Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: A Review from Scout

Listen, this book has been out for nearly a month so there will be spoilers.

You should also know that while we keep the Read Brave Comics podcast positive (or try to unless, ya know, something really pisses us off) I can't promise this review will follow the same glass half full standard.

I'll try, Snape. Just for you. Let's hug.

Deep, cleansing breaths to start. Join me, friends. Breathe in...breathe out...breathe in...soonandsoforth. 

I'd like to think that all Potter fans had the same reaction when this play was announced. Mine (and likely yours) were as follows, in no particular order.

  • Why am I so poor? I'll never see this, my life is a dumpster fire. I hate everything.
  • Wait, Hermione is black? Oh hell yes. 
  • Scorpius is still the worst name, but at least Draco didn't name him Albus. (More on reasons why Albus was in some ways the worst later. Feel free to exit this review now.)
  • Okay, we're getting the script in book form. 
  • I'm excited.
  • No, wait, I'm nervous.
  • Maybe I shouldn't even bother.

Fairly accurate, right? When it came out and I saw fellow readers flock to Barnes & Noble for midnight releases I had mixed emotions. There was a strong desire to experience a midnight release full of the magic they had way back when along with the want to warn everyone, "You know this is basically fanfiction, right? Let's form a support group for when this all potentially goes wrong." 

Jo Rowling is the patron saint of authors in my heart of hearts. She is the bright light in the storm of trying to get your work out there into the world. This feels especially poignant as I write this today because I got turned down by the first two literary agents I queried last week. (Shout out to all the agents and publishers who turn me down for making me even more determined.) Jo's taught me to do the work, keep kicking to keep from drowning, and believe in myself. She's a huge part of why the magical story of Harry Potter means so much to me. 

With that in mind, please know that at the very core of it I did love reading this final story. Visiting my old friends was such a treat and I'm so glad it's out there in the world for us to take part in. It's been said that the play touring is a big possibility and you'd better believe that if it comes anywhere close to me I'll do everything I can to witness it first hand. 

Now that I've created a cushion to fall on, let's get down to the nitty gritty of it all.

Harry Potter is a bad father. No, really, that's what our playwrights would like us to believe. The proof is in the text. Let us examine this B.S. moment between Harry and his son, Albus.

"You know what? I'm done being made responsible for your unhappiness. At least you've got a dad. Because I didn't, okay?" 

"And you think that was unlucky? I don't."

"You wish me dead?"

"No! I just wish you weren't my dad."

"Well, there are times I wish you weren't my son."

Damn, Harry. When I told Cory the trauma I endured over the idea of Harry being a terrible dad he told me, "Well that just confirms what I thought all along. Harry's a whiny little bitch." This is now canon. Thanks, universe. 

The good side though? Draco finally getting some G.D. redemption, y'all. Guess what? Draco had one of the worst dads EVER. Like, ever in young adult fiction. But what did my golden boy do? He overcame and raised an amazing kid. 

Precious angel

I'm completely here and all in for Draco teaching Harry valuable lessons in how to not be a brat and stop shutting his kid out.

"...And being alone-that's so hard. I was alone. And it sent me to a truly dark place. For a long time. Tom Riddle was also a lonely child. You may not understand that, Harry, but I do..."

This is the part where Draco dropped the mic and left the room with a swish of his robes.

I'd also like to address the whole ridiculous moments where Harry had heart to heart talks with Dumbledore paintings. First of all, aren't we told over and over again that the paintings at Hogwarts are just memories? Are they really capable of having sentient thoughts and conversations with actual living beings? Umm, McGonagall actually tells Harry in the same exact piece of work that very thing, but no that doesn't matter now because we want to make you cry.

This feels like a good segway into telling you how angry I get when people forget Hagrid. You know, Hagrid, the giant huggable man who loves to nurture and care for children and magical creatures? That guy who took Harry into his arms when he was just a baby? Remember that time he knocked down the door and stomped in to rescue Harry from the abusive people Dumbledore saw fit to leave him with? Yeah, that guy. 

