Publishing Info: July 31, 2016 by Scholastic Inc.
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: August 4, 2016
Related Posts: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter #1), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter #2), The Hogwarts Library, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter #3), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter #4), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter #5), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter #6), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter #7)
Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.
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.
Obviously there are a lot of mixed emotions before starting the infamous eighth Harry Potter book. Naturally I was excited — because it’s Harry freakin’ Potter — but I also just didn’t quite feel as excited as I thought I should be. Before picking up the bound version of the play (since I guess we really shouldn’t be calling it a book as it was never intended to be an actual book), I knew there were a few things that were hindering my excitement that I ultimately expected to affect my overall enjoyment of the experience (and in fact, they all did play a part in that). I knew that J.K. Rowling was involved in the plot and creation of CURSED CHILD, but ultimately, it was not her writing on the page. I knew that I was going to be reading a rehearsal script for the play and that the formatting might throw off my experience. And I knew that I’d be reading about adult Harry, Ron, Hermione, and company and I didn’t know if I’d like where their characters were in their adult lives since we had some pretty cheesy things happen in the epilogue of DEATHLY HALLOWS, and that actually was J.K. Rowling’s writing.
The short version of this review is that CURSED CHILD was kind of all over the place for me. The overall plot was interesting and I really, really loved certain parts but other parts of it just seemed so… I guess amateur is the best word I can think of at the moment, although that seems quite harsh. We’ve grown to love J.K. Rowling’s stories and how detailed they are and there were just certain things about CURSED CHILD that didn’t seem like they were plotted out very well. Other parts seemed completely random and totally uncharacteristic of the series. The overall concept of this story of the next generation was a really interesting concept but seemingly poorly executed. This was like cramming multiple books into one book (or I suppose, one play) and concepts were sort of flying all over the place. It was really fun to see things from the original series turn up but other times, the references back to the original series was very cheesy or just plain inaccurate. Small inaccuracies in some parts (it was “Happee Birthdae” not “Happy Birthday”), and some big timeline disagreements in others but it’s Harry freakin’ Potter. You don’t think the fandom will pick up on these? (They totally did.) It was just things like that that really made me feel like this was sloppily put together and that these playwrights who put the CURSED CHILD play together were missing some really core feelings and elements of the series.
I knew that I was going to be reading a script when I started and it was definitely a unique experience but I think the format lost a LOT in translation. There was less atmosphere, less dialogue, and less development which obviously you’ll get through the actors of the play and you won’t see in a rehearsal script. I just felt like I lost so much not READING those reactions, nuances, tone of voice, sensory descriptions — I mean, really a little of everything that brings the world of Harry Potter to life. Some of that is included in the script notes but the atmosphere is greatly lost because of the format. I mean, obviously this was specifically adapted for a play and that’s how they wanted to tell this story… But I really, really wish it had been developed into an actual book instead of just giving us the rehearsal script. There was so much more of this story to tell! Things would have been a lot less cheesy if they had been developed or explained. (Although some things I’ll never get over. They were just weird.) Everything felt really, really rushed and I would have rather had a simpler plot with more development instead of bursting from scene to scene. There was no time to really absorb anything and that also left very little room for character development. I don’t care if we already know the majority of these characters — they still need to have a personality.
I also didn’t feel like the characters were well-represented at all. Part of it may be because they’re so much older… But a lot of them felt far off from their younger counter-parts (although I’ve changed exponentially since I was 17 so… fair enough in some respects) but I hated that Ron came off the way he did. He was such a lump and a putz with little personality and he was essentially was Hermione’s lesser half. Hermione was a stronger personality, as she usually is, but I feel like even she lost a lot of her logic and wisdom… How do you LOSE wisdom over the years? Harry was always a bit all over the place for me so that was about the same and Ginny was a total movie Ginny, not book Ginny. (Ugh.) The main adult characters (the aforementioned) seemed so stiff and one-dimensional which is hard to bear after spending a full series with them, reading the series multiple times, and watching the movies over and over. We know these characters. They are our childhood. They are our friends. We grew up with them. To see them underdeveloped and misrepresented in a sequel like this just felt so uncaring. There were also a few characters from the series who make appearances (though I won’t reveal who they were) and some were AWESOME and some were confusing, to say the least.
