Friday, August 19, 2016

No New Tale to Tell

First off - if you plan on reading the 'new' Harry Potter book, you might want to skip this post. I will give no spoilers, but I will take no prisoners either.

Secondly - I get that this was written as a play, and not a novel. I try to distinguish between the two. But when you've got a series of seven novels behind you, it's hard not to take some of that into this new territory.

I purchased the book the first weekend it came out, but hung on to it until vacation, that I would read it while lounging around. As it turns out, it is a quick read: maybe five hours over a 24 hour period. It took more energy to lug the book (yes, a physical book) to the beach than it did to read it cover to cover.

While J.K. Rowling has top billing, I'd suspect (or would like to) that this is because Potter is her creation. Her writing or storytelling has never been this weak. So I also suspect that the damage is mostly done by "co-authors" John Tiffany and Jack Thorne.

There was potential with the Cursed Child, they just never ran with it. The authors found it more important to use past references - and dialogue - as exposition for those who might come to see the play who have never read, seen or heard of Harry Potter. It's frightfully annoying.

Taking place 19 years after the Battle of Hogwarts, it basically picks up at the end of the Deathly Hallows....right at the train station. I won't go into details, but most of the major players show back up - even in and after death. Apparently, the authors were not confident enough in their storytelling - or their audience - to craft a tale without resorting to popular constricts. I suppose maybe the box office would be stronger with that familiarity, but the idea is weaker.

Had the three authors developed the would-be story, the Cursed Child would have been a great companion piece to the Harry Potter series. But they didn't.

Again, no spoilers: two of the main characters are the sons of Harry and Draco Malfoy. But Scorpius (yes, I know....but we have to live with that name), isn't Hermione in terms of being an overachieving student, yet he somehow has this knowledge of Hogwarts, history and Harry down to the minutiae. And he pulls out the slightest detail at times of great duress. Again, this is all to recall aspects from most of the previous seven texts. It's allegedly to bring context to the current story, but it's just to back-fill their non-story.

And what 13 year old kid says he want to "seduce" a girl. I found it profoundly creepy. It's a toss-away line almost, but yet here it is....sticking with me.

Even with the "new" story, most of it has been done before. But since they borrow so heavily from the others, the new part seems highly diminished.

The Cursed Child is not a fitting companion piece. It's a money-grab. Plain and simple.

Song by: Love & Rockets

1 comment:

Michael Dodd said...

When I worked as a librarian, I often had patrons complain that a favorite author had lost his touch. They had loved his first forty books (tells you a lot!) but the last few had been unsatisfying. I pointed out that the books they disliked were written by "FAVORITE AUTHOR" always in large print and "Relative Unknown" in a much smaller font underneath. Which meant, most likely, that Favorite Author might have come up with the original concept, handed it over to Relative Unknown who did the actual writing and then Favorite Author might have done a quick edit/revision/rewrite before the publisher marketed it under the best-selling name. Such people no longer were authors, they were a marketing tool. Not exactly dishonest, but as someone who has published and who has worked in the publications business, I assure you this happens.