Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling
Series: Harry Potter #8
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books
Published on: July 31 2016
Genres: Urban Fantasy
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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.
RULE FOR SPOILERS: if it’s in the first 10%, and therefore (in most cases) available for scrutiny from undecided readers in the FREE downloadable preview, IT’S NOT A SPOILER.
That being said, a LOT of things happen—IMPORTANT things—in the first five percent, let alone ten percent of HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD, so if you’d rather go into your read without significant prior knowledge, leave this review immediately.
That’s the only warning you’re going to get.
In my experience there are two types of hardcore fans for any given series:
1. The Blind Zealot.
This type of fan will forgive an author almost anything. Inconsistent behavior in main characters, enormous plot holes, unexplained developments, etc., it doesn’t matter, b/c OHMAGAWD, I LOVE IT SO MUCH!!! *squeeeeeeee*
2. The Thoughtful, Critical Reader.
This type of fan loves a series based solely on its merit. They aren’t blind to the aforementioned plot holes or inconsistent characters, they are in fact disappointed by such occurrences, but they can still maintain LOVE for the overall series.
For example, I LOVE HARRY POTTER, but I did not love HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX, b/c I felt Rowling encapsulated all the teenangsty emotions of adolescence a little bit too thoroughly.
It was, in a word, exhausting.
PLOT TWIST: I think both types of fans are equally likely to have issues with this latest addition to their Harry Potter library.
The trouble with ending a series is that if it’s done well, you have all the answers to all of your questions, and a vague enough HEA-type scenario that your well-loved cast of characters is assured whatever it is that they deserve.
Heroines and Heroes live happily ever after, Villains and Minions are thwarted and punished, and while you aren’t foolish enough to think everyone’s adventures are over, Good continuing to triumph over Evil is reasonably guaranteed.
Once you’ve finished something, the only way to reopen it is too create new conflict—without conflict there’s no story.
Suddenly the nebulous “HEA” isn’t so nebulous, and that new clarity jeopardizes everything you’ve happily assumed about what comes next.
Harry, Ginny, Hermione, and Ron, previously cardboard cutouts of adult wizards, become real parents with real children, and those children must grow up, making mistakes while they do it, and, worse, they must go through puberty and all the angst that entails.
That’s not happily ever after . . . That’s REAL LIFE.
Then Real Life takes your daydream of a-son-of-Harry-Potter being sorted into Slytherin and reinventing the house’s image with the kind of unaffected rebelliousness you associated with a teenaged Sirius Black, and crushes it under its heel, forcing you to realize that wizards . . . are kind of assholes.
So now, adding insult to injury, the image of the utopian magical society that sprang fully formed from Voldemort’s ashes is forever ruined.
A Blind Zealot might find ignorance preferable to that turn of events.
But those aren’t my issues. My issues are thus:
1. I HATE TIME TRAVEL.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I’m an escapist reader. I need to be consumed by a book to fully enjoy it, and that means I NEED to be able to believe what I’m reading is the truth.
Time travel destroys the possibility of believing anything, b/c it’s ALL subject to change.
Why mourn a character’s death if it will more than likely be nullified in the next chapter or two? Why dredge up any outrage on a character’s behalf when the object of her torment will be thwarted during the second take?
For me, it’s not an issue of, “why would I?” It’s an issue of, “I can’t.” And if I can’t feel anything in response to your characters or your story, why would I read your book?
2. Resurrecting Voldemort-as-villain is lazy. And infuriating.
We survived THREE of Voldemort’s failed attempts at rebirth, we survived one success, and we survived a three book process of discovery that essentially revealed we had to kill him SEVEN TIMES for his death to actually stick.
After ALL of that, how could anyone think it would be a Good Idea to bring him back AGAIN?
Admittedly, it wasn’t quite that simple, but . . . it was also EXACTLY that simple. Everything and everyone else connected to ye olde grande scheme was superfluous, merely the means of achieving a so-very-tired end.
