What the Book Is and a Ramble-y Story
If you haven’t heard already, at midnight on Harry Potter’s birthday the script-book edition of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was released. And if you haven’t heard already, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth Harry Potter story, told in the form of a play that you can actually see if you’re super lucky and live in London, or that you can read in the form of this book.
Also, do you have to pay property tax on that rock you live under?
I personally didn’t go to a midnight release party for it because I’m a fake fan. But seriously, my sister’s graduation party was that night and I was exhausted. Also – and I don’t know if this is TMI – but I’m literally so sunburned. All of my skin is falling off and I didn’t want people thinking that I was cosplaying as a molting basilisk.
I had to go to the DMV the following day to get my temporary driver’s license (which isn’t really good for anything but WOOOOO) and I figured I would be super bored waiting so my mom and I ran to Barnes and Noble and – not too surprisingly but completely disappointingly – they were completely sold out.
In a panic, we went to Target, wondering, might they have a copy left after all this time?
Target did a thing where you got a free poster with the purchase of the book so that was pretty cool even though the poster wasn’t anything too amazing. The cashier was really friendly and talked about how he felt like a fake fan because he didn’t even realize it was coming out until he was stocking the shelves. He still gave me a funny look when he asked me if I wanted it in a bag and I almost yelled, “No!” and grabbed it.
Watching people put hardcover books in those plastic bags stressed me out so much. You are literally begging the universe to rip the dust-jacket.
But I digress, it was a good day overall.
**because this is a play, the plot moves very fast and it will be hard to review this without revealing any details. If you haven’t read the book yet and want to go into it blind, stop here.**
So the basic premise of this book is that it picks up from the epilogue in Deathly Hallows where the grown up squad of Hermione, Ron, and Harry are seeing off their children at King’s Cross. The main focus in this story is on Albus Severus Potter, who is having a hard time feeling like he fits into his family or anywhere. This leads him to make some extremely poor decisions and almost ruin the entire world.
First of all, let’s talk about the characters. Scorpius Malfoy is my spirit animal, obviously. He’s just an adorable little nerd trying to get through life and be brave while simultaneously being afraid of everything. Rose Granger was also fantastic, just a really funny, strong character. She reminded me so much of Hermione without the authors blatantly trying to make them the exact same person.
Albus kind of annoyed me. He did sort of remind me of Harry though. He just really wanted to do what he thought was the right thing, but didn’t always think it through very well. I’ll get more into that with the spoilers.
As for the plot, it made sense if you didn’t think about it. I don’t necessarily mean that in a super negative way, it’s just true. It was fast-paced and entertaining and I’m sure that’s part of the reason why it translates so well onto the stage. However, if you pause and think about the actual logistics of some of the magic and time-travel, it’ll make your head hurt.
In some ways, the plot also seemed a little cliché and predictable to me. The whole “tiny change in the past creates crazy ripples in the universe” element was well done but nothing new. However, the different alternatives that we get to see poses some very interesting “what-ifs” and allows more old characters that we’ve missed to be incorporated into the story.
And speaking of old characters… let’s talk about Harry, Ron and Hermione. They’ll always be some of my favorite characters of all time. How could they not be? I was excited to see how their personalities would stay the same and change as they got older.
Here’s the issue: You know how Maxon and America were all grown up in The Heir and The Crown? And like, it was them, but it wasn’t? Like they were older, but it seemed like their characters just served the purpose of being some parents, and even though they were well-developed as parents, they didn’t seem like the well-developed younger characters, just grown up? It’s like they were completely different people with the same names, and some of the old trademark qualities being extremely forced as if they’re screaming through their beaming, remembered faces, “Look! It’s us! I promise!”
If you haven’t read the Selection and didn’t really get that comparison, I was also reminded of one of my favorite songs at the moment, called “Next Year” by Two Door Cinema Club. It had a line that goes:
You’ll be somewhere,
Talking to me,
As if you knew me
I know it sounds dramatic, but I couldn’t stop thinking about that line. They really just didn’t seem like the same characters at all. And I know that they’re grown up and I know that they’re not going to be completely the same, but the entire time it felt like these characters were talking, trying to become people that they just aren’t anymore. Like those characters were really new, more boring characters Polyjuice-potioned into being Harry, Ron and Hermione. Impostors. Impastas.
As for the formatting, I didn’t really mind it being a play. I’m sure that some of the issues with things not being very well-explained could’ve been fixed if it was a full narrative, but that was really my only issue with it. I found it interesting – as I was reading, I pictured everything on a stage. Did that happen to anyone else? It was weird, but not unpleasant.
The stage directions/descriptions were really amazing, too. I had to slow down a lot when I was reading to make sure that I was really reading and appreciating everything, because there were some beautiful little gems in there. My favorite was this one:
There’s a silence.
A perfect, profound silence.
One that sits low, twists a bit, and has damaged within it.
First Line: A busy and crowded station.
Hooked by page: 1
Rating: 3.5 stars
Recommend for: Harry Potter fans. I can’t say it felt like a completely genuine Harry Potter story, but it was great to have new Hogwarts adventures.
First of all, can we talk about how beautiful this book is? People were going to buy it no matter what, but I’m grateful that Scholastic took the time to make it look nice and all high-quality. The binding, man. It’s got that stripe-y stuff going on – that’s when you know it’s well made.
