[Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them]: A Review

Happy Tuesday, bookish friends!

I hope you are staying cool in any way you can. We were out and about this afternoon and when we got in the car to go home, it was 100 degrees outside! I’m definitely ready for fall temperatures to come…in November here in Texas!

Still working away at my massive pile of books to review. I am very excited to share some thoughts on the screenplay for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J. K. Rowling.

If you have been here before, you know that I love basically everything about Harry Potter. I love the Harry Potter universe, the books, the movies, the amusement parks, the movie filming locations, everything. If you’re interested, check out some of my most popular Harry Potter related posts: must see fan sites, my HP marathon last year, and my review of The Cursed Child (now on my bucket list to see this play!) So I was really excited to read this screenplay.

I feel way behind as I just read this for the first time and then saw the film (more on that later). I got this book for Christmas from my brother and I have been waiting to read it until I’m not pregnant. I didn’t want pregnancy illness to influence how much I would enjoy it. I’m so glad I waited!

Initial Thoughts:

  • First, let me say that this book is beautiful. The book jacket is gorgeous and I love the quality of the paper. Okay, that sounds really nerdy. But it’s true!
  • Since this is a screenplay (similar to the script of The Cursed Child), it is a quick read. Plus, you get mostly just the action and dialogue so it’s easy to get invested in. Took me only a few days to read it.
  • I love that J. K. Rowling actually wrote the screenplay as well. It makes the story all the more reminiscent of the original series.

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J. K. Rowling chronicles a magical adventure set in 1920s New York City. Goodreads summarizes, “When Magizoologist Newt Scamander arrives in New York, he intends his stay to be just a brief stopover. However, when his magical case is misplaced and some of Newt’s fantastic beasts escape, it spells trouble for everyone… Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them marks the screenwriting debut of J.K. Rowling, author of the beloved and internationally bestselling Harry Potter books. Featuring a cast of remarkable characters, this is epic, adventure-packed storytelling at its very best.”

I loved this screenplay because it took me back into the Harry Potter universe. I am always itching for more Harry Potter stories. I love that this gives us a new story and new characters to cheer for. I also enjoyed the fun references to the original series with the spells and types of creatures and the mention of Dumbledore and Hogwarts. I even love the subtle jabs at Americans with the banter between Newt and Tina.

 

The main characters were as easy to cheer for and connect with as Harry and his friends. I connected easily with Newt because of his genuine love for his creatures and his determination to do what is right for them and other people. He is loyal and hard working. I would have loved to hear more of his background (perhaps more is coming in future movies). I loved Jacob for being a muggle I mean a no-maj who loves the magical world he finds himself involved with. I love his simple dreams and his ability to instantly connect with people and creatures. And I loved Tina for her over the top efforts to protect the magical world and Queenie for her kindness and quirky ability to read minds.

However, most of the other characters felt a bit flat for me. Perhaps that is a side effect of the screenplay genre. We didn’t get a lot of depth in the description of other characters. The strange thing is that I didn’t want to learn more about some of them. I found the subplot about Credence and his strange family to be dark and disturbing. I didn’t connect with the Shaw family at all. But I did find Mr. Graves to be very intriguing–and for good reason as you know if you’ve read this/seen the film.

My favorite elements of this movie were connected with the magical creatures themselves. The plot lines focused on the magical creatures and their escape into NYC were the most interesting. I thought the niffler was hilarious and the occamys was so intriguing. Also loved the cute relationship between Newt and his creatures, especially the Bowtruckle Pickett. It is these relationships and the way Newt is trying to change the way wizards view creatures that was most interesting to me. However, I thought there could have been more of a focus there.

