Rating: 3 stars
J.K. Rowling’s screenwriting debut is captured in this exciting hardcover edition of the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them screenplay.
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.
Whether an existing fan or new to the wizarding world, this is a perfect addition to any reader’s bookshelf.
As a whole, I enjoyed reading Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The story and characters were interesting, making me want to continue reading to find out what happened next. I especially enjoyed reading about all of the fantastic creatures Newt Scamander had in his suitcase. They really made the story magical and interesting for me. All of the creatures that escaped had different quirks, which is what helped Newt Scamander figure out where they’d be in New York. I also liked all of the characters in this story and how they worked together to get the magical creatures back in Newt’s suitcase.
Another feature of this book I particularly enjoyed was seeing how the magical world worked in America. As an American myself, when I read the Harry Potter series, I always wondered how different the magical world would be in America. How non magic folk and witches and wizards would interact. However, the way it’s incorporated in this book is different from what I expected. But at the same time, I’m not quite as surprised. It’s different because the setting for this book takes place in a different time period than the Harry Potter series. The events in this book actually take place long before Harry Potter is born, at a time when non magic and magic folk are at odds with each other. At a time when witches and wizards have to hide who they are for fear that knowing of their existence will cause a war. I find this to be an interesting time point for these events to take place because it makes the story that much more riveting to read so that you can find out what happens. It’s also interesting to see magic folks having to hide who they are for fear of exposure and threat to the safety of the world. There’s just something about knowing everything is at stake that makes this even more interesting to read.
I also find that this book has a beautiful cover. I like the way it looks because it draws me in. Now I normally don’t judge a book by its cover, but sometimes when you find a book and it has a really nice cover, you just have to read it. For me, this was one of those books. I also liked the cute little illustrations you could find in between the pages. Seeing some of the creatures illustrated in the book was really nice because it added something to the pages for me. I also liked hearing this story told as a screenplay. I found this format of the story to be very interesting because it allowed you as the reader to notice things you probably wouldn’t have if J.K. Rowling had written it as a novel. While I didn’t like this format when I read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, since this screenplay isn’t a part of a series I feel like it fits better here.
However, there are a lot of things about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them that I’m critical about that made this screenplay not as much of an enjoyable read for me. Unfortunately, I’ve already seen the film based on this screenplay so I already knew about all of the events that took place in the story before reading it. And the movie adaptation of the screenplay is exactly the same so it made it hard for me to enjoy reading this because I already knew what happened. Usually when I hear a book is being made into a film, I try to read the book before seeing the movie because I don’t want the film to ruin my reading experience. Part of that is while most of the time the book and movie adaptations are completely different, I worry that there’ll still be enough similarities that the film will end up ruining the book for me. That is why I don’t mind there being differences between a book and its film adaptation. However, I saw the film a while ago, but the plot is still fresh in my mind. So it was harder for me to enjoy this book because I remembered everything that happened. I believe if I’d read this before going to see the movie, my opinion of it would be different.
Another criticism I have for this book is the relationships J.K. Rowling made between the main characters. I felt like they were forced, as if she was trying to make this story a romance along with fantasy. In the film, it wasn’t quite so bad but in the screenplay, it’s very easy to notice. Because while I like the two pairings she created, I just feel like they aren’t meant to be. Especially the relationship that starts to form between Queenie and Jacob. It’s a relationship that just doesn’t seem realistic to me. I think part of it is because you know it’s not meant to be since Jacob isn’t a part of the wizarding world.
I also would’ve liked to have learned a little bit more about Newt Scamander and the creatures he has in his suitcase. He’s one of my favorite characters in the story so with each page I wanted to learn more about him and how he became interested in magical creatures. I also wanted to learn more about the creatures he collected. I know J.K. Rowling created a Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them glossary long before she wrote this screenplay. But I think it would’ve been nice to hear more from Newt in the story about these creatures. Maybe even have some background of how he found them to give us a perspective of why they mean so much to him.
Overall, I enjoyed reading Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. But there were a couple things with the story I wish were included that would’ve made me enjoy it even more. Plus, I wish I hadn’t already seen the movie adaptation too so that I could feel like I’m coming to this story with new eyes. But I do highly recommend this story to those who’ve read the Harry Potter series and want to see more from the wizarding world by J.K. Rowling. Just make sure you don’t make the same mistake I did when you read it.