On Rowling’s new Ron/Hermione reveal: The ships have sailed; it’s time to move on.

J.K. Rowling’s latest revelation about the Harry Potter series, which came in the form of an interview conducted by Emma Watson for “Wonderland” magazine (February/March 2014 issue), has re-awakened the long-slumbering Potter Shipping Wars of old. It seems that everyone has written something about the topic, from a very insightful analysis of love in the series, to a passionate defense of Ron, to suggestions for other ships.

I’m on the crew of the HMS Orange Crush (Harry/Ginny) myself, so Rowling’s confession bothered me, especially how it was first reported: that Jo regrets writing that Ron and Hermione ended up together and that she should have married Harry. I told myself I would wait for the full interview to be released before commenting because, more often than not, people tended to misinterpret or to put words into Jo’s mouth.

Nowhere in the interview did she say that she “regrets” writing Ron/Hermione. Emma asked her if she had a new perspective on Hermione, and she replied:

What I will say is that I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment. That’s how it was conceived, really. For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione [ended up] with Ron.

I know, I’m sorry, I can hear the rage and fury it might cause some fans, but if I’m absolutely honest, distance has given me perspective on that. It was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility. Am I breaking people’s hearts by saying this? I hope not.

It was a young relationship. I think the attraction itself is plausible but the combative side of it… I’m not sure you could have got over that in an adult relationship, there was too much fundamental incompatibility. I can’t believe we are saying all of this – this is Potter heresy!

[Later, she adds]

Oh, maybe she and Ron will be alright with a bit of counseling, you know. I wonder what happens at wizard marriage counseling? They’ll probably be fine. He needs to work on his self-esteem issues and she needs to work on being a little less critical.

When “Deathly Hallows” was published, I felt that the Epilogue seemed out of place. I knew from following every single interview that Rowling gave (I am on the staff!) that she had been writing toward a particular ending and even a particular last word (“scar”) for a long time. Maybe this has blinded her to how her characters evolved as she wrote them, and how they may not fit that ending anymore. If she just left out that Epilogue, then there wouldn’t be this much hullaballoo over what could have beens.

The troubled Ron/Hermione relationship differs a bit from her other post-Potter reveals (e.g. Dumbledore is gay) in that she does not seem to be insinuating that this is Canon. It’s understandable that she now has a different perspective on the relationships of the Trio. Whether or not it was prudent of her to have revealed what she thought is another story, but I want to look at this as a glass half-full: at least she didn’t say “Ron/Hermione shouldn’t be together”, and the Canon remains unchanged.

For the record, I agree that Ron and Hermione would have had difficulties in their relationship, and that if they worked on it, they would eventually be okay.

Credit: Naomi (potterpuffs.livejournal.com)

Credit: Naomi (potterpuffs.livejournal.com)

As for Harry/Hermione…

In some ways Hermione and Harry are a better fit and I’ll tell you something very strange. When I wrote Hallows, I felt this quite strongly when I had Hermione and Harry together in the tent! I hadn’t told [Steve] Kloves that and when he wrote the script he felt exactly the same thing at exactly the same point.

And actually I liked that scene in the film, because it was articulating something I hadn’t said but I had felt. I really liked it and I thought that it was right. I think you do feel the ghost of what could have been in that scene.

I’ve always hated the way Steve Kloves kept putting in those Harmonian moments when there weren’t supposed to be any, and how that undermined a lot of Ron’s contributions and importance in the series as it is portrayed in the movies.

I do think the tent scenes, as they were written in the book, were okay, and that maybe the “ghost of what could have been” may have been present, but I never felt any strong romantic vibes there. And if Rowling says she felt something there, then she either did her characters a great disservice by not letting things go where they should, or what she felt so strongly wasn’t powerful enough to make her deviate from the ending she was writing towards.

I also agree that Hermione and Harry are a good fit–and I concede, better than Ron/Hermione–in many ways, but that doesn’t mean they should be in love or would fall in love or get married. Why can’t they have a perfect friendship and why should Harry and Ron be Hermione’s only choices?

I’ve long thought that it was weird that Rowling married Luna off to someone we didn’t know from the 7 books; I even secretly thought it was cute if she had married Neville, after all, everyone was marrying their childhood sweethearts already. But on hindsight, I now like that Luna married someone else and that she met other people outside of their Hogwarts circle. So why not Hermione?

All this says something very powerful about the character of Hermione as well. Hermione was the one that stuck with Harry all the way through that last installment, that very last part of the adventure. It wasn’t Ron, which also says something very powerful about Ron. He was injured in a way, in his self-esteem, from the start of the series. He always knew he came second to fourth best, and then had to make friends with the hero of it all and that’s a hell of a position to be in, eternally overshadowed. So Ron had to act out in that way at some point.

But Hermione’s always there for Harry. I remember you sent me a note after you read Hallows and before you started shooting, and said something about that, because it was Hermione’s journey as much as Harry’s at the end.

Yes, her sacrifice was massive, completely. A very calculated act of bravery. That is not an ‘in the moment’ act of bravery where emotion carries you through, that is a deliberate choice.

Of course it was Hermione’s journey as much as Harry’s…as much as Ron’s, Voldemort’s, Dumbledore’s, Snape’s…it was EVERYONE’S journey. Maybe it was more personal for Harry, but everyone had a stake in the battle. And while we cannot belittle Hermione’s “calculated act of bravery”, we should not reduce it to an impetus for a romantic relationship either. From the tone of their conversation, Rowling seems to be highlighting this as a plus factor for Harry/Hermione (or I could be wrong.) Anyway, we must also not forget that Dumbledore’s and Snape’s sacrifices were just as calculated, and that they have even lost their lives.

And, finally, was it prudent for Rowling to share all these post-Potter revelations? Personally, I think people should stop asking all those “what ifs”; the Potter world, as it is, is difficult enough to keep up with! Rowling has to answer when she’s asked, and she has always been very honest and forthcoming about Potter, which is good. And of course she has the right to add new things to her world and comment on aspects of it (I actually appreciate that about her), but I think she should be careful about what else she reveals. I suppose that as long as she doesn’t change Canon, it’ll be okay. But while she owes readers nothing, really, it is a fact that fans have dissected and new readers do dissect the series to the tiniest detail. How I read Dumbledore before is likely going to be different from how my nephew would read him knowing that Dumbledore was gay. Maybe it will be an interesting literary exercise to compare how different generations interpret it.

Those subtext-shattering revelations are part of why I am excited but scared of what the “Encyclopedia” she never published contained, and why I approach every new thing that pops up on Pottermore as if they are radioactive. She had 7 books and 3 booklets to put in the most important things about Harry’s and the Wizarding World’s stories. Ultimately, it’s what’s in the books that’s important. I believe that’s how it should be.

The ships have sailed; it’s time to move on.

I Spy: “A Visitor’s Guide to Mystic Falls” in “You Came From The Stars 별에서 온 그대”

Ever since “Edward Tulane” showed up in Korean drama “You Came From The Stars 별에서 온 그대” (a.k.a. “My Love From Another Star”), I’ve been on the lookout for what else our Handsome Bibliophile Alien Next Door has been reading. Look at what I spied in Episode 10:

The Alien has been reading about vampires...

It’s “A Visitor’s Guide to Mystic Falls”, a companion book to the popular TV series “The Vampire Diaries”. The Alien has been reading about vampires! I can still remember Song Yi’s “If you’re an alien then I’m a vampire!” moment. And I suppose this is more interesting than seeing Min Joon reading about aliens in popular culture, although that would have been amusingly meta. :P

mfThe Vampire Diaries, the television series based on the iconic books by L.J. Smith, has already managed to captivate millions of viewers with its unique mix of immortal romance and very human drama.

In A Visitor’s Guide to Mystic Falls, YA authors—led by Red and Vee of premier Vampire Diaries resource Vampire-Diaries.net—take a closer look at Mystic Falls: its residents (both alive and undead) and its rich, inescapable history.

  • Claudia Gray delves into the events of 1864 and how they’ve shaped not just Mystic Falls but the success of the show itself
  • Sarah Rees Brennan tells us what it takes for a girl to hold her own against a vampire boyfriend (or two), placing Elena squarely between fellow vampire-daters Buffy and Bella
  • Jennifer Lynn Barnes takes Mystic Falls to task for poor treatment of Caroline Forbes
  • Jon Skovron examines the male-female vampire dynamic, in history and in The Vampire Diaries
  • Plus a guide to the book series for tv fans looking to visit The Vampire Diaries’ literary inspiration, and more

Min Joon might just learn a thing or two after reading Sarah Rees Brennan’s contribution.

Scoring the Book: “Ignite Me”

This song reminded me a lot of Aaron (Warner) in the final book of Tahereh Mafi’s “Shatter Me” series, “Ignite Me”.


 
“You feel your heart beat loudest when it’s breaking
You and I both know our fatal flaws
We both know that love is what you make it
I want you
All or nothing at all”

♫ “All or Nothing at All” by Switchfoot (“Fading West”, 2014)

“Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3)” by Tahereh Mafi

IGNITE ME (SHATTER ME #3)Ignite Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Read Date: 4 February 2014
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars

One day I might break
One day I might break free

Nothing will ever be the same.

The fate of Omega Point is unknown. Everyone Juliette has ever cared about could be dead. The war could be over before it ever really began.

Juliette is the only one standing in The Reestablishment’s way. She knows that if she’s going to survive, The Reestablishment cannot.

But to take down The Reestablishment and the man who very nearly killed her, Juliette will need the help of the one person she never thought she could trust: Warner. And as they work together to bring down their enemy, Juliette will discover that everything she thought she knew—about Warner, her abilities, and even Adam—was wrong.

 
*SPOILER WARNING FOR ALL THREE NOVELS AND TWO NOVELLAS IN THIS SERIES*

We’ve come, at last, to the end of the “Shatter Me” series. So how did your predictions fare? ;) (more…)

Bookmark Monday #11: Full of hot air

b438b-bookmark-mondayMore friends have been donating to the Bookmark Monday cause! Here’s a new one I just got last weekend from Leia (Thank you! 감사합니다!)

This is a multi-purpose metal bookmark that also serves as a ruler and stencil. This one is locally available, and if you keep your eyes peeled, you should find one in a National Book Store outlet near you. ;)

balloon


Bookmark Monday is hosted by Guiltless Reading.

Lunar New Year Giveaway: Signed copy of “If I Stay” by Gayle Forman

20140227: Congratulations to Christine (@kitinmeowmeow)! Please wait for my message via Twitter so that we can arrange shipment of your book. :)

20140215: This giveaway is CLOSED.

~*~*~*~

HAPPY LUNAR NEW YEAR!

I’m hoping this year will be better for me, so to maybe get some more positive energy, I’m going to hold another giveaway!

If you missed Gayle Forman’s book signing here in the Philippines, here’s your chance to win a signed trade paperback copy of “If I Stay”, Ms. Forman’s bestselling novel, and soon to be movie!

If I Stay giveaway

MECHANICS: To join, just go to the Rafflecopter page for this giveaway and follow the instructions there.
⇨⇨⇨ Portkey to Rafflecopter! (Whoosh!)

REMINDER: When you comment here, please don’t forget to answer the contest question (What is your Chinese Zodiac sign?), otherwise, your points for this entry will be invalid.

The contest is open only to residents of the Philippines. If you are not a resident, please read the Terms and Conditions at the Rafflecopter widget carefully because there might still be a way for you to qualify. Contest ends 15 February 2014.

Spread the word, and May the Odds Be Ever In Your Favor!

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Disclaimer (to satisfy the WordPress.com Terms of Service): This giveaway is not being posted in lieu of paid advertising on this blog. I bought the book myself and had it signed during Gayle Forman’s book signing here in the Philippines on January 2014. ☺

Who the Hot Neighbor Kid married and the Decades-Old Grudge

I saw these fun Upworthy-style re-titled books by TheMillions.com in my Tumblr timeline and had quite a laugh:

Until I saw this…

lw

…and remembered a decades-old grudge.

“Little Women” was required reading back when I was in 6th grade, and looking back, I think this must have been my first experience in legit fandom-level shipping.

I got really attached to Jo’s character, who I found a lot in common with. And I really liked her and Laurie together, so I was so mad about who he ended up with…

ヽ(`Д´)ノ︵ ┻━┻

…that I never read any other Louisa May Alcott book or watched any adaptations of “Little Women” since. It pained me to skip on that Keira Knightley movie because I like her, but skip it I did.

I realized much later, of course, that what Alcott did was actually great, plot-wise and character-wise, and in keeping with the theme of the book. And The Professor was a good man and a good husband to Jo, so it’s not like she suffered or anything. But when you are in 6th grade, this first love heartbreak thing can be rather devastating, never mind that it’s only fictional and that it didn’t even happen to you!

And I realize now that that grudge against Alcott was silly; she was just doing her job. But I still can’t get past a particular chapter of that book, or read any other Alcott work, or watch any adaptations. So silly.

It’s been decades and I’m still not over it, damn it.

Jo x Laurie forever!

I Spy: “The Happy Prince” in “I Hear Your Voice 너의 목소리가 들려”

I only noticed this last week, during my…ummm…nth re-watch of “I Hear Your Voice”, a.k.a. My Favorite Korean Drama as of this moment (why? that’s something for another post).

ihyv300

In episode 11, Park Soo-ha (Lee Jong-suk) meets up with his classmates, Sung-bin and Choong-ki. Choong-ki returns the things he found in Soo-ha’s locker the year before after some rather…let’s just say exciting things went down.

Aside from Soo-ha’s journal, headset, and some papers, a copy of the Korean edition of “The Happy Prince” by Oscar Wilde was also found in his locker.

vlcsnap-2014-01-21-21h42m02s250

happyIn a town where a lot of poor people suffer, a swallow who was left behind after his flock flew off to Egypt for the winter meets the statue of the late “Happy Prince”, who in reality has never experienced true happiness. Viewing various scenes of people suffering in poverty from his tall monument, the Happy Prince asks the swallow to take the ruby from his hilt, the sapphires from his eyes, and the golden leaf covering his body to give to the poor. As the winter comes and the Happy Prince is stripped of all of his beauty, his lead heart breaks when the swallow dies as a result of his selfless deeds. The statue is then torn down and melted leaving behind the broken heart and the dead swallow which are taken up to heaven by an angel that has deemed them the two most precious things in the city by God, so they may live forever in his city of gold and garden of paradise. (Wikipedia)

The book was probably part of their literature curriculum, although it’s not far-fetched that Soo-ha could have been reading this just for fun.

Maybe the writer wanted this to symbolize something about the characters or the story; she likes that device. Certainly, the prince giving the poor people around him the jewels and gold that were inlaid on his body and the deeds of the swallow are reminiscent of the thread of sacrifice that runs through the drama–of people losing their lives, their innocence, their memories, and even actual body parts–to either protect or avenge their loved ones.

Or maybe I’m just reading too much into this; maybe it was the only book anyone had on set, so it was commandeered as a prop. :P

“Where She Went (If I Stay #2)” by Gayle Forman

wswWHERE SHE WENT (IF I STAY #2)
Author: Gayle Forman
Read Date: 6 January 2014
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

It’s been three years since the devastating accident–three years since Mia walked out of Adam’s life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Julliard’s rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia’s home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future—and each other.

Told from Adam’s point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

So I gave this one a 5 out of 5 stars, and I will be honest–I think at least one star out of that 5 had to do with me being happy about this installment after the depressing, gut-wrenching, sucker-punching, heart-piercing cry-fest that was “If I Stay”, and I mean all of that in a very flattering way.

I’ll be your mess, you be mine
That was the deal that we had signed
--“Messy”: Collateral Damage, Track 2

This is one of those “another point-of-view” stories–we get to read Adam’s this time–but Forman took a different approach compared to what other YA/NA authors did (e.g. Tahereh Mafi, Keira Cass, even Stephenie Meyer). Instead of an alternate POV of the same scene or event, Forman opted to continue the story but to tell it from Adam’s perspective. “Where She Went” continues Mia’s and Adam’s stories three years after the end of “If I Stay”. I liked this approach because it felt like I was reading both a new story and a sequel at the same time, and Forman was able to write it in such a way that it didn’t feel disjointed from “If I Stay”.

Despite his angst and rock-star emo-ness, I found Adam easier to read than Mia, but maybe this is partly because Adam did not have the spectre of death looming over him. And also, by the time Mia and Adam finally meet again, I was almost completely on Adam’s side and was ready to declare Mia persona non grata…well, at least until she had the chance to explain herself.

