“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” Disappoints Fans

cursed-childWhen Harry Potter and the Cursed Child hit best-seller lists last week I expected that a lot of fans would be angry when they discovered it was a script rather than a novel.

It turns out that readers were less upset about the story format than the fact that they paid $15 to $18 for what was basically a rough draft of the story.

Cursed Child has been out for just under 24 hours, and it has already racked up nearly 400 reviews on Amazon.com, including 124 one- and 2-star reviews. With an average rating of 3.5 stars, over 30% of the reviewers have given the script book a negative review (the percentage is higher if you factor in the disappointed 3-star reviews).

At the time of writing this post, there are far more 1-star reviews than 3-star or 2-star reviews.

Citing everything from plot holes to bad dialog, retcons, an overuse of time travel, and Mary/Gary Sue characters,  readers express regret for wasting their time and money.

harry potter reviews Amazon

Here is a selection of the higher rated reviews:

  • Plot holes that Hagrid could fit through and over-wrought writing. ... With the greatest deus ex machinas ever, polyjuice potion and a time turner, the writing team still wrote themselves into a corner and ended up ignoring the rules of the world they created.
  • This script is being touted as "Book 8". Sadly, that's not what it is at all. JK ruined the characters by allowing someone else to "puppeteer" her characters which she slowly allowed to grow and thrive. It's proof that a "Book 9" won't be written, because she'll have to clean up what was essentially a ghost writer did to her characters.
  • I think casual fans will really like this, but if you're a big Harry Potter fan it's very disappointing. Years of character development are thrown out the window, and the plot holes are more like craters. Overall the dialogue is poorly written, the characters are over to top, and the basis of the plot is beyond ridiculous.
  • This play was not what i expecting. I want depth, i want character development, world building and an author who builds a story that captures my attention. This thing was none of them and I'm very disappointed in J.K. Rowling for even thinking this was acceptable. I've read fanfiction that had more depth in its first paragraph than the whole play had.
  • Fully aware that it's a script, not a narrative, that's not the issue. The 'story' itself, the plot, reads like straight up bad fan fic. Voldemort had a daughter with Bellatrix? lol. Established characters act completely out of character... Cedric a death eater? Yeah, just not. Harry having suffered much abuse by his aunt and uncle tells his own child that he is unwanted? Just no. Time turners are used over and over to fix the past? Contrived and a kinda soulless fix to revisit dead characters. Will forever love all HP books, but not this story that feels like a money grab because we as fans will buy anything, even this convoluted mess.

I have not read the book myself, but the reviews make t sound like the first and biggest problem is that the Cursed Child wasn't written by Rowling at all, and so it lacked the expected Rowling touch. The reviews have given me the impression that fans will soon be denying that this book ever happened (just like that XKCD comic strip).

That may change when the final version of the script book is published later this year, but it remains to be seen whether this mess will be salvaged by JK Rowling in a later book. The Cursed Child story may be rewritten as the stage play is tweaked to work better before a live audience, but Rowling has said that there will be no ninth Harry Potter book.

"He goes on a very big journey during these two plays and then, yeah, I think we're done. This is the next generation, you know," Rowling told Reuters. "So, I'm thrilled to see it realized so beautifully but, no, Harry is done now."

Some are taking that to mean that the series has ended, but a careful reading tells us that Rowling didn't say anything about the next generation, or the Harry's parent's generation. Rowling has left herself openings to write prequels or sequels - just not ones featuring Harry Potter.

Have you read the book? How would you have her fix it?

About Nate Hoffelder (11590 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

23 Comments on “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” Disappoints Fans

  1. I haven´t read this, but a few years ago while hunting the newly published 6th book I accidentally ran into a fanfiction novel which was soooo f*** good it even excelled the real 6th book later on! Harry´s mom´s corpse was found and Harry had the potion to revive her – but then Voldemort killed Ron (or was it Hermione?) and he had the biggest choice of his life to make. Man, that was gripping, well written, and apart from some very minor typos, the whole 500+ pages read like a real Rowling. Just after reading the actual 6th novel I realized it was fanfiction…

    So, to conclude: Your article reminded me of those days and feelings, and I only can feel sorry for all the fans for a complete turnaround here: An “official” HP book being soooooo bad… 🙁

    • Hi, that sounds really interesting – do you remember the name of the novel?

      • Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

        • Another vote. HPMOR.org for the full thing — it’s super long, and incredibly detailed and enjoyable.

        • Nope, that´s not it, sorry. And another sorry, it wasn´t the 6th book it was supposed to be, it was actually the fifth, The order of the Phoenix!

          It kept me thinking as well after writing my comment… and as I recollect now, I was actually looking for “Order of the Phoenix” when it still wasn´t available in my country.

          And then I seemingly found it on the internet (and oddly, for free) and started reading and was actually really happy with it.
          And now I remember the title, because “The order of the Phoenix” was some secret society and they had this powerful magic item which could only be used ONCE and it somehow got to Harry. So there he was, to choose between his mom´s corpse (which has been for some reasons brought to the final fight by Voldemort as I recall?) and… well, I think now that it was Hermione who died in the fight and Ron begged his friend to revive the love of his (Ron´s) life. And so Lily stayed dead in the end.

          Yes, something like that… 🙂 Sorry for being so vague, but it was such a long time (and many books) ago, and also, a few weeks later when I bought the book in my mother tongue (as I always intended to!) I´ve just realized that the “JK Rowling version” is in fact a completely different book!!! Imagine my disbelief, and then excitement, that I get two equally good books at a time when only one has been officially published… 🙂 Well, and then the original “Order of the Phoenix” of course overwrote most of the memories from the “first version”.

          Actually, for months I´ve kept thinking that it was somehow a very elaborate first version of the 5th book, written by Rowling herself and then she omitted it but it got somehow out on the internet. The writing style was soooo similar…!

          Anyways, to conclude, a search for this fanfiction might turn out to be quite difficult, since it was actually published under the title of the original book… But I would gladly re-read it one day, so if anyone has a clue…?

  2. Too many people don’t understand that plays and movies are collaborative performances. The script is typically little more than a roadmap for the director and actors to flesh out the narrative. Tone, pace, characterization, even dialog are all areas where the performers contribute and even override the author. So anybody expecting an experience even remotely comparable to a full novel is bound to be disappointed. This outcome was a given.

    As for more Potterverse stories, that is a given:
    This november we’ll be seeing the first of a trilogy of Potter-free wizarding world movies. And the trailers are quite promising and most of the promise is precisely because they are Potter-free.
    Rowling is moving on from Potter. It might be a good idea if fans did, too. Harry’s story is done but his world goes on…

    • I always thought the worldbuilding was the weakest part of the Harry Potter books. Cute enough in the earlier books, but harder to buy as the characters (and the books) matured and the stories grew darker but the magical world stayed silly.

      • The cursed child was supposed to be only a play. But since it only plays in london and sold out really fast, they decided to sell it for extra money as book. Yes there are some plotholes in the story, but the play was amazing nonetheless. Stage, costumes, actors and special effects all were great! By far the best play I have seen. Of course one would always wish more depth in their characters but the play was already 5hours long, I really dont know how they would have fit in more character developement without killing the audience…

  3. I think Rowling has been moving on from Potter many years now. I could see it in the quality of her pottermore writing and her tweets. Plus, I read that she was involved in the whole play. And, she was definitely involved in the development of the story before it was written by the writter of the play.

    It’s a pity. They’ve used a lot of brainpower to create a spectacular extravaganza of a plot that has nothing to do with the books. Nothing. No character coherency or mythology coherency.

    But I am also hopeful about the fantastic beasts movies. At least it seems that Rowling was into them when she was writing them. Well, the screenplay at least. The pottermore background, not really.

  4. “Have you read the book?”

    Yes, I’m afraid so.

    “How would you have her fix it?”

    It can’t be fixed, it can only be repudiated.

