If you’ve been around the last month, you’ve probably noticed that a new Harry Potter book was released. If you’re anything like me (a huge Harry Potter nerd who devoted her childhood to reading each book in the first 24 hours after it came out), you probably went to your nearest bookstore and purchased The Cursed Child on July 31st (aka Harry’s birthday/J.K. Rowling’s birthday/its release date).
I loved these books so much as a kid. They had everything: magic, bravery, wild adventures, childhood crushes turned true love, and a world entirely devoted to finding the good and making sure the good won. Even watching the movies over and over as an adult (shoutout to those Harry Potter marathons on TV) and re-reading the books leaves me begging to be a part of the magical world. I’m still waiting for my letter to Hogwarts. It’ll be here soon, I’m sure. Any day now.
So, naturally, I was excited to hear a new story was being released. More Harry Potter?! More HERMIONE? I’m sold.
I picked up the book on the 31st and went home that night to read it. I was hesitant to start it because I knew this would likely be the end of Harry Potter and his stories, but I eventually sat down to read it cover to cover. It took me four hours.
They were the most dissatisfying four hours of my life.
As I was reading, I was confused. I wanted so badly to like it, but the writer in me (or maybe just the reader) kept finding holes that were too deep to ignore. The plot was mediocre at best, but maybe I was just being too picky. Maybe it just read different because it was a play. Maybe I was overanalyzing it.
I couldn’t get it out of my head for days (this happens to me a lot with books). I kept thinking about it: the storyline, the characters, the weird twists and turns that were over-simplified and read like fanfiction. The more I thought about it, the more angry the book made me. I felt a little jipped.
I took to the internet to see if I was the only one who felt this way. I typed in “why was the cursed” and you know what came up first? “Why was the cursed child bad.” I kid you not. Man, how many people hated this?
I know some of you are reading this and are really defensive right now (I know because I have had this conversation in person many times in the last few weeks and people usually have the same reaction when I spew this “blasphemy” at them). I’m sorry to upset you, honestly. But I have reasons. Spoilers ahead.
1) The plot was lame as hell.
You know what’s easy to do? Write a story based around a magical item that allows you to travel back in time to the original story. Seriously. I get that the time turner is a real thing and was used within the first seven books (but only, what, twice?), but using it as a device to drive an entirely new story is lazy. It allows the author to simply revisit the story that was already written years ago and just add in a few new things to mix it up. It’s relying too heavily on old canon without adding depth to those moments at all.
2) Some of this new information doesn’t add up with the plot in the first seven books.
For example, Godric’s Hollow? In the first seven books, Hagrid came to get Harry and Sirius was already there. Here? Nah man, the whole crew just chilled for a while until they saw Hagrid grab Harry from an empty house. What? WHERE WAS SIRIUS.
3) The beloved trio was reduced to cliche characterizations of themselves.
Ron was a bumbling fool. The entire play the writers are making fun of him. And not in a cute, “aw, silly Ron, at it again” sort of way. They let him be a flat character. Forget the fact that the trio are all now NINETEEN YEARS OLDER than they were at the end of Deathly Hallows so they would have, you know, matured some by now. Forget that. Let’s just talk about the fact that in the first seven books, Ron goes through a major character arch. Yes, he’s a goof, but he actually is very brave and loving and reliable by the end of the series. This story made him look like an actual idiot.
Harry is somehow even more petulant as an adult than he was as a child. I get it, life is tough and not every moment is filled with rainbows and sunshine, especially once you’ve had children. I admire the attempt (albeit a lame one) to show that parent-child relationships are sometimes hard. But like, Harry was just mean. He was not only frustrated with his son, he was hurtful in a way that I don’t imagine Harry, having had no father but having the horrible Dursleys as an example, would behave as an adult.
And Hermione? Being pouty and grumpy because she’s not with Ron in one of the timelines? I can’t even talk about it, honestly. Just stop.
4) Voldemort and Bellatrix had a baby?
I’m literally not buying this at all. Again, lame plot device. There is no way in hell that Voldemort had the time, care, or ability to have sex. He was busy, folks. He had other things on his mind. And his body was split into EIGHT pieces for like, ever. So, I’m going to go ahead and say no, having sex with Bellatrix was not on his to-do list while he was trying to do everything in his power to kill Harry Potter.
5) The myriad of things that were supposed to be funny but weren’t.
I don’t know if I’m just missing some inside jokes or something (I can’t be, I have read all of the books and seen all the movies), but some things were just pointless pieces of information that were neither charming nor useful. Albus kissed his aunt more than once? Not funny. Awkward. Painfully awkward. Harry and Ginny are on a no-sugar diet? Why? Why?! Are we trying to poke fun at the modern world? Like, “ha ha, it’s 2016 and everyone is super crazy about dieting now.” I’m rolling my eyes. A lot. And then, the fucking cherry on top of the entire thing: Harry is afraid of PIGEONS?! He flies Buckbeak, who is basically a giant pigeon with horse legs (which is way more terrifying). But you’re telling me he’s afraid of harmless birds? Not like, I don’t know, not being a good father to his son or the return of the Dark Lord or like, literally anything else that would legitimately scare him? I cannot.
And that’s enough for now. I could pick the entire thing apart, scene by scene, and tell you why it was ridiculous, but it’s a little overwhelming to digest in one sitting. I’m sorry even now to have burst your bubble.
Overall, I’m disappointed. I feel like Rowling and her team knew that the fans wanted more, and despite her instinct that the books should have ended after the seventh, there was pressure to add one final story to pacify us. Us, the generation of nostalgia, who will buy literally anything that makes us feel like we’re in the good old days. But that is another rant for another day.
I’m glad Harry Potter is done now.
Actually, I’m just going to pretend The Cursed Child didn’t even happen.
So, I’m glad Harry Potter was done in 2007.