Friday, August 5, 2016

Double Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne
Series: Harry Potter
Genre: Fantasy, Play
Publisher: Little Brown UK
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Can I just start out by saying that throughout the entirety of the promotion of this book, and the cover unveiling, and everything that I thought the cover was a snitch on fire until I actually physically held my copy in my hands and realized it was not, in fact, burning and that there is a CHILD in there. Moving on.

I have such mixed feelings about this script book, I don't even really know what to give it in terms of a number rating? I didn't even bother rating it on Goodreads, I just marked it as read, which is when you know a book has shaken you up.

I started off with zero expectations because I'd heard it was going to be a trainwreck so I was pretty chill about accepting what the book threw at me -- I figured it would be at best a pleasantly surprising read and at worst something amusing to joke about. And even though the book was pretty wild, I wouldn't consider it a trainwreck, so I was at least a little pleasantly surprised (but still found plenty to side-eye).

Cursed Child was definitely entertaining. It was super fun to read and the script format and the short length made it fly by in like an hour but if it was boring it would have definitely taken me forever to get through it. I was always intrigued and even when things got a little ridiculous, I still wanted to know what happened. Also, I feel like the craziness of the plot could work well on stage because stage productions seem to always have wilder plots than just regular novels. I really want to see how they pull off all the staging, especially in regards to them doing magic or transfiguring.

Even though the book was entertaining, it was still a little weird to digest. All the recurring characters from the original Harry Potter books seemed weirdly out of character and it was hard for me to picture them acting the way they did and saying the things they said. I realize that J.K. Rowling didn't write the script and that probably played a big hand in why they were out of character but it was weird to read the characters I grew up with acting so unlike I was used to.

There were also a few things that were hard to believe (and it wasn't the crazy plot, to be honest, just the nuances thereof) that I won't get into because this is a spoiler-free review and they're specific grievances, but it made me very eyes emoji about the whole thing. Like I don't mean hard to believe as in "wow I can't believe those two characters drove to school in a flying car that would never happen in real life!!" but just in a way that even though the book was telling me these things were the truth, I could not accept them as the truth. I desired -- I required -- an alternate explanation. And even though I said the plot was fun and entertaining, it had issues too and some of the events of the book were worth many eyes-emojis and raised eyebrows.

Honestly, I'm not sure what my overall opinion is. I loved some things like Scorpius and everything about him and his friendship with Albus (who frankly made a LOT of stupid decisions and was being QUITE annoying) but personally, even though it's marketed as "the eighth story," I can't in good conscience consider this canon. Like, I accept some parts of it but for me this is just a fun story that I'm deciding not to take too seriously.

End note: I think the real problem is that it isn't a musical. If it was a musical it'd be 10 stars.

- Noor

Amrutha's review of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

I want to preface this by saying: I grew up with Harry Potter, as did Noor and everyone else who will probably read this. Over the last several years that HP has had no new releases, I've been to Harry Potter World, beta read fanfic, reread the books and movies to the point of memorization -- and I'm sure a lot of HP fans on the internet can say the same. I know that TCC is not "the next book" and in not seeing the play, I've missed some stylistic elements that would've worked seeing it in production but didn't work written down. However, I've read a lot of plays and a lot of Harry Potter fanfiction, and I just don't think this worked for me all around.

Like Noor said, this book was entertaining. Going into it I didn't expect much, so reading anything from an author that shaped my childhood (I know she didn't write this book, but if you look at the cover it says "based on a new original story by J.K. Rowling" which I take to mean she had a hand in the plot). I understand that John Tiffany & Jack Thorne are not J.K. Rowling and therefore some of the dialogue would read out of character 1) because they're different writers and 2) because the trio is literally 19 years older and have children and whatnot. But regardless, reading this with the slightest feeling that at the end it could be accepted as canon was amazing. It made me feel so warm and happy and I finished the script in a couple of hours, because I couldn't wait to get to the end. As far as a story based on HP, I liked it.

But to me, that's all it was. This script reads like fanfiction -- there are plot holes galore and honestly some of the jumps they made just don't seem reasonable to me. Because this is a double review and Noor has said a lot of the things I feel about this, I'm going to do spoilers because I REALLY NEED TO DISCUSS MY FEELINGS. Inserted below will be both direct quotes from the book & discussions of plot points, so go forward at your own risk.

I'll end the spoiler free review here: I love Harry Potter. I don't love this script -- it was fun and mildly amusing for the time I was reading it, and if the play is ever around I will pay to go see it, but I do not accept this as canon.