Oh, does that gif make you feel all emotional and weepy? That's because Hagrid was an amazing man with a heart even bigger than the rest of him and why do we always forget him? Why did we only get a flashback? Where the hell is Hagrid and we aren't we acknowledging him as a father figure, dammit? 

Wait. Unless he's living a perfect life with Madame Olympe Maxime in France making giant babies and raising dragons. This is where he is, I just decided and can finally have some peace. 

Which means I can now address my next issue of concern. Do we really believe Voldemort could've fathered a daughter? And even if he could (which let's get real. He couldn't.) there's no way in hell he would've chosen Bellatrix, am I right? I mean, Bellatrix was basically his minion and he kinda hated her. If you were conceived of a love potion and couldn't understand the idea of love you'd probably hate the person who was infatuated with you too, wouldn't you? Not to give Voldemort any credit here, but it sheds some light into why he couldn't stand her. 

Delphi so didn't happen, you heard it here first. 

Oh my word, unless Voldemort had planned on making Delphi a horcrux. I mean, supposedly she was born just before the Battle of Hogwarts. (This is why writing is good, friends. It can help you work through your emotions and/or thoughts. Still don't think the Dark Lord would have a penis if he didn't have a nose though.)

You know I'm right.

Friends and family, I am a proud Hufflepuff. When Pottermore first became a thing I fell into the trap and let the lying, cheating dummy Sorting Hat sort me. It's important that you know I've been a Hufflepuff since the very beginning and know that to be fact as much as I know that the sun will come out freaking tomorrow. Pottermore is a liar. Pottermore sorted me into Slytherin twice. Pottermore is wrong. 

I will protect and defend Cedric Diggory, my fellow Hufflepuff and eternal heart throb, til my last breath. 

Cedric would never kill Neville Longbottom. To quote the brilliant Will Ferrell as said in his role as Mugatu, "I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!" 

Tumblr user voldemxrt wrote an excellent piece on the reasons why Cedric wouldn't even ever. Read it and understand. The most important point made was this. "Cedric Diggory died with his wand out ready to fight along side Harry." The idea that Cedric would go all rage monster and kill Neville just because he was humiliated might be the most ridiculous thing I've ever read. Really? That was the only thing you could think of? Stop using Cedric as a tool just to create a world where Voldemort won 2016. I'm running for angry reader of The Cursed Child President, this is my slogan. 

Are you still with me here? Bless you. I had good thoughts and warm fuzzy feelings, too. I won't be storming the castle gates demanding justice any time soon, and here are some reasons why.

Scorpius Malfoy is reason number one. All of the bad is forgotten with what they gave me in this one boy. This one precious, beautiful boy. 

Scorpius and Albus sittin' in a tree...seriously.

In the same world where Hagrid and Olympe are snuggled up on the couch together nursing their butterbeers also exists Mr. and Mr. Albus and Scorpius Malfoy. (Albus took Scorpius's name because Harry's the worst dad ever and it turns out that his now father-in-law Draco is actually pretty fantastic.) 

Next topic? Ron loves dad jokes. And join me together when we all say, "Well, duh". Because we get no glimpse into what George is doing now I've decided that he and Ron run the joke shop together. George and I are also married, but that's not really relevant to this review. 

Love ya, you one earned doll.

McGonagall is so totally McGonadone with everyone being idiots. She also needs to close off the fireplace in her office already. And why is everyone still using floo powder when they can apparate? Seriously, guys, it's weird. 

My kids spilled cereal everywhere this morning. I feel your pain, girl.

Harry doing the cooking? I fully support this. Ginny's too busy being a kickass woman to be bothered with domestic things like cooking. 

I. Love. Ginny. Weasley. Thank you for giving me more Ginny. 

Few moments have brought me more pride and joy as a parent than the time my daughter told me that her favorite character is probably Ginny. A little part of me died inside when Jo said she got it wrong with she wrote Harry and Ginny together, causing all the Harry and Hermione shippers to throw parties and bask in their false ideas of love and destiny. 

Damn straight.

Dudley sent Harry the blanket Lily had wrapped him in as a baby. I needed a moment. Let's get real, I still do. 

