Thursday, October 13, 2016

#43 [2016/CBR8] "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, & Jack Thorne

I have read all seven of the Harry Potter books and seen all of the movies (although I think I slept through most of the last movie). So of course I was going to read the new Harry Potter book...eventually. I just didn't think I would get to it so quickly. My book club decided that we had to read it immediately. So I found myself picking up Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (2016) by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne.

I've fallen a little out of the loop when it comes to Harry Potter. The only reason I even knew that there was an eighth book coming out was that I stumbled on an article in the paper discussing what bookstores were doing for the release. I'd heard somewhere that it takes place years after the original story, but until I picked it up, I didn't even know it was a play. It was kind of nice getting into it with so few expectations about where the story was going.

The play takes place nineteen years after the end of the last book. Harry and Ginny are married with three kids, and Ron and Hermione have a daughter, Rose. The play begins with Harry dropping off his middle son, Albus Potter, at Platform 9 and 3/4. As the son of the "boy who lived" and ended up saving the world from Voldemort, Albus has a lot to live up to. At school, he almost immediately, and very surprisingly, befriends Scorpius Malfoy, the son of Draco. Scorpius and Albus go off on a half-cocked adventure in a virtuous attempt to right some wrongs. The book visits some memorable moments from the previous books and explores the rather difficult relationship between Harry and his son.

This book kept my interest, and it was sometimes a nice, nastalgic stroll through the original books. Some of the characterizations and descriptions seemed a little lacking, which may be a consequence of the format. Rose was literally Hermione as a child; Ron was nothing more than weird comic relief, and Ginny was a protective mother. This book also relies very heavily on the previous books for its meaning and weight. It's hard to even imagine how uninteresting and confusing this book would be if you read it before any of the others.

The most jarring difference between the last book and the others is the format, and it affected my reading of it. Instead of imagining a magical world where the story took place, I imagined a theater production. I thought of it happening all on stage, how it would be blocked, and what they would do with the special effects. It was kind of fun to imagine. [The play is currently on stage in London, and I wish I could see what they've done with it. One of my book club friends was recently in London and had tried to get tickets. She said the play was almost like two separate plays, shown hours and sometimes days apart with each play three hours long.]

This book did not have that magical feeling the first Harry Potter books had, although I generally found it enjoyable and interesting. It does not feel like a very necessary addition to the story, but it was a nice, nostalgic trip back to the Harry Potter world and some of the characters I've read so much about.

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