Review: Harry Potter & the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, J. Tiffany & J. Thorne

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child J.K. rowling cover

Title: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child 
Author: J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, John Tiffany 
Series: Harry Potter #8 
Genre: Fantasy, YA 
Publication date: July 31, 2016 
Rating: I honestly don't know...

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children. While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.
Harry, there is never a perfect answer in this messy, emotional world. Perfection is beyond the reach of humankind, beyond the reach of magic. In every shining moment of happiness is that drop of poison: the knowledge that pain will come again. Be honest to those you love, show your pain. To suffer is as human as to breathe.

Nine years. That’s how long it’s been since the release of the last Harry Potter book. I was only fourteen years old back then. Nothing more than a child, although I felt pretty grown up already. I remember still struggling with some of the vocabulary used in The Deathly Hallows. It seems so silly now. The first book I ever voluntarily read in English. Now I can’t even tell you the title of the last book I read in Dutch. So much has changed over the years. But I do vividly recall how sad I felt after finishing that seventh book. So devastated that I went straight back to page one and started over. I suppose I was in denial. Because it was over. Harry Potter had been such a huge part of my childhood and it was once and for all over.

Until a couple of months ago there was that huge announcement. An introduction of a play following the adventures of Harry’s son and a book containing the play’s script for all those living too far from West End. Yes, it would in fact be a true sequel. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The official eighth story. Nineteen years later.

I cannot begin to describe just how excited I was. I may have literally started jumping up and down my chair. Yes, even at 23. You know, you all know just what these books mean to me. No, I’m not rational when it comes to this series. I don’t think I even want to be. This was what I had unconsciously been waiting for all these years. I was going back. Back to Hogwarts. Because that’s what J.K. Rowling had always said, right? Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.

That was my initial reaction to the news. I think the word ‘script’ had not really sunk in yet. But as the months passed and I impatiently waited for the 31st of July - I started getting anxious. What did ‘script’ truly mean? What exactly would J.K. Rowling’s involvement in this book prove to be? Who actually wrote it? None of it was very clear and I didn’t want to research too much. I wasn’t aware of any spoilers circulating, but I didn’t want to risk it. When I would finally get my hands on that book I wanted to find everything out for myself.

Hogwarts is a big place. Big. Wonderful. Full of food. I’d give anything to be going back.

And here I was. Back. In many ways Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was more than I could ever hope to get. Rowling had left Harry and the magic world behind for good. We all had to move on - which we did (reluctantly). But against all expectations there was now new material and we would all get to read it. So this book was new, thrilling, exciting. I devoured every piece of it. I grinned like a fool when characters so dear to my heart reappeared. I embraced them and let myself get completely sucked into the story. It was endlessly fascinating and compelling. This was not fanfiction, this was real. The story evolving in front of my eyes was Harry’s actual adult life. I LOVED it. How could I not? This was Harry Potter we were talking about. Right? Everything was so full of potential.

But that’s the thing. It’s potential. It’s a raw piece of dialogue. More like an outline or a draft of a story than a finished product. The script part didn’t suit me. I was prepared for it not to be a novel, but I had hoped that I would be able to distance myself from that aspect. Turned out I couldn’t. It bothered me endlessly. To the point where I would find myself filling the obvious blanks. I started adding my own descriptive narrative in my head. I have read enough of Rowling’s work to be able to imagine her style and flow and I needed it. Needed a slower pacing and surroundings and detail and well, more. But that obviously didn’t do the book any justice. I am not J.K. Rowling. I am not nearly as good a writer.

Neither was whoever wrote this book. Because I am one hundred percent sure it was not Rowling. Looking back, I realize I couldn’t feel her in any part of it. Not in the world building and certainly not in the dialogue. The voicing of the characters I know so well was off. I will not pretend to know them better than she does - but I do know them better than any other characters in the world. They weren’t right. Rowling may have provided the backstory for all of this - but it was executed poorly. God, you have no idea how much it pains me to admit this. Albus Severus Potter (the name still makes me cringe) was mostly annoying and he was one of the main characters. Scorpius Malfoy on the other hand was the only one I truly enjoyed.

