Author: Jack Thorne
Publisher: Little Brown
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.It is finally time for me to review a new Harry Potter story and that feels amazing. What doesn't feel amazing is that my thoughts are so conflicted. I finished reading this play and immediately stamped 5/5 on my Goodreads review. It wasn't that I loved the story, it was that I loved being transported back to a world I love, to characters I adore so much and to experience that magic once again. I had tears in my eyes whilst finishing this book because it just brought back all those nostalgic feelings. The problem was that the story wasn't as good as I had hoped and the more I think about the book, the less happy with it I get. It's currently on a 3/5 with the potential to go lower if I dwell on it anymore. So, no more dwelling, time for reviewing. And, don't worry, if you haven't read the book yet then I won't spoil it. I will keep this part completely non-spoilery and then have the spoilers after a massive warning, for all those who have read it.
This was never going to be the story that most Harry Potter fans wanted. For one thing, it is a script of a play and not a novel. We all knew this before buying so it's not a shock, but it does mean it's a weird new way to experience the Harry Potter world. This is something that is supposed to be experienced and watched, not read. The other main issue is that, no matter how largely they write her name on the cover, this was not written by J.K. Rowling. And that is a terrible thing to me as it meant that I felt the characters were just lacking in a way they wouldn't have been if she had wrote it. The characters always just felt a little off and not like the characters we spent seven books getting to know.
|How Jack Thorne & JKR are probably feeling|
So, yes, overall I was disappointed. I loved some aspects of this but was really pissed about others. I need to go into spoilery detail to explain all that. If you haven't read this yet or seen the play then now is the time to skip out.
Okay, now we have got the warning out of the way... LET'S DO THIS!!!
I am actually excited to review this and go into all my spoilery thoughts. I have to, I won't be able to contain myself otherwise. I need to lay it all out on the table. First I need to get this out of the way: I LOVE HARRY POTTER! If you know me in real life or from my blog, twitter or instagram then you already know this. Harry Potter is my life and has been since I was 6/7 and my nan bought me the first book. Harry Potter was basically my childhood and I loved every minute of it. It was a childhood of midnight releases of books and films. Of dressing up as a Hogwarts student for Halloween. It's owning more HP clothes than regular clothes. It's having to do the Harry Potter London walking tour and Studio Tour. It's owning multiple editions of the books. Harry Potter is life and will forever be. BUT I am never going to be one of those people who is blinded by my love for something. I wanted to love this play, I really did, but I didn't in the end and that is because it has a lot of flaws and problems and things I didn't like. Plus, and I feel this is important, it is a script for a play and I feel it is better to experience as a show (which I will doing next year as I got tickets!!!).
I will do a very quick summary for anyone reading the spoilery side even if they haven't read the play (naughty!). Basically the story focuses on Harry's son Albus as he begins attending Hogwarts and gets placed in Slytherin *gasp*. This is a huge deal and Albus ends up sucking at magic and forever living in his fathers shadow, which he resents, and their relationship is basically strained as fuck. Harry is a terrible father for some reason. Scorpius Malfoy is the most adorable bean of all time and him and Albus become best friends, who are totally in love with each other (but we will get to that later). Amos Diggory shows up out the blue with his niece Delphi, wanting Harry to go back in time and save Cedric's life. Harry, even though one last surviving time turner has been found, lies and says he can't. Albus then decides to do it himself, with the help of good ol' Scorpius. Of course going back in time and changing one tiny detail changes everything and shit hits the fan. So then they keep having to go back, changing things until eventually we figure out that Delphi is the lovechild of Voldemort and Bellatrix and she wants to go back in time to prevent him from ever killing Harry, so that he would never have been defeated. And, yeah, there is one really simplified version of this messy plot.
Trying to make sense of The Cursed Child plot, like...
The first thing I have to mention is probably what anyone who has read it wanted to discuss the most... Voldemort had a lovechild with Bellatrix Lestrange! REALLY!?!?! I got to that point in the book and suddenly understood why I had heard people saying they felt this read like fan fiction. My mouth dropped open and disappointment set in. It just makes zero sense to me, and the explanation of it and timeline of those events also make no sense to me. I just don't see Voldemort as someone concerned with having a child. His plan was to get the Deathly Hallows and master death, so he wasn't looking for an heir. And, come on, it's not like the guy has even one tiny paternal bone in his body. The only thing that does make sense is that if Voldemort had a kid with anyone it would be Bellatrix, you can totally see her wanting to have his baby. I still don't get how this all happened and no one knew. And that it was never alluded to in the final book. She apparently gave birth in the Malfor Manor before the Battle of Hogwarts. So where was the baby whilst she was off fighting? Why did Draco not know about it? Or did he and just never felt like he should mention it?!? Come on, this is the most ridiculous HP storyline in the history of ever and I am going to pretend that it is fanfiction and not canon because otherwise I'd have to rate this a 1/5 and I just can't deal with that right now!
The next thing we have to discuss is the main plot device here: time travel. Why?!?! Do not mess with time travel, it's far too overused and just results in endless plot holes and problems. This book is not an exception to that rule. Especially when we take into account that the main plot here is that Albus and Scorpius want to use the time turner to go back in time and save Cedric Diggory's life...
They have a time turner that can take them back years and they are going to use this to save Cedric Diggory. Can we all take a moment to appreciate how utterly pointless and stupid that act would be if we think about the fact they could go back in time and strangle tiny, evil baby Voldemort and save thousands of people?!? Oh no, let's just go back in time and save one boy.
That is like someone giving you a time turner in our world and going back in time to save Anne Frank, rather than killing Hitler. If you kill the evil overlord then you would save all the people that died at their hands. So the whole time I am just sitting here wanting to slap everyone for being so stupid. But it is obvious why they can't all suddenly realise they have the power to murder Voldemort and prevent everything... It would mean that everything that came after that would completely change and the first seven Harry Potter books would never have happened. So of course we can't have that, so we will just have this giant stupid plot hole instead. Gah, I hate the time travel storyline so much.
The next biggest problem with this book is the characterisation and how wrong it is in this play. Ron is suddenly reduced to just a little bit of comedic relief. He just eats food and pulls pranks, and apparently got so drunk at his wedding that he forgot most of it. Why has Ron suddenly turned into a Weasley twin too? I know he liked pranks and found them funny before, but he was no Fred or George. And why is he giving a small boy a love potion as a joke gift? He was put under the influence of a love potion and it wasn't an experience he particularly enjoyed, so I can't see him then being stupid enough to give one to a child. Ron is my fictional husband and I hated seeing what Jack Thorne reduced his character to here, it was not fun to read.
Harry was even worse, I hated him being the world's worst father who would be so horrible to tell his son that sometimes he wished he wasn't his son. I just don't see Harry ever saying that. I feel he would love his children, no matter how difficult they could be and appreciate being able to be their for them, as he never had that as a child. And watching him treat Professor McGonagall like shit made for even more unpleasant reading. Am I supposed to believe that Harry, the guy who flipped out when a Death Eater spat on her, would then go and treat her with so little respect? Nope, I am not buying that.
Hermione was just as hard to read, especially in the timeline where her and Ron never got together. She basically becomes a female version of Snape. She's Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts, who treats the children horribly. She's nasty and bitter, and apparently all because she didn't wind up with Ron?!? No. Are we really reducing Hermione down to this? She is a strong, brave, kind person and I don't see her ever turning that bitter because of a guy, she is so much better than that. Why did J.K. Rowling give this her stamp of approval?!?!
|Me watching Jack Thorne ruin my favourite characters|
And I am still not sold on the fact that getting humiliated one time would suddenly turn Cedric Diggory into an evil Death Eater?!? Come on. I know this is J.K. Rowling trying some Butterfly Effect type situation but it is just awful. I don't believe for one second that Cedric would allow that one moment in his life change him so completely that he suddenly goes to the HP Dark Side and start working for Voldemort. No.
I have another big issue and that is this: Scorpius and Albus are blatantly in love with each other. The issue isn't that they love each other, the issue is that this seems super obvious to 90% of people reading and yet it is never addressed. Instead they end the book with them discussing what girls they want to get with. Come on, they totally love each other and I ship it endlessly. I just get so sad to see the potential to have our first openly gay couple in the Harry Potter universe squandered. These two were just utterly adorable and I ship it endlessly and feel it is time we finally have a gay couple in HP. Not just watch them fill a play with so much homoerotic subtext and then just brush it all aside at the end. No. In my mind they become the most adorably squishy couple ever, get married and join the Potter and Malfoy households.
It wasn't all bad though and there were aspects that I really liked. The biggest one being Scorpius Malfoy! He is adorable and I just loved his character. He is so sweet and kind, and I just was so happy with his character. I also loved that Albus and Scorpius were both Slytherins, and both kind, wonderful Slytherins. I have a big soft spot for Slytherin house so I was happy that this play shows that Slytherins are just as awesome! I also loved Scorpius and Albus together, but still wholeheartedly believe they should be a couple. The thing I loved most about this was all the Hermione and Ron feelings that it gave me. I was so happy when reading this book. I loved when Rob told Hermione he wanted to renew their wedding vows, it was utterly adorable. And I cried a little when, even in the world where they never got together, they both still loved each other and sacrificed themselves together! My shipper heart could not handle that!