  5. I’m a hardcore potterhead and as thrilled as I was upon hearing about the 8th book in the series, I was sadly disappointed when I finally got to read it, a copy that I had waited in a queue until one a.m for it’s release just by the way.
    Once I began reading, I couldn’t turn pages fast enough and yes I finished the book in just a few hours but only inspired by nostalgic feelings of reading the previous books and also with hope that the book would blossom into something greater than what it had started out to be.
    I remember reading the epilogue to Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows and what I gathered from that was a happy ending for Harry and what seemed to be a close, loving relationship with his son Albus Severus Potter. Unfortunately the 8th book reveals the complete opposite. There were so many things in this book that I didn’t agree with or accept, not to mention some major flaws.
    The magical world is no longer described as the warm, wonderful place it used to be (even with the threat of Voldermort at that time). It just feels like a watered down version of the previous stories that could never match or even come close to their brilliance. I actually wish this book was never written, some things are best left unscathed in their greatness.

  6. I wanted to stop reading after only a few pages.I forced myself to read it all the way through, just in case I was missing something. Nope. To compare it to fan fiction denigrates fan fiction. This is utter drivel. The characters have had personality transplants, the laws of how the world works have altered, and the premise upon which it is based is so flawed. If you enjoyed the Harry Potter books, do not bespoil their memory with this.

  7. I love Harry Potter series so much. I was so exciting and courious about this book.
    But when I start reading this 8th story, I was so dissapointed, so sad.

  8. This is the book about which I can honestly say I want my money back! I believe that it was just a money grab from Harry Potter fans.

  9. First of all, I love all Harry Potter books since I was little, but the 6th one, not really. Maybe because the story connected with YA romance and darker themes while I was only ten years old when the book was released. But when I got older, I started to admire the 6th book, even though I still disliked romance. Like what you’ve said, some fans expected The Cursed Child as a novel, not script, including myself. I was so excited in the 31th July only to see my expected book to be released. However, it suddenly came to waste when I started reading the story. It was a big mess. Sure, it’s a fanfiction, like Wicked is also a ‘fanfiction’ to Oz books, but Wicked does a better excecution. My childhood friend and I used to create our own Potterverse with our imagination as a kid, to my surprise that our Potterverse had more senses than the entire Cursed Child play. In the other word, The Cursed Child is not that horrible, but it’s just bad as it doesn’t make sense with plot holes, forced storyline, and uncreative writing. I’m glad I lost my money for college than spent it for a book of dissapointment.

    • I too was greatly disappointing in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’s forced story line, gaping plot holes, and uncreative writing. Just out of curiosity, do you remember the senses you made in your imaginations as kids for your own Potterverse? I too played imaginary games as a child, however, I was an adolescent when the Harry Potter series came out.

  10. This book is an insult to the 7 actual Harry Potter books. This should be read as fan fiction. This book is an insult to the characters of Harry Potter, particularly in the cases of Snape, Draco, and Ron. They are written as if constantly being impersonated through someone else’s use of Polyjuice Potion. Harry Potter is a big part of my life, I was very hesitant to read this book because I was worried it would taint the magnificence of the series. It did, it’s awful. It makes no sense. It was as if the screen writers didn’t do their research. This book doesn’t move the story forward at all, it pulls it backward. When it was just a play, it could be considered a spin off. But to claim to be the 8th book of the series is a huge mistake.

  11. I can see why some fans have spoken out in disappointment about this book but I happen to think its “pretty good”. I like the idea that a time-turner can change history and manipulate past story events. I liked that multiple realities kept stacking on top of one another until the cluster was so big that time travelers were limited in terms of when they could go. I did not like the obsessive harping on the importance of friendship, the vaguely detailed difficulties Harry had with Albus (while totally disregarding his other children), or the totally rushed climax. I thought this book delivered a powerful, female, villain that was worth way more time than they gave her.

    -III
    http://www.amodernvillain.com/blog/2016/6/24/slytherin-gift-guide

  12. So disappointed with the many half empty pages in this Harry Potter book… such a waste of good trees

  13. please sign this petition if you are disappoint and want to reject Harry Potter and Cursed Child as sequel -> https://www.change.org/p/j-k-rowling-rejection-of-the-cursed-child-as-sequel-to-harry-potter

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