Author: J.K. Rowling
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Publishing Date: 2016
Number of Pages: 280 pages
A time and place where the actions of a handful of people. . . and creatures. . . will determine the fate of the many. Magizoologist Newt Scamander, newly arrived in town, intends his stay to be just a brief stopover. However, when Newt’s magical case is misplaced and some of his fantastic beasts escape into the city, it spells trouble for everyone. . .
The inner Potterhead in me is unleashed! When Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’s movie adaptation was shown, I was one of those who immediately lined up on the local cinema to watch it. Although there were some blips in the movie, I couldn’t wait to delve in the published version. When I finally had a copy of the book, I was perplexed by the inscription on the book saying that it is the “Original Screenplay”. I just ignored it, thinking that it made no difference at all.
My fascination with Harry Potter began with the movies. I never thought of reading the books because it daunted me. When I felt I was ready, I began indulging in all seven Harry Potter books when I was in college. The movies were spectacular and I wasn’t expecting the books to be less than so. Ironically, it was the same case with Fantastic Beasts. Because I wanted to tackle on this book the soonest I could, I included this on my 2017 Top 20 Reading List.
Indeed, ignorance is bliss. I initially thought that I’d be having a substantially different experience compared to the movie. But I was in for a surprise. The book is literally a written version of the movie. That’s when I realized the meaning of the inscription on the book cover. Man, I do have to learn a lot about how this world operates. Nonetheless, I dug into the book in spite of its foreign structure.
Lo and behold, I was bewitched by the book!
To begin with, the book follows the adventures of Magizoologist Newt Scamander when he arrived in 1926 New York City. Magizoologist is obviously a portmanteau of magic and zoologist. From his native United Kingdom, Newt set sail to New York City with just one suitcase on hand. His original mission was simple enough – to release a magical creature which is longing to go back home.
But then, nothing goes as planned. Flagged by the Magical Council of the United States of America (MACUSA), Newt was taken into custody. Things got even more complicated as the magical creatures locked in his magical suitcase got accidentally released on the busy streets of New York City, causing mischief and hoodwinking the Muggles. As Newt and his newfound American friends try to recapture these magical creatures, over the horizon, a magical dark force is looming.
Fantastic Beasts is like a prequel to the Harry Potter series, with characters including the mischievous Grindelwald. There were also several references about Hogwarts and Albus Dumbledore in the book. It is no surprise that this book is as equally entertaining as its J.K. Rowling predecessors, especially in terms of magic. J. K. Rowling didn’t lose her magical touch as the magic didn’t diminish in Fantastic Beasts.
The book also introduced new characters. The absence of Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley was more than made up for by Newt Scamander, Porpentina Goldstein and Jacob Kowalski. This Fantastic Beast trio also showed the same camaraderie and loyalty that the original trio depicted. J.K. Rowling possesses that uncanny ability of developing characters that readers can easily relate to. The simple yet elegant dialogues also complimented the story.
However, unlike her previous works, Fantastic Beasts dwelt more on animals, and especially the way we treat them. There are undertones on animal abuse as well but the book’s, and the movie’s as well, advocacy is clear – animals, in spite of their appearances, are our friends and they shouldn’t be abused or taken advantage of. Mixed in with this theme is friendship, loyalty, and romance. In all the J.K. Rowling I have read, friendship and loyalty are two themes that she can never do without.
I initially thought that it would be a challenge reading the book because of this its significantly different structure. But contrary to what I expected, this different structure gave me a different reading experience. Reading a book in a script style is a welcome change from the endless paragraphs one gets accustomed to. If you are worried the structure would affect your appreciation, I promise you it wouldn’t.
Overall, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a great and pleasurable read. The pleasant pace and story-telling is very inviting, even to first time readers. Moreover, once the story got going, it never hit a plateau. That cliffhanger at the end just makes one excited at the prospect of another book. I know that the sequel to the movie has already been casted and I am excited to watch it even though I am not much of a movie goer. I don’t know, J.K. Rowling and magic is just a tantalizing combination.
Recommended for Potterheads (obviously), those who love fantasy, and those who are looking for a quick and pleasant read.
Nor recommended for the devoutly religious, and those who are used to reading books in straight narrative.
About The Author
One of today’s most recognized name in literature, Joanne Rowling, more popularly known as J.K. Rowling, was born on July 31, 1965 in Yate, Gloucestershire, England.
She got rejected when she took the entrance exams for Oxford University. She then ended up in University of Exeter. After graduating, she worked as a researcher and a bilingual secretary for Amnesty International. While on a delayed train from Manchester to London in 1990, she first conceived the idea of her a schoolboy attending a school of wizardry.
In 1995, she finally finished the manuscript for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Unfortunately, all twelve publishers she approached rejected her manuscript. In 1996, things began to look up when Bloomsbury approved her manuscript, because the publisher’s chairman’s eight-year-old daughter who demanded to read the next chapter to the book. Alice Newton, the chairman’s daughter, was initially given the first chapter to review by her father.
And, everybody knows what happened next.