Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Review

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts One and Two (Harry Potter, #8)Title: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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
The story itself was not at all what I was expecting, but I am mentioning nothing about it here. I think it is better to go in blind. We all know this book takes place 19 years after the Battle of Hogwarts, and follows Harry's son Albus rather than Harry. We meet some brilliant characters in this, but also some bad ones. My main issue with the story was that it all felt a bit ridiculous and that a lot of it didn't make sense. I, quite honestly, can never view this play as canon because it all just feels ridiculous and as if it would never happen. Another major issue is the gaping plot holes that this book then leaves us with. And I hate gaping plot holes!

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.

!SPOILERS AHEAD!

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...

kristen wiig frustrated unimpressed bridesmaids are you kidding me

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.

stupid the hangover stupid people


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!

3/5 Butterflies

Writing this review actually felt quite therapeutic, but I must admit that the more I think about the story, the more upset I get. I just wanted this to be amazing and everything I was hoping for, and it wasn't. I feel this was definitely missing J.K. Rowling's touch and I wish she had been the one to write the script, as I feel the characters would have felt more real if she had. It wasn't all bad and I enjoyed the story whilst reading. It blew my mind reading it, as I tried to figure out how they were going to pull this off on stage. I am excited to see it on stage, as I feel I will love it when I see that. But I can't ever consider this as canon because it just had too many plot holes and makes little sense when you think back on the Harry Potter books.

14 comments:

  1. OMGGG you picked up on plot holes that were so offensive my brain decided to not notice them. They totally should have used the time turner for that way for obvious use. But enough of that, onto the comments that really matter. Albus and Scorpius = YES. I was reading it and getting excited then part way through I realized it was never going to happen and felt beyond annoyed. It's like flirting with the love of your life all New Years Eve and then kissing some rando at midnight. Also, so many things in the play are offensive that doing that would have saved it for me. I would have been like FINALLY, YOU GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT. But alas, not much to do about it. At least they were friends and in Slytherin which was 2/3 of my wishlist. Great review!

    Liselle @ Lunch-Time Librarian

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  2. I didn't read the spoilers so I don't know exactly what you didn't like but I am sorry that this disappointed you.

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  3. I had to read this through and through. I haven't made plans to read this one yet as I am a big ol ball of confliction over it. And some of the things you pointed out in your discussion has me thinking I might need to avoid this one. I was all for more Harry books and when I saw that this 8th book would be the script to the play that I would love to see I was game for it, a little bit. Reading scripts doesn't always engage me, but I was intrigued. Then I am seeing that Rowling had virtually no role in this other than it being her story continued then I felt even more uneasy. And the fact that the writer basically changed the characters we came to know and love really irks me. Harry not being an ideal father? Ron being a carbon copy of Fred and George? What is with that? I know people change as they grow older but I feel like hearing this, it's huge steps BACK for all our favorite characters.

    I've read now 3 reviews from bloggers I trust about this book and it's seeming more and more likely that I will not read this one. Granted, I'd see the play in a heartbeat if the opportunity ever arises and I can afford it (LOL)! But, and I said this in my last comment on another review, I almost think that this book was meant for the new generation of Harry Potter fans. All the ones that missed out on the Midnight Release parties because they weren't born yet. Just the idea of having a NEW Harry Potter (esque) read.

    It does seem like this is sort of like fan fiction in a way. It seems a lot of our beloved characters aren't quite who they should be as adults like they were are adolescents, preteens, and teenagers.

    This book had me wrapped up in a big ol ball of confliction and anxiety. I wanted to read it, yet I didn't. I wanted new stories from the Harry Potter world and yet, I don't want to be disappointed by the changes I was likely to see from an author other than Rowling. It's starting to seem like I might just avoid this one. Or at the very, very least try the library in another year or two and try it then!

    But still, very nice review! I appreciated your honesty and opinions on it. And for the spoilers too, some I've heard about others not so much. But I wanted the details to know what I may or may not be getting into. :)

    Lovely review!

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  4. Wait wait you said Harry treated Professor McGonagall badly?!?!? I CANNOT. I CANNOT UNDERSTAND THAT AT ALL. :O I think the way it ruined some of those characters there that you mentioned is kind of abominable. :O Like I am not a fan of Ron, but those few things you just mentioned him doing in this book did not sound like Ron. And honestly I think it's weird that it queerbaited since JK Rowling was pretty adamant about Dumbledore being gay right? (Even though I think it's cheating that it was never mentioned in the books but whatever XD) That is just odd.
    *sigh*
    Honestly I don't want to read it! I'm not even as huge a Harry Potter fan as most, but it just seems like this'd be better left as fanfic hhaha. Oh dear. :(

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  5. I did enjoy this book a lot but I agree with a lot of what you say! The plot does seem a little wild and all over the place, especially with the time travel part. How could they have not thought about the consequences? If Cedric survived, it could mean a whole other bunch of people didn't! I did think Albus was a bit shallow and reckless in this book, even Harry in his younger years wasn't this bad. It's true that Scorpius and Albus are in love with each other, so I felt that the need for Scorpius to "have a crush on" Rose was a bit over the top. Rose was so cruel and bigoted! How could this be Ron and Hermione's child? On the whole, I did enjoy this book, but there were some aspects that I have quite mixed feelings about. I think TCC would be better as a play though.

    Great review! :)

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  6. Honestly, I totally thought the same thing about Albus and Scorpius! But it never seemed to happen! I thought for sure JK was going to finish with them ending up together, especially since she was so on board with Dumbledore potentially being gay (which is really neat to have found out after finishing the series) but then she finished the Cursed Child and they were just friends. I felt like she set it up for more though!
    It's interesting to read your review on this one because I posted my review for it earlier today as well, and although I didn't dwell on it before, now that I really think about some of the plot you pointed out, I'm becoming more annoyed by it. Like Hermione being the female version of Snape in one of the outcomes of the time turner. TOO WEIRD! and the fact that time traveling was even such a big thing to begin with in the book in the first place.
    I'm still going to keep my review a 5 but there's definitely some aspects of it now that I'm thinking about and not too pleased with.
    Emily @ www.rabbitholereviews.com

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  7. I shouldn't rightfully comment yet because I haven't read it (I CAN'T WAIT) but I'm wondering if someone as old as I am might enjoy it more - seeing the strained relationship between parent and child. (I have kids) - parents might relate more? No idea. I'm an old fart, but forever a child with HP.
    Rebecca @ The Portsmouth Review
    Follow me on Bloglovin'

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  8. *sighs* Honestly, this is what I was afraid of. :\ I wasn't planning on reading this in the first place just because I was nervous it would disappoint me and ruin my love for the series, so I'm sad to hear you felt so ambivalent about it. :( Nonetheless, thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! <3

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  9. I agree with every single thing you have written because that's how I felt about it as well! I think it was great we got to experience the world and its characters again but it was so bizarre and the characters did not feel the same, which is where my disappointment stems from. I'm okay with it being a play, and I know I can't judge it based on that format because I'm not a huge play reader, but the plot itself and the characters just got worse and worse for me the longer I thought about it.

    I think I went on a mini-rant in my review about it actually. But thanks for sharing your thoughts. I'm glad I'm not the only one who had these thoughts.

    Tracey @PrintedWordsAnd - www.printedwordsand.com

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  10. I know exactly what you mean about this book. I really enjoyed and rated it 4 stars.... but then the more I think about it the more I want to push my rating down. I mean, there are so many things wrong I think the only reason I rated it so high is Harry Potter. I enjoyed the characters and the story was fun (if a tad nonsensical) but it cannot be compared to the books. I think the issue is that this will never be the story we all wanted when returning to the world of Harry Potter. Regardless of how fantastic some of the new characters are and how I now have a new ship they will never be the character I fell in love with.

    Great review.

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  11. I am literally in shock after reading this review. It's the first time I've looked at the spoilers for Cursed Child (I've been super against this whole thing to be honest) and it sounds completely ABSURD. Voldemort having a love child? NO NO NO. He is repulsed by other humans! And Harry treating his own child like that? Ugh I am so disappointed!

    -Cristina @ Girl in the Pages

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  12. I only skimmed this novel lightly because I have only read the first three novels in the series and have along way to go before getting to this one. But it sounds like it was a bit disappointing after having loved all the rest and that there were some parts that just didn't make sense? Strange...

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  13. Rowling was quite brave to take this one on. I won't read it because it is 1) a play and I'd rather go see a play than read one. 2) I stopped reading HP after book two. That was enough. The movies were more exciting, and that's a rare thing for me to say.

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  14. I... Just... Yes. So much yes. Too much yes.
    *keels over*
    EVEN REVIEWS THAT TACKLE EVERY ISSUE I HAD WITH THE CURSED CHILD MAKE ME MILDLY STABBY, because... the paaaaaain. HP was my WHOLE CHILDHOOD, as well. My co-blogger's, too. And we had every POSSIBLE intention of loving this and ALL were prepared to give this ALL kinds of slack, but... CAN YOU NOT BE THE BOOKISH EMBODIMENT OF THE CRUCIATUS CURSE, PLEASE, BOOK?

    That it relied on time travel was PAINFUL. How Harry treated his son (AND MCGONAGALL!) and everyone around him was PAINFUL. The notion that without Ron, Hermione is a bitter, uninspired, essentially unsuccessful shell of a woman was PAINFUL AND ASTOUNDINGLY OFFENSIVE. The notion that losing a Triwizard task would have turned Cedric into a Death Eater... VOLDEMORT AND BELLATRIX REPRODUCING... JUST... EVERYTHING, OH MY GOD, MAKE IT STAAAAAHP.

    Natalie and I ranted for about TWICE your review length but covered about HALF as many problems. Because OH, THE TANGENTS. THE PAIN. Where does one even start?

    So ALL THE YES TO THIS. I may need a time turner to forget some parts of it.

    - Lexie

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