My rating: 4 of 5 stars
It’s so hard to write a review for this because all the feels and expectations and everything. It was not what I expected, and it was both more than I expected and less in some areas.
I thought the plot was completely fantastic. I was surprised in every act and liked the emotional dynamic between Harry and his son, Albus.
I did think sometimes that there was too much focus on emotional conflict in relationships and it just got in the way of the story. Although it makes it feel like a more grownup story, it creates a very different serious mood rather than the fun adventure plot we have in other HP books. There’s too much focus on relationships rather than actions and mystery and world-building magic.
The storyline is so good! I kept trying to figure out, Who is the “cursed child?” and I didn’t see it coming until the end. And all the problems from the past keep coming up and haunting everyone in their own individual ways, so that even while we have a new story, we’re also revisiting the old stories too.
I really loved the theme about darkness and where it comes from, what makes people evil and what makes people good. How something seemingly small can turn someone bitter to the point where they embrace evil. It’s deep stuff and comes up again and again with misunderstandings and mistakes, prejudices and rumors. Really good story-telling!
I wanted MORE Hermione. She’s such a central character in my mind, and although there’s lots of her and Ron and Ginny in this play… still I wanted more. I was relieved that Hermione is still herself, she talks and acts like the Hermione I know, just grown up. But still… it wasn’t the same. I wanted more witty one-liners from her. I wanted HER to be the one to solve the riddle with her intelligence and save the oppressed with her compassion and just be an all-around kick-butt amazing woman. Mostly she makes speeches.
I wanted Hermione to be MORE Hermione, if that makes sense. More “LeviOsa”. More punching Draco Malfoy. More “books and cleverness.” More “always the tone of surprise.”
I liked the interesting alternate realities changed by time, and it added suspense to think that Ron and Hermione weren’t together and we have to “make it right” and get them together again… but… not worth it to see what Hermione supposedly “could” have become.
I think that no matter the circumstances, no matter the time, no matter the reality, Hermione would still be OUR Hermione. She’s just too decided and compassionate a person to let herself become angry and bitter like that. Badly done writing. Boo. (hide spoiler)]
Same thing with Ginny. She mostly mopes around and sighs, “Oh Harry” in this injured tone. Where is the kick-butt snarky girl who grew up with a massive family of brothers? Where are the clever lines and the determined attitude? I mean, all that is sort of in there, but not to the degree I expected or wanted. She IS mostly like a grownup version of Ginny, so I don’t hate her or anything, but I am a little disappointed. (She sounds like “movie Ginny.” You know what I mean.) Here she kind of waits around for Harry to make the decisions and take action, and the Ginny I know jumps into the fight! Apparently, she’s mostly around to support Harry, not to actually do anything herself.
Ron is basically a pathetic fool, and the only reason people laugh at his lame jokes is because it’s him making them. The Ron I used to know is delightful, but maybe something is lost in translation with these lines. Maybe if I saw it being acted out, then it would be the same hilarious goofy Ron as always. Somehow his dialogue just comes across as sad and pitiful in most scenes. There has always been a fine line with Ron’s character, and it’s a delicate balance that was not well straddled here.
The only one who really seemed exactly himself was Harry. He’s still filled with angst about everything. He’s still awkward in relationships, and has difficulty showing his true self to people. He’s ready to sacrifice anything for his friends and family, but doesn’t do well in the small day-to-day things. He’s riddled with guilt about all the people who died for the Boy Who Lived. He deals pretty well with his celebrity status, but inwardly it gets to him. Same old Harry… Full of anger and angst and anxiety and guilt. Generous and idiotic, brave and loyal… that’s our Harry!
McGonagall is absolute perfection, as always. She commands a presence in every scene she’s in. Her dialogue is just exactly what McGonagall should be.
But where was Neville?!? He is mentioned a couple of times, but never appears. Where was Luna? She’s not even mentioned once. Where is Teddy Lupin? Poor Teddy, he is utterly forgotten it seems. Where are Arthur and Molly? All those delightful Weasley brothers? I supposed in one short play, they couldn’t include every single character we know and love, but I did miss them.
I loved that the children have their own definite personalities! They are not cookie-cutters of the Golden Trio. They have their own stories as separate people.
Albus goes through much of the book trying to assert that he is different from his dad, Harry.
Rose and James and Lily all seem to jump into Hogwarts life with a relish, their own little school concerns on their minds.
Scorpius, especially, is so entirely different from our preconceptions of what a Malfoy must be. He surprised me with every line he spoke!
Their unique personhood was brilliant writing!
So overall, I liked it. I loved the plot line. I was disappointed in some of the characters, but mostly liked them all. I read it all in one sitting. It grabbed my attention and my heart-strings. I cried twice! It’s a good book!