Class Reunion [Harry Potter and the Cursed Child]
(Note: the first part of this post’ll be spoiler-free. I’ll warn you before I get into anything spoilerish)
(Another note: It’s been two weeks since I read it, and I didn’t take notes, so this is probably not as detailed as I would like it to be. But I’ll write and post it anyway.)
This post had a name before I even opened the book. Because sitting there, about to open it, felt exactly like standing outside a restaurant in Big Town earlier this year, about to meet my high school classmates again for the first time in eleven years.
Those classmates did have some things in common with Harry, Ron, Hermione etc. – we met at a similar time in my life, we spent a similar amount of time together, and neither of them ever knew how important they were to me. The characters because, well, they are fictional, and my classmates because I was too shy to talk to them.
So, waiting to open that door, that book cover, meant wondering: how would it be to meet them again? Would it feel the same? Would I still like them? Would I even still recognise them? (And in the case of my classmates, what would they think of me now?)
The class reunion, by the way was awesome.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was… well. In some ways, it was similar to the reunion, in that it was good to see them again, even if there were some people missing that I would also have loved to see again. In that it was very different from anything we ever had before. In some moments of delighted laughter.
But while I enjoyed it, it wasn’t quite as completely awesome as the class reunion.
There was one single sentence I read about Cursed Child beforehand, and that was something along the lines of, “the spoilers make it sound like a bad fanfiction.”
And I agree. I have my issues with the plot. But I’ll save that for later on.
But on an emotional level, the story worked well for me. It felt very much like the difference between looking at the world as a kid, and looking at it as an adult.
It picks up where we left Harry with “All was well”… but it’s not. And that is, for me, one of the key differences between childhood and adulthood. The funny thing is that I’d just been discussing this topic with my best friend hours before starting to read: How as children and teenagers, we looked at each other’s families and only saw the happy things, only the “All was well.” And it was only as adults that we recognized how messed up the other’s family was.
And maybe that is the root of my problems with the plot as well: as a teenager, I was pulled into the story so easily and so deeply that I never questioned any of it. Maybe if I’d read the series for the first time as an adult, I’d have found it slightly ridiculous as well.
It’s kind of funny – while I was in school, I hated reading plays. I’d never have thought that ten years on, I’d rush to a bookshop on a Sunday, so eager to read one! It just doesn’t flow the way a novel does, and I do miss that, but it also makes me kind of curious how it would look on stage. Not curious enough that I’d want to go to London for it, but I do hope there’ll be a local production of it at some point.
And now, to the spoilers.
(I’m sure I’m forgetting some things here that I wanted to say, but oh well.)
I want to point out – even though I’m going to list some things I didn’t like – I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of reading it.
So, yeah. Like a bad fanfiction – I’m pretty sure I’ve seen plenty of Slytherin!Albus, even if I’ve never felt drawn to read it, and far too much Albus/Scorpius, and Rose/Scorpius, and yeah, Albus and Scorpius are “only” friends in this, but I can see how that could all too easily be turned into something else.
And I’m pretty sure “Voldemort and Bellatrix had a child” has to have been done before. (And you know… Delphi being the villain was pretty obvious to me.)
There was one point where I just burst out laughing, and was so glad I was just reading, not watching the play, because laughing at that point would have been utterly inappropriate. But I had this sudden, vivid memory of the first Harry Potter fanfiction I read (the first fanfiction I ever read at all), which involved Scorpius Malfoy and at least one of Harry’s sons getting into some trouble at Durmstrang… and Harry storming into the Headmistress’s office and yelling, “What do you mean, you’ve lost our sons in the sewers?!”*
I also didn’t like all the time-travelling and changing-the-present thing all that much. I much preferred the Prisoner of Azkaban sort of time-travelling, where doing anything in the past only caused the things that had already happened. (My best friend, currently working on some stories that involve time-travel, informed me that this is called self-consistency.)
So, what did I like?
- As said above, a family that’s not as happy and healthy as it might look from the outside. A child that feels angry and unhappy even though their parents are doing the best. Parents that don’t know what to do with their child.
- Slytherin characters.
- Who aren’t evil. (Even though I never really got a feeling for why Albus would have been such a good fit for Slytherin.)
- Malfoy, not being an antagonist. I never thought I’d grow to like him, but I kind of did.
- I spent several minutes laughing at Snape’s “How very irritating.”
And again, I’m sure I’m missing stuff.
But most of all, it’s making me want to read some old fanfic favourites again… all the Teddy Lupin and James Potter stories by Fernwithy (even if I’ll again get sad at the unfinished stuff in that ‘verse) and … I think it was called “A Little More Time”.
* More or less. The author moved on to being a professional writer and took down all her fanfics, so I can’t check.