If there would be an award for the most overly hyped-up Book this 2016, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child would definitely, hands-down, be the winner. It will no longer be a surprise if this book will be this year’s best selling book. I have to be honest, I have only read the first book in the series. I am late in the Harry Potter bandwagon. I know it’s a shame but I have watched all the 8 movie adaptations so I guess that’s already enough, right? That’s a joke, of course. Believe me, reading books 2 to 7 is one of my top priorities in my reading career. I have all the physical copies of the books and I have every intention of reading it soon.
Prior to the book’s release, everyone got so super excited and that excitement became very contagious. In the blogosphere, there were read-alongs and read-a-thons of all the first 7 books, Harry Potter related book tags and a lot of other Harry Potter related posts. And when the book was eventually released, like a tradition, there were midnight release celebrations and costume parties. Here in the Philippines, bookstores opened up early and there were some activities in the launching of the book. If there’s one word for it, that will be: festive. Waiting for over 9 years for a new book to be releases, well, I can’t blame them. For someone who just watched all the movies and have only read the first book and is excited, how much more those fans who already read and adored all the books and had been there during every book release. I understand why they couldn’t get enough. Everyone wants to relive the magic. Everyone wants to experience reading about the characters again that they grew up with. Everyone is excited to know what happened next. And I myself who finally read the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, it was a bittersweet experience.
Different from the first seven books, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is written in script form. This book is a ‘Special Rehearsal Edition Script’ of parts one and two of the play currently being played in London. J.K. Rowling was assisted by Jack Thorne for the story with John Tiffany directing the play.
This part contains minor spoilers. Continue at your own risk. The book picked up where it left off from Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows. In the first scene we find the now husband-and-wife Harry and Ginny 19 years later at Platform 9¾ at the King’s Cross Station with their children, James, Albus and Lily. James and Albus Potter are on their way to to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Their first child, James Potter, is now on his second year and their second child, Albus Severus Potter, on his first year. We then meet Ron and Hermione, who’s also accompanying their daughter, Rose, and we also got to meet Scorpius, Draco Malfoy’s, son. It was a surreal experience to be plunged back to Harry’s world. It’s only the first scene but I couldn’t help but get emotional a bit. I realized how I really miss the characters. The three main characters are now living new lives with their new professions. Harry is now Head of Magical Law Enforcement, Hermione is the Minister of Magic and for Ron, he runs her brother’s Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes.
The book basically follows the relationship of Harry and his second son Albus Severus, named after Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape. Harry is having a hard time with Albus’ behavior who feels pressured by being the son of the famous The Boy Who Lived. With no father figure to draw upon, it became hard for Harry to understand his son. Being the only one in the family sorted in Slytherin made matters worse as Albus felt like he was different. Harry tried connecting to his son but to no avail. Having no one to connect to, Albus formed an unlikely friendship with Draco’s son, Scorpius, who’s also sorted in Slytherin. Both of which consider themselves as outcasts. Albus being always mocked around for not being good enough like his father and Scorpius who according to rumors is the son of Voldemort. They formed a special bond that no rumor was able to break.
Albus and Scorpius clicked the moment they met. Scorpius is this geeky optimistic boy with his dry jokes and quips while Albus is this gloomy type of boy with a somewhat reckless attitude. Their friendship was totally developed in the book. They really do compliment each other. I was just wishing that the book could’ve added Rose with the two. They could be like the next trio.
The plot of the story took off with a discovery of a Time-Turner, long believed to have all been destroyed. If you remember, Hermione used it in the third book, the Prisoner of Azkaban, to attend multiple classes in the same hour and later on was used by Harry to save Sirius Black from being executed. Cedric’s father’s request to go back in time to change history and bring back his son who died at the Tri-Wizard tournament was seen by Albus as a way to prove himself and to remove himself from the shadow of his father. What ensued after is an epic adventure that moved between different time periods. As Harry’s relationship with his son continues to worsen, new secrets and revelations were discovered. Harry’s having nightmares warning him about the safety of Albus and his scar hurts again. It became a race through time as the presence of the devil that they believed to be long dead was felt again. Will Harry be able to make amends with his son or will it be too late? In their quest to prove themselves, Albus and Scorpius teamed up with a mysterious woman who may or may not have a hidden agenda. It became a question if they will succeed in their quest in altering history or will they make things worse with their actions backfiring at them leaving them stuck in a different time period. It became a question of whether Albus and Scorpius will choose the right decisions. But the greatest question is: Is Voldemort really still alive? Dead characters reappeared. New faces were introduced. Past choices were questioned. Relationships were tested.
Let’s talk about the characters. It’s fascinating how the the three main characters of the first 7 books, Harry, Hermione and Ron, have grown in this book. It took me some time to process and fully internalize that the characters who once were kids and teens are now parents. Despite that, time was not able to erase their trademark personalities. Harry is still this reserve guy when not in action, Hermione still has this strong character, always logical and determined and Ron who is still this quirky fun guy who lightens up whatever situation they’re in. Parenthood somehow made their characters evolve into being these wise-speaking characters. The bond between them is still there. And yes, Draco, he’s really the character that I was so surprised about. His concern for his son’s safety and his unconscious efforts to be close to his son is just so cute and heartfelt. It was so good to see a different side of Draco this time. I really like how the author made the original character’s transition. It’s how I expected and wanted it to be.