On to the discussion – where to begin? I liked seeing where the characters ended up. Hermione was the Minister of Magic, which was awesome in a way but also kind of forced, I felt like. Hermione is smart and strong, so let’s make her the leader of the Wizarding World, of course! Ron is funny, so let’s have him own a joke shop! (Also, why was Ron running Fred and George’s joke shop? What happened to George?) It felt like they were taking the easy way out.
And speaking of taking the easy way out, some things were just oh-so convenient. Delphi just so happened to have Polyjuice potion, which normally takes, like, a month to brew – lying around? And they just happened to have some sort of DNA from Harry, Ron and Hermione?
Whatever. Moving on.
I thought the idea of Amos wanting someone to go back and save Cedric was a solid basis for the plot. It was exciting enough because it would involve evil by facing Voldemort in the past without introducing an entirely new force of evil. But like, if you’re going to bother going back in time to save a life, why not just go big and go all the way back to when Voldemort was a baby and kill him then?
Goblet of Fire has always been one of my absolute favorite Harry Potter books (although, aren’t they all?) so when the plot involved a lot of time-traveling back to that time I was pretty excited. But as soon as they mentioned time-traveling, I just knew something was going to go horribly wrong. Time is just so weird and nothing about it makes sense when you start going backwards.
Initially, when they started messing with the competition in order to stop Cedric from reaching the final I thought the mishap was going to be that if Cedric had a rough start to the competition he wouldn’t want to help Harry with the egg clue and things would be thrown off that way.
I loved all the alternate universes though. Getting to see Snape again when he wasn’t mean and got to know about how he would end up being a hero was my favorite.
The whole thing about how after Cedric was embarrassed in the competition he got super angry and awful and became a Death Eater and then kiLLED NEVILLE was too much. I mean, I liked it, but liked it in a way that was more like, “THIS IS PROVOKING A LOT OF EMOTION IN ME WHICH MEANS THAT IT’S GOOD WRITING” as opposed to, “Nice.”
The one alternate universe where Albus and Harry’s relationship stayed exactly the same except Albus was in Gryffindor was kind of strange to me. Like, how in the world did messing with the past cause Albus to be sorted into a different house? Did those changes change Harry, thus affecting how he raised his son and causing Albus to grow up with different values?
I think the whole point of it was for Albus to make the realization that the fact that he and Harry didn’t get along wasn’t due to him not being in Gryffindor.
YER A GENIUS, ALBUS!
Do you mean to tell me, small child, that your father, who named you after the Slytherin headmaster and was almost sorted into Slytherin himself, doesn’t hate you, a Slytherin?
All of the arguments between Albus and Harry were so uncomfortable for me. It was like if angsty, book-five Harry as an adult was fighting angsty, book-five Harry as a child. When Harry told Albus that sometimes he wished that Albus wasn’t his son, I literally cringed.
Jumping to the ending, because I’m out of control. Delphi always seemed kind of off to me, but that was more because I thought she was just an awkward and under-developed character with an intriguing but unexplored backstory rather than evil.
And not only evil… but VOLDEMORT AND BELLATRIX’S DAUGHTER?
I’m not kidding, at the beginning when we first hear about the rumors that Scorpius might be Voldemort’s son, I was literally thinking, “No, he can’t be, because Voldemort and Bellatrix were in love.”
I HAVE SHIPPED IT SINCE DAY ONE (read: book five, but whatever).
The thing that seemed off to me was that Delphi said that she was born right before the Battle of Hogwarts. Like, define “right before”. Was Bellatrix pregnant when she was torturing Hermione or killing Dobby? Or was the baby born a while before that when our gang is in the woods?
In that case, where’s the baby during aforementioned Hermione torture and Dobby murder? Or the Battle of Hogwarts, for that matter?
It would’ve been cool if some things in this book explained little details foreshadowed in the original stories. Obviously it couldn’t, because this book really is just an additional, unplanned thing.
Anyway, once we find out that Delphi is Voldemort’s daughter and Scorpius and Albus are trapped in time, they manage to get a message onto Harry’s baby blanket. In hindsight, it’s a good idea, but I wish we had gotten to actually see them go in and get it. You’re not supposed to make contact with your previous selves when you use time travel because it can really mess you up, so what happens if you unwrap a blanket that’s around your dad as a baby? Poor Harry was already so messed up, what happens when he stares into the eyes of his son who is more than ten years his senior?
The entire Augurey thing was so, so weird to me. Did Voldemort somehow know that he would be killed at the Battle of Hogwarts and planned to have this baby that would travel back in time and save him? I can’t think of any other reason why Voldemort would want to have a child, but that isn’t at all foreshadowed in the books, which just reminds me again that this book is more milking the franchise than finishing off the story once and for all.
Harry transfigures into Voldemort, which I didn’t even really know was possible, but it worked for the most part. It was heartbreaking to hear Delphi, whose only purpose, it seems, is to save her dad even though he will never learn to know or love her.
Even more heartbreaking was reading about Harry reliving the death of his parents and not being able to do anything about it. GAH. That was painful, but very well done. 10 points to Gryffindor.
So those are my thoughts! I could go on forever but I’ll stop there. If you’ve it this far, thank you! I hope you enjoyed what I had to say. Feel free to leave any and all of your thoughts in the comments below. You can also follow my blog and on my other social media if you feel so inclined.
Thanks for reading! 🙂