First let me start off by saying that I love and I am totally obsessed with Harry Potter. I’ve dressed in my Gryffindor attire more often than you’d expect. I was a fan of the movies and half of the books first, then finished the remaining books and have now gone through them each at least 5 to 6 times. So it’s safe to say that I have been waiting for the Cursed Child since they announced it would be published. If I could have slept in the stock room of Books & Books or Barnes and Noble waiting for the delivery, I would have.
Unfortunately, because of the business that I run, I was unable to make it to any midnight release parties and wasn’t able to pick up the book until the Monday that followed. However, that did not stop me from eating up the entire book in one sitting. The book is indeed a script format so it’s a rather easy and fast read. Everything is double spaced and stage directions take up a lot of the page at times.
Now I am not sure what I was expecting. I knew very few things to be true before reading The Cursed Child. I knew it had to do with Albus, Harry’s middle child, and the troubles he faced being the son of the “chosen one.” I also knew that it had to do with Harry Potter and his struggles with being a father while still living under the spot light, but that was pretty much it. However, what I did not expect was to be faced with what I would like to call..
HARRY POTTER AND THE CRUSHING DISAPPOINTMENT
I know I sound like a “hater” as many of my online friends have stated but it’s the truth. The first few pages completely sucked me in. We start right where the last movie ended. Albus and Harry are at the train station, we get to see Ron and Hermione and their kids and all is grand. It’s like you’re picking right off where J.K. Rowling left you and all is wonderful and grand again. I can hear Hedwig’s theme song in the background and I’m ready for my next trip to Hogwarts. Only…that was very short lived. I believe my first of many WTF moments happened at around page 35…maybe 45…could’ve been 54. I’m not really sure because it was like a Pringles can. Once the WTF’s starting popping off they didn’t stop.
The entire book felt like authorized mediocre fan fiction. It felt like some fan boy out there was constantly trying to remind us that although we wish that certain things in the books/movies would’ve gone down differently, it couldn’t have because then the entire story we have grown to love would no longer be. For all would be too different. It felt like
every time something decent came out of the writing they were quick to ruin it. Knowing that I would be blogging or podcasting about this book I want to take you through some of my notes. Let me know which ones you felt or disagreed upon. It seems that the majority of my fellow Potterheads disliked the book but we all seem to have different issues with different aspects of it.
My journal notes. (Just a few…I seriously wrote down every emotion and it took way too many pages lol)
- Ahhhh yes! Back to where we left off. Sidenote: Its pretty clear Harry got to name all of their children. Poor Ginny.
- What Hermione is a what? Ok..yea I guess that makes sense. But Ron? What happened to the jobs we knew our fellow Gryffindor friends were taking?
- Oh Ron? No matter what happens, the only person who can properly right for you is JK. And she has abandoned you in this book. You are just the clown for all of us to laugh at and it’s quite sad.
- Where the hell is Teddy? No mention? No nothing?!?
- AMOS?!? Of all the things that we could want to go back and fix you give us AMOS? You give us Cedric?!?
- Who in the hell is Delphi?
- Oh Scorpius..you would’ve made a much better child of Hermione or Harry.
- Really Harry? A fucking blanket? That has no magical significance and a blanket that even you didn’t know existed until much later in life, when you could appreciate such a thing. You want your son who has seen his older brother get a cloak that makes him INVISIBLE understand the importance of this old blanket (please cue plot device).
- Really? Trolley lady?!? Fred and George would have DEFINITELY mentioned that somewhere.
- Listen up Draco, if you don’t call Harry by POTTER soon I’m going to go into seizures.
- Scorpius, seriously…I love you.
- Why are you shoving Ron and Hermiones inevitability at me! Every turn they still have this moment. If this doesn’t scream fan boy I don’t know what will.
- Cedric a death eater?! Oh come on…you’re just making things up while you go now!
- .Delphi is who…
- THAT JUST MAKES NO SENSE TIME WISE. How can Bellatrix be the mom and birth her during or before the battle of Hogwarts? Doesn’t that mean she would definitely be showing when shes torturing Hermione and about to kill Dobby? That makes no sense time wise or character wise. She would NOT have put herself in danger if she even THOUGHT she was caring the love child of Voldermort.
- Wait…how does a half snake no nose person even have sex? I think my brain has exploded.
- Oh there comes the blanket…thought so! Ugh…we could’ve done something better.
- Why does Harry not know how to be a father when it seems his other kids are just fine.
- Seriously Scorpius, can I put you in my pocket and keep you.
That’s again just some of my notes. While some of it was good, and it did at least bring back the magic, the overall story was a failure. Characters did things that I thought were completely out of character and just not true to how they would behave. Like Harry reminding Professor McGonagall that she doesn’t have children? Really? I don’t think that’s something he would’ve ever done. Other issues could just not be ignored. Like Ron’s complete lack of character development. Weird changes in timeline and things we know to be true from the previous books. Malfoy being so easily changed. Yes he went through some difficult things but his friendship with Potter happening so quickly it’s a bit odd. Nice…but def. odd. Certain things were wrapped in pretty little bows and then old characters were thrown in for what feels like nostalgia purposes and not so much because it’s what would actually happen. Dream sequences were a bit confusing at times. You almost felt like you were back to iconic scenes from the previous books only for it to take a wrong turn and it felt out of place.
The best part of the entire book for me was Scorpius and Hermione. I like her through all of her changes within the time warps. I do also like that Snape stayed true to himself (with the exception of his last line about his name and all that, that’s totally not Snape.). I like that Scorpius was a Slytherin whom the audience was sure to love. It showed us that not all who fall under that house are dark and evil. I did like the ending scene with Harry and Albus. It was the ONE thing I felt Harry did that made sense to who he was.
If we fans were only to get one more story with Harry Potter in it, I wish it had been actually written in its entirety by J.K. Rowling herself. I was surprised how many people were reading it thinking that she was indeed the writer, and how many quickly stated “then why am I reading this” once I broke the news to them. I give this book an overall rating of a “D”
Like Quills, I’m a pretty big Harry Potter fan. While I don’t rock my Gryffindor quite as often as she does, this series has been part of my life since I was in high school. I picked up the books after I saw the trailer for Sorcerer’s Stone and devoured the first three paperbacks in just as many days. When I got into school the following day, I was delighted to find that they had a hardcover copy of Goblet of Fire, which was still pretty fresh, and I consumed it just as fast. I was there for every midnight release with the exception of Deathly Hallows, and I only missed that one because I was at an anime convention in Maryland. Even then, I spent some time at a Barnes and Nobel that was near the convention center to observe and absorb the fervor of the whole event. The movies? There at every midnight release. If it was Harry Potter-related, you would seem me there.
What attracted me so much to the Potter books were their rich world. I can think of only The Lord of the Rings and The Wheel of Time that could match the level of depth that Rowling was able to inject and neither series did it as quickly or as succinctly as she did. For what was supposed to be a story for kids, it did more for me as a teenager and later as an adult, and that is not easy to do in any genre. While I rarely indulge in fan fiction, it completely made sense that people could insert their own stories and, hell, have them fit. There’s room for it in Hogwarts and out in that universe.
I bring up fan fiction mostly because The Cursed Child feels like some of the worst that could be put to paper. It’s like if somebody looked at Back to the Future, read through Goblet of Fire, decided they rather liked Cedric and wanted to somehow write him back in. That’s right; this is a time-travel what-if story that heavily involves undoing a lot of previous actions and seeing how that affects our favorite characters. Here’s the thing with stories that involve time-travel: Even the best of writers have a hard time making them work. Rowling did it with Prisoner of Azkaban by having Harry and Hermione only step back several hours at most. That keeps things pretty tight and, with some narrative trickery, keeps the potential consequences low. By going back years at a time, it feels messy and ultimately the consequences take a lot of disbelief to accept. Cedric, the kid so heroic that you can practically see his square jaw and cleft chin, becomes a Death Eater because he was embarrassed in front of the school? Hermione, a witch described as the smartest in her class and subsequently the smartest girl in any room she inhabits, becomes a shrew because she never marries Ron? You’re asking for a lot when you make those alterations in characters that had such strong standings in their respective character arcs. And it doesn’t work. At all.
So what does work? Like Q, I loved Scorpious. He was the character Rowling needed in the main series to show that not all Slytherin are scumbags. Ambition and desire do not equal evil and, in the case of Draco’s son, those drives can be positive forces. He’s an absolute nerd and so proud of it. He doesn’t hide the fact that he’s a social outcast and really, all he wants is a good friend. He’s an absolute treasure and it’s a shame that we only get him here. Sentimentally, it was nice to see Snape again, if just to think about Alan Rickman. And the best part of all is that it was mercifully short. No long stories here, you’ll be able to burn through The Cursed Child in two or three hours and keep the pain down to a minimum.
I’m sad to say that I can’t recommend The Cursed Child. It doesn’t please a long-time Harry Potter fan. It won’t draw any new people in. It doesn’t seem like a good play on the page. Hell, the whole thing is kind of a disaster and shouldn’t exist. It’s a terrible way to send off a beloved series.