class differences along with the premise of revolution and what it does to people. In addition to that, a young girl is forced to grow up and lead a nation of people who view her as the beacon of hope in a unbalanced society.

Divergent observes how people would fair if they were divided into different groups based on a singular way of thinking. The underlying theme of fear and how one copes with it is also prevalent in the characters’ storylines as they attempt to change a society that had narrowed people’s minds and divided them based on set principles told to them.

The Maze Runner questions morality and whether testing innocent people from a young age is justified in seeking a cure for the rest of the world. The main character struggles with redemption as he tries to atone for his past throughout the series.

Where do you stand?

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The Last One’s Always the Hardest (Final Books in Series)

Many people have read series like The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner, all of which include 3 main books with an occasional prequel or side short story. The main thing I tend to hear when people reach the final book is how disappointed they are. It can be the storyline, the fate of certain characters, or the resolution to some of the conflict.

Having read all three series, I can understand why people are reacting. Yes, its heartbreaking to read favorite characters either dying or fighting to save the main character or perhaps a pairing ends up with someone else. But take a step back and think about this: In order to show how high the stakes are in a fictional world or dire situation, people die. Not just the bad guys but some of the neutral figures and beloved allies have to. If they didn’t, it would become a very cliche story and you’d probably be complaining about how the story ended too neatly with a perfect ending.

Also consider that the authors could be under stress from their publishers or fans to meet certain expectations. Some people feel that Mockingjay had a rocky ending that seemed forced but I feel that in order to get to the conclusion she wanted while giving some fans the resolution they wanted, Suzanne likely had to plan out certain deaths to symbolize the message of dying for a good cause while showing that love can persevere in very difficult situations if the bond is there.

I still think back to J.K. Rowling saying how she regretting killing off a minor character. Recently, she’s apologized to killing off other characters in the series via Twitter. You have to admit, she wrote an impressive roster of characters and eventually some of them had to succumb to death in some way in the series. Otherwise, it would be a nightmare for her to manage all of them in the conclusion.

I’m not saying you aren’t allowed to slam your book shut, throw it across the room, and scream your frustration at the ending. But instead of bombarding the author with hate, I think its best to take a deep breath, think about how difficult it likely was to write that scene/character fate/etc., and remember that the author wants to give you a fairly realistic scenario of what can happen when the stakes are high.

It’s All Those Little Things

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I’ve heard many phrases used to describe life and the unpredictable nature behind living one to the fullest. For me, I believe that “Life is like a roller coaster. It has ups, downs, twists, loops, and corkscrews and you just need to strap in, take a deep breath, and hang on tight.” Everyone can attest to the fact that they will have good and bad days in their lives but its your choice to decide how you view things.

Writing alone is a struggle for me. There are times where I find inspiration in the smallest events, details, or things said. Then I get the dry spells where I feel uninspired and/or unmotivated to write. Sometimes my personal life tends to take center stage versus writing and it can consume me at times. Work was the main reason for my current case of writer’s block – I have been with the same company for almost 2 years and awaiting news regarding a permanent position. A few days prior, I received a phone call offering me a permanent position part time with my current team, which I happily accepted.

Yesterday I visited Universal Studios with my dad and we took the last tram of the day. A few minutes into the drive past the film posters, everyone in the third and fourth cars smelled burning rubber and saw smoke emitting from one of the wheels on the third car. We alerted the tour guide, who radioed the staff about the issue. At first the smoke went away and it seemed like things would be all right, until we reached the new metro sets. The smoke came back and the smell became more prominent, forcing the driver to pull us over and wait for 10-12 minutes to bring a new tram down to transfer us to. Nerve-wracking? Yes, especially since some passengers were speculating that either we going to lose a wheel mid-tour or some of the more cynical minded ones thought that the car could blow at any second. But while some people seemed unhappy about this happening, I was grateful that the issue was caught early on and I joked to my dad that it would certainly make for a memorable end to our day.

Where is she going with all of this? In short, life will not be a smooth course. It’s human to feel happy, stressed, sad, angry, etc. about the events that occur but I strongly suggest you never lose sight of the good times. With that, I’ll leave you with my favorite Dumbledore quote and a cute picture of my nephew dressed as Dobby the free House Elf.

“But you know happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, when one only remembers to turn on the light.” ~ Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)

A Little House ElfPicture taken by Angela Wang

Well it All Started…

I started thinking about books and how many of them have unique beginnings.

Charlotte’s Web begins with a question and leads into a confrontation between daughter and father over the life of the smallest pig.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone states that the Dursleys are a normal family and proceeds to set up their daily routine.

Divergent starts with a haircut and a forbidden glance at one’s appearance in the mirror.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog starts with a young boy proclaiming that he accepts Marxism and brags about this news to an indifferent concierge.

Why do these authors choose these unique starting points to hook readers in? To some it might just seem like a catchy way to hook readers in. To me it gives the reader a hint to the author’s style and what you might expect. We can tell that the Dursleys are meant to be a normal, if not boorish family that doesn’t fit in with the fantastic oddities of witchcraft. We can tell that Fern is young yet has a big heart.

What your favorite openers to books?