A lot of this final story felt almost like emotional manipulation, so let's not even try to hide the fact that they were trying to make us cry. Why else would Harry be forced to watch his parents die again???? 

And now that I'm cleansed I think I'll take some advice from my dear friend Remus...

Me: Uggggh why didn't they give me closure on Teddy?!

Everyone: The play only lasts for 5 hours.

Me: Shut your mouth.

In conclusion, this was Jo Rowling and her team while writing this play...


I still love you, my queen.

Zone One by Colson Whitehead

Zone One is a thinking person's zombie novel. It's darkly funny, self-aware, and it's very, very smart. While most zombie novels focus on the landscape of how things have changed, the tone of Zone One is a meditation on how things remain the same. From corporate culture to branding to the protagonists previous job in his previous life as a social media coordinator, the vestiges of all of the things that contribute to the ennui of modern life are still there, in one form or another. Sure, we're not all wandering around glued to our smartphones ruminating about last night's episode of everyone's favorite sitcom, but the undead executive assistant that almost takes our protagonist's arm off has the star's haircut.

It's several years after the apocalypse, and really, the novelty has worn off. 

Those who live still go about their day to day, yearning for something different. For our protagonist (or as close as it gets in this wasted landscape) Mark Spitz — a self-proclaimed "solid B student/employee/human" dwell on the dreary sameness. Sure the cast of characters now includes flesh-eating abominations, but there's still paperwork.

For those who thought that there's really nothing new to do with zombies, this is another refreshing change, and one that visits the world-weariness of Chuck Palahniuk, who's almost always, especially in his earlier work is dealing with those who, despite insane situations, are just trying to get by. Whitehead's cast shares a lot with Palahniuk's world, especially the longing sense of wanting to be somewhere else. Unfortunately, in Whitehead's world, there's just not a lot of upward mobility.

Super quick read, and now I'm just excited to read more of Whitehead's work. If I'm correct (and I really do not know much about him other than his newest, Underground Railroad received all manner of critical acclaim. It's on my list, and if Zone One is any indication, I have a LOT to look forward to. 

The Newsflesh Series, by Mira Grant

“I guess in the end, it doesn’t matter what we wanted. What matters is what we chose to do with the things we had.” — G. Mason

I fell into these books by accident. They ended up surprising me at every turn. Going in cold, I thought it was YAF (Young Adult Fiction), I thought it would reasonably silly, and while I'm not completely done with zombies like most of my friends, I really thought there wasn't much more to be done. I was wrong at every turn. I even admit in hindsight that I went into this kind of side-eying the whole venture. I love being wrong.
Much like the fantastic Let the Right One In, where I discovered you could actually do something new with vamps, this book is the same with zombies. It is SO MUCH FUN.

This book exists at the intersection of zombie apocalypse and journalism. You'd be right to perk up your ears. It's an interesting premise and turns out it's a pretty deep well. 

The zombie apocalypse happened — the result of scientists attempting to create a cure for the common cold. They end up curing cancer, and making the dead rise into mindless, flesh-eating monsters. 

Georgia (George) and Shaun Mason are journalists. The post-print journalism world has divided journalists into three categories: "Newsies" - hard journalists, "Irwins" - news makers who set up dangerous situations and film it. Yes, named after Steve Irwin., and "Fictionals" - does what it says on the tin. We pick up in a different-but-recognizable landscape of the near future where journalists are smart, savvy and armed to the teeth. Georgia and Shaun are given the chance to follow the favored presidential candidate on the campaign trail leading up to the DNC. 

These books are smart, funny and extremely self-aware. I expected that from the first mention of George Romero — no, George's name is no coincidence, and yes — he's considered the savior of the human race. And that's about the least corny thing these books do. The characters are relatable, competent and just damn likable. On top of that, these books delve into the depths of what it means to be a journalist, and what a journalist's responsibilities are. Grant is far more interested in the nuance between the lines of the basic tenant of "tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth" — Grant is interested in the unexpected consequences to any unwavering commitment to any approach. 

