By: Taylor DeVille, Staff Writer
Warning: spoilers ahead.
Like all avid Harry Potter fans, I counted down the days until “Cursed Child’s” release. Yes, I had high expectations—how could I not, after spending eight years wondering at the fate of characters I grew up with and loved like they were real?
I knew that the script wasn’t written by Rowling, but every reservation I had disappeared when I read her glowing dedication to Jack Thorne, the author. About a quarter of the way through the book, I realized that “Cursed Child” is not only a wildly disappointing follow-up to Harry Potter’s legacy, it’s just plain… not good.
So not good, in fact, that I’m having trouble figuring out where to even start.
Mostly, it felt like I was reading fan fiction—not only because of the underwhelming plot, but also because of the corny, flat dialogue—The members of the golden trio feel like shadows of who they were in the books, familiar but empty. Ron, especially, is a completely different character.
The owner of Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, his only notable attributes are that he tells terrible jokes, that he likes to prank his family and that he’s totally useless. Ron might have occasionally functioned as the comic relief in the books, but Thorne didn’t seem to know the first thing about him—and given that Rowling herself has explained that Harry and Ron become Aurors later in life, it just feels inauthentic.
Hermione was only slightly better. I have mixed feelings about her serving as Minister—on one hand, it seems like a natural progression for her, but on the other, the thought of Harry and Hermione as Ministry suits doesn’t sit well with me. My main issue with Hermione is the glimpse we catch of her in an alternate reality, one in which she and Ron don’t marry.
She’s painted as a mean, bitter Hogwarts professor with a reputation for being verbally abusive to her students. This idea that if not for Ron, Hermione would have never A) married someone else and B) launched herself into a successful career, is steeped in sexism.
And for all the ingenuousness she showed in the series, she hid a valuable, sought-after artifact in a bookshelf with no more than a few riddles to defend it. Come on.
And what about Harry? His dialogue was cheesy and unnatural and his parenting skills are questionable (at best), but my biggest issue with him was the fact that he spawned such a horrible, unappealing child—Albus.
Albus, the protagonist we’re supposed to empathize with and cheer for, is not much more than a spoiled, self-absorbed, sullen teenager. He treats his best friend, Scorpius Malfoy (the only redeemable part of “Cursed Child”), like his sidekick, putting his own feelings and needs first at any given opportunity.
Even when the two reconcile the events of the book, it doesn’t feel as though Albus has progressed as a character. His main functions were to continuously ruin the wizarding world just to prove something to Harry, and to over-explain everything, since Thorne seems to think his audience is unable to grasp simple concepts unless they’re spelled out at a fifth grade reading level.
And for those who argue, “You have to see it live to really experience it”—Yes, the special effects are reportedly incredible. But isn’t that kind of gimmicky?
Watching the moving staircases and witnessing Harry and Draco’s duel might be mystifying, but it doesn’t change the uninspired plot or the entirely one-dimensional characters.