As for the aforementioned superfluous detail: View Spoiler »I recognize the futility of relying on Bellatrix LeStrange’s marital status as an argument against her conceiving Voldemort’s child. That crazy bitch was probably so euphoric at the idea of giving birth to her Master’s spawn that she felt no pain during the actual delivery.
No matter how much he wished it, Voldemort wasn’t actually a god, so divine conception was an impossibility . . . Which means . . . He would have had to . . . Physically . . . Have . . . Sex . . . In order to produce offspring.
I don’t think Bellatrix would’ve objected to the necessity—we’ve already established that she’s a CRAZY BITCH.
BUT . . . I’m not convinced he was physically able:
A. At the alleged time of procreation, he was more snake than man.
B. Snakes don’t have noses, neither did Voldemort.
C. Snakes don’t have . . . do-NOT-make-me-say-it-you-know-where-this-is-going.
That’s all I’m sayin’. *shrugs awkwardly* « Hide Spoiler
3. Unnecessary drama.
At first I debated whether or not it was fair to fault a staged production for being overly dramatic, but I hate unnecessary drama on the screen as much as I hate it on paper, so, YES, it most definitely is fair.
A. Stop crying, dammit. Especially you, Harry. *rolls eyes*
B. Ginny’s instant escalation from concerned-but-understanding wife into finger-pointing harridan. If you’ve read it, you know to what I’m referring.
C. Harry’s impersonation of a father-as-dictator View Spoiler »that I initially attributed to the first timeturning, but as he had his come-to-Jesus before the timeline was altered again, I’m forced to conclude was simply his epically poor parenting skills. « Hide Spoiler
4. Contradictions, including, but not limited to:
In Act 2, when Harry uses his conversation with Dumbledore-as-portrait as reasoning for his ludicrous request, Headmistress McGonagoll admonishes him for treating a “memoir” like the actual person:
HARRY: And Dumbledore—Dumbledore said—
PROFESSOR McGONAGALL: What?
HARRY: His portrait. We spoke. He said some things which made sense—
PROFESSOR McGONAGALL: Dumbledore is dead, Harry. And I’ve told you before, portraits don’t represent even half of their subjects.
BUT, in Act 4, this:
DUMBLEDORE (openly weeping now): I was blind. That is what love does. I couldn’t see that you needed to hear that this closed-up, tricky, dangerous old man . . . loved you.
A pause. The two men are overcome with emotion.
Either they’re two men or they’re one man and a flawed copy. Pick one and stick with it, please.
5. Plot holes.
A. If Dolores Umbrage warded her Hogwarts office against unauthorized entry, do you really expect me to believe that View Spoiler »Hermione wouldn’t similarly ward the office of the MINISTER OF MAGIC? « Hide Spoiler
B. How many times have we heard some variation of, “Am I the only person who’s read Hogwarts, a History?”
And how many of those times were specifically in reference to wards that prevented witches and wizards from magicking themselves onto Hogwarts’ property?
Yet suddenly and inexplicably, anyone can use the floo network to travel to any number of chimneys on the grounds.
C. There was also some nonsense about Albus and Scorpius not needing to worry about a certain de-wanded Hogwarts student being harmed b/c “the professors would never allow serious injury to occur,” which is, simply put . . . laughable.
That’s not to say HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD was horrible and I hated it. It wasn’t and I didn’t. I even loved parts of it, Scorpius in particular. BUT. Even taking into consideration that it was a script, not a novel, it wasn’t the same level of quality we’ve come to expect from Rowling (who, no, may not have written the thing in its entirely, but who, YES, did collaborate on and ultimately give her seal of approval for), and that is disappointing.
I’m not going to bother recommending or not recommending this one—you’ll either read it or you won’t, and at this stage of series worship or indifference, your decision will have little to do with what I have to say about it. SO. Go forth and do what you were always going to do.
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