Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Literally the Best Reviews: Harry Potter & the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child -- J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, John Tiffany
Arthur A. Levine Books
320 Pages

I threw aside my regularly scheduled book review for this special one. Yesterday, the new Harry Potter Book came in the mail, and I read it that afternoon. I finished it early this morning, and felt that it had to be today’s book review in place of the original. So, without further ado, I present the review of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

Let me tell you right from the beginning that this is not a book in the traditional sense of the word. It is a script for a new play that opened July 30th in London’s West End.  This is all dialogue with minimal description other than stage direction. Don’t let that fool you, though. This book has a very interesting story to tell.

Without giving too many spoilers, I will tell you a little about the book. Mostly, this is stuff that any fan already knew about. For the casual fan or reader, I will keep away from letting too much out of the bag. Obviously, when we last left Harry, Ginny, Hermione, and Ron, they were sending their respective children off to Hogwarts for their own education. That is where the new story begins.

The first three years of the children at Hogwarts fly by in quick glimpses until we arrive at Year Four. It is at Hogwarts that alliances are formed along old lines and with unexpected friends. Harry, Ginny, Hermione, Ron, and Draco make their appearances in this book along with several old instructors from the school. The main characters are Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy.

Ultimately, this is a time travel story that ties the old generation and the new generation together. We revisit familiar scenes from the first seven books, with the new characters. It is an inventive way to bridge the years to another series in the Harry Potter universe.

The story is interesting. While creating the setting for more books, this story also explores the teenage angst that can easily sway the innocent into a life darker than what most parents wish for their children. It is a fine balance between pleasing your parents and intentionally aggravating them in a plea for both freedom and attention.

Even though this was not written as a regular book, it was still fairly captivating. One of the things to remember is that it was only based on a story by J.K. Rowling. Jack Thorne and John Tiffany
wrote this to specifically be a play. There are times that the story could have used Rowling’s magic pen. The plot devices, while fun, were overplayed and lacked the spark Rowling was known for in the previous seven books.

The Harry Potter universe is large and there are many directions that Rowling could go. While this one is limited in scope, it does keep Harry Potter alive and well for more stories. The one thing about the original series is that the characters were likeable, even loveable. In this book, the new characters are anything but. Perhaps, however, it is meant to be that way. Will we possibly see the formation of the Dark Side from one of its minions?

This book can be enjoyed. If you’re a Potter aficionado, by all means read this book. If you’re one of the fans who have only watched the movie, take the time to read to the original seven books before you tackle this one. There are flashbacks that deal more directly with the books than the movies. Then watch the movies and read this newest installment. Hopefully by you’ve taken that time, Rowling will have a new, fully fleshed out story from the Harry Potter universe.

I read this book basically in one sitting. It’s not a difficult read. It is quick and easy. It will also leave you begging for more, especially after a nine-year gap since we last saw Harry and friends in print. Personally, the best part for me was the continuing story. I am always interested in what happens after the book is finished. I have mixed feelings on the effort, but enjoyed reading about favorite literary friends.

Craig Bacon wrote this while watching “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II” with his 10-year old daughter. She loved the books and the movies, and was begging me to hurry with this newest book.