Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling – A Book/Script Review

I admit that I can typically get caught up in a moment, but Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is my new favorite Harry Potter story.  If you haven’t yet read it, I urge you to do so.

Of course, it must be clarified that while this is in book format, it is not actually a book.  It is the script to the play currently being performed in England and hopefully soon headed to a US theater near you.  So, as one would expect, it reads like a play, not a novel.

With that being said, though, I found the script format a breath of fresh air.  I don’t need any more paragraphs devoted to the sorting hat or the train station – the script takes us right to the heart of the matter.

That word–heart–is something this particular story has in droves.  Is is nineteen years after The Deathly Hallows.  Harry Potter is now an adult with children of his own.  His youngest son, Albus, does not quite find his legacy endearing.

Albus seems to be nothing like his father as he immediately befriends the son of Draco Malfoy and lands in the Slytherin House.  Yet, Harry does not quite seem like himself either, for when it comes to Albus and he, Harry is less than heroic.

This story became my new favorite Harry Potter tale because it shows us a deeply flawed, and relatable, Harry Potter.  Just as his earliest readers are now adults, he struggles with the very same issues we do, especially as parents.

Furthermore, the story is far more complex than I ever expected with relationships fraught in tension, difficult moments between children and parents, and even more potent experiences between friends than I imagined.  Harry Potter’s world and family are far from perfect, and, frankly, I found such conflict vastly interesting and fun.

In fact, the story itself is more ambitious than I believed it would be.  Beyond the very realistic problems each character faces with friends and family, the story itself delves into time travel and alternate realities which allows for old favorites to reappear in logical, if not permanent, ways.

Nothing unfolds the way you would assume in The Cursed Child.  Harry is not the perfect father, nor is Albus the perfect son.  Unlikely friendships are forged even as difficult sacrifices must be both accepted and allowed.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a complex, mature tale firmly rooted in the realty of family life even as it breaks new ground in the realm of fantasy.  It is funny, exciting, heart-breaking, adventurous, and emotionally authentic.  I loved the script and I can’t wait to see the play.

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Harry Potter VS. Harry Potter

So as you may know, I’m a high school English teacher.  I’m currently teaching an amazing class called Modern Fiction in which (mostly) seniors get to read novels of their own choosing throughout the semester.  It is a beautiful course because I get to witness firsthand young adults falling in love with reading again.

Interestingly enough, when I finally decided to read the Harry Potter series last spring, I noticed that most of my high school seniors had not read them.  This shocked me, because even five years ago virtually every student I talked with had read part—if not all—of the series if not all.

When I asked my seniors both last year and this year why they hadn’t read the books, they told me they’d seen the movies, they didn’t need to read the books.

Honestly, I really couldn’t get upset by that statement because I’m guilty of it myself in regards to Lord of the Rings.  I saw the movies before I tried to read the books, and I consequently couldn’t get into them.  I think it’s because I already knew the “big beats” and felt impatient to read other books.

Ironically, I finally decided to read the Harry Potter series out of respect to JK Rowling, for she influenced a generation of young people and contributed to their love of literature and I’ll always be thankful to her for that.  Now, though, it seems as though that influence has drifted away due to the movies, and while it’s too bad, it’s understandable.

What do you think?  While we all agree that the books are generally better than the film adaptations, does seeing the movie before reading the book lessen your likelihood to check out the source material?

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – A Movie Review

Let me get this out in the open before I begin: I have never read a Harry Potter book.  Therefore, the sum of my Harry Potter knowledge is completely and utterly derived from the films I’ve watched and from what my wife, who is an avid fan, tells me. 

I’ve seen all the Harry Potter movies, and while I didn’t particularly care for the first two, I quite enjoyed the third installment.  I imagine this is because the tones were a bit darker and more mature, plus, who doesn’t love a werewolf? 

So, while I wasn’t overly anxious to see this fourth segment, I was mildly looking forward to it, which I think makes me as objective as anyone can be when it comes to Harry Potter. 

I was not disappointed with the film, nor did I feel I had wasted my money, but I was not overtly electrified either.  The film very rushed and jumbled, and while I never considered myself lost, I knew that there were rather integral portions of the story that were omitted for time’s sake.  My wife later went into great detail about those left out sections, confirming my suspicions. 

The film was entertaining, but it seemed to lack a depth to the characters that was prevalent in the third film, you remember, the one with the werewolf.  There were incredible special effects, and the acting, what little was required, was sublime with highly esteemed adults and adequate teens. 

My fear is this: Harry Potter is going the route of a special effects carnival rather than focusing on what so many fans fell in love with immediately, which was, of course, the clear characterization and thorough narration.  I think the Goblet of Fire has begun that downward spiral.  However, it’s not too late.  Perhaps they can go back to what people love most about Harry Potter, and that his character.

On a side note, I’m very irritated with Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books.  Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but did she not sign a seven picture deal for all her books to be adapted to film, and didn’t she do this somewhere around the release of the third book?  Regardless of when the deal was made, it certainly happened before her last few books had come out, and they have been gargantuan in size.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not one to shy away from a big book, but if you know your books are going to be made into films BEFORE you write them, wouldn’t you feel some responsibility to the fans to make them short enough that they could be adapted to film without 75% of the book’s content being omitted?  I feel that if she signed the deal before the books were even written, she should make them manageable enough to be converted to film without the fans that do read the books being disappointed by the many cuts and the fans that don’t read the books having to fill in the gaps on their own.