There are mostly two kinds of people in the world.
The dreamers, who cannot get enough of their fandom, write fan-fiction in a bid to continuously expand its universe, go gaga over the author releasing even a tiny bit of canon information, and basically are the most loyal fans of the franchise.
And then there are the realists, who love the fandom to bits, are intensely critical of the bad parts and appreciative of the good parts, look objectively at everything within the universe, and want the author to leave the franchise alone after it is done and dusted.
After reading Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, I found myself migrating from the former to the latter.
This review is a brutally honest criticism of the script of the play, which was released as a hardcover on the occasion of J.K. Rowling (and Harry Potter’s) birthday.
The first thing I’d like to point out was that the entire story, in depth, was not written by J.K. Rowling. Rowling had a concept in mind, and Jack Thorne outlined a story, while John Tiffany directed the play. This is where they committed their first mistake.
The characters from the Harry Potter canon have lost their identity in trying to conform them to a more real and post-Voldemort world. You just cannot feel the effect they had on you when you read the original seven books.
Harry Potter is overly mopey and whiney, Ron Weasley is once again a side character for comic relief, Ginny Potter is, at best, a cushion, and Draco Malfoy is just a disjointed ghost of his former intimidating self. Hermione Granger-Weasley (go women empowerment!) is the only strong and level-headed character.
The young characters, viz., Albus Severus Potter, Harry and Ginny’s second child, and Scorpius Malfoy, Draco’s son, are the centrepiece of the play, and their friendship is reminiscent of our original trio. Scorpius’s character is very well fleshed out, and Albus is reminiscent of what Harry was when he was young, reckless and high on adrenaline.
There are n-number of plot holes in the story, and certain plot devices are added just for the sake of tear-jerking and/or nostalgia trips. There are many characters and plotlines which could’ve been written in a different, more planned way, but you continuously get the feeling that it was a rushed attempt.
One thing that stands out after you finish the book is that there are intense peaks and troughs as far as reading experience goes. The start and the end are really good, as they connect very well to the original story, but the plot drivers, the things and events which connect the start to the end are moderate, at best, and you’re left with this incomplete feeling after the end.
You meander in between “FAAAAAAKKKKKK… WTF JUST HAPPENED BROOOOOO!?” and “Fuck! WTF just happened, bro!?”
Although this review is purely based on the experience of reading the book, you cannot help but imagine the execution of everything in the play, and the stage show will, of course, be better because of the sheer production value! Regardless, like most of the internet is chiming, Harry Potter and The Cursed Child feels like a weak attempt at Harry Potter fan-fiction, written by a bunch of over-obsessed, Tumblr-dwelling 13-year-olds.
Nostalgia, action, geek porn, (some) characterisations, and a couple of scenes stand out. If you’re looking for a euphoric trip to the past, this book is for you, but if you’re positively seeking a permanent expansion of the Harry Potter canon, you might as well leave this for some night reading.
Rating: ★★½ out of 5