My rating: 2.5/5
‘The eighth story, 19 years later’ This phrase when associated with Harry Potter is more than enough to get any reader, any person who grew up with the Boy Who Lived excited. I vividly remember when the first announcement about the play came out because I was equal parts excited and heartbroken, knowing that my chances of seeing the play live in London was as good as Umbridge being known as the best thing that ever happened to Hogwarts. And then, as if my prayers were answered, the news about the script book came out and I was over the moon. Never mind the fact that it wasn’t an actual novel but the fact that I’d be getting to go back to my favourite fantasy world and seeing the new generation as well the old was enough for me.
So on the day of the release, I rushed to the nearest book store and snagged myself a copy. Despite having read the books when they came out, I was never lucky enough to experience a HP book launch so this occasion was doubly exciting for me. The whole day was something special as I got to interact with so many fellow Potterheads, all strangers initially but united by our shared love of the magical world. It felt like hanging out with some good old friends.
After reading this book, (there were several times where I just had to stop and take a break because the things happening were utter madness), I was left feeling quite conflicted and disappointed. There was this sense of nostalgia but it wasn’t enough for me to look past the flaws.
There are so many reasons to justify my low rating. I can blame it on the stiff writing that I’m praying did not come from Jo. I can blame it on the awkward play format that made it difficult to emotionally connect to the story and the characters.But I won’t because I was expecting these things. I knew beforehand that this was just a script and not entirely Jo’s work.
My disappointment comes from the flimsy plot and the carelessness with which our precious characters were handled.
The grown up version of the trio seems to be deprived of their magic (not literal magic) and authenticity. People change all the time and I get that but there were times when I couldn’t even recognize some of the characters because of their actions. Taking away the basic foundation of a person’s character was a low blow. Take Harry for example. I simply refuse to believe he would ever be a bad or inattentive father. Sure their might be a few bumps along the road but Harry in this book was unbelievable. As someone who grew up an orphan and often mistreated by the rest of his family, I’m sure he would know the kind of damage that could do to a child and would never inflict it upon his own children. Dumbing down Hermione and Ginny, using Ron as nothing more than a comic relief, all this will never sit well with me. I guess that’s all there is to say about the characterization without getting into major spoilers.
Moving on to the plot, I don’t even know where to start. I get that this is just a play but that is no excuse for the lack of thoughtfulness and gravity that I associate with all the Harry Potter books. Do the writers even know how much planning Jo did for this series? She had the whole thing mapped out way before she even got to writing the final book and it shows. Comic one-liners are forced into scenes where they do not belong, making it awkward and there were way too many convenient solutions by resorting into deus ex machina.
Also, this book basically contradicted everything we’ve learnt about time-travel in the Wizarding world. Jo had the time turners destroyed for a reason because dealing with time travelling is a messy business. It’s like the writers here never read Prisoner of Azkaban and conveniently tweaked all the laws of time travel for their own benefit. What even…
Don’t even get me started on the origins of Delphi. What do they take us readers for? Stupid and gullible? I refuse to believe that plot twist.
Moving on to the new generation, Albus Severus Potter you troubled child. Albus made my heart ache in the first few pages. I could see how being Harry Potter’s son isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world but his impoliteness, his self-absorbedness and teenage angst started infuriating me by the time I was halfway into the book. Albus feels this need to prove himself so he plans to do so by correcting one of the many wrongs done by his dad and from there on, madness (not the god kind) ensues.
The only saving grace about this book was Scorpius Malfoy. He is literally the only likeable character in the book. Who would’ve thought, right? He is kind, compassionate, troubled, a wizarding geek, brave, funny and just a sweetheart.
There’s so much more I’d like to talk about but I want to keep this review spoiler free so I’m gonna stop now.
All in all, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child works more as a fanfiction (and not a good one) than an actual continuation to the series. For me, Harry Potter ended with ‘All was well’.