Okay, so I know that “keep the secrets” is a thing, and I’m going to try my best to hold to that. However, this review discusses the plot of the book, so be warned. I won’t give away anything that is a major secret, but reviewing a book without talking about the book is impossible. If you want to stay 100% pure, don’t read any further.
The Harry Potter books are an interesting thing. They’ve become such the stuff of legend that it’s hard to separate the myth from the actuality. I just know that I read them recently and fell in love all over again, so they do stand the test of time. I was obsessed so quickly with the series when I was younger, attending every midnight release and reading the book in a day. I’m a huge fan. I’m quiet about it, but that doesn’t mean the fervor burns any less bright. I didn’t attend the midnight release for Cursed Child, but some things haven’t changed. I read this book in a day.
In general, I don’t like plays as reading material. I think I should say that, too, so you know where I’m coming from. Without anyone to speak them, the words can sound sappy and trite. Without the emotion and the inner life of the characters, the narrative feels cold. That disappears when you have actors to play the parts, but reading the script on the couch doesn’t help. I was predisposed to love the book; I was predisposed to hate the book.
I ended up falling somewhere in between.
The basic premise of the play is this: Harrry and his youngest son Albus don’t get along. At all. Some of the problems seem to stem from the fact that Albus was sorted into Slytherin and makes a best friend in Scorpius Malfoy, but mostly it’s because Albus can’t come to grips with some of the things Harry has had to do to save the world. Most notably, the death of Cedric Diggory. Shenanigans ensue.
By the end of the first part, I was angry. The plot seemed much like Back To The Future: Harry Potter Edition. I felt like the whole thing was an excuse to trot out everyone’s favorite characters from the series who died or disappeared and had nothing original to offer me. Was it neat to be back at Hogwarts? Yes. But that’s all I can really say for it. The world felt cold, the scenes passed too fast. I loathe reality reunion shows when everyone talks dirt about the contestants and rehashes their time in the sun. I didn’t need the Harry Potter version. I could go on and on: Inexcusably, Ron is the buffoon he was made out to be in the movies, and not himself at all. They play with time, and the way they play with it is so anti the rules set out in the book that it’s maddening. People are outright friendly to Malfoy, who did unspeakable, unforgivable things in the novels. I mean, I’m all for nice. Nice is what you do when you’re an adult. But friendly is a little steep for someone who broke your face, tried let Death Eaters into the school, constantly uttered racist slurs, and allowed your best friend to be tortured. How much time do you have for me to rant?
But by the end of part two, it had redeemed itself. Not enough to be fully satisfying, but enough that I didn’t feel like my money had been extorted. The kids end up falling into disaster, the adults band together like old times to try and help, and it’s suddenly a new story with the old relationships I know and love. It suddenly feels like Harry Potter and it starts to really grapple with its premise that sometimes bad things have to happen to create a good world. It becomes more the book I wanted.
I’m not gonna say don’t read it. Because you either will or you won’t. And I will also admit that there may have been no way this book could live up to the huge expectations I had of it. But if you read it, just know that it probably wasn’t the thing you were expecting to get, though some of the qualities make sticking to the end worthwhile.