November 8th 2016
Today I couldn’t wait to get home so I could finish reading a book, and that’s not happened in a while.
The book I started last night was Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I’ve just finished it. The following will probably contain spoilers.
For the first time, my first readthrough of a new Harry Potter book didn’t happen in one session on the day of its release. I read it in two sessions, across two evenings.
Admittedly, a pretty fast turnover time for a 340-page book, but it’s a scriptbook so most of those pages are taken up with white space around the names of the characters.
For every other Harry Potter book I would have it delivered to my house on release date, I’d start reading it and not put it down until I’d finished. Except for the day Half Blood Prince came out, where my parents refused to let me continue reading until I’d finished my dinner, and we ended up locked in a wizards chess/battle of Hogwarts debate/stalemate.
Now, a full nine years after the previous Harry Potter book was released, comes Cursed Child.
It was alright.
Perhaps the sands of time have washed away my sheer glee and full-on submergence in the Potterverse, but the book didn’t do much for me.
Firstly, within about four pages it was too obvious to me that JK Rowling had no part in the writing process. I’ve since googled it and apparently she helped on the story, but not the writing – and it shows.
For characters as unique and identifiable as the ones in Harry Potter, it’s easy to hear them in your head. But there are words and phrases in this book that I could just never imagine them saying. I grew up with Harry Potter, I know how he speaks, and how he phrases sentences, and they didn’t get it right in this book.
They didn’t get Ginny right, they didn’t get Hermione right, Draco and Ron were almost there, and Snape was too forced.
Far too often I found myself saying out loud ‘he wouldn’t say that’
My other gripe with this book is its insistence to use old tropes and features with which we are familiar, and then just disregard all precedence and break all of the rules. Polyjuice potion? Why bother when you can just transform Harry Potter into Voldemort without even saying an incantation out loud.
The original time-turner that was immaculately described and covered all of the plot holes it created. In this book they just made a new time turner with a new bunch of rules and never explained them.
Voldemort fucked Bellatrix Lestrange and you give us one line of dialogue to process that information with? And oh, by the way, they had a daughter.
Cedric Diggory became a death eater? Well, it’s not like that goes against every image of him that was so careful created for us in Goblet of Fire, or anything.
Give Ron – one of the most fascinating characters some the books – some comedic moments that make him seem entirely one-dimensional, and sprinkle in a few helpings of our favourite, and previously dead characters (did I mention that Snape is brought back to life?) and you can be sure that this book will be great because of hashtag nostalgia.
Except it’s not.
I didn’t hate this book whilst reading it, but I kind of do now that I’m looking back on it.
I loved reading it because I got to be re-immersed in a world wherein I spent most of my childhood.
But the nostalgia seemed forced, and like the only way they could tell the story and keep it interesting was by chucking a couple of references to Big Neville Longbottom in now and then (he is unceremoniously murdered by Cedric Death Eater Diggory for no discernible reason)
Oh yeah. That’s one thing I should’ve mentioned… The story.
Or, in fact, the distinct lack of one.
If none of the stuff that happened in the book happened, then the outcome would still be the same.
The one small change is the relationship between Harry and his son, but that happens because Harry learns to stop being an arse. A feat which didn’t necessitate 300 pages and (literally) three decades of soul searching.
Also. Hermione Granger as minister for magic and her office door can be opened with Alohamora? Give me a break.
Also the sorting hat can apparently walk around a hall? Okay.
The sweet trolley lady on the Hogwarts Express is an almagamtion of the Bride in Kill Bill and The Terminator, with a hint of Mary Poppins? Sure, why not.
I guess this sums up the craziness:
Also, I have no idea why it was called the Cursed Child.
Until tomorrow, sorry about the spoilers.