Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

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Allow me to talk about Harry Potter series first.

Unlike many people who are in their (late) twenties now, I discovered Harry Potter books when first 3 or 4 books were already out. I remember hearing all about Harry Potter books but not really getting the hype. I was 23 years old and picked up “Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone” only after my manager, who was 10 years my senior, told me that had read it and loved it.

I read it and fell in love with it too, naturally.

But for me Harry Potter books have never been as life defying as for some people. I have always been an avid reader, ever since I was a kid. I have always loved fantasy: I grew up reading adult fantasy, and only as an adult, quite recently, started reading YA novels.

I have never been that much influenced by the series because I was already an adult and a reader and a fantasy lover before that. I loved the books and I loved the movies, but I have never been obsessed.

That is why even though I was excited by Pottermore, I never really explored it.

And that is why I was not really following any news regarding The Cursed Child. I did understand that it was a story in Harry Potter universe in a form of a play and will be released as a book. I was confused as to why it was so expensive and why they would want a script (something that is usually pretty short) published, etc. But I never expected it to be a real novel.

And here is where lies a problem for other readers: unless you are completely aware and okay to read a play – you will like it. Because it has all of our darling characters and familiar world, but IT IS NOT A NOVEL.

I stressed it out before but will do so again. And again. And again.

IT IS NOT A NOVEL.

It is a rather well written play. It is a script. It has enough production notes for a reader to recreate the actions in one’s mind, but it is not written as a novel, therefore doesn’t have the same character development and world building. It is not intended to be a novel. It is a whole different medium and is meant for producers and actors. Thus, it reads to some people as a very poorly written fanfiction instead of something written by J.K.Rowling.

And here comes problem number 2:

IT IS NOT WRITTEN BY J.K. ROWLING!

It is a script written by John Tiffany and Jack Thorne based on the world and the story by J.K. Rowling, but IT IS NOT ACTUALLY WRITTEN BY HER. She, obviously, wrote the story (the plot, the outline or an actually story – we do not know, but she came up with the idea) that the play was based on. But the actual script is not written by her. Naturally, the book has her name all over it, as you can imagine she holds all rights for anything that has to do with Harry Potter (which is reinforced by a very stern copyright warning inside the book). But having rights and having your name first on the book cover in big letters does not equal to being the person who wrote the script.

You see what I am saying?

A lot of people were misled, unintentionally, into thinking that this naturally would be a real, full fleshed novel. It looks like a book, so it must be a novel, right?

The hype surrounding the play, plus the plot that was kept as a mystery (I remember how many times Rowling had to post on Twitter over and over again how this was NOT a prequel), the fact that we were getting SOMETHING from Rowling again created this craze that completely blinded most of the readers.

You can’t treat a script which was intended to be a script and nothing more, written by someone else, as a novel written by J.K.Rowling. It is not fair to the script and the work that was done by Tiffany and Thorne.

All those eager readers who anticipated something from Rowling herself let themselves down by overhyping this book. Believe me, I would have preferred to read a novel by her, or even a novella – heck, I’ll take a short story – than get a quasi-HP novel written by someone else. But it is better to have something from hat universe than have nothing. Whether you want to accepted as canon is a whole different thing.

I personally liked the plot and I really enjoyed reading this script. I love plays and I could envision some parts – I bet they look amazing on stage! I know that I will never be able to see it live on stage, so for me reading the script was worth my time and money.

It was not perfect, but it was very good for a play. Lots of exposition, naturally, but lots of inside jokes too. At times it was hard to keep track of who is in the room and who left, but it was good. It was fun to revisit the world.

I don’t want to talk about spoilers here. I thought about it and decided that the best thing to do is for you to go and read it and make your own opinion. So, I won’t be doing a full spoilery review here.

Two things though (might be slightly spoilery, so if you’d rather know nothing – DO NOT READ FURTHER) that I want to mention.

One.

I disliked the fact that they turned Ron into a huge joke and kept him around for comic relief. This is not how Rowling wrote Ron (at times yes, but not always by far) and I expected him to grow into someone more stable and serious and not a tamed version of Mad Hatter.

Two.

I liked Scorpio way more than Albus, for many reasons. One of them being that Albus turned out to be in many ways like Harry, who was at times a bit of a prick, to be honest. His father James even more so. Albus has boldness and righteousness that was so typical for Potter (both James and Harry) at times. I did not like it, although I do understand that it is done for a reason and we do see character development for both Harry and Albus in this play.

Three (or two point five, if you like).

Queer baiting. If you read this book, you probably know what I am talking about it. It was mentioned by Jen Campbell in one of her videos and she didn’t really say anything, so I can’t claim being influenced into thinking this by her review. No, it is just something that is very clear once you get to the very end. (I still don’t know why they wrote this the way they did.)

I liked the play. It is a very easy read and it can be pleasurable and fun if you leave your expectations of this being a novel before starting it. I can easily see myself reading it again and again. (And shipping Scorpio and Albus till the end of times.)

Because of some problems that I had with this script, I can’t give it full 4 stars, so it is more of a 3.5-3.75 stars read for me.

Now I desperately want to re-read the whole series! Who is with me?

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