Monday, August 1, 2016

Spoiler-Free Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Let's do this!!!  This review goes over the premise of the book, lists several reasons Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is worth reading, and lists two reasons you might want to skip reading it.

Premise of the Book

First of all, this is not a book. It's a the script of play. Personally, I would have preferred it as a novel with more of the setting, and characters' thoughts, emotions and expressions filled in, but around page three I accepted Cursed Child for the play that it is and moved on with my life.

Albus Severus Potter is Harry and Ginny's middle child of three. For some reason I expected this to mainly be Albus's story. It's not. It's half Albus's story and half Harry's story. There are several subplots, but the leading plotline is about Harry and Albus's strained relationship.  Harry, Ron, Draco and Ginny are all major characters.  I don't know why this blindsided me. Harry's name is in the title, so it should have been pretty obvious he's a major character.

Also, the timeturner returns in a big way.

Reasons to read it 

  1. The Queen Regnant of all living authors has written* a post script to one of the greatest children series ever penned. Reason enough, people!
  2. Cursed Child has a lot of heart, and the emotional core of the play is a relatable one. Albus Severus struggles in school academically and (save for his one friend, Scorpius) he's a social pariah. He struggles with living in the shadow of his famous father.  He struggles with living in the shadow of the famous men who are his namesake.  Harry worries a lot about Albus and tries to connect with him, but handles it poorly (raising a teenager is tough). The harder Harry tries to reach out, the more their relationship worsens. 
  3. Friendship, one of the great themes of the Harry Potter series, continues to be explored here. 
  4. There's a lot of action.  The plot moves, the pages turn. There's suspense. There's twists. It's wonderful. 
  5. Ron still tells jokes. 

*with the help of two other playwrites

Reasons to skip it

  1. If you have never read the Harry Potter series or seen the movies, this play isn't meant for you. Because Cursed Child is a script it lacks setting descriptions and background info.Without any background knowledge about the Sorting Hat, the Forbidden Forest, The Battle of Hogwarts, Hagrid, Aunt Petunia, and the sacrifices of Severus Snape, this play is going to be confusing and weird. If you can't imagine how tall of a shadow Harry must cast on his son, you won't appreciate what Albus Severus is moaning about all the time. 
  2. If you have the opportunity to go to London and see this as a play, wait and just see the play.  The script describes some of the special effects. It would be way cooler to actually experience them then to read about them.
Those are the only reasons I can think of to actually skip reading Cursed Child. That's not to say Cursed Child is perfect. It isn't. Time travel is tricky to deal with, and personally I think the time travel takes up more of the plot than is ideal.  I also wish the antagonist was better developed, but at the end of the day, it was great story.  I didn't put it down once. I loved the suspense, the twists, the humor and the emotional heart. Just as Albus struggles to grow up in his father's shadow, this play also had a lot deliver on to escape the shadow of the great original Harry Potter series.

They both find their way. 

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