In addition to the complex and relatable characters, Grant is SMART. You can tell she left no stone unturned, and when it comes to science and biology, while there are fictitious scenarios, there are no false notes. Never once do you feel in the hands of a less-than-capable storyteller. Thanks to that, they move at a breakneck pace through the mire that is politics, news making, and the fully developed, gorgeously human people involved in these situations. 

What surprised me most was the grace and emotional honesty of these books. Where there's surface flash, there's also a lot more going on beneath the surface. It's hard to quantify how much I really loved these books, and they've stayed with me long past the satisfying conclusion. Grab these and be prepared to drop everything to find out what's next. And seriously, grab all three. If you're in, you're IN, and you don't want to have to wait to keep up. 

Books I Have Loved

Books. Beautiful books. Old musty books with yellowed edges and folded down corners. Brand new books with crisp pages and brand new spines that I love to crack open the second I get them in my hands. Words upon words of love, loss, sometimes sex, and rich characters are what, at times, bring me solace. A story can lift you up or tear you down. It can grab at your heartstrings in the worst or best way possible. Sometimes even the heart wrenching, tear inducing stories can do their own part in helping you heal.

The first book that ever made me feel real legitimate emotions that I can remember was To Kill A Mockingbird. Completely cliche, I realize. But there I was, a fifth grader, listening to one of the most wonderful teachers I’ve ever known read it out loud to our entire class. The rich characters, lessons, and the crushing desire to have anyone in my life like Atticus is something that I will never forget.

For the most part however I’m not a reader of great classics or highly philosophical works of literature. I’ll leave that stuff to my husband and other great minds. For me it’s all about escape. In college I devoured Nicolas Sparks books because I was a glutton for punishment; I loved the way they made me cry. Working at a call center left plenty of time for reading when things were quiet. It’s still one of the best jobs I’ve ever had, despite the thirty plus pounds I gained from sitting in an uncomfortable chair and snacking for 12 hours at a time.

Dean Koontz was also an office favorite and his worn out paperbacks made the rounds to all the girls in the office. My first Dean Koontz experience happened while driving from Oklahoma to Colorado in my sister’s car. She had checked out a copy of Seize the Night from her library and we listened in terror while driving along endless fields of nothing in the dark. Christopher Snow remained my number one book crush for years.

Koontz and Sparks were pretty essential reading for me through young adulthood. Apart from awful propaganda driven books on the dangers of rock music and Satanic worship that my mom fed to me, they were my first real foray into good (at least to me) reading. There were also the Christian versions of The Babysitters Club books mixed in there as well. The only Judy Blume book I was given access to was Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret and that book just created more questions for me. Questions that I couldn’t ask my mom. Questions that I, in turn, asked my big sister who would become my go to source for learning all things about growing up, being a woman, and not being a close minded church kid like everyone else in my life at the moment.

Adulthood has brought two gifts to me in the way of literature. And those two gifts are Rainbow Rowell and comic books.

Rainbow what? Rainbow Rowell, my Lord and Savior. Now it may seem odd to dedicate a lengthy section of this piece to one woman, but she’s just that important to me. Rainbow, should you ever happen to read this and feel alarmed I don’t blame you. My incessant tweeting to you in hopes that you’ll give me gold stars barely scratches the surface. Maybe...yeah...just stop reading now before you file the restraining order.

I was standing in your run of the mill discount book store one day when I saw it. I almost hate to admit it, but I’m one of those people who do, at times, judge a book by its cover. If a book has a beautiful cover I will immediately gravitate towards it. And this book...with its mint green beauty, gorgeous illustration of a girl who, if you shaved 100 pounds of her body, could’ve been me, and big pink colors splashing the word “FANGIRL” across it was like a magnet. I immediately picked it up, ran my fingers over the raised print and flipped it over. The recommendation from John Green sold me. There was no decision making to be had. It was mine.

That night I stayed up until three in the morning reading. That was the first time I’d done that since studying in college. I couldn’t wouldn’t didn’t dare to put it down. Have you ever read a book and thought, “This is mine. Someone was thinking of me when they wrote this. It belongs to me.” Exactly that. That’s what happened.

