Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts One and Two
by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne
It was exciting to be at another HP book release party--possibly the last one ever! It was wonderful to have more canon to enjoy. I was 4th in line to buy my book and had it in hand before all my friends. And as I'm not going to be able to make it to London to see the play, it was wonderful to get to read it. But this book was not wonderful.
What WAS this book? It's got to be a joke played on the fans, right? JK found some awful fanfic and pretended it was her idea and got it published, right? I wanted to love this so much. When my friends started saying it was terrible, I didn't want to believe them. I thought maybe I would be the only one who would love it and feel like I had terrible taste and everyone would make fun of me for loving it. Even as I was reading the beginning, I couldn't figure out what they were talking about. It couldn't be that bad, even if you don't like the epilogue. But then I kept reading and realized that it really was as bad as they claimed.
I don't agree with Albus' sorting, but that's because I have my own fanfic 'verse that's headcanon to me, so I could deal with it. And in my 'verse, it's Albus' mum who dies, not Scorpius', but there's similar sadness and support between them regarding the sickness and funeral and coping, so it was amazing to see that in canon, even if their roles are reversed (mmm angst! Give me all the angst!). Albus and Scorpius were a delight to get to know here. Their characters were full and complex and wonderful. There were also some nice, slash-friendly moments (We hug now? That's something we do?) which are great, because I ship them. But the rest of the book was... WTF?
I can believe Harry saying things out of anger and not connecting with one of his kids (it is hard to believe, but I got there eventually). I can believe Hermione and Ron still being married given their dynamic here (which was NOT the dynamic they had in the books). I could even believe Albus and Scorpius getting wrapped up in a time travel plot. But why is Beauxbatons bad at cheering on their champion??? Voldemort's daughter???? Cedric speaking as though he were from the 17th century ("Name yourselves, beasts. I can fight you.")??????? Harry suddenly being able to become Voldemort??????????? WTF??!!!
Okay, I'm still a sucker for time travel. And I liked the alternate realities that came about based on the tiniest change and misuse of magic. It's believable that some wizards and witches with that power would abuse it or manipulate the young and vulnerable into doing so. I liked seeing some familiar faces that the time travel and ARs brought back (Snape, Dumbledore). And I liked Harry coming face-to-face with the worst moment of his childhood and being able to do nothing to stop it (especially hard, given his saving people thing, which comes back into play as well). But the small rewordings of canon were painful to me (would it have been so hard to go grab a copy of books 4 and 7 and use the same lines that were actually used?). And the sudden, convenient deus ex machina moments were extremely painful. Characters don't always sound like themselves or act like themselves, and the play format can't be blamed for that.
And Voldemort's daughter? SERIOUSLY?
I enjoyed tiny bits of this--lines here and there--as we see Harry & Ginny's relationship as adults, Hermione taking charge at the Ministry, getting to see parenting styles/methods, Scorpius' kind nature shining through (Albus & Scorpius together really were the saving grace of this story), Draco in another epic awkward hug, and Draco being envious of the trio's friendship (aww). But overall, this was worse than some of the worst fanfiction I've ever read.
I'm so disappointed--not because I didn't get out of it what I envision happening nineteen years later, but because apart from similar character names and magical elements, it had no resemblance to the beauty and complexity of the series. Themes felt forced. Major plot points were rushed. Canon facts were ignored. It did not feel like the characters or world JK created. It felt like fanfiction gone horribly wrong.
Also, poor Rodolphus.