Welcome to the Triwizard Tournament which is really this lame sentence intro for this book review of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I am pleased to report that the Cursed Child is as magical as the seven Harry Potter books. I promise you that you will feel this weird feeling once you finished reading it, and of course you will have many questions, tons of it, and observations that you will surely throw in during the numerous Potter group discussions, online and on book stores, in the near future.
Of course, this site, being a mostly Potter site (didn’t you know? I just announced it. So far we have just one genre dedicated to it sorry), will review the book in a good light despite the numerous bad reviews from some of the Potterheads out there. Burn them; I say, without a wand, no using of a Freezing Charm, this is not the middle age. Okay so honestly this is also sort of a bad review and I will have to apologize for that, still as they say in the Hogwart’s Quidditch Final of 1993, “Lions for the Cup!”
And so now, *in Ludo Bagman’s voice*, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I give you, the greatest, the fabulous, the one and only: Geek God Review’s special feature on the script book Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
First Task: Catch the Time Turner
“The consequences of our actions are so complicated, so diverse, that predicting the future is a very difficult business indeed.”
First, let me raise my glass to those people who gave every ounce of their energy into pushing for this book, this script book, to be published. It might not be turned into a novel but this is enough. Through their efforts, the Potterheads all over the world will have the chance to experience this last adventure of Harry Potter, even if they would never see the actual play.
In Harry Potter and the Cursed Child the readers will be reunited with Harry Potter and his best friends Hermione and Ron, nineteen years later after the Battle of Hogwarts. Here they will see what became of the famous Potter, now heading the Magical Law Enforcement Squad department and an extremely popular figure in the Wizarding World.
The script book takes on Harry’s relationship with his son Albus Severus, who is living under the pressure of his famous father’s name and of being named from two of the greatest wizards: Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape, two key personalities in the Second Wizarding War. The book centers on Harry as he struggles with his past and how it affects his present, especially his relationship with his son.
The father and son will embark on a journey that will take them back in time as they solved the mystery of the dark force behind the plot to change history and resurrect the dark lord Voldemort.
The core of the story lies with the use of time-travel, using time-turners (as was first introduced in Prisoner of Azkaban) to develop the plots. That was really tricky thing to do, because most of the flaws that are constantly debated in the Potter series today lies on that time-travel concept. Rowling, herself accepted that flaw, leading to the destruction of the entire Ministry’s time-turners back in Order of the Phoenix. On using the time-turners again, the writers bravely plunged on to face these flaws and bring the readers back to the past as a way to tell the present.
The use of time-turners affords the writers a huge leeway in creating not only the present, but also handing out to us a vast possibility of an alternate present and future. It is a tool they used in a very good way especially when the book mostly bank on nostalgia to bring about the Potter magic.
Second Task: Save the Characters
“Come and Seek Us Where Our Voices Sound
We Cannot Sing Above the Ground”
Harry Potter as the Head of the Magical Law Enforcement Squad. How he treated Professor McGonagall in this book was shocking but the best way to portray what Harry, the adult Harry, has become. Here we came to see an adult Harry who was burdened by his past and was lost in the present, in terms of how to deal with his son. The Cursed Child is a Harry Potter book, make no mistake about it. Even if this one centers on his son Albus, the story is still focused on Harry, and on his past: growing with the Dursleys, his chaotic Hogwarts years, his history with Voldemort, his guilt. All these affects his dealings in the present as he tried to build a world for his children and for the whole of the Wizarding World he saved. He inadvertently summed up his own conflict in Act Four, Scene Three: “Love blinds. We both tried to give our sons, not what they needed but what we needed. We’ve been busy trying to rewrite our own pasts, we’ve blighted their present.”
Ron Weasley as the head of the…well…Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. The writers turned Ron into your typical uncle which I supposed fit him with his joker role. Without the emphasis on his relationship with Harry, Ron’s character in the book was somehow dimmed. He just appeared in some of the pages in the story as a support role so nothing much to expect from Ron here. Except for the fact that he ended up with Parvati Patill. Yes there are plenty of spoilers here. Please continue reading. There is some Hermione-Ron moments here, especially on the alternate-present, which will surely make all the members of their various fans club scream in delight. Oh, and a Ron-Draco matchup too, which is always fun to read.