I could discuss with you, at great length, all of my fangirl tendencies. They range from Harry Potter to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and all things Joss Whedon to beautiful British men and filthy fanfiction about a certain detective with a head full of beautiful curls.

FANGIRL. The story of a girl obsessed with a boy wizard and hiding behind writing endless words of fanfiction is my hero. The book. It’s my cozy blanket. It’s my mug of hot tea after a really shitty day. It’s my husband curling his arms around me, being the big spoon, when he climbs into bed with me after a long night of work. It’s hugs from my kids and words of love and adoration. It’s everything.

At the risk of sounding melodramatic, every one of Rainbow’s books have hit a chord with some part of my life. In FANGIRL it was Cath dealing with her issues of abandonment in regards to her mother. It was the social anxiety and resistance to new situations and people. It was finding that person..that one person...my Levi..the one who was made for me. Landline was written for 36 year old me. The working mother with a nurturing, kind husband. It was marriage and the sometimes difficult nature of keeping a marriage together. Every book means something different and beautiful to me.

I wrote a little about my dedication to Rainbow on Facebook a couple years ago, and it went like this (No I didn’t tag her in it. But should she ever see it and decide that this is the life for her I would gladly comply.)

"You guys more than likely know by now that I adore my husband. Along with adoring my husband however I have pretty severe boy crazy tendencies. It's the foundation to any healthy marriage, being able to freely express your appreciation for other people of the opposite (or same really) sex.
My super embarrassing Tumblr proves it. In it you will find pictures of Chris Evans and Sebastian Stan over and over again. However, Rainbow Rowell has been posting magnificent tweets about Daniel Radcliffe today...complete with imaging scenarios where he goes out for a night of karaoke...and that's when I realized that she's my biggest crush of all. I'd walk to the ends of the earth for her if she asked me to. I'd walk til I had nothing left but bloody stumps where my legs & feet used to be, then I would drag my wasted body the rest of the way. I'd do her laundry, wash her feet, babysit her children, then read fanfiction to her in bed while sipping on glasses of wine and eating chocolate."

And now that the idea of letting me get too close to you is a terrifying thought, I move on to the world of discovering comic books for the first time a couple years ago as a 34 year old woman. A world that used to interest, yet terrify me. A world that I still feel a bit too intimidated to truly be a part of, so I rely on Cory to feed my fairly new found addiction.

It all began with an amazing comic book called Saga. I tend to resist things that other people are so sure I’ll love. I think it’s that insecure adolescent buried deep down inside who still wants to hold fast to the idea that she’s completely different from everyone else. I can’t like what you like because then we’ll all be the same. Scout Castoe, an original hipster since conception more than likely.

But Cory wore me down. More like, he annoyed me until I finally caved. I was hooked. While I won’t waste your time with a lengthy synopsis of the magic that is Saga I will tell you to make haste. Run to your nearest comic bookseller or library. If they don’t carry it bonk them over the head and shout, “BUT WHY?” then find yourself a better bookseller or library. Start with the trade paperback of volume 1, read, then feel free to thank me.

While I can barely draw stick figures, I have always been drawn to the visual arts. It was a love that began during my freshman year of college with an arts history class. Slide upon slide in a darkened room accompanied with history lessons on who, what, when and where is how it all began. Even now as an adult I entertain the thought of an art history degree at some point before I die.

What Fiona Staples does in Saga is nothing short of astounding. And Brian K. Vaughn’s writing was perfect for a comic virgin like me. He keeps the reader engaged without giving me a moment to feel bored or distracted, two things that have caused me to abandon many a novel in the past.

It’s a love story. Love between partners, but also love between parents and their offspring. It’s about survival and the lengths that these characters will go to just to keep the people they love safe. It’s about sex, war, tolerance and the impact that literature can have on society. In short, it’s perfect.

And it was my gateway drug. While I’m still learning the ropes and feel intimidated by the male dominated world of comics I can’t wait to discover more. Watching our daughter Faith devour them one after the other brings me so much joy. Elliott, our son, was such a reluctant reader until he discovered comic books and graphic novels. The other day he declared to Cory that he does, in fact, love reading, and we attribute that to nothing more than patience and the wonder of comics.

