Harry Potter and the Cursed Child [REVIEW]
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was always going to be a confusing one – is it a book or is it actually a play? Is it written by JK Rowling or by others? Is it actually any good? After reading I’ve come up with the following answers: 1) It’s a play, 2) It’s not written by JK Rowling and 3) It’s really not good.
The first question I asked above was the first problem for me – I knew it was a stage production, however when I found out it was also a book I got really excited. I love Harry Potter (I mean to be fair, who doesn’t??) and couldn’t believe there’d be a number eight – amazing! Well, there is no number eight. This book masquerades as the eighth Harry Potter book, but in actuality it’s the play script. It’s not even the novelisation of the play. We’re off to a bad start.
The second question is the one where I got really scared – it’s not written by JK Rowling. To me this feel disingenuous. The Cursed Child may have all the characters, and locations, and the name of a Harry Potter book, but it isn’t one. JK Rowling has an inimitable way of writing – she’s created a world and a wealth of characters like no other, and her writing is so beautifully charming and wonderfully inventive that we feel like we know these characters. They’re not words on a page, they’re real life people we love; we’re friends with them too. Jack Thorne, who wrote this script, does not have this gift. He’s turned these characters in to caricatures – they have no depth, no personality. He’s taken the world JK Rowling created, and moved it backwards.
And last but not least, the third question, which really ruined it for me – this book just isn’t very good. The story doesn’t make sense, for starters. Using time turners to go back to the past in the hope of changing the future. It takes a very clever mind to write a time travel novel; every little detail needs explaining, there are constant paradoxes that need avoiding, and there’s the overall questions of “Why doesn’t x just go really far back in time and do y?” Unfortunately, this is something Jack Thorne isn’t able to do. I’ll admit, there were a few scenes (not chapters, scenes, yuck) in the middle I enjoyed – it was fun to see how the changes in the past affected the present, but this was probably limited to maybe 20 pages, which in a book that’s 330 pages long doesn’t bode well.
As I said before, the characters are lifeless – Harry and Hermione are shadows of themselves. The only reason Ron is there is because Harry and Hermione are – he has no actual part to play in the story. Amos Diggory is in it for no reason too – the decision to stop Cedric dying is completely arbitrary, why him of all people? No explanation offered at all. Malfoy is whiny and annoying, very much a good guy now. And Snape, don’t get me started on Snape. It’s like Jack Thorne hasn’t actually read any of the Harry Potter novels. Snape’s character is so badly written, his words and actions, his motives, are those of a completely different character. It made me really sad – Snape died, gave his life for the good fight – this book trampled all over his memory (see how I’m talking about him as if he’s a real person? This is what JK Rowling is capable of!).
And then there’s Albus and Scorpius. They are both ridiculously annoying characters; whiny, boring, lifeless, constantly complaining about everything. You can see why they would, considering who their respective parents are, but they’re not written in a way that makes their complaining endearing. It’s just unnecessary. And the fact they both obviously love each other – there’s no subtlety, no art to it – it might as well be stamped on their foreheads. And because we don’t know them, or like them, enough to be rooting for them, we don’t care. Kiss, don’t kiss, whatever, just bugger off.
I struggled to find many positives with this book. As I said before, there are some interesting scenes in the middle with regards to the time travel. Because the book is in script form, it’s really easy to read. Erm, the cover is pretty? Really struggling here. If I were you, I wouldn’t bother with this book. The play, maybe, but since I’m unwilling to travel all the way to London to see it I’ll probably never know. I saw a trailer for the Fantastic Beasts film a couple of weeks ago, that looks really good. Let’s just forget this book and focus on that shall we?