You crossed the water, left me ashore
It killed me enough, but you wanted more
You blew up the bridge, a mad terrorist
Waved from your side, threw me a kiss
I started to follow but realized too late
There was nothing but air underneath my feet
--“Bridge”: Collateral Damage, Track 4

One of the strengths of both “Where She Went” and “If I Stay” is the measured pace of the characters’ development through a very effective use of flashbacks, musical references, familiar emotional beats, and in the case of “Where She Went”, the song lyrics that Adam wrote for Shooting Star’s hit album. As I read through the books, I felt like the characters were…tangible–I felt like I knew them so well and could relate to them a lot even if I’m not even close to being as talented as Mia nor as famous as Adam.

Someone wake me when it’s over
When the evening silence softens golden
Just lay me on a bed of clover
Oh, I need help with this burden
--“Hush”: Collateral Damage, Track 13

Speaking of the lyrics, during Forman’s signing here in the Philippines, I asked her if she ever thought of completing the lyrics of the songs in “Collateral Damage:, and if she ever thought of having someone produce the album. She said that the lyrics were some of the hardest parts of the book to write, so she doesn’t plan on writing the full songs.

She also revealed that in the movie adaptation of “If I Stay”, the producers recruited actual musicians to act as Shooting Star, and that the members actually bonded and tended to practice playing music together. The music supervisors also produced actual songs for the band, and some will even be included in the movie’s soundtrack.

First you inspect me
Then you dissect me
Then you reject me
I wait for the day
That you’ll resurrect me
--“Animate”: Collateral Damage, Track 1

If these 2 books were a kind of music, then, appropriately enough, “If I Stay” would be a mournful solo cello piece, and “Where She Went” would definitely be a rock anthem that will bring the crowd to its feet.

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And I Quote: On Fantasy

Someone posted the following quote on Tumblr:

Fantasy is silver and scarlet, indigo and azure, obsidian veined with gold and lapis lazuli. Reality is plywood and plastic, done up in mud brown and olive drab. Fantasy tastes of habaneros and honey, cinnamon and cloves, rare red meat and wines as sweet as summer. Reality is beans and tofu, and ashes at the end. Reality is the strip malls of Burbank, the smokestacks of Cleveland, a parking garage in Newark. Fantasy is the towers of Minas Tirith, the ancient stones of Gormenghast, the halls of Camelot. Fantasy flies on the wings of Icarus, reality on Southwest Airlines. Why do our dreams become so much smaller when they finally come true?

We read fantasy to find the colors again, I think. To taste strong spices and hear the songs the sirens sang. There is something old and true in fantasy that speaks to something deep within us, to the child who dreamt that one day he would hunt the forests of the night, and feast beneath the hollow hills, and find a love to last forever somewhere south of Oz and north of Shangri-La.

They can keep their heaven. When I die, I’d sooner go to Middle-Earth.”

-George R.R. Martin

To which @odinsbitch replied:

I read fantasy to REMIND myself there is beauty and magic and goodness in reality. I read fantasy to remind myself that reality itself is changed and shifted by how I look at it. When I fly on Southwest Airlines I always choose a window seat so that I can look at and see the cloud-castles and curve of the horizon and the way the sunlight turns the rivers into liquid gold and lose my ability to breathe because I am not Icarus. I can fly as near the sun as I want and my wings don’t melt because my wings are made up of both fantasy AND reality, wax and canvas and iron and bone wings as strong as I am.

Reality is the whimsical graffiti in the dirty alley in Cleveland. Reality is the chaotic circus of a strip mall where people are bad and selfish and good and welcoming. Reality is seeing the blue sky reflected on the Chicago skyline and thinking I already live in Minas Tirith.

Middle Earth is not better than here. Gormenghast is certainly not better than here. I believe it’s true that fantasy can remind us to listen to the siren songs and relish the color in our real lives. It does spark desires deep within us. But I want my fantasy to remind people that they don’t have to visit hollow hills to find adventure or Oz or Shangri-La to find love. We make ourselves heroes and villains in reality every day. I want my fantasy to remind readers – and myself – that we shouldn’t long for Camelot. We should create it right here.

When I die, I hope I’ve already built my heaven around me.

And to which I say “Amen!” to @odinsbitch.

While fantasy is awesome, the more I read or watch fantasy, the less I am surprised by what people can imagine anymore. The real world, however, is fantastic enough as it is, and the more I see of it, the more I am convinced that it will never cease to amaze me.