While I did enjoy this book, I also thought it could be even better. First, I think the story would have been better as a novel. I wanted more details! I enjoyed the screenplay form because it’s quick to read and easy to get into since it’s basically all plot. But I also missed the magic of Rowling’s world in novel form. I wanted to read more about Newt’s travels and his background. I wanted to get inside the heads of the characters. I wanted more about the search to capture Grindelwald and perhaps a few more details about Newt’s days at Hogwarts. Second, I would have liked more of the fantastic beasts themselves! I loved the scenes where Newt takes his friends into the case to meet the creatures. And I wanted more development about his mission and his book. Perhaps more of them could have escaped or we could have read more background on certain types. Either way, I wanted more fantastic beasts. Third, I did not like the subplot about the obscurus. I felt it was too dark and did not add much to the overall plot beside to give us a great twist at the end of the book. I would have enjoyed a more complex plot about Newt’s creatures.

After finishing the screenplay, my husband and I watched the movie. It was strange to have read the screenplay before watching the film because they literally say everything word for word from the text. So it felt like they didn’t have a lot of imagination. Even with the words the same, I was surprised by some of the interpretations. But I loved the way they depicted the inside of Newt’s case and the creatures. After seeing the movie, I again wanted a novel of the story because there were moments that I wanted further explanation. The movie just confirmed that I disliked the obscurus subplot. It was creepy and dark. And for the record, I thought Johnny Depp as Grindelwald is actually a great casting. He acts the strange, weird, and obscure characters so well.

Overall, a fun read that I really enjoyed. I got back and forth between giving it 3 or 4 stars so I settled on 3.5 because there were parts I loved and parts that I didn’t. It was great to be back in the Harry Potter universe, and I am excited for the future movies. Getting more wizarding world history from before Harry and even before Voldemort is exciting and fun. Definitely recommend this one for all Harry fans.

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What did you think of Fantastic Beasts?

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13 thoughts on “[Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them]: A Review

  1. I’m with you! I loved the chance to jump back into the magical world and the main characters really sold it for me, but the minor characters that really brought the HP series to life just weren’t here. I’m sure this is because it was as screenplay, but I still missed them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a great review– I’m impressed at how thorough it is! It’s really impressive that you read the screenplay before you watched the film. I wonder how that might have changed your perception… Will you be exploring that in a future post, or is the above all we get? 😉 I am also curious to hear what you envisioned and where the film deviated from your imagination.

    Do you read many plays/screenplays? I think it’s interesting that the verbatim dialogue came across to you as lacking imagination since the whole point is that it should be verbatim. That’s the sign of a great set of actors.

    Finally, I have lots of potentially spoilery theories about the obscurus sub-plot and how it will drive the future films. I think it’s FAR more important than people want it to be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for your thoughts, Jackie! I have read The Cursed Child and this one recently. Then I read a good amount of Shakespeare in college. I think movie adaptations are really interesting. And would love to talk more about them in a future post. Perhaps I will draft one as I write my reactions to the Anne adaptations for #AnneReadAlong2017 🙂 Ok I want to hear your obscurus theories!! Email me! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Awesome! I’m glad you’ve had experience reading plays– a lot of people who read The Cursed Child, and subsequently Fantastic Beasts seem to be disappointed because they are expecting a novel. These are three very different mediums! But, scripts for plays and movies read similarly. It makes me sad when people poo-poo these scripts as “bad” when I think they are actually very well done.

        I’d love to read a future post about your thoughts on movie adaptions! Keep that in the hopper, for sure. 😀

        Email sent. I’m super curious to see what you think of my theories… #PotterNerd

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Amen!!! I totally agree. It’s difficult to hold scripts and screenplays to the same standards as novels. In fact, I don’t think it can (or should be done). When it comes to the HP genres, I just love the novels for all the background. And would love more background on the characters in Fantastic Beasts in novel form. Maybe in the coming years she’ll write one. At least we have the future movies to look forward to as well 🙂

          Ok going to your email now. I knew we were kindred spirits #fellowPotterNerd 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the review…I wanted to give this book a try just to revive some Harry Potter magic but reading the Cursed Child for similar reasons was a huge disappointment for me. So, I had decided to leave this book alone. However….after reading your review I am feeling I should give this book a chance.

    Liked by 1 person

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