Don’t be afraid to dive in. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, not just with comic books but all books. Read brave. It’s just two words but two words I’ve been using as my mantra for the past few years. I’ve been reading things that I normally wouldn’t even give a second thought, but opening up my mind to new words has brought stories into my life that I now can’t imagine living without.

My Alaskan Summer & Get Over It! - Two Reviews from Cory

I’ve enjoyed perzines since I first serendipitously discovered them about 10 years ago. Then when I found out there were perzine comics? Mind. Blown. I discovered creators like Liz Prince and Jeffrey Brown, and I instantly fell in love. I love the way each page was like its own comic strip, but all the strips combined to form a narrative. I felt deep connections to these people I’d never met over the shared experiences in their stories. What it’s like to fall in love, to lose touch with friends, to fart in front of your spouse/partner. I loved the artwork, and how the books felt like they had been handmade, just for me to read and enjoy. I loved the sizes of the books, which were typically smaller in length and width, but not necessarily in depth. Needless to say, I was hooked.

In the same by chance way I came upon Liz Prince and Jeffrey Brown, I found two books this week by Corinne Mucha; My Alaskan Summer and Get Over It!. Mucha’s style is much in the same vein as the previous mentioned creators, so I instantly knew I was in for a treat.

My Alaskan Summer is all about her summer spent working at a bed and breakfast in Alaska with her boyfriend. During their time there, they take mini-trips, encounter giant mosquitoes, go hiking….everything you would do if you went on a trip to Alaska. It was especially wonderful to me, as it reminded me of my friends in Alaska, and a week during a summer I spent with them.

Get Over It! is about her breakup with a boyfriend, the same one who had gone to Alaska with her in the previously mentioned book. She discusses in the introduction that writing the book was therapeutic, and helped her to be able to move past the awful feelings that often come with breakups. The emotions she went through will be instantly familiar and relatable to anyone who has gone through a breakup.

Corinne Mucha’s storytelling and illustrations are both top notch, and met my expectations of what personal comics should be. I really enjoyed both of her books, and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

Seveneves: a very not-little book about the importance of the moon

Neal Stephenson doesn't do anything half-assed. Following his career from the beginning when he came screaming onto the scene with Snow Crash - a slick, funny smart younger sibling of Burning Chrome by William Gibson, he was immediately recognized as worth your attention. A gifted storyteller with a wild imagination, Stephenson stories are rich with the unexpected and clever. A lot's changed since Crash, and Stephenson has revealed himself as a little bit of a polymath-come-renaissance man. It shows in every one of his increasingly dense tomes that show off his big, sexy brain. His books, if lobbed form a window would (hopefully) instantly kill the unlucky pedestrian below. They also double as a bludgeon, or as fellow Okie Geek Joshua Unruh is fond pointing out: a doorstop.

I adored Snow Crash for what it was: fun, funny and fast. It was the last of Stephenson's books of a manageable size. Since then he's been wowing us with HUGE stories filled with intricate world-building and lush narratives that we inhabit for weeks, sometimes months as we experience the wonderful.

Stephenson isn't just asking for your attention. He's the real deal, baby - he wants a commitment and if you're willing, he will take you on a trip that you can't get out of your head. But only after you've got the lingo down (no, really - Anathem has an actual glossary) and you can describe, from stem to stern the world in which all the action happens. Along the way you'll meet fascinating characters — in The Baroque Cycle, follow the adventures of the plucky (and not particularly lucky) Jack Shaftoe, a syphilitic (of course) former navy man-turned-pirate as "The Imp of the Perverse" leads him on improbable adventures. While telling his and several other people's stories, Stephenson manages to inform readers of the history (part of) world, especially the provenance of the modern financial system, primarily dealing with coinage. Yeah, it's that kind of story. Stephenson's works, when broken down by plot description, sound like PhD dissertation topics. Isaac Newton makes regular appearances.

It's wonderful. It's daunting. For someone who's thrilled at the prospect of spending no less than two months on a trilogy, it's so firmly up my alley.

"The challenge of writing a novel in which some of the most important entities are rocks is that some of the most important entities are rocks." - Charles Yu, Sunday Book Review - New York Times, 27 May 2015

Seveneves is a treatise on the future of the human race via our scientific achievements in the middle of the 21st Century. It was my favorite book of 2015, and as my fellow hosts and sweet husband can attest, I couldn't shut up about it for months. It took me a good month to read, which is unheard of. I'm always snatching a few more minutes to continue the story, and I read really, really fast. This one took me what felt like forever, with more joy every minute.

It begins with an unemotional account of the day we lost the moon. In the telling of this event, the author treats us, in hindsight to a dispassionate-yet-intricate description of what happened and it's effect on the characters — of which there will be very few in a short time. A few days later, the world's leading scientific minds arrive at the ramifications of the loss of the moon, and the importance of that beautiful orb hanging in our sky.

If you are not comfortable with loving and detailed descriptions of celestial bodies, (and, okay - I really don't understand, but,) I can firmly say that this is not the book for you. Part of the joy of this book is the loving descriptions of that beautiful rock that keeps the tides in working order, and how much we would miss her were she gone. Succinctly — that's the story of Seveneves — and that's not the story at all. The opening action seems almost random until you are firmly in the story. Not a word or a moment is wasted. Nothing is unnecessary. The editing must have been brutal. What remains is jaw-dropping.

It's that kind of story.

What follows is an impossibly good narrative about space, science, human technology and advancement told in detail that would, in less capable hands, make the most ardent science wonk squirm. And yet, when told in Stephenson's passionately curious and ridiculously informed voice: the novel is part tech manual, part compassionate meditation on the best and absolute worst that humanity has to offer.

The result is simply staggering. It's all the things the author has to say about science in all its geeky detail — it's beautiful, it's hopeful and it's the author (and his characters) at their nerdy, curious and absolute best.

originally published on OkieGeek Blog, 27 Apr. 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse

  • Based on X-Men by Stan Lee,  Jack Kirby
  • Apocalypse created by
    Louise Simonson
  • ADAPTED BYBryan Singer
  • cinematic franchise by 20th century fox

X-MEN: APOCALYPSE was not perfect. It was not a perfect adaptation of the source material and it was not a perfect "summer blockbuster." But perfection is a lot to ask for and if you expect it, 99.9% of the time you will be disappointed. I went into this film with a low bar. We've seen the worst the X-men has to offer cinematically in the past and early reviews were not very positive here. I did get some glimmer of hope that the film would at least be enjoyable from friends who saw it early on, but I would not let my heart truly believe this film would be anything more than just "fun," if even that.
I went in ready to be angered. I left full of joy.

Apocalypse was a very fun film that built off the last two films in the franchise very well, while bringing in new elements from the comics in fresh ways. Their new character designs offer a beautiful nod to the eighties in general, but especially in the case of one mohawk clad goddess, a specific nod to the eighties source material. The eighties were arguably the best period of time for X-Men related comics, so making this adaptation a period piece was pure genius.
As a life long X-Men fan, I easily looked past the flaws and spent most of the film in a nostalgic, awe-like excitement. It was everything that 8 year old me could want. And it did exactly what a good adaptation should, it gave me a desire to return to the source material. I have never wanted to revisit the old X-Men comics more, especially the iconic work of Louise Simonson. I have hope for the future of the X-films, I hope they branch out, taking notes from Gaurdians of the Galaxy and Deadpool. I want to see all of the weird teams that branch out of the X-Men. (Come on DOOP!)
- signed a surprised and overjoyed X-fan

P.S.- I recently read that the Russo brothers greatly desire getting Wolverine into the MCU. While I love Wolverine, I can't help but agree with so many others who groan at his over saturation. That being said, if they could make a deal for Wolverine, I imagine the rest of the X-Men would follow and I would be X-static (See what I did there?) to see my Marvel universe pieced back together at long last.
P.P.S.- Fox if you ruin the New Mutants film, I will move to Canada, destroy everything you love, or some other generic angry promise no one ever goes through with.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle - A Review from Cory

We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a novel written by Shirley Jackson that was published in 1962. Thnovel would be her last, as she passed away just three years later.

