Joint Review of The Cursed Child!
Since the two of us had very differing opinions on this play, we decided to both share our opinions so you could see both sides!
If you want to see more about what Jordan thought, head over to Bibliophile Gathering to view the discussion she participated in with some other bookstagrammers! (WARNING: there are spoilers included in that discussion... Not on here, though, so no reason to worry ;)).
Albus and Scorpius have claimed the #1 spot on my Top Ships Leaderboard. I’m not going to fangirl or gush anymore about this. So leave that to your imagination. Let’s start with the original characters. Harry Potter is now a dad, still a celebrity, and very much the same, at least in my eyes. It was hard to envision him older than 16, so this book was a struggle. Ginny, I had no problem as a mother, and she seemed to be a fierce and caring mother at the same time, much like her own mother (and I am an avid Drarry ship, so). As for their kids, James was amazing, even though barely in the picture, his few lines were enough, and Lily was barely a character. (I get it’s a play, so I wasn’t too concerned with her, even though other characters that were omitted made me very angry, like where was Teddy Lupin? What about Bill and Fleur? Luna Lovegood? And a lot of others that I wish we knew what happened to them, at the least. It’s a script, I understand that, so I didn’t expect the actual characters to show, but not even mentioned?). Individually, Albus is a controversial character in some ways. At first I was very annoyed with him, but by the end, I began to understand that he’s just unsure about how to feel, especially because he was sorted into Slytherin, and is trying to cope with his teenage anger and confusion in the only way he knows (and which all teenagers know), which is rebellion. Scorpius, on the other hand, really surprised me in a good way. I loved the contrast between Scorpius and younger Draco, and it made me appreciate Scorpius more, because I know how hard it is for Slytherins to be like Scorpius is. Rose, who is Albus’s cousin, is a good character in the sense that she adds dimension to Scorpius and Albus’s friendship. I actually hated her personally throughout the novel, but as a character she was helpful to the progression of the story. Hermione and Ron were perfect. End of story. Draco Malfoy was...interesting. That’s all I will say about him. Amos Diggory is annoying, but also justified, for obvious reasons once you read the book. So that’s all about how I feel of the characters in The Cursed Child.
I found the characters in this play to be supremely disappointing; other than Scorpius, I just couldn’t find much to like. I’ll start with Albus: yes, he’s a teenager and therefore he rebels, but I found him to be so immature that I guess it just wasn’t believable? I thought he was whiny to the point where I became annoyed, and while I understood certain things he was going through, I didn’t feel that I could relate to him at all. He’s not the only one I didn’t enjoy, though; the biggest disappointment came with the “old” characters. I felt that a lot of our well-known and loved characters were completely unlike how they had been presented in the Harry Potter books themselves, and while I get that it’s been 19 years and people change during that time, I didn’t expect some of my favorite characters ever to be almost unrecognizable. Take Ron, for example. When he was a teen, he was brave, smart, and witty; in The Cursed Child, though, he was constantly stuttering and seemed to be constantly nervous and inarticulate most of the time. I thought that even Harry himself was misrepresented: the Harry Potter I know would never have told his son that he sometimes didn’t want him as a son, and he never would have been as harsh as he often seemed to be in The Cursed Child. On the positive side, I ADORED Scorpius. I felt connected to him and fell in love with him almost instantaneously… If only the story had been more centered around him.
It was a script. I constantly have to remind myself this because otherwise I would say it was rushed and vague and not developed. But for a script, it was the opposite of all of those words. There’s not really much to say here. There was a good conflict and the solution, although I thought was a bit random and ridiculous (which aren’t most of the solutions in Harry Potter like this?), it was still brilliant and ended nicely. I thought there was something missing from the ending, which I cannot say, but that I think would have completed the book better. I felt like it should have been a book since that way Scorpius and Albus’s friendship could have developed more thoroughly, and we might have gotten a glimpse into the omitted characters I mentioned before. Other than that, I was mostly satisfied as it came to an end, and I think the lesson rings true: although we feel as though the dead have left us, they will stay in our hearts forever in a different way than those that are alive. (Also, don’t mess with history or try to bring back the dead. It never has and never will work. Obviously).
I definitely think that the plot was unlike what we’re used to from JK Rowling. In the first 7 books, the conflict was real and stressful; I felt engaged and was turning the page because I just couldn’t wait to find out what happened. In this play, however, I felt the barriers the characters faced were exaggerated in terms of urgency/importance and were there solely for shock value; I was turning the page simply because I wanted to finish, not because I really cared about the turnout. Not only did I find the main conflict to be exaggerated, however, but I also just found it to be generally odd and somewhat nonsensical. Here’s how I viewed it: after eavesdropping a conversation his dad had with an old man Albus had never met and after having a fight with his dad, Albus suddenly decides it’s his responsibility to steal a dangerous artifact from the Ministry of Magic to go back in time and save someone he knows nothing about… and then basically everything goes south from there. Again, I understand the fact that because Albus is a teen, his natural reaction is rebellion, but I just think that rebellion to this extreme was a little much to seem realistic.
In conclusion, The Cursed Child has it’s minor flaws, but that doesn’t mean it is a “disappointment”, but rather just different. It’s a script, after all. The book is obviously not as amazing as the original HP series, and I definitely didn’t expect it to be. It was a very short script, which I read under two hours, and that stressed me out from start to finish. Still, I would recommend reading it, because it is still Harry Potter, and it is a glimpse into the future we all only dreamed of.
There really just wasn’t much at all I liked about this play: I did like Scorpius, but other than that? I was disappointed by pretty much everything else. I almost wish I hadn’t read it, because then the beautiful almost perfect image of Harry Potter I used to have would have been preserved, and I never would have had to feel the disappointment I’m currently facing after finishing The Cursed Child. I was expecting different, I really was, but I also was hoping this play would live up to the legacy of the original books, and for me, there were just too many flaws.