Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - First Thoughts

This past Sunday was the day Harry Potter fans all over the world had been waiting for finally arrived. Midnight releases ushered in the 8th and probably final installment of the boy who lived's story, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The book is a script for the play that began running the same day of the release, July 31st (happy belated birthday, Harry and JK!). We have avoided spoilers as best as possible except for the 22 photos that were released of the actors on stage in London. Now that Darla and myself have read the book (we both finished it in one day) here are our initial reactions. Light spoilers ahead!





Derek

I basically grew up with Harry Potter. From the time I was about 14-years-old I had discovered the series in the "What's Hot This Summer" section of my neighbor's Seventeen Magazine. She was ten. I immediately had my parents drive me to Barnes and Noble where I picked up the titles that had been released, books 1-3. After that I had my entire family read them and we all waited impatiently for book four to be released where it was said that, GASP, someone will die! We fought over the one copy we purchased (I remember multiple book marks) and were hooked until book seven. We even saw the first movie together as a family on New Year's Eve. Cut to present day and my love for the series still exists especially since that was the first series I had ever finished. Seven books! As a youngin' those books were clunkers. I felt such pride finishing them and of course fell in love with all the characters. When I heard about this new book I didn't have the same excitement I had when I was young. I felt that maybe I wouldn't get it. I would wait. As the day drew near I could feel bubbles inside of me telling me I had to read it. I was in Niagara Falls this weekend with family and at 11PM on Saturday night I jumped on a random WiFi network on my Kindle and pre-ordered the book. I woke up to it downloaded, ready for my ride home, keeping my fingers crossed that whoever's WiFi that was will not steal my identity. I read the entire play in the car. As a kid I remembered feeling bogged down by a lot of the detail Rowling put into the books. They were SO BIG and so much of it was fun, but not necessarily needed for the main story line (sorry to Hermione and the House Elf Liberation Front). We now join our threesome in their 40's with kids of their own. Since this is a play it is very base level. Everything is driving the story and the emotion of the characters forward. No dilly dallying. No extra bits of story lines here! Rowling evolves her characters into their new adult lives well. She also keeps her bit of humor in there too. I remember watching my mother read the first books and actually LOL-ing before LOL was even a thing - something about Harry stepping on Uncle Vernon's purple face. I had a few good chuckles in the car myself this time around. Magic is alive and well and there is plenty of it in there. Was it the best in the series? Probably not. Was it enjoyable? Yes! Was I happy to revisit these characters and places I loved so much as a kid? Absolutely! There is a bit of nostalgia in here. I was younger when I first started reading them just like Harry and his crew and now while reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child I am older, just like Harry and his crew. Now you all know I have to go buy the physical copy to add to my collection, right?

Darla 

I was in 6th grade when I met Harry Potter. My first middle school friend had discovered the books and suggested I might like them too -- thanks, Victoria! I remember the day my mom and I went to pick them up at Barnes & Noble, the three-tiered cardboard display so demure compared to the bells and whistles that would accompany Harry's presence in the coming years. My friends and I fell in love and we fell hard. That year was formative for me in terms of my reading habits - it was the same year that, after seeing a cool-looking movie poster, I gave The Lord of the Rings a whirl. As with so many things when you're a tween, an unnecessary rivalry arose between people who liked Harry Potter better and people who liked The Lord of the Rings better. While I planted my flag firmly in The Lord of the Rings territory, it didn't really make me love Harry and the gang any less. Harry and I were the same age when I read Prisoner of Azkaban, and that does something to you when you're a kid. There's been a part of me ever since that knows it belongs at Hogwarts, kicking it with Hermione in the library. I was scared when I first heard about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, because I knew with certainty that the experience of reading it could never live up to reading the original seven. I had determined not to go to a midnight release party, because how could it possibly live up? But then my sister and I were in The Book Revue in Huntington one day and it turned out they were having a release party, and we signed up. I'm glad we did! It was heartening to see a new generation of kids, bleary-eyed with excitement over a book, stomping around in their Hogwarts robes and waving wands - and I was more than a little jealous that, being fans after the movies' success, everything they have is movie-accurate and officially licensed. Back in my day we had to sew our own robes, kids! (crooked seams, anyone?) I'm glad I picked up the book and read it, even though I didn't love it. It's missing that good old Rowling touch, and you can feel its absence throughout. I was holding out hope for an entirely new adventure, but in a lot of ways this play just re-hashes old Harry Potter escapades. Time travel shenanigans do not make for my favorite type of story, either, and Albus Severus fell flat as a character. But I did love a lot of things about it. Grown-up Hermione was perfect, and of the main trio, she is the most believably herself in adult form. I still want to be her friend. I also unexpectedly loved Scorpius Malfoy, with all his earnest, nerdy optimism. With kids like that in Slytherin, what's to hate? If Cursed Child comes to Broadway (and it almost certainly will), I'll definitely want to see it - the book describes stage effects that must be truly amazing to behold. How do you do Time Turners without CGI? Jo says that this is her last Harry Potter story, but I hope she's mincing words, and that the world of Harry Potter will be revisited even if Harry's not part of the story. Maybe in a few years we'll be back here on the blog reviewing the long-hoped for book about the Marauders? My fingers remain crossed!



What did you think of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child? Let us know down below!

1 comment: