- 1 x YA Coming of Age
- 1 x YA Fiction
- 1 x Fantasy
As I’ve been quite busy this month, I think reading two novels and a play can be classed as a success. I began by reading ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ by JK Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, which I read in one sitting. There are going to be many spoilers in the review for this; you have been warned. I also read ‘Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe’ by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, which I wrote a full review on earlier in the month that you can read here instead (four out of five stars), and ‘We Were Liars’ by E. Lockhart, which I had some fairly strong negative opinions about (two out of five stars). Again, I discussed this novel briefly in a previous post, so I will just reiterate that on the whole, it was slow, had characters that I cared little for, and had one of the most irritating and disjointed writing styles I have ever read.
This leads me on to my spoiler-full discussion…
‘Ethel. Cancel the goblins’. Possibly my favourite line from ‘The Cursed Child’; it has no bearing on the plot, makes very little sense, but absolutely cracked me up. That was part of the reason I absolutely adored this play; it retains the copious amounts of humour that you would expect from a Harry Potter novel, whilst seamlessly incorporating the darkness that we are well aware prevails through the original seven stories. Its tone is so quintessentially Harry Potter that it felt hard not to feel immediately at home as soon as I read the first line.
The plot of the play primarily follows Harry and Ginny’s son Albus Severus Potter (I won’t get started on how terrible these two are at naming children, that would take up a whole other blog post entirely), as he tries to cope with the burden of carrying his family’s name, whilst dealing with the fact that he is not like the rest of them. To begin with, he is a Slytherin. The very thing that he openly fears, he becomes. Secondly, his best friend is Scorpius Malfoy, son of Draco Malfoy, who also often crops up in the play making many unexpectedly well-meaning speeches about the need for his son’s happiness and the importance of friendship. JKR, you win at character development every time. Scorpius and Albus’ journey is central to the storyline as neither fit in, either with the rest of the school or with their own family legacies. I honestly think that their friendship has to be classified as one of the best elements of the play; it is so naïve, hilarious, and most importantly, real.
Friendship and family, I would say, are the two major prevailing themes of the play and yet another reason it echoes the original series but also provides a perfect follow-on. It is pretty safe to say that Harry and Albus do not see eye to eye on absolutely anything, leading to some questionable statements by both of them said in anger. This serves to push Albus over the edge, and leads him to go on his dramatic time-travelling journey to save Cedric Diggory (of all people? It was a bit random). This doesn’t sound like the natural course of action for a kid who just had an argument with his dad, but then I suppose a lot of the events in Harry Potter could be classed as out of the ordinary. I must admit, some of the statements made by Harry seem very out of character in many instances, although I think it’s important to remember that this is nineteen whole years after the Battle of Hogwarts and we have no idea what traumatic memories that may conjure. In saying that, it in no way justifies the way he acts towards his son and some of the actions he takes, but it does provide an insight into further development of Harry’s character.
Now, I cannot possibly do a review of TCC without mentioning THAT PLOT TWIST. Voldemort and Bellatrix’s daughter? I was not ready, not in the slightest. I knew that something was up with Delphi throughout however I think JKR’s red herring of hinting at Scorpius’ ancestry was so clever and effective that I honestly did not see the truth coming. Looking back, I still can’t quite decide how I feel about it; on the one hand it is completely uncharacteristic of Voldemort to show desire for something other than his own gain, however in many ways I interpreted Delphi as simply another horcrux. If Voldemort had a child, surely part of him would live on, and therefore provide a gateway for him back into the living world? This theory provides a realistic explanation of the events, as I’m well aware that many people saw this twist as so unlikely and purely incorporated for the ‘shock value’. This leads on to the insane dystopian parallel universe in which Voldemort won and everything went terribly. Structurally, this chaotic switching between present and other, not-so-desirable present reflects well on how essentially chaotic the play itself is. Thankfully, I think all those who pick up the play are so well acquainted with the Harry Potter universe already, which makes it far easier going, and I did not have any problems with its form as a play whatsoever. In many ways, I felt that this added to the series greatly as another novel would forever be seen as the ‘eighth book’, whereas the play format gives people the freedom to interpret the bearing that its events had on the series as a whole for themselves.
I did give the play five out of five stars, purely because I was absolutely hooked and had to read it in one sitting, I felt as though many aspects although unrealistic did seem to slot in with the events from the original books, and I absolutely adored Albus and Scorpius’ relationship.
And that’s it for my reading in August! We’re well past the midpoint of the year now (somehow?!) but I’ve only read 15 of my goal of 30 books for this year, so I’m hoping to get a move on soon. September is most likely going to consist of reading for classes and coursework, but I do at least hope to finish ‘Outlander’ by Diana Gabaldon on top of this.
First Book for September: The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter
Have a great day!