Katie Reads: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Guess what I did last night!

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When your plans to attend the release party fall through so you just go to the Walmart because the line will be shorter and then Walmart doesn’t think anyone will actually show up at 12:01 as advertised on their signs and thus has no idea where the books are in the back. On the plus side I was first in line to get the book, but it also took them half an hour to find it.

I hadn’t planned to stay up late reading it, but I started it and it was a pretty quick read so I was done in a little under two hours or so.

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a new play by Jack Thorne, is the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. It will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on 30th July 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.

Now, I was someone who was all about spoilers as tidbits of information were leaked when people saw the play, so I knew roughly what to expect in terms of plotline. Going into the book, I had pretty low expectations based on what sounded like a ridiculous plot pulled straight from a fanfiction. That said, I was pleasantly surprised. The plot was still a little ridiculous, but managed to pull it off better than I had expected and with much more depth.

HERE THERE BE SPOILERS

General thoughts in no order:

It seems strange that after the book series ended with a scene in which Harry stresses to his son that he’ll be proud of him no matter what house he ends up in that when Albus ends up in Slytherin, Harry does a 180 and is suddenly like “nope”. It did set the stage for an interesting dynamic between father and son, and the pressure Albus feels to live up to his famous dad, but I was a little miffed that Harry would perpetuate the inner house drama.

Scorpius is precious and amazing. That said, I have no clue why this kid is in Slytherin beyond for sake of the plot. He’s a shy, nerdy character who risks himself to save his friends. Frankly, Ravenclaw would realistically be a better fit given what we see of his character. He is clearly very bright, and even solves a bunch of riddles rapidly to save his friends. Scorpius was my favorite character to come out of this play. Draco also showed a much more human side through his love of his son, so points for Draco.

Ron’s character was inconsistent. It felt like the writers were influenced a little too much by dopey, comic relief Movie!Ron than Ron as he was in the books. Book!Ron has his comical moments, but is also a solid friend and is brave. There were a few really good moments with him, but it definitely felt like his character didn’t quite get the attention he deserved.

The plot was ridiculous. Within the context of the script, it did feel like a Harry Potter adventure when I thought about it in relation to the book series, but it was also very much a big WHAT?? I feel like Albus and Scorpius definitely would have recognized the inherent problems with trying to go back and stop someone in the past from dying. Even if they had saved Cedric, I’m sorry but I cannot believe that the boy who wanted to replay a quidditch match that his team had won because he caught the snitch before realizing Harry had been injured and thought that their victory was unfair would go over to the dark side of the force. They say that Cedric only killed Neville in the darkest!timeline. But the reasons presented for Cedric having gone dark just were not believable.

The idea that Voldemort was human enough after being brought back to life to produce an offspring. I mean, the guy didn’t even have a nose?? My general thoughts here are just what. And why??

The Scorpius-Albus friendship was great. My opinion of Rose has tanked immensely given how rude she was to Scorpius and later Albus post Slytherin sorting. This disappoints me because I wanted badly to like her. Also, the stuff with Snape was very much trying to make the reader buy into Snape as a hero. Sure, he had his moments, but let’s be honest, Snape was also awful a lot.

Was this the Harry Potter sequel I wanted? No. But was it as bad as I had anticipated? Not really. It felt like a Harry Potter story, but not exactly the Harry Potter I love and remember. The characters didn’t feel quite like themselves. It could be argued that this is because the trio and co are now 40ish, and have changed during that time, but it was still disappointing to go in hoping to see some of my best friends and instead finding people who looked suspiciously like them but felt different.

The story had some really poignant moments, and nice scenes, but at the end of the day, I’m not sure that this story really needed to be told. Unlike the original seven books, which felt tight knit and very planned, this story did feel like an afterthought. Like when an author has a series so profitable that they reach its ending and then decide to create drama specifically to be able to continue it. I still enjoyed it, because NEW HARRY POTTER, but there are so many amazing stories that could be told in Harry Potter’s world without involving him, and I would have been happier leaving Harry in his happy ending where “all was well”.

For what it was, it was fine, and I am incredibly curious how certain elements of the show translate to stage (no wonder reviews raved about the technical aspects. If the show pulls off everything the play describes than I would be impressed too). If you’re a fan it’s worth reading, but don’t go in expecting it to be as magical as the book series was.

Stay magical readers!

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