Time became central in the story. The time travel fiasco give readers a lot of what-ifs and what-could-have-happened scenes. What if this character died. What if that character survived. The interplay of scenes became not at all too confusing not to be understood even if it moves on different time periods. Spoiler: On one of their time travelling adventures, Albus and Scorpius met Snape. That for me was that most memorable part of this book. When Snape helped Scorpius escaped and he uttered: “Tell Albus – tell Albus Severus – I’m proud he carries my name.” That’s really the part that hit me the most. It is very compelling and made me very emotional. The time travelling aspect of the story though might not work for some who are new to Potterverse. Familiarity with the previous stories will actually help to better understand this book as there were personalities and events from the previous books that became part of the plot line and the world in this book was already vaguely described.
Reading the story differently, now as as a script, still worked for me. It was easy to read and follow. As for the story, at some point, yes, I felt like I was reading a fan fiction but after finishing it, I realized that it’s not. I was still able to see from it Rowling’s detailed prose. J.K. Rowling’s style of writing still emanates from every line. Thorne and Rowling really did a great job in making the flow of the story very smooth. Reading it made me nostalgic. The writing is very immersive and I couldn’t stop myself from reading despite knowing the fact that I don’t know when will be the next time that I’ll be reading a chapter in Harry’s life. I like the way it was crafted and how the past and the present entwined at the ending.
Because the Harry Potter series has this multi-protagonist format, it’s understandable for me that it will be hard for a 330-page play to develop all the characters. A lot were expecting the re-appearance of characters that they enjoyed in the previous books. A lot of people were expecting answers for their questions. Upon knowing that this book will be in script-form, I already lowered down my expectations because being in play form, there’s a lesser chance that a lot in the Harry Potter universe will be explored. I expected that some characters won’t appear for long and some scenes will be short and surely only the important events will be highlighted. Furthermore, only a few of the characters will be developed (and in this book, it’s Harry, Albus, Draco and Scorpius). That, I believe, helped me still enjoy the book. You’ll totally be disappointed if you are expecting it to be like before wherein the characters grow with a very detailed description of their lives and their quests. Here we see Albus move from his first day at school to his fifth year at Hogwarts in just a couple of pages. For me, it was only the format that was changed. I was still able to feel the Harry Potter vibe that I was expecting to feel from it. I am just happy to have a glimpse of their world again.
This book is definitely a must read to all Harry Potter fans. It has the right amount of thrill, with the twists and turns, drama and humor that I really enjoyed. It has strong themes about family and friendship that will remind you why you are a Harry Potter fan. This is one of the few books that I hugged after finishing it. We’ll never know when will the next book come out or if there will be a next book that will come out. I’m not losing hope that this won’t be the last book in the series, though J.K Rowling already announced otherwise.
PS: Please bring the play here to the Philippines!
5 stars out of 5.
What’s you most memorable Harry Potter experience? What re your thoughts about Harry Potter #8? Did you also enjoy it? Let me know your thoughts.
Author: J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, John Tiffany (director)
Part of a Series: Yes (Volume #8)
Release date: July 2016
Publisher: Little Brown UK
No. of Pages: 330 pages
About the Author
J K (Joanne Kathleen) Rowling was born in the summer of 1965 at Yate General Hospital in England and grew up in Chepstow, Gwent where she went to Wyedean Comprehensive. Jo left Chepstow for Exeter University, where she earned a French and Classics degree, and where her course included one year in Paris. As a postgraduate she moved to London to work at Amnesty International, doing research into human rights abuses in Francophone Africa. She started writing the Harry Potter series during a Manchester to London King’s Cross train journey, and during the next five years, outlined the plots for each book and began writing the first novel. Jo then moved to northern Portugal, where she taught English as a foreign language. She married in October 1992 and gave birth to her daughter Jessica in 1993. When her marriage ended, she returned to the UK to live in Edinburgh, where “Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone” was eventually completed and in 1996 she received an offer of publication. The following summer the world was introduced to Harry Potter.”Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” was published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books in June 1997 and was published as “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” in America by Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic in September 1998.The second title in the series, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”, was published in July 1998 (June 2, 1999 in America) and was No. 1 in the adult hardback bestseller charts for a month after publication. “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” was published on 8th July 1999 (September 8, 1999 in America) to worldwide acclaim and massive press attention. The book spent four weeks at No.1 in the adult hardback bestseller charts, while “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” simultaneously topped the paperback charts. In the US the first three Harry Potter books occupied the top three spots on numerous adult bestseller lists.The fourth book in the series, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” was published in Britain, the USA, Canada and Australia 8th July 2000 with a record first print run of 1 million copies for the UK and 3.8 million for the US. It quickly broke all records for the greatest number of books sold on the first weekend of publication. The fifth book in the series, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” was published in Britain, the USA, Canada and Australia on 21st June 2003. Published in paperback on 10th July 2004, it is the longest in the series – 766 pages – and broke the records set by “Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire” as the fastest selling book in history. The sixth book in the series, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”, was published in the UK, US and other English-speaking countries on 16th July 2005 and also achieved record sales.The seventh and final book in the series, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” was published in the UK, US and other English speaking countries on 21st July 2007. The book is the fastest selling book in the UK and USA and sales have contributed to breaking the 375 million copies mark worldwide.J K Rowling has also written two small volumes, which appear as the titles of Harry’s school books within the novels. “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and “Quidditch Through The Ages” were published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books and Scholastic in March 2001 in aid of Comic Relief. The Harry Potter books have sold 400 million copies worldwide. They are distributed in over 200 territories and are translated into 67 languages. (Photo and About the Author courtesy of Amazon)