As was my obligation as a life-long Harry Potter fan, I pre-ordered the newest book, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Through a hilarious confluence of events involving me not having a key to my mailbox for like two months (fun story: my new apartment is garbage), I didn’t get to read it the second it came out and had to wait, like, two whole weeks. BUT it worked out perfectly because I basically traveled backwards in time to read the book. I finally got it while I was visiting my parents’ house and read it in a single sitting locked in my childhood bedroom. So, identical to the circumstances under which I read most of the previous Harry Potter books. Except the first couple which I read incrementally over many nights because I was a child and someone came by at least once a night to insist that I not stay awake all night reading. Ah, adulthood: when no one reminds you that human beings need sleep so you can read as much as you want.
That was still several weeks ago because I’ve been thinking about it for a while. I had a lot of very positive feelings about it right when I finished it but also a lot of immediate criticism and I wanted to think about them for a while before I wrote them down. Also that provided me with plenty of time to talk to my other nerd friends about it.
So, while I’m definitely glad that J. K. Rowling is continuing to write things in the Harry Potter universe (primarily because I wish I lived in that universe) I can’t get over the awkwardness of this being a play. And really all of my criticism boils down to that: this shouldn’t have been published as a play. Don’t get me wrong, I’m 100% in favor of there being a play. And I super want to see that play. But it just seems lazy to release the printed script of that play instead of converting it into a novel. Or what seems more likely, since Rowling isn’t traditionally a playwright and had two playwrights as coauthors, probably just expand on her original outline that they converted into the play. Rambliest sentence ever is now over. Just…make it a book, please. Even a novelization of the play would have been more fun to read.
The characterization was lazy at best – I think as a result of it being a play. There wasn’t any background information provided or any thoughts or feelings for any of the characters. The very nature of a play is that all you get are dialogue and actions. So the characters were completely static. The adults, who it is assumed all the readers are intimately familiar with, haven’t changed a single personality trait since they were children apparently. And the children are just the sequels of their parents. More complex characters could have been developed in a novel.
I’m also not sure that some of the time turner logic isn’t contradictory to the previous books. I’ve heard from other people that it’s not consistent but I’m going to try to fight the urge to be that person who goes back and rereads all the previous books just for specifics about how time turners function. We’ll see how that goes…
That said, I still enjoyed reading it and will happily read anything else they put out.
Will someone just send me my Hogwarts letter already?
Harry, there is never a perfect answer in this messy, emotional world. Perfection is beyond the reach of humankind, beyond the reach of magic. In ever shining moment of happiness is that drop of poison: the knowledge that pain will come again. Be honest with those you love, show your pain. To suffer is as human as to breathe.