Friday, 5 August 2016

Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne



2016  330 pages  Little Brown UK

Erm, okay?

I have really mixed feeling about this. Parts of it I enjoyed, mainly the magic and the nostalgia of being back in the Wizarding World, but mostly it was just… meh?

For me, Harry Potter ended with the Deathly Hallows. The story had come full arc and everything got resolved, so as far as I’m concerned, the book is very much closed. No pun intended. The Cursed Child was always going to be a completely separate entity, something that I always intended to keep far away from the original stories and in many ways, I’m glad it met my expectations in that respect. I don’t hate it because there was a part of me that did love being back at Hogwarts and back in the world I love so much, but a lot of this seemed to border on ridiculous and I put my head in my hands more times than I could count.

For starters: the FORMAT. I love plays and I have no problem reading them. Some of my favourites are ones that I’ve yet to see performed so I believe it’s perfectly possible to write a play and it be enjoyable to read. But in this case, it doesn’t work. A lot of what happens just doesn’t translate well on paper; it relies heavily on dialogue which only serves to make the whole thing feel flat and the stage directions are just as a bad. This one almost had me laughing out loud:

Draco walks up stage and stands beside Ginny. This is almost a Spartacus moment. There are gasps.

I mean, what? I understand that this is a play, and plays were written to be performed and interpreted. I get that. But this just feels so lazy. A Spartacus moment? Maybe it’s just me, but I couldn’t take it seriously. But to be honest, pretty much all of it felt ridiculous. I didn’t have any particular high hopes, but I went in to this very open minded and was prepared to make up my own mind regardless of previous reviews, but I have to say I agree with a lot of what people are saying. This read like a fanfiction and a farfetched one at that. The ‘big’ twist in the plot was just ludicrous and had more holes in it than a worn-out pin cushion. But you know what? I’m not even angry, just confused as to why the story explores plot ideas that were never set up in the first place. It feels forced and I don’t really understand why it’s needed.

But it’s strange because it goes from the completely ridiculous and overstretched to the downright weak. The characters, the beloved characters, are shadows of themselves and again this is something I put down to the format because they just do not translate well in script form. Ron felt like he was there because he was expected to be, nothing more, and the personality of some of the characters seemed to change completely. Some of the things Draco Malfoy comes out with felt so out of character and in some ways, I was kind of glad he’d redeemed himself but it felt too odd, too detached, and I could never quite get my head around it.

I think to see it would be a completely different experience. Visually, it sounds amazing and maybe the story would work better on stage, but to read this comes across as nothing more than mediocre fan-fiction. I won’t deny there were parts where I giggled a little at the small parts where the old Harry Potter style and humour shone through, but there’s such a mixture of things going on that the parts I did actually like got overridden by the farce of the story which was juxtaposed with the more emotional issues. It doesn’t gel well and I’m strangely not as upset by it as I thought I would be because as I said, this is a completely separate idea to me from the rest of the Harry Potter novels.

I don’t care what the marketing for this book says; I refuse to think of this as the canon eighth book in the series. Would I still see The Cursed Child if I ever got the chance? Yes, I would. I actually think it would work better and I might even be able to forgive the countless inconsistencies and the ridiculousness of the plot because I think the nostalgia and the atmosphere would be enough to turn this in to something more enjoyable. But the story needs to be left alone now; the characters and the world have been explored enough and to mess with it anymore would be unfair.

Overall rating:
1 star

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