Oh, man, I have just been dreading writing this review, almost as much as I dreaded reading this book. I refused to pick it up for the longest time. I just couldn’t. It didn’t feel right. For a while I thought I might not read it at all; I was happy with where the story ended, and the little tidbits Jo threw out every once in a while on Twitter or Pottermore. But then my stupid curiosity monster got going, as it always does, and I tried to pick the book up, but only got about a sentence in before I noped out of there. The same thing happened a month later. Finally, I saw Fantastic Beasts and something about that pushed me over the edge, and then this was sitting on the Express shelf at the library . . .
So before I start talking about why I am two-starring an official Harry Potter story (WHY UNIVERSE WHY), I didn’t hate everything in this script. So I will try to be positive first with the things I thought worked and weren’t heinous.
Spoilers spoilers spoilers. SPOILERS AHOY.
I’ve read a shit ton of reviews on this thing at this point, and nearly all of them agree on at least one thing: Scorpius is a sweet baby angel child, and he is the lone true bright spot in this very disappointing story. Scorpius by himself is great, his relationship with Draco also great, and his friendship with Albus was the best relationship in the script. I also liked that Albus actually turned out to be a Slytherin. Even though I’m a Hufflepuff through and through, which is basically the exact opposite of a Slytherin, I appreciated seeing that not all Slytherins are evil dirtbags. I liked the name of the bad guy in Act IV (The Augurey); I just didn’t like who it turned out to be. And I liked against my will all the different alternate timelines created by Albus and Scorpius but that’s just because liking alternate timelines is hardwired into my DNA and I can’t even help it. Also I cried at Snape.
And that’s pretty much it.
So here’s what I didn’t like: Pretty much everything else. But in particularly, I didn’t like that it relied so much on past events without really adding anything new like all the Potter books before it did. The original books were impeccably plotted and emotionally keyed. This was not. It felt like fan service, a re-tread, all the negative things people have been saying about it in regards to that area I don’t think are unwarranted. I appreciated what it was trying to do with Harry and Albus—a perfect relationship wouldn’t make for a very interesting story—but it feels like character assassination to me, like they turned Albus into a little shit and Harry into a terrible father just so they could make up and have that happy ending (which I do admit I teared up at). I hated the way their sweet relationship at the end of Deathly Hallows morphed into what it did, I hated that Voldemort had a secret daughter; it’s so overplayed and cringeworthy, and just ugh, terrible. I hated them all going back to Halloween night in 1981. Hated it. I didn’t hate the portrayal of Ron, but I didn’t love it, either. And Cedric turning evil because he was embarrassed? Come the fuck on. And that’s just the stuff I can remember right now.
But honestly, even with all that stuff I still might have given it three stars, but the thing I hated most about this is the feeling of the writing. It didn’t feel like Harry Potter. People have been mentioning it feels like fanfic, and that feels accurate, because it doesn’t have the same voice as HP. It reads like someone else trying to re-create that world. I could tell INSTANTLY that Jo didn’t write this. Instantly.
I will acknowledge that this is a script and not meant to be read, and I might enjoy the play better, with lighting and costumes and music and the nuance that actors bring, but honestly, if I do ever see it, I can’t see myself liking it much more than three stars worth because a lot of what I didn’t like will still be there.