BOOK REVIEW: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Spoilers will be discussed in the second part of the review. If you haven’t read The Cursed Child yet, don’t read beyond that section unless you want to read spoilers for the 8th Harry Potter story (I consider the plot of the play a spoiler because I think it’s best to go into it not knowing too much about it, so I won’t talk about it in the non-spoiler section).

RATING: 5/5 stars

First things first, I loved Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I didn’t go into this book (well, script, but I’m just going to call it a book) expecting much at all. I didn’t have the same high expectations as I did when I was starting a new Harry Potter book in the original 7. Because of that, I think I was a little more open to whatever The Cursed Child was going to throw at me. Therefore, when I was reading the book, I wasn’t constantly comparing it to the other books, I was just simply enjoying a story.

I know a lot of people have mixed feelings about the book. I think it’s because it doesn’t really read like every other Harry Potter book. It’s kind of like bare bones. It’s in script format and the reader has to do a little more imagining if you want it to feel more like you’re stepping back into the world of Harry Potter, rather than just imagining a play. If that makes any sense.

A lot of people also compared this book to fanfiction. Although I can understand why, I don’t think it’s really a BAD thing. The plot is a little bizarre, sure, but I believe it’s bizarre in a good way. The story took some twists that I really wasn’t expecting and kind of threw me for a loop. Even though some parts of it were predictable, I didn’t mind it because it was still engaging for me. The story had themes that was dipping its toes into dark waters, and I think that’s really what made me invest myself even more into this book.

I do have a couple of complaints though. Some of the side characters felt like they were a little out of character to me. Another thing is I wish we were introduced to some new spells and magicy stuff rather than just have a rehashing of the old magic we are all familiar with.

I felt like I learned more about the original Harry Potter characters and got to know some great new characters. About half of the characters had great arcs, but others fell flat for me. Some had arcs that weren’t just boring continuations of the original books, but rather fresh ones that made sense and were actually interesting. For the characters that did have arcs, it worked great. For others, it just felt like they were unnecessary characters that didn’t serve much of a purpose.

If you’re unsure bout reading The Cursed Child, I urge you to pick it up. Think of it less like an epilogue to the 7 books, but rather like an entirely separate story on its own set in the wizarding world with new characters.

SPOILER SECTION:

I have to admit, if the whole time travelling trope was used in this manner in a different book, I really don’t think I would have given it such a high rating. But these are Harry Potter characters; characters that I’ve grown to love and know over the years, and, unsurprisingly, new characters that have barged into my heart and demanded a place. And I’m happy to give them one.I guess it was one of those instances where the characters made the plot more interesting rather than the plot making the characters more interesting, which honestly is just fine to me.

What I really want to discuss are the characters.

First I’ll talk about the new characters:

Albus and Scorpius’s friendship is one, if not the most, authentic and dynamic friendships in the series. It’s honestly one of the reasons why I gave this book such a high rating. They are both characters who feel like they’re in the shadow of their fathers reputation. Albus’s dad is the great Harry Potter and Scorpius’s dad is Draco Malfoy, former death eater. Not only that, but everyone kinda thinks Scorpius is actually Voldemort’s son. Albus can’t really see beyond his own problems. He thinks having Harry Potter as his dad is the worst thing ever and doesn’t really realize that what his best friend is going through is even worse than that. Scorpius is pretty bitter about it and when he finally explodes on Albus towards the end of the book, I hate to say it, but I LOVED IT.

Despite all of this, though, Scorpius is the most loyal friend ever to Albus and Albus feels like Scorpius is the only one in the world who understands him. The fact that they are both in Slytherin, too, is perfect. They’re both bullied misfits who accept each other and I just love that kind of friendship.

Albus’s relationship with his dad is so flawed but in all the best ways. Albus feels like the outsider of his family and that his dad is embarrassed by him in a lot of ways. Their resolution towards the end isn’t wrapped up in a neat little package. It’s clear that there will always be a little tension between them, but they both love each other and are trying their best to make their relationship better.

Also, can I just talk about the part where Harry yelled at Albus and said he sometimes wishes he wasn’t his son. Like I mentioned in the non-spoilery section, this book does delve a little into dark waters. That part, man, that got me. Family is the most important thing to Harry. All his life, that’s all he wanted. Now that he finally has a family of his own, he goes and says something like that to his son. That just makes the sting of that remark 10x greater.

I could literally write an essay just about the relationships Albus has with other characters in this play. Anyway, I won’t go into detail about how I felt about the other characters in the book. I just want to say that I think they were all pretty much fleshed out, besides some of the new side characters: Rose, James and Lily were all just…there. Rose had a little more development than James and Lily, but she still kind of felt just like Hermione was in The Sorcerer’s Stone. I’m not going to complain too much about that though because this is still, after all, the length of one play.

Delphi kind of just came out of nowhere in this story. I thought she was a decent character. Just okay. I thought she could have been a lot more interesting than what she was if we didn’t have so many time-jumping scenes. I think there could have definitely have been a scene or two more where she could have developed more as a character.

I thought Harry and Draco especially were interesting and developed characters. Hermione and Ron not as much.

This review became much longer than I originally planned, but I’m glad I finally got a chance to give my thoughts on this new Harry Potter story. I could go on and on for days about each character and my thoughts on them, but that’s it for now!

 

-Jenny

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