There was a weird sexual tension between the Albus and Scorpius (which I thought was just me at first but there are tons of THINGS all over Buzzfeed and Tumblr about this so I’m not alone) and I honestly thought it was going to be revealed that one had a crush on the other, or that they both shared romantic feelings. That would have been fine expect for the fact that it didn’t happen and I was confused by them always bringing up hugging and the deep friendship feelings which when described really sounded like something more than just a deep platonic friendship bond.
It was so great to see the future for Harry Potter but I just really feel a little let down by a short story. Some of it was so much fun. Parts made me cry. Some made me laugh. But I also had moments where I scratched my head, questioned a lot, and even laughed out loud (not in a good way). Some of it was suuuuper cheesy and I can see why people said it read as fanfic. Overall, it felt messy and rushed and the more I think about it and discuss it, the more I realize that I’m more disappointed than excited about the development. I would have loved to see this really developed in a novel or in a series. We needed so much more time with Albus to understand him a little better. I would have loved to see this great friendship between the two boys and their complicated friendship with Rose (oh, and don’t get me started about her role in the end of the book. An even cheesier way to wrap things up. Yay). I always love more time at Hogwarts. I would have loved to see those little clues along the way to the big reveal. I was okay with what the plot WAS (except for some parts) but it really just needed way more development. I kind of feel like if it can’t be done well, best to leave it alone, and I don’t think CURSED CHILD did justice to this series at all.
We did beg for an eighth book though… so I guess beggars can’t be choosers?
But now can we beg for an Ilvermorny series, pretty please? (Will I ever learn my lesson?)
“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!
Albus // Character obsessions: Fighting with his father, being moody, wallowing.
Albus really took after his father (if we’re talking about moody Harry from OotP). It was hard to read about him at times because he was presented as moody, difficult, and misunderstood right off the bat. Sure, I can handle that just fine BUT it didn’t seem like there was a justifiable reason for him to be so outright surly and that was the hard part. He seemed to be negative all the time.
Ron // Character obsessions: Food, following, fancies.
So Ron now runs the joke shop (did they say what happened to George? Heart isn’t into it?) but Ron is apparently the joke of this play. After everything he’s been through, the friendships he’s formed, the courage and strength and pride he found in himself, why is Ron such a putz in CURSED CHILD? He’s the butt of the jokes, makes lots of corny jokes that people laugh at just to make him feel better, and he has no personality at all. He’s basically the husband of Hermione Granger while Hermione is off being Minister of Magic (which was clumsily put together too) and it was just such a let down. He lost all that magic and sparkle that I loved in his character and was such a lump.
Kept Me Hooked On: NEW Harry Potter. I’ll always be excited for new Harry Potter and CURSED CHILD was so exciting.
Left Me Wanting More: Magic. To put it simply, I needed more of that Harry Potter magic. It was missing from the plot, the writing, the characters, the structure. Really just everything. This didn’t do it for me at all. I won’t pretend it doesn’t exist but I feel like it needs justice and there should be a new story (NOT a play) to follow it up to make some things right. (Not just because I’m greedy. It can’t end like that.)
Read it… with hesitation
I still think this is worth the read for Harry Potter fans. Despite my lengthy, griping review, I actually did enjoy the experience. It was mediocre for me but I can’t NOT read a book that’s set in the Harry Potter universe (that’s an official work of J.K. Rowling). I think I’ll be more excited for Fantastic Beasts, though, as it’s far removed from the original series as far as plot goes.
BOOKS LIKE HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD
(Click the cover to see my review!)