Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Universe That Just Keeps Giving

Took a break from my library haul to read the book eeeveryone's been talking about (well some people) - Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.  Saw it in Batya's house (in CL, if you've forgotten or I haven't mentioned it :)) and was assured it was a quick read.  Expectations? Well I had already read a review of it that was somewhat positive, but heard some more negative feedback as well. So you know, not much.  Also, I'm somewhat out of the HP world - have only seen films 1-3, one time, read many of the books only once (though I have seen the end of the 7th movie (in a hotel this year, forgot whether in Mountain View or Florida) and I have read parts of the 7th book multiple times) - and I don't know them well enough to know all the ins and outs and tricky details etc. Or to care all that much, really. But I do care somewhat of course. And those details can be clever. So anyway, of course I was going to read this book.

So - yes, it's a quick read. It's a play, so much of the action is just missing (since we're not watching it).  But I think that was a plus in this case.  The point of this book was not so much to tell a story as to provide some final (or maybe not final, who knows) morsels of HP canon to the faithful, while not rocking the boat on the closure provided by #7.  So we knew that 1) we were going to see our old friends, as many as possible and 2) nothing was going to happen ultimately to wreck with that epilogue scene from the end of the series.  Because of 1), time travel was a natural choice, if a cheap device - if allowed reintroduction of characters like Snape (dead, of course) and the menace of Voldemort.  Time travel, though, being a cheap device, did tilt the story over in the direction of fan-fiction (what-ifs and whatnot).  From 2), we knew that all this wrecking with timelines would be solved to satisfaction, but I guess we knew that anyway.  Still, did somewhat remove the suspense...

A third element to the book's composition, which is predictable but maybe not as much, was the psychological exploration of Harry's psyche via his son.  The later books have gotten more into the those aspects of his character (and others, and and relationships, etc), so I guess it was natural that, from a distance of years, Rowling would go a bit wild with it.  It's all very plausible - honestly I don't think Harry was all that much of a likable character by the time we got through all his issues, and I guess making his son a Slytherin loner was good follow-through. If JK had wanted uncomplicated happiness, Harry and Hermione would have married. But I suppose this is a more interesting path.

So anyway, yeah.  Reads a bit like fan fiction, but quick and mildly clever in the time-travel solution.  If I liked the books more I'd probably have a stronger opinion one way or the other, but as it is, interesting follow up to well-written and engaging series. Would totally see the play.

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