Friday, August 5, 2016

Book Review: "Harry Potter And the Cursed Child"

(No Spoilers)

Disappointed. Angry. Betrayed. And finally, just plain sad.

Yes, I know this is a script for a play and not a book;
Yes, I know I shouldn't judge a script by only reading it and not experiencing it's performance on the stage;
Yes, I know that J K Rowling did not write this herself (but she Did approve of the final version written by Jack Thorne);
Yes, I know that with so much hype and expectations, it is being put to unfair and harsh judgments;

But even after anticipating & understanding all of these caveats, even after adjusting expectations & even after giving it benefit of the doubt, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, still felt like a letdown to me.

It started out well. I cruised through the first Act - felt nostalgic and happy, in fact a little exhilarated too to meet our beloved characters - all of them now a bit older, a bit wiser. I was rooting for Albus & Scorpius - our next generation protagonists. But as I continued on, I just couldn't keep up the facade.

I, who used to wait in queue for hours, early morning on the book release day to get my hands on it ;
I, who used to read through the complete book on the release day itself, keeping everything else on hold ; 
I, who used to Not let go of any opportunity to rant about JKR & the Harry Potter universe ; the same me, actually closed this book after the Second Act to "take a break".

That deep connection with the characters, that involvement in the premise of the story never got formed. Characters and their interactions felt dry and unemotional. The story felt drawn out with unnecessary character cameos and laughably ludicrous "twists".

Almost always, JKR has avoided re-using plot devices in her 7 books. For example, Thestrals play a major role in Order of the Phoenix but later on, only a minor mention. Every book would introduce a new Wizarding world plot device, sometimes a new physical location within that universe. But here, many past plot devices are recycled - which frankly feels lazy and a pandering to popular taste. There is an unnecessary number of character cameos - again feels like a cash grab.

To be fair, there are some good points. Scorpius Malfoy's character is developed pretty well. A couple of unexpected twists do make you feel awe-struck. Some nuances of Harry and Albus's father-son relationship are portrayed very well. One can see that the kernel of the story does have some merit. Hence the 2/5 from me.

I would like nothing more than to eat my words later when the play comes out & turns out to be great. I would like nothing more than to really see, to really experience Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, in the same manner that J K Rowling envisioned it and which compelled her to write this story. Because even though this 'script' (not calling it a book anymore) was not what I expected, and even though I think J K Rowling should have stopped at the "Nineteen Years Later" chapter 9 years ago, I still believe that, whether she decides on a follow-up to this story or not, she will Not ruin the Harry Potter universe further.