If you are a Harry Potter fan and have not heard about the new book, you have been probably hiding on a desert island somewhere. There have been lots of reviews floating around and I am not going to write some great one that changes people’s perspective on the book.
I thought it was a solid effort, with clearly evident input from other writers. It is written in a play format (since it is a play.) That is easy enough to get used to. Maybe it was just me getting used to the idea of a new story, but as the play went on, it seemed to find a more traditional Harry Potter voice.
But there was a hint of fan-fiction feel to it. That is not all bad. Fan-fiction can be good. But there is usually just a hint of ‘not quite’ to the story. I can very much see why some have compared it to Rainbow Rowell’s book Carry On. Carry On is a fake fan fiction book that Rowell actually wrote but was initially just part of one of her character’s stories. It is about a fictional series that was clearly influenced by Harry Potter. It feels like the Cursed Child was influenced by a fake fan fiction book that was inspired by the actual Harry Potter and that is a bit odd.
The story primarily concerns Albus (Harry and Ginny Potter’s son) and his best friend Scorpius Malfoy. Albus is in Slytherin and does not get along with his father. When a forbidden time turner is recovered by Harry (head of magical law enforcement), Albus convinces Scorpius to help him steal it and go back and save Cedric.
That is already quite a bit of spoilers. This book has more action by the adults than most of the Harry Potter books. But that makes sense because it is a play and because the readers are really wanting to know what happened to the beloved characters more than their children.
I liked it more at the end than I did at the beginning. And I think I like it more a couple days after I finished it, than I did immediately after I finished. So maybe it is nostalgia that is clouding my brain, but I do think it is worth reading. I am just not sure it is worth running out to purchase. There will be lots of copies in used book stores in the next couple months. There are already 3683 reviews on Amazon and 33% of them are 1 and 2 stars. It really isn’t that bad.
I have one real complaint, but it is spoiler-ish. So stop reading if you don’t want to get any spoilers.
The real authorial malfeasance is the strong hint of a romantic interest between Albus and Scorpius through much of the book. I am not objecting the possibility of a gay relationship between the two characters, but because the hinting of it throughout the book without proceeding on it minimized the actual friendship between the two. Rowling should be faulted for using the possibility of a gay relationship for controversy without actually being willing to carry through it. One of the basic rules of writing is that a mentioned gun, is a gun that will be used. So if you mention a gun and don’t use it, you need a good reason or you are an unreliable narrator.
In this case, Rowling became an unreliable author when she uses the hint of a gay relationship, does not carry through on it, and in the process misses the needed portrayal of an actual deep friendship between teen boys. It just re-enforces that stereotype that deep male relationships have to verge on romance.