Thursday, August 4, 2016

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts 1 and 2 (NO SPOILERS)

Flabbergasted! That is one word in which I can sum up my entire experience of reading this Harry Potter book, almost nine years after the original Harry Potter series ended.

It felt so wonderful to once again dive into the world of Harry Potter - to relive the childhood (and adulthood!) fantasies and memories... ahh! Bliss!

Having said that, let me tell you that this book is not really a book. It is the script of the play that has opened among much fanfare in London. It does not read in the usual J.K.Rowling style. It is still Rowling's story, so some things will be familiar, but essentially, it is a script written by Jack Thorne. It has its own style, its own darkness, its own light!

So, the story starts where the last book had ended: 19 years after the Battle of Hogwarts, with Harry-Ginny and Ron-Hermione waiting to send off their respective children to Hogwarts at the King's Cross station. James Sirius Potter is teasing his brother, Albus Severus Potter, about his prospects of joining the Slytherin house and Harry is comforting him.
I cannot say much about the story without revealing spoilers, but as the book is called Harry Potter and the "Cursed Child", I can tell you this: Albus, Harry and Ginny's middle child, does end up in Slytherin. And he struggles, just like Harry had - with magic, with friends, with acceptance, with fitting in - but in ways very different from what Harry did.

Following the pattern of the Harry Potter series, this book is darker than its predecessor. It is no doubt, very intelligent; and a little complex - certainly not very kid-friendly. The time-turner, which was an important element in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, has a much bigger role here. That was kind of a bummer for me. You see, the original series did use many devices/contraptions/magical elements, but they were just an aide to the actual story. In this book, a large part of the story IS about the time-turner; and I believe it kind of takes away from the soul of the books.

This is not to say that the book is uninteresting. It has a lot of cool stuff: unlikely friendships, shocking twists and turns, some very interesting revelations. (That seem natural on after-thought. You wonder how dumb you were not to have foreseen them!) The book just keeps you on your toes, guessing what the next plot twist will be. And yet, you cannot guess it. It is wondrous in that way. I also loved the interactions between Harry, Hermione, Ron, and Ginny. Pure nostalgia! But crazy fans have crazy expectations, right? Those who have already read the book, don't you think Augurey's parentage was totally mind-numbing? I mean, what the hell! (I will not say more for the sake of those who haven't read the book. We can discuss it offline.)

Harry Potter may make for a very glorious book series, but his own life never was glorious. It was full of hardships, even when he was being celebrated as "The Chosen One". So it isn't really surprising to see him all grown-up and struggling to make ends meet - not financial ones, but ethical, moral, and responsible ones. Still broke my heart, though. After seeing him survive all the atrocities that Voldermort wreaked on him, I had wished he'd find his peace.

Still, do read the book, Potterheads. It will shock your system, but is definitely worth a read.

Rating: 3/5

Positives: HARRY POTTER, lots of jaw-dropping plot twists, some sensational revelations

Negatives: Reads like a script, a couple of excruciatingly unbelievable revelations, a bit too modern story