Alright, let the spoilers begin. I'm just going to list these out in the order that I think of them so they might not be in chronological order or anything:

1) What??????? Panju???????? There's a Buzzfeed article about Panju that accurately sums up my feelings: What the hell is a Panju!?!? Look -- I love diversity in books but I don't really hate on books for not being diverse. And in the 90s, sure maybe this would've been alright. But, seriously? Like, of all the brown names in all the world, Panju? Panju literally isn't even a name, it's an Island off Vasai in India (creds to the article linked), I just can't. Okay.

2) There are several scenarios including this one where Albus goes back in time and somehow Ron and Hermione don't end up together -- as though the Yule Ball was the only thing keeping them together. But somehow, Harry and Ginny are still together? Their feelings aren't impacted at all by the time traveling. Ron & Hermione have been best friends since they were 11. Whether or not they went to the school dance together, in my humble fan opinion, does not and will never dictate the entire course of their relationship.

3) I get that the main plot here is that Harry isn't a great father to Albus -- by no means, am I deluded enough to think Harry Potter is perfect. Harry was never my favorite character in the original series and he went through a lot of fucked up stuff in his life, it'd make complete sense to me that he isn't perfect. I even understand reacting after Albus (the little shit) made fun of the blanket Harry had from his childhood. I just don't ever see this happening -- Harry insults McGonagall?????? In what universe would this happen? The only time Harry ever did anything like this in canon was the argument with Remus from DH, but even that was warranted because of Remus' actions. How. Was. This. Warranted. Just plays in more to out of character writing.

4) Snape, every inch a hero.................................At least Dumbledore explained to Harry that Albus Severus wasn't the best name available.

5) I'm honestly personally offended by the fact that this happens. All the Harry Potter things ever created up until this time focus on good coming from within. Everyone has light and dark inside and it just depends what you let take over -- but how many witches and wizards were humiliated or lost something in the course of the Harry Potter books? Somehow Cedric, golden, kind Cedric, was the one who became a death eater? Seriously? We all know if Cedric had survived him and Cho would've both been in DA and he would've fought bravely alongside Harry, humiliation or not. This deformation of character is just wild.

6) The trolley witch scene was wild. Voldemort splits his soul into pieces so he can be immortal and somehow the trolley witch is 190 years old throwing sweets as grenades.

7) How the hell did Bellatrix deliver a baby during the Battle of Hogwarts and still come back to get her ass kicked by Molly?

8) Why...why did they transfigure Harry to look like Voldemort....why would it be horrendous...... I just don't understand why they wouldn't have transfigured him into looking like Tom Riddle. A young Tom Riddle would have come to the Potter's house. I just don't know about this part, maybe if I saw it acted out and they transfigured him into Riddle I'd understand. 

9) I get that Ron told Rose to beat Scorpius in every test, but after the way Ron and Hermione's friendship started out, do we really believe Rose would've been intolerant? Maybe even in the beginning I could see it, but for years? Really? And she would stop talking to Albus???? Even if Albus was a whiny shit everyone in the Weasley family put up with Percy until Percy made the call to get away from them. 

10) Where was Teddy Lupin. Where. He would've graduated school at that point and would've likely been impacted by the time-turning? 

11) Why was Ron more like movie-Ron and not book-Ron.....

12) Albus was about to fight Harry over getting a blanket while James got the invisibility cloak (honestly I think Albus should've been given the map...but I digress) but he just accepted it when Harry was like: don't talk to your best and only friend at school???? Honestly wow. 

13) While the plot holes with the time turner exist, I'm not going to hash them out because I'm going to just suspend disbelief for those things and assume ~magic~ takes care of it all. 

14) Some parts of this book were good -- Scorpius, for example, is goddamn gold to be treasured. Always here for Scorpius. Ginny was awesome. Draco was also awesome. I liked the discussion of all the relationships (H/G, R/Hr, Draco/Astroia). The relationship between Scorpius & Albus was great. The feeling of these characters doing anything was great. I'm going to leave it on a good note. Maybe if I think of anything else I'll come back here and update it.
- Amrutha

How did you feel about The Cursed Child?
Let us know in the comments!


  1. I really enjoyed Cursed Child and would even say it's a new favourite, but I can definitely see why people have a problem with the story. I feel like if it was a normal book, all these issues would have been explained, but because it's a script we just have to go along with it.

    1. hi! I actually reread it and it was such an easy breezy read, so I think in that way they captured HP well, which I think I was so caught up in little details when we reviewed it that I didn't really see that. (Although my issues with the little details still stand haha) but I totally see where you're coming from!

  2. I got my copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child book today.
    I brought it off Amazon and they delivered it in just 2 days!
    Check it out:
    Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2