Book Review · fiction

The Book That Launched 1000 Ships

And by 1,000 I mean one. Warning, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child spoilers ahead.

In case you don’t know, Harry Potter is probably my all-time favorite book series. I know, cliche, but true. I grew up with Harry, Hermione, and Ron, and they helped me through the hell that was High School (best four years of your life, my ass). The 5th Harry Potter book came out when I was 15, how fitting, and that probably plays into why it’s my favorite book. I was an angsty teen while Harry was an angsty teen. Perfect.

I spent many years in between books theorizing, rereading, just enjoying the world of HP and co, though I definitely did not really get into theĀ fandom until college. Sure, internet was a thing when I was in high school, but not like it is now. It didn’t permeate every aspect of my life as of yet back then. Harry Potter was what got me interested in writing in the first place. It also introduced me to my best friend, whom I have now been friends with over ten years.

Since the series ended in 2007, there have been attempts at revivals. The uninspired Pottermore when JK Rowling promised us an encyclopedia and we got that instead, her tweets that tend to turn canon upside down, often to my chagrin, and now, The Cursed Child. I remember her saying, not long after HP7 came out, that she was done with the HP universe. Clearly, that was a lie. Back then, in 2007, I would have been desperate for any sort of continuation. A Marauders prequel, an Albus sequel, even a Lexicon. For many years, she gave us none of that and it seemed to be over. Until a few years ago when rumors swirled and we got Fantastic Beasts and now, the Cursed Child.

I’m going to be completely honest: I was spoiled. I read the entire plot of the Cursed Child a month ago when someone posted a link online. However, after reading the discombobulated plot about time travel, I thought, this can’t be real, so I waited for the real book to come out. I finally sat down to read The Cursed Child after waiting four days to get it (thanks to my town that doesn’t sell it anywhere), and I was disappointed to find out that the plot I’d read online had not been a lie.

It was a discombobulated plot based on time travel and a weird need to save Cedric Diggory of all people. Despite all that, it wasn’t as bad as I’d been expecting. It’s hard to let your hopes rise when you know a book may ruin everything that came before.

So let’s be honest: It read like fanfiction. Like JKR and everyone else who wrote this thought, how many tropes can I take from fanfiction and put in here? Time travel-check. Out of character adults-check. Cinnamon roll sidekick, Voldermort’s secret love child, disjointed plot-check, check, and check. I’m not saying fanfic is bad. I love fic. I’ve read a ton of fic, but as a part of canon, it shouldn’t read like this.

I don’t know if it was the play format that brought it down a little-it was really hard to tell what was going on sometimes with practically no stage directions or descriptions. So let’s go through the good and the bad.

The Good:

  • Scorpius Malfoy is the most beautiful cinnamon roll and you cannot convince me otherwise
  • Albus is a Slytherin! As the whole world predicted, though there is a sector that loves him as a Hufflepuff. Of the two, I’d say Scorpius is more of a Hufflepuff
  • Draco Malfoy, one of my faves, has grown and become a mostly-mature adult, able to learn from his mistakes
  • The Trio is able to work with Draco now (also, sidenote, they call him Draco, which I’m pretty sure they almost never did in the series. It was always “Malfoy.”)

The Bad:

  • Most of the adults were very out of character, especially Harry, who grated me the wrong way almost all the way through. Plus, I don’t believe McGonagall would ever let Harry speak to her that way or go with his ridiculous plan to spy on students.
  • Ron was relegated to sad (not funny) comic relief. My poor Ron, my favorite character, left out
  • Let’s just say the plot left something to be desired
  • The somewhat forced pairing off of Rose and Scorpius when clearly the narrative was going in a different… well, we’ll talk about that separately
  • As much as I’ve always dislike Ginny, she lost even the semblances of what she was supposed to be (fierce, confident, able to put people in their places). I mean, she just let Harry rage around like a giant asshole most of the play

So more bad than good, but perhaps on rereads, I’ll come around to some of these. I didn’t really like HP6 when I first read it, but it’s grown on me since.

So let’s talk about that whole Rose/Scorpius pairing. I know it was hinted at early on as a very insignificant crush on Scorpius’ part. Rose, for her part, was a bitch the entirety of the play. But when you look at the narrative and the overwhelming evidence in support of an Albus/Scorpius romance, it was all there. The unwavering loyalty, the awkward hugs, the look of jealousy as Albus talked to Delphi. JKR lost out on a big opportunity to include an actual LGBT character into canon (look, I know Dumbledore is, but it always felt like an afterthought, like she never bothered to include that detail and it was a flippant after-the-fact thing she said in some interview). She could have concluded this play with an Albus/Scorpius ending and it would have been completely believable. In fact, it would be way more than him and Rose, who clearly thinks he’s dirt on her shoe. But they’re young, only 14 (I think? The timeline was so confusing), so there’s still time for them to discover who they are. Pity is not a good way to start off a relationship, Scorpius. You’ll realize that.

After all that rambling, my conclusion is that while I loved Scorpius and everything he did, the book just doesn’t feel like Harry Potter to me. I suppose I’ll have to look at it as fanfic that is canon. It’s a strange way to do it, but it’s the only way. I’ll keep hoping for that Marauders prequel.



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