Hermione Granger-Weasley as the Minister for Magic (woot! woot!). Okay first off, I think she lost her flair. Sorry about that. I was looking forward to a full blast, smart and wise Hermione but she was not given enough “exposure” in the book to do so. Of course the lack of a formidable opponent, (that is, Voldemort) did not give her any chance to be that bad-ass Hermione again, like all those cool things she did during the second Wizarding War, especially during the Horcrux Hunt. This is also the perfect time and venue to declare to the world (officially) that she is my favorite character, so I am subjective here, of course. But it was nice to see Hermione again, and turning her into the new Minister for Magic (after Kingsley Shacklebolt I presume?) is the best way to end her story. She deserves it, although I did not see that coming, I thought she’ll just stay low key, after all she said this when asked (by former Minister Rufus Scrimgeour) if she wanted to join the Ministry: “No, I’m not. I’m planning to do some good in the world.”
Draco Malfoy as the disgraced Death Eater. Of course the writers created a different and more likeable (okay not so much) Malfoy in this book. The Hogwarts-version Draco is still in the book, as evident on his constant bickering with the trio and Ginny. But the selfishness of Draco was gone in the story, replaced by his love for his son Scorpius, which was basically what drove Narcissa Malfoy to betray Voldemort on that crucial part of the Battle of Hogwarts, “He’s dead!” she proclaimed, remember? Okay so I was side-tracked for a moment there, but this version of Draco is as refreshing as you can get, his conflict just like that of Harry and his story in the book is the culmination of some (I am not one of them) Potterheads’ incessant fan fictions regarding a Draco who is best friend with Harry (I’m going to puke).
Scorpius Potter as the rumoured son of Voldemort. Scorpius’ character was deliberately created as an anti-Draco. He is funny and easy-going despite carrying the burden of being a Malfoy and a rumoured son of Voldemort. Many readers would surely like him, as the writers created him in the image of a bubbly YA novel character. He was not like Ron in the Harry-Ron friendship, but rather, he was like a tamed (if that exists) version of Fred and George, mischievous but only enough. It was bizarre to come across a character in the Harry Potter world who seemed to be as Neville Longbottom (I mean on the popularity scale, sorry Neville) as you can get and yet is still happy with the way things are. Yet he’s a geek, like Hermione. Again, he’s like those bullied main characters in YA novels. A geek who is at the bottom of the pyramid. I just hope he’ll shine just like them in the end.
Albus Potter as a Potter in Slytherin. A Potter in Slytherin. It was inconceivable and yet it was so typical of Rowling (and quiet a necessity) to do so. Her love for anything out of the ordinary, in championing the marginalized, the bullied, and all that are non-mainstream, led us to guess that this will happen. The thing is, this did not make any sense. Of course, if Al did choose Slytherin, it would not be an issue, but having a second name taken from a famous Slytherin is not enough to warrant you a place in that house. Maybe the Potters are related to the Gaunts? Or maybe because he befriended Scorpius (a Slytherin) beforehand? (Still a lame excuse). Hopefully we’ll have the answer on this in the near future. Albus as the Potter who do not like to be one, a Potter who was forced to live up to their name, is a good central character. Readers will be moved by his thoughts which in some part plenty, but in some part lacking. Lastly, I have to say that the Scorpius-Al relationship was a bit too much too sweet, verging on bromance, like reading a book version of Merlin and Arthur (in BBC’s Merlin series).
Third Task: Survive the Maze of Plots
The developed plots are based on the time-travel concept and as such we were brought to the past and the alternate-world in the present which was a result of the alteration of the past. Which is confusing but that’s that. The main plot of the story centers on Albus and Scorpius’ plan to save Cedric Diggory from being killed at the end of the Triwizard Tournament and how this would shake things up and alter the subsequent events in the past, especially the Battle of Hogwarts, and ultimately the present.
The main plot was as Harry Potter as it could be and all the ingredients of the magical world that we know are there in the story, but let us check if the alternate present that was introduced in the book will check out with the facts from the past.
“I know without you the war could never have been won.”
