Welcome to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, where no one acts like themselves and nothing actually matters!
It would be easy to say that as an adult, I don’t have the same sense of wonder that I did as a child, and that’s why I don’t like this book as much as the ones from my childhood, but frankly, that’s not what’s happening here. This really appears to be a half-assed story with characters to match. To put it a little more gently, it seems as though they (whoever they are) are just trying to milk the franchise for all it’s worth. It wasn’t horrendously bad, and I wouldn’t say that it was a waste of time, because frankly, if you have a few hours, you can read this in one sitting (I mean, it’s a play, so duh), but it’s certainly not worth the eighteen dollars I paid for it.
Really, it’s that nothing is the same. I’m not talking about how they’re adults now and they have adult responsibilities (on the contrary I would love to see a story about wizards carrying out their daily activities, but that’s for another time). I’m talking about how the world doesn’t seem as magical anymore, and how the people that we came to love are like poor copies of themselves. It’s just not the same. I am so happy that Harry Potter still takes the world by storm nineteen years later, and children develop an interest in it all on their own because the books were just that enticing. Rowling makes everything, for lack of a better word, magical. I went back and read a couple of the books a little while ago, and frankly I couldn’t believe how much I still loved them, and how much I missed my first trip to Hogwarts.
I remember very explicitly a moment when I was in fourth grade, all of my classmates were running around with lightning bolts on their foreheads and saying what characters they were, and I had no idea what in the hell was going on. Because my family was military and because we moved around a lot, I often felt like I missed out on whatever the latest crazes were, but by God, the moment someone told my I was “probably a McGonagall,” I had to know what this business was about. So my dad took me to the book store, and we brought home a copy of Sorcerer’s Stone, and we started reading that very night. The rest is history, really. Harry Potter is a big part of who I was when I was a kid, and even though it doesn’t influence me as much as it used to, and even though I’m not as enamored with the last three books, it still means a lot to me as a series and as something that fed my love of reading.
But you can never go back.
There were some funny moments, and there were small things I liked, but overall, I suppose I was just underwhelmed by the whole thing. The story is nothing new, and the characters aren’t lovable enough to carry things on their own. I have to say, though, my least favorite thing of all was the language of the stage directions. I literally just opened it to a random page and found an example: “HARRY looks at GINNY, his face says it all” (p 48). I realize that this is a play, but when you write stage directions, you do actually have to give some direction. What does his face say? Obviously, at this moment when Ginny asks him how long it’s been since his scar has hurt him, he is supposed to be very grave and ominous. However, something like, “his face says it all,” just reflects laziness to me. It’s… not respectful to the reader. It’s like getting partway through a story and saying, “ah, you know what I’m talking about,” and then skipping ahead. That’s not how satisfying writing is done, and I know that Rowling knows how to write a satisfying book; she’s certainly done it before.
Anyway, none of that’s really important. The book is out. It’s not great. It’s still going to sell a million copies, and Rowling and whoever else is still going to make a crap-ton of money for something that feels like it was just kind of phoned in. What else is new?