The story is about two sisters and their uncle, who live in an old mansion on the outskirts of a small town. The rest of the family died under mysterious and suspect circumstances, to which the townspeople all blame the sisters. The townspeople enjoy gossiping about the sisters being murderers, and guessing what other acts of depravity they might have committed.

The younger sister, Merricat, is the only one who leaves the house and endures the taunts of the townspeople. Her older sister, Constance, stays at their home hidden from the public eye. That leaves their uncle, Julian, who is bound to a wheelchair and not of a sound mind. 

As the story progresses, other people come to visit the sisters with different outcomes each time. The visits build up to the climax of the book, where much comes to light. That's all that can be said without giving a lot away.

I was initially interested in reading this book because of the author's role in the Southern Gothic genre. The book started off kind of slow, and really maintained it through the rest of the book. But the slow turns into a slow burn, and the slow burn built tension to unknown heights.

What started as something simple and sweet turned to a horrifying glimpse into the sinister, idle minds of small town America.

Read this book if you'd like. But you've been warned.

Pick up We Have Always Lived in the Castle today on Amazon: 

The Gritty Side of Comic Book TV Adaptation

Whether you still watch it or not, we all have to admit, AMC's adaptation of the Walking Dead has paved the way for us to see more than just family fun, lighthearted super hero stories brought from the comics to your home screen. This past week we were introduced to two new television shows based off comics that are NOT meant for children.

  • STORY BY Garth Ennis
  • ART BY Steve Dillon
  • publishervertigo
  • adapted byseth rogen
  • airs on amc
PREACHER is a classic at this point. The Vertigo series ran 66 issues (plus 5 specials and a 4-issue miniseries) and is beloved by many. Trying to tell someone about it is nearly impossible, seriously, watch the behind the scenes video where they ask the cast and crew to try. Let's just say, a southern preacher with a dark past, a possession and a humorous vampire are involved. Admittedly it has been seven years since I finished this comic, so it's not quite fresh in my mind. I do think they did a great job adapting it in the first episode, while it is clear they are changing some things, they are definitely keeping the spirit alive. Preacher blends horror and humor very well, while never taking you out of the story and the show reflects this perfectly. They've already shown me that they are willing to go dark and weird like the comic, but I still wonder if they will have to skip over some of the darkest parts of the series. From what I've heard Seth Rogen fought hard for this to be adapted and he's not willing to let the adaptation go astray. Episode one can be watched for free on AMC.com, Amazon and iTunes. And on a bonus note, check out the parody trailer where Seth Rogen plays all the roles.


  • STORY BY Robert Kirkman
  • ART BY Paul Azaceta
  • ADAPTED BYrobert kirkman
  • AIRS ONCinemax
OUTCAST is a newer on-going comic, published by Image Comics that debuted mid 2014, from the same writer that brought you The Walking Dead. The series is a supernatural horror story that focuses on Kyle Barnes, a man with a history of people he loves being possessed. Kyle, with the help of the local Reverend, tries to unravel the mystery of the possessions going on in town, while delving into Kyle's own past and searching for why he seems to be at the center of it all. I read the first issue of this right before watching the premiere of the show and I immediately finished the first volume when the episode ended. The show is nearly a scene for scene retelling of the comic and that actually works very well in this case. The first episode can be watched for free on youtube.

If you have no aversion to the dark side of comics and religiously themed horror, I highly suggest both of these comics and when you've read them, I highly suggest you watch the pilot episodes of both these shows (hey, they're both free right now.) I should say, you don't need to read them to enjoy the shows, I watched both with people who hadn't read the comics and they loved the shows. That being said, these types of shows like to cater to the comic fans here and there and you will catch more references having read them. I can't wait to see where both these shows are going. In our binge watching day and age, I feel the temporary absence of their second episodes deep in my gut. I could go on, but I have to go re-read Preacher now, bye!

You can buy the first volumes of Preacher and Outcast now on Amazon: