So like many Harry Potter fans, I went out and bought my copy on Sunday and read through it all day yesterday. (I’ve specifically dropped in the “Read More” tag and hidden any spoilers so that if you haven’t read it, you get that magical first-time experience. If you have read it, I would LOVE to see a discussion in the comments! What did you think?)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Like so many Harry Potter fans, I was in middle school (the same age as Harry) when my English teacher first recommended the Harry Potter series to me. The first three books had been published in the previous years, and the fourth was about to come out. My best friend and I devoured them and analyzed them, lovingly, but critically. (I still think of The Goblet of Fire in a completely different way that I do the others.) The Harry Potter books are not, in my opinion, great works of fiction, but they ARE a delightfully fresh world the likes of which others have tried to duplicate and none have arguably succeeded.I am not blinded to their faults by my love of what they represent.
What made/makes Harry Potter such a global phenomenon is that it tells a very human story in a setting that is equal parts fantastic and horrifying. We empathize with Harry and revile Voldemort. We feel the bonds of friendship that are set against the bonds of self-interest.
The other important thing to remember about the original 7 Harry Potter stories is that they are entirely told on the perspective of Harry Potter, a boy who knows nothing of the wizarding world and to whom (like his innocent reader) everything is a new delight. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child turns that original narrative structure completely on its head to create something entirely new.
What would it be like to grow up knowing about the Wizarding World? What would it be like to grow up in a post-Voldemort world, where things are much more complex than black-and-white evil and good? What happens when Harry Potter has no more evil to hunt down? Most importantly, what would it be like to grow up as the son of the mythic Harry Potter, twice-vanquisher of the evilest evil ever known?
For Albus Severus Potter, those questions shape his reality. For him, Hogwarts is not the magically inclusive and delightful place it was for his father. The Cursed Child hones in on the idea of what it would mean to be a Luna Lovegood, or even (I would argue) a Draco Malfoy, in a place that emphasizes cooperation and character development. To feel constant isolation in a place that your parents adored and loved. The heart of this play revolves around this huge gap in perspective between Harry and his middle child.
Ultimately, this is a book about relationships. Friendships. Enemies. Parents and their children.
Things I loved (hidden for mild spoilers):
Things I thought were really poorly done and why I gave it 4 stars (hidden for major spoilers):
Overall, it was a fun read and I do recommend it to Potter fans. What did you think? What did you like and not like?