I was disturbed on how the alternate present was portrayed in the book (particularly Act Three, Scene Three and Act Three, Scene Five). Upon changing the result of the Second Task, Scorpius and Al, inadvertently changed the outcome of the Battle of Hogwarts. On this alternate world, Voldemort and the Death Eaters won, upon the death of Harry. That alternate outcome was portrayed well, with a dark background to complement the story of a world Voldemort could have built if he did succeed against Harry.
The problem lies in the characters in that world. I could not comprehend how the hell Professor Snape AND Draco BOTH survived after the Battle of Hogwarts. If Voldemort pursued the legend of the Elder Wand, he would, in no time for sure, realize that he needed to kill Draco (and Snape if he still did it wrong in that alternate world) in order to master the wand. So that is a major flaw there.
To presume here that Scorpius and Al also changed the circumstances surrounding Dumbledore’s decision to hand over the Hallows to Harry is pushing it too far. For one, the Cloak of Invisibility was in the possession of Dumbledore long before the First and Second tasks. Voldemort, on the other hand, would still order Draco to kill Dumbledore, thus the shift of the Elder wand’s allegiance. Scenarios after the Triwizard Tournament could have been changed. But the fact that Harry, in the alternate world, also survived in the graveyard and live to tell the tale, set the whole plot pretty much the same as those happened in Order up to the events in Hallows. If Harry survived in the graveyard, we need to presume here that he did so due to the twin cores. If that was the case, Voldemort would still want to hear the prophecy of Trelawney and would still want to search for the Elder Wand.
The appearance of Dolores Umbridge as headmistress is also problematic. Did she stay as such from Book 5? Or was she reinstated? Even if we would want to presume that Voldemort succeeded in hearing the prophecy (and avoiding revealing himself during the Battle of the Department of Mysteries), he would still surely appoint Snape as headmaster (maybe after the Fall of the Ministry), and not the pink toad no matter how evil she was.
The biggest anomaly of all is the revelation that there exists a daughter of Voldemort. This is despite the fact that we know him as asexual. This might not be true as the book had not really gave any evidence to prove it, but still this is beyond crazy.
The inclusion of these characters to the alternate world was wishful thinking and in the process, diminishing the legitimacy of the story (even if Rowling herself wrote this part, I’m sorry). On a lighter note, I really liked the description of Hermione as a warrior; Ron, not that much. Also, despite all my protestations, it was really touching to see again Professor Snape, who I hated in the first six books. Their resolved never wavered and how they met their ends was fitting enough for heroes.
There were touching moments too, like in the Third Task, when Scorpius and Al watched Cedric Diggory as he continued towards the center of the maze, towards the Triwizard Cup, towards his death.
Back to the Present
The downside of having a book about an adult Harry Potter is that in spite of how much the writers tried to make his son the focus of the book, just like their life in the story, Albus and any other characters for that matter, will always be overshadowed by the famous Potter. By including a Hermione, who is now the Minister for Magic, with the adult Draco and Ginny and, okay, Ron too (but not so much), the actions of the younger characters mainly Scorpius and Al, became childlike, all of their scenes snatched of the grandeur the trio had in their adventures, making the adventures of those two (the time travel and all those stuff), subaltern.
For our generation, it is not an issue because we would surely want to focus on Harry and Hermione and Ron. We’re interested on the life of his son Al, but we would always view him as a child. For the younger ones, this book robbed them of that wonderful feeling we experienced upon reading the Philosopher’s Stone, that feeling which is same as the anticipation as we waited for our owl to arrive. In the seven books, Harry is our hero, the Hogwarts student who defeated the Dark Lord despite of his young age. Children who are just now reading and will read the books, will surely associate themselves with Al and Scorpius, and by telling their story under the shadow of an adult Harry, they would miss the feeling of being a hero themselves, in their young age.
And so now the time travel ends and with it the adventure of Harry and Hermione and Ron, who we are really glad to see again after we parted with them in King’s Cross many years ago. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is as magical as Hogwarts could be, and the fact that we continue to bring about its flaws while celebrating its world (even the alternate world), is proof that the Potter spell is going stronger. And will be so for years to come as we give way to a new generation of wizards and witches.
In behalf of those of us born in the generation of magic, thank you J.K. Rowling. For us, it is truly, Mischief Managed.