But I mainly had serious issues with the portrayal of Ron Weasley and Draco Malfoy. They are both characters I unconditionally love and both favorites of mine. Here they were caricatures of themselves, fake to the point it became absolutely ridiculous. In this book Ron is portrayed as a complete fool who is only there to lighten the mood in tense situations. While everyone has build astonishing careers for themselves, Ron is a total joke. No one takes him seriously, not even Ron himself. And this breaks my heart more than I can express. What did he ever do to deserve this? He is part of the golden trio, he’s a hero. This makes me so impossibly angry. Malfoy’s development was  equally bad. I loved Malfoy when he was still a complete pain-in-the-ass. I loved him even more when we got to see his vulnerability and weaknesses. I mean, we all know what a terrible soft spot I have for dark and broken characters. I was entirely in favor of his redemption. I wanted this to happen. But the way it happened here was so utterly unbelievable I could only roll my eyes. The real Draco Malfoy would have never behaved in such a manner. Not when he was eighteen, not when he was thirty years old, not even when he was sixty. Such monstrous destructions of such brilliant characters. Every character got completely butchered.

There is also the fact that so many important characters were absent. Not even the silver trio made it into the book. Except for Ginny, but only because she is Harry’s wife. And she didn’t feel right either. More like movie-Ginny than the original book-Ginny. Neville was mentioned at some point, but no one even talked about Luna. Or George. Where was Hagrid? The other Weasleys? Teddy? They could have at least been mentioned, no? This was the opportunity to let us know what had become of them. Such a waste and completely unnecessary if you consider the fact that thirty percent of the book was about Cedric Diggory - of all people.

And that’s basically it. I have an overall feeling of fan fiction gone bad. It took me a while and a lot of ranting with friends to get myself to the point where I could openly admit it, but it’s still true. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a terrible disappointment. Not because it’s a script (well, not only) but because it doesn’t make you feel any of the magic of the previous installments. Everyone behaves completely out of character and even the story is very uncreative and at times completely ridiculous. (For those of you who have read it, I’m referring to things as the Bellatrix plot. That one was literally impossible if you try to place it within the original story.) Plot convenience slips in multiple times, unfortunately. Another example of why there’s just no way Rowling wrote this herself. Although I don’t understand how she could ever approve of this.

I did not expect this. And I’m not happy at all. I wish I could tell you otherwise, I really do. You have no idea. But it’s just not good. Too much doesn’t make sense, there are giant plot holes and it unfortunately outweighs everything I liked about it. And I’m sorry I can’t really elaborate but despite everything, I don't want to actually spoil the story for you.

Should you read it? Yeah, I think you probably should. For your own peace of mind. Because this is the next story and it somehow feels wrong not to know what happens after the Battle Of Hogwarts on May 2nd, 1998. But don’t be like me. Don’t get your hopes up. Don’t get too excited. You might have fun. I will not pretend that I didn’t enjoy certain scenes. Some of it was good. Like I said, there is definitely potential. Now if only J.K. Rowling would reclaim her part and write an actual book on this material I might just try my best and forget everything I felt about this one. God, I am so negative about this. I honestly feel bad, but at least you all know that I truly, honestly tried. And it has left me with an insatiable hunger for more and better.  I would love to see the play, though.

Note: An insane amount of you are reading this and I'm dying to know what you guys think. Do you agree? Do you think I've gone completely mental? Leave a comment and let me know what you're thinking/feeling. I truly want to know. I honestly don't care if you disagree. Just give me something here.

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1 comment:

  1. Totally agree with you. The book is an insult to the original series and to the fans! JKR should be cursed (Crucio probably) for letting this happen.

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