It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.
While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.
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I never ever in my life thought I would rate a book with J.K.Rowling’s name on it (or a book about Harry Potter) so low! Yes, Cursed Child has Jo’s name on the cover and it is Harry Potter’s story. But if you haven’t read the book yet, then please stop right now and make a note – This is NOTHING like the 7 books you have read before and you are not familiar with the characters in the book. I held off reviewing this book for more than a month. I bought the book on the d-day and read it soon after. I felt I was too emotional and outraged once I finished reading and gave myself some time to calm down and re-think before writing this review.
First off, the experience of reading a story and reading a script for a play are very different. I did understand the difference in the formats and I was expecting it. But still it didn’t stop me from wishing that it was a story. Ofcourse the emotions were to be expressed by the actors on stage of the play and as such we are left with only the dialogues to try and feel what the characters might be experiencing. It kind of takes away from the overall experience. Secondly, the plot is just not as good. After seven books of sheer awesomeness, (Yes! Yes! Including the plot holes) this was quite a letdown. The set up was good and I felt the darkness towards the beginning – but then the execution/follow through just didn’t work for me. I blame it on the expectations that J.K.Rowling has set up through the first seven books – we can only imagine plots getting better and with twists that we do not see coming. Also since it is only co-written by J.K.R, it does not have the same story telling feel.
Now comes the parts I had difficult time accepting. Harry’s relationship with Albus is on the top of ‘hard to believe’ list. Having had the childhood with Dursley’s and lack of proper parenting, one would think that Harry, of all the people in the world, would have a better relationship with his children. We hardly see anything about his relationship with James & Lily and the one we see with Albus is just sad. I would expect Harry to try harder to understand and connect with his son. Next on my list is Ron’s character! He was never on my top favourite character list, but I did admire how loyal a friend he was. In Cursed Child, he has been reduced to an ‘idiot’ who is there only to deliver one-liners. He has no role to play in the actual plot and is reduced to the ‘court jester’. Next, let’s talk about Hermoine. She is the Minister for Magic who has garnered zero respect, and I mean zero respect. She has to keep reminding everybody that she is the Minister for Magic and has every meeting taken over by someone else, including Draco Malfoy. I mean seriously? Forget S.P.E.W, other than that when has Hermoine ever let anyone get away with anything. From the girl who punched Draco Malfoy, who Kept Harry grounded – Ron within the lines, who stood up against Umbridge, who fought bravely in every battle – she is reduced to a fool in the most powerful position in the magical world, like Fudge. And in what cannon world would she turn into a bitter person like Snape just because she didn’t get Ron? She is the most practical girl in the whole Harry Potter Universe. Yes, she had her teenage moments with Cormac, but to actually waste her life away and turn into a bitter hag because she couldn’t get one boy – could that really be the same person in the last 7 books?
In retrospect, I liked Scorpius Malfoy’s character. He was, in so many ways, so much like Ron. His loyalty towards Albus Severus Potter reminded me of Ron. Maybe because he is a new character in the book and I did not have any expectations from him, he managed to work his way into my heart. At the same time, Albus’s insecurities and the pressure he felt because of his family name is something very similar to what Ron felt when he was young. Rose Weasley surprised me too. She is the pampered star – kid who thinks she has the choice of friends because of who her parents are. Her dialogue to Albus on the first day of train actually reminded me of Draco Malfoy. Who would have thought that Draco’s son would be more like Ron, and Ron and Hermione’s daughter would turn out like Draco in turn!
I know it is J.K.R’s world and characters and she has every right to do whatever she wants with them. But we have spent years of our lives reading and living that life with those very characters. We know these characters like we know our friends and family because we have grown up with them. Even if we do not consider the alternate realities, the characters we knew are missing from this book. 19 years ago, when the final battle happened at Hogwarts, by then these characters had already become adults who had shown courage and brilliance. After going through so much in 7 years, it kind of sets the characters for the Golden-trio. Now 19 years later, it is granted that they will be different, but instead of growing up, the lack of Voldemort seems to have taken away their core characteristics and instead of the very familiar people, we are left with complete strangers.
In the end, when we came back to this world after 9 years, through the pages of a new book – it did not feel like coming back home.