Thursday, April 6, 2017

Letting My Harry Potter Freak Flag Fly + Thoughts on Cursed Child

Although I've briefly mentioned in countless posts how I was listening to Harry Potter in the car while commuting to work or on long road trips, I don't think I've ever fully let you all in on the extent of my Potter fan-dom.

Like other people born in the 80's, I literally felt like I "grew up with" Harry Potter---not just that I grew up reading the series, but that the books came out while I was around his same age, so it felt like this long-lost friend I was reading about every time a new book was released.

While I didn't get into the series right when the first book was published, I definitely was into Harry Potter hardcore by the time book four had come out. In fact, while I was anxiously awaiting around for Order of the Phoenix to be released, I was busy re-reading the whole series over again (about 20 times, in fact, and no, that number is not exaggerated).

My mom actually bought a board game based on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone when most of my family had finally jumped on board with the books, but after one family game night that ended in me outright crushing everyone in the game, I don't believe any of us ever played it again.

Later, while anticipation built up for books 6 and 7 to come out, I would have long, drawn-out conversations with my coworkers about our theories of how everything was going to end, each one wilder than the last, it seemed. I remember that the topic of whether Snape was inherently good or evil was one particularly debated topic, with my boss Bruce being a staunch supporter of his goodness while the rest of us weren't so sure (it was uncanny how many of Bruce's theories ended up proving correct, in the end).


However, as the years since the final book have been published have gone by and lengthened into nearly a decade now, I have discovered that I am not just any fan---

I'm apparently a Potter purist.

While some avid HP addicts consume everything and anything ever published or contributed to by Rowling (including all 8 of the movies made), I'm a bit more of a snob about the whole thing. Even though I did see all the movies (and even enjoyed some of them from about the 5th one on, to some extent), I have never been one to really love on the films, nor have I read some of the spinoffs Rowling published afterwards, like The Tales of Beedle the Bard or Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Basically, in my view, the series stands perfect just as it is, and I worry that any further additions would only tarnish it.

(For more evidence on how much I love the original 7-book series, I will tell you that I have been listening to books 1-7 on audiobook pretty much in a never-ending loop since about 2013, when I learned that the best way to fill my hour-long commute to and from work every day was with Harry Potter. I am currently listening to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, even though I no longer have a long commute every day and have listened to the whole audiobook series a good fifteen times or so by now. Matt and I actually have regular, in-depth conversations about minute details mentioned in the books, and I am firmly convinced that had I been sorted as an 11-year-old, I would have been in Ravenclaw, but as an adult I would have ended up in Hufflepuff.)

So when the screenplay for Harry Potter & the Cursed Child came out, I wasn't really torn initially on my feelings about it---I'd basically decided not to even give it a shot, afraid that, once again, it would only detract from the perfection of the series rather than add to it. (That being said, had the screenplay been written as a novel with the intention of adding to the series or starting a new second series, I would have been ALLLLL over it.)

But I finally gave in, put the book on hold at the library (number 63 on the list!), and waited.

Going in, my expectations were pretty low---for starters, the screenplay wasn't even really written by Rowling (it was adapted for stage from a story that was hers), and second, the format of it being meant for stage and not for the general reading pleasure of the public were both strikes against it from the beginning.

But even with low expectations, it was really hard not to roll my eyes at first at how melodramatic everything seemed, and it was hard to get used to the format of the switching characters and how quickly the action seemed to move along (without the buffer of written descriptions and explanations in between). I was disappointed that hardly any of the characters sounded like themselves and that some characters' voices were wildly unbelievable (like Severus Snape's and even Ron's, who was made out to be a complete idiot in order to provide the script with regular comic relief).

With that all said, I knew going in that the format was going to be a major stumbling block to me liking this book, but I tried to still go in with a semi-open mind.

And though I didn't LOVE either the characterizations or the overall plot of the book, there was enough in it that was funny and surprising and geeky candy for my Potter soul that I ended up not being sorry in the end that I'd finally given in.

My final word though?

I think I would have LOVED seeing this as just a fun stage production and would have wholeheartedly embraced it.

As a written screenplay with no performance attached, it was enjoyable and fun, but it wasn't anything I will associate with the series officially in my head.



Have you read The Cursed Child yet? What did you think?

6 comments:

  1. Ugh. The Cursed Child makes me ranty. I hated it. It felt like blasphemy.

    Also, I listened to the audiobooks all the time when I commuted an hour to work. Which was a good idea until everyone started dying and I was driving down the highway sobbing my eyes out lol

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  2. I liked it well enough and might really enjoy seeing the play. It doesn't really count as "Canon" to me, of the newer spin off things I think I liked the Fantastic Beasts movie a little better. My issue with fantastic beasts is with no children in it it doesn't quite feel like Harry Potter.

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    1. I've been thinking about this lately. Fantastic Beasts really depressed me and I didn't really understand why. Like of course the government was very different in America. But I think you're right- it just doesn't feel as magical from an adult point of view with adult problems.

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    2. Ha ha, I love that---not part of the "canon." What a great way to put it! And now I'm thinking that maybe I need to rent this Fantastic Beasts movie just so I can join in on the conversation :)

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  3. I've read through the first 5 or 6 books at least 20 times as well. Now that I'm older and busier it's so nice to go back and listen to the audiobooks, too. I can't wait for my kids to enjoy Harry Potter. Max had listened to the first 3 before he was 6 months old- Mom got a little more out of it though ;) I think it's so interesting that you changed houses as you got older. I'm a hardcore Ravenclaw who sometimes wishes I was a Hufflepuff. I just want to be like one. They seem to have all the best qualities in my opinion.

    I would prefer to see The Cursed Child rather than read it, but I read it when it came out and I enjoyed it for Potter entertainment purposes. When it comes to New York I'm going to make a big effort to go see it. Like Claire said, I don't really see all of it as "cannon". It does kind of hurt my heart a little that it's not perfect like it would be if Jo wrote it. I won't be re-reading it multiple times a year like I do with the original series.

    I would definitely recommend that you read Quidditch Through The Ages, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and Tales of Beedle the Bard. They don't "continue" the Potter story like The Cursed Child, they are just fun little tidbits that add on to the magic of the original story. It's kind of like if you read anything Rowling wrote on Pottermore. I used to get a kick out of reading Fantastic Beasts because it's Harry's textbook for school and it has little notes written by Harry and Ron in the margins and stuff.

    Ok I guess I will calm down about Potter now... Haha

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  4. I absolutely LOVED the Cursed Child ... I think because it took me back to the characters I missed so much. & going back to some of the original stories from the books... I thought it was smart. I would LOVE to see the play. My step daughter just went to London & wanted to see the play but the tickets were like an arm & a leg... OUCH.
    PS - you look ADORABLE!!!!

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Thanks so much for leaving a comment! I love reading your thoughts :)

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