August 26th: Review of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (mostly spoiler free)
Title: Harry Potter and The Cursed Child
Author: J.K Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne
Publisher: Little Brown Publishing
Release date: July 31th 2016
It is finally here. The moment we all (or at least 90% of us) had been waiting for. After seven books that have allowed millions of people escape the grey of every day life in the Muggles’ word, a new door to the Wizard’s side opened.
I was not a part of the 90% people eagerly expecting The Cursed Child. This does not mean I did not miss my childhood and teenage years’ friends, or that I was not still waiting for the stupid owl that misplaced my letter. Netflix knows how much I miss the magical world created by one of the best witches of our time. But I had my doubts. After all, I had been entirely satisfied with the series as it was, and I was wondering if this new book was not just a marketing trap. And now, a few days after having read the script of what is called the 8th Harry Potter book, I realize my doubts were justified.
So, fast forward +20 years. Harry and Ginny did not waste those years and had little wizards, as did Ron and Hermione. Except being the badass team they were in school did not really help them in adult life, and things are not all sun and shiny. So far so good. Yet… Two pages in and I’m frowning.
Confundo : Causes the victim to become confused and befuddled.
Okay, Harry, I do get the logic behind giving your babies the names of important people in your life, but let’s face it, it is VERY confusing. Especially when you are not used reading scripts and you keep forgetting to read the names above the dialogue. It did get better with time, but several parts involving body changes had me feeling a little lost. Little advice for the next generation : GO ORIGINAL!
Conjonctivitis : Damages opponent’s eyesight
The format was a subject of concern for many of us. I can read a novel in hours, reading words faster than a TGV flies on the train lines (when not on strike, of course), but give me a script and I’m back in elementary school, following the dialogue with my finger and forgetting who says what. I’m sure I’d have enjoyed Shakespeare better is Romeo and Juliet’s fate had been narrated in a different format. I did get the hang of it. After all, I finished the book in 3 hours, but it being a script did take part of the fun away. Getting only a few scene directions and raw dialogue does not have the same impact. I need details, especially when wandering into the brilliant and diverse world created by Rowling. I want lengthy descriptions of magical places and other spells and potions’ unfortunate effects. We know 80% of the places where the action takes place, but it doesn’t feel the same.
Expecto Patronum : Conjure a spirit-like incarnation
of their positive emotions (to defend against dark creatures)
Now that we’re talking about feeling the same… After the details, the big stuff! The joy of meeting up again with our favorite characters, the cosy or scary places, the thrill of going on the train. It all came back, as if I had left Hogwarts only a few days ago. Yes, Emotional me was happy to come back. I was also glad to know what everyone had become. There was no doubts about Hermione’s career choice, and I was over the moon to see (spoiler! I think) McGonagall (still) sitting on Dumbledore’s chair. (What? She’s quite OLD now!)
Malfoy and Potter. I wish I could forget some of fan fiction extracts I stumbled across a long time ago. Still, it felt right to see their relationship explored and deepened in reflection of (spoiler! ish) their sons’ friendships. Their interactions looked like the natural evolution we could have expected from their history.
Albus and Scorpius. I was skeptical at first, until a special joke early in the book made me laugh so loud I realized those boys were in for a true friendship. I never expected to like Scorpius more than Albus. (Yes, I’m a Potter fan, no my hair color has nothing to do with me hoping to steal Harry from Giny.)
Impedimenta : Capable of tripping, freezing, binding,
knocking back and generally impeding the target’s progress towards the caster.
Now to the less good stuff.
Albus. I must not be very good with teenagers and I am seriously considering sending them to boarding school when mine reach that age. Whining has never been my thing, and I wanted to slap him at times. If you have read the book, don’t tell me the thought never crossed your mind!
Harry, my poor Harry. You’ve never been so good understanding others, and this applies to your son. I was a tad bit disappointed by the cold wall between father and son. Yes, I know, without it there is no story, but even though we could all have guessed being Harry Potter’s son would not be easy, the depth of the gap between those two broke my heart. I would have wanted to have more snippets of their lives to understand how they had ended up do far apart. I had issues picturing Harry as the terrible father is seemed to be.
Off to the secondary characters. I had no idea what the book would be about, but I soon figured out the next generation was the lead. I would have wanted Ron to be more than an extra. Yes, he appeared, but I don’t recall him doing anything of importance. Poor Ron.
Accio (sounds enough like action, therefore it’s plot time!)
This story is definitely character-driven. It doesn’t lack of
stupid action(s), but the exploration of the past and how it impacts someone was all I took with me when I closed the book. I feel I can’t talk about the plot itself without any spoiler whatsoever, so I’ll keep it short. Exploring relationships through errors and injustice of the past was a great idea, but nothing really happened except for teenagers making terrible mistakes. I did not feel any tension as I knew there was no way it would end badly. The superficiality of the plot failed to give me the sense of adventure I was looking for.
I feel the authors made a quick list, threw all the old’s recipe ingredients in, and sparkled half a cup of sugar on top. But adding a couple of new characters to a familiar setting does not secure you an amazing book. I was able to appreciate the story in itself. I even found elements of the plot clever, though a bit rehashed. I might have liked the book more if on its own. But I never felt it belongs to the Harry Potter series. Magic was here, the original places and names appeared, but the mix did not convince me. Spoiler! How many times can they pull the Voldy threat?
Overall, it was a good read. Nostalgia gave it a bittersweet taste and it was nice to be among wizards for a while, but for me, it’s a HYPE.
Did you read Harry Potter and The Cursed Child? Do you want to read it? What did you think of it? Did I miss something?