Thursday, 26 October 2017

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

As an avid Harry Potter fan (thank you, 1990-2000s childhood) I was naturally extremely excited when this novel was announced and I immediately pre-ordered it; however when I realised it was a play script and not the eighth novel that I had been anticipating I literally sat it on my bookshelf and ignored it. Growing up, during my education I was never a fan of reading plays so it’s fairly unsurprising that I was massively disappointed but recently I decided to just give in and read it, regardless of how much I was expecting to dislike the written format. As expected, I did struggle for the first fifty pages or so with the written format, but after that I did manage to forge that it is a play and simply concentrate on the action, rather than the format of the writing. Split into two parts, the first part is incredibly similar to what many fans will remember from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and also from the eighteen years later segment in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, as it’s all about the all important first day of starting Hogwarts. I liked the idea that Mrs Weasley really influenced Harry’s life in a motherly way to the extent that “best do it at a run, if you’re nervous” is repeated by Harry to his son on his own first day of School, although I found that through the play format the reinforcement of this father/son (mother/son) bonding moment didn’t transfer as clearly.

One thing to remember is that where this script was always written with the intent of being a play, acted out onstage, it does speed through life as we see Albus and the other characters mature incredibly quickly. As a reader, you start off seeing his first day at Hogwarts and before long he’s suddenly in his fourth year; in a lot of ways the story would’ve been more successful as a second series of books but that was never going to happen, sadly. Ultimately, we see Rose, Albus and Scorpius start their first year together and we watch them develop as characters as well as wizards; almost immediately, Rose takes a dislike to Scorpius not only because he’s a Malfoy, but also because there are many strange rumours surrounding him and leaves her cousin, Albus with Scorpius in the compartment of the Hogwarts Express, deciding she wants to make better connected friends; you see a lot of Hermione’s intelligence and ambition in her characteristics. Due to Scorpius being a Malfoy, there is a definite expectation early on that he will have very anti-muggle born and generally unwelcome views, when in fact it is clear that he has been raised well; he becomes a favourite character very quickly as he’s both generous and kind, consistently looking out for Albus throughout the play. Both boys struggle to live up to a legacy that they don’t want; Scorpius struggles with the rumours surrounding his family and Albus naturally struggles due to his famous parents, and even his aunt and uncles, as Hermione is the Minister for Magic and Harry the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Even Ron, was famous due to his work with George with Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes for their business was booming.

Within the first chapter, Albus is very different to the child you would expect; as one characters says after his sorting: “A Potter? In Slytherin? No way!” Which, although cruel isn’t really a surprising remark, particularly as his cousin and elder brother are both in Gryffindor, however he is in the same house as Scorpius so he does have a good friend with him. Later on in the play, his younger sister, Lily is also sorted into Gryffindor too, so it does seem like Albus is very different to his family, something which is explored within the script. Much of the script and overall plot focuses on how much Harry and Albus struggle to understand each other; Harry is definitely very different as a father as I would’ve expected him to be. There were many points where I was a bit frustrated with how Harry talks to other characters, for example Professor McGonagall, who he once truly respected. However, I think that you do have to remember that he is a successful Ministry man, one who has seen and done it all, so to speak and he is older, so therefore he wasn’t going to be the Harry everyone remembers. Ginny and Ron were characters who I really wanted to see more of; Ginny seemed too timid and Ron was too immature and took on the joker role; which personally, I was disappointed with. Hermione and Harry were definitely the more dominant characters in the play. Draco was a surprise, as he was actually a fantastic father figure and very supportive of both Scorpius and Albus; I liked how they kept the rivalry between him and the trio as that definitely seemed to true to the past. Some things will never change, it seems.

Overall, I really enjoyed this play, once I got past the awkward format there was a lot of information and action which did live up to expectations. Naturally, it was never going to be as good as the original series but obviously that was still a little disappointing, but arguably most of the disappointment stemmed from how different the characters seemed, particularly Harry; however all of the characters seemed to have exaggerated personality traits in some ways from what many fans would remember. That said, he, Harry and the other characters were teenagers during the original series and people do change with age, so in fairness it is highly plausible that their personalities woul have changed, as much as this is a bit of an adjustment. I think that the majority of fans from the original series will enjoy this script, although I’m sure that there will be some that won’t, but that’s because of its super fast paced plot line but ultimately it’s something to indulge in and enjoy. Honestly, I’m praying that one day I’ll be able to afford tickets to the pay as this script was definitely made to be seen and not read, but either way I loved it.

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