Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child *SPOILER FREE*

 

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Allow me to preface this post off by saying I waited 5 days after the release of this book for Amazon to even SHIP my copy to me. Otherwise, I would have had this post done a while ago. I mean, what does pre-ordering do for me if I don’t even get it the day it’s released, Amazon? Come on.

ANYWAYS.

Can I just say I went full nerd when I opened the mailbox and saw my book inside? Lost it. In the street. We have a mailbox we share with the rest of the block, so I’m sure my neighbors saw me/heard me. Then watched as a twenty-one year old woman sprinted back down the street clutching a box to her chest while squealing with glee like a five year old with a kitten.

You might think, “Wow, Rachel, I’m pretty sure you didn’t actually do that, you’re much to poised and adult for such a thing!” 

Absolutely… not the case.

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When this installment was first announced, I’m sure half of the world thought it was a hoax or an elaborate online rumor. It had been so long since we’d had any new material (CANON material at that) from the Harry Potter universe that I was sort of shell shocked at the idea that we would soon be receiving a whole new book, script format or not.

I’m sure most of us had already come to terms to the fact that we would be thriving off of fanfictions to get our Harry Potter fix for the rest of time before the news broke. And then Fantastic Beasts is supposed to come next? God, I nearly died.

So on July 31st, 2016 (Harry Potter’s 36th birthday, in case you didn’t know) Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was released in physical and digital copies. It was like when the books released all over again. Midnight releases, internet nerd explosion, the whole lot.

But let’s get to the point because if I keep gushing we’ll never get to the actual review part of this post.

BUT- a few things you should know before you get to far into stuff:

  1. This review is SPOILER FREE.
  2. If requested, I will post a more in depth review that includes spoilers.
  3.   This is going to be highly biased… but good luck finding an impartial review on a Harry Potter book.

BUCKLE IN- this review is a doozie.

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Going into this book you should keep in mind, this is written to be a play, therefore- you are reading a script. This is something you are going to have to look past to actually appreciate this book. If I were have gone into this thinking this was supposed to be a novel, I would have been sorely disappointed. Thankfully, I can read and I already knew it was a script format based on how it says ‘play’ on the cover, but we all know there is that one sad soul out there burning his or her house down because he or she thinks that J.K. Rowling regressed back into a dialogue only  form of writing.

The best part about this format? It’s a super quick read. I blazed through this book in about 3 hours- but you also have to consider that I had been waiting for this book to come out for a while, and… it’s Harry Potter. I think I’ve marathoned every Harry Potter book I’ve ever gotten. I specifically remember when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was out for purchase and I began reading it as soon as they dropped a brand new, crisp copy into my grubby little hands at the midnight release. My Mom literally guided me to the car and I recall staying up all night, reading it on the way to my grandma’s house the next day, and finally passing out at noon the next day on her couch right after I read the very last page.

So… that tangent was basically me saying that- yes, it may take you a little longer… but that would be totally normal in comparison.

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Now that we’ve covered that first speed bump, let’s talk about all these new characters you’re going to get to meet! It’s a bit of a whirlwind of all new names and a total shift in character focus from what we’re used to since these are Harry Potter books. Instead of the golden trio, we’re now following the next generation of Potter/Weasley children. This is probably my favorite part of this entire book. Getting that glimpse into the life of children whose parent’s are friggin’ heroes in their world and living up to those expectations and how they’re molded by them- I LIVED off that shit.

BUT (always a but), since this is a script and you have to catch the drift as fast as you can, you don’t get to explore these new characters in depth… at all. We all know Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s personalities, fears, ambitions because we read about their ‘lives’ for nearly a decade. Here, we’re cramming about five years of personality, fear, ambition, and flaws into one book instead of 7- so I hope you’re paying attention, because J.K. has got a lot she wants you to know about these peeps but a very limited amount of pages to do it.

Since I was reading kind of quickly, I did have to flip back once or twice to remember what was going on sometimes regarding some characters (damn this no spoiler thing is not fun at this point in the review, f*ck). It’s certainly not a thing that’s a killer to the readability of this book, but it’s another thing to keep in the back of your mind as you’re reading. Characters are not going to be explored in depth enough to really make that personal connection like that of the Golden Trio over their 7 years at Hogwarts.

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While we’ve got some fast paced development going, I’m sad to say we also have some character regression. Obviously for spoiler reasons, I will not be naming names, but the most frustrating part of this book was the fact that one character in particular was completely morphed into shitty comedic relief. I mean, I can’t even sugar-coat it.

It’s almost as if this character wasn’t really useful to this story, but “oh yeah, he’s too important to write off… or just not include, so I guess we can give him jokes?”. So. Much. Anger.

The plot though? Damn man, at times I got a little scared, I won’t lie to you. But in the end, J.K. Rowling pulled through and steered it away from fan fiction territory- though we did seem to graze the edge of that cliff a few times. It’s not really something I can delve too deeply into without spoiling it for you though, so unfortunately I will not elaborate much more than that.

FINAL THOUGHTS: 

I gave this book a 4.5 out of five stars- the first Harry Potter book I’ve ever read that I have not awarded a full five star rating, ever. Kind of hurts me. I feel conflicted.

My reasoning behind the half a star deduction though was for a few things:

  • I’m not sure if this plot read like a rushed fanfiction at some points because of the fact that it is a script format, or because it’s just been such a long time that new content just reads like a fanfiction. At some points I straight up rolled my eyes at plot ‘twists’ and I only seem to do that when it involves a fanfiction… so that scared me a bit as I was reading.
  • Characters that were established in the last seven books were made unrecognizable due to being utilized as comedic relief: I went over this. I feel great anger because of this.
  • *VERY MINUTE STUPID SPOILER*  Draco Malfoy has a f*cking ponytail. WHY DID HE NEED A PONYTAIL?!?!
  • What kept this from being a solid 4 was the fact that one of the main characters in this book was sorted into my house (SLYTHERIN, F*CK YEAH).
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Normally I wouldn’t put gifs in my posts, but this one fits the situation perfectly. 

Honestly, would I recommend this to another die-hard Harry Potter fan?

The answer is: Absolutely. New canon content is still new content, and new content is hard to come by unless it’s via a vague tweet from J.K. Rowling’s twitter out of the blue one day out of 365. Pottermore.com is severely lacking these days in my opinion- even with the release of the new North American school sorting quiz (still waiting on that patronus quiz…)- so I’ll take whatever I can get my hands on. Especially since it expands on the next generation of Potter/Weasleys. And despite the flaws, this was still a wonderful, easy read that I did enjoy. By no means did I feel like this book was a let down, or a waste of my time. I mean, if it had been, I wouldn’t have even bothered to write a 16,000 word review for you all because I’m sure millions of other people would have told you the same thing just as quickly as I could have.

 

IF YOU ARE STILL READING: If you are interested in a spoiler included review for a more in depth analysis of this book’s plot and characters, please message me or tweet me @lionsforbrkfast  and let me know! I would love to go more in depth with this because as of right now I feel like this was an incredibly vague review.

 

Thanks for reading!

-Rachel

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