I was unsure what to think of a new Harry Potter release after so long. So often when X thing gets done again 20 years later, it isn’t anywhere near the quality of the original and the fan base just gets angry. As with everything of this nature, I went in with low expectations, figuring it would be a nostalgia trip rather than something as anywhere near as good as the original.
As a result, I suspect I got more out of it than most people in the same way that I think I managed to get more out of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, X-files season 10 and Independence Day 2. Fortunately, it was a lot better than Independence Day 2 or the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but then, though I quite enjoyed the original ID4 and Indiana Jones 1 and 3 (2 is OK), I adored Harry Potter. I read the first four books four times in a row in the first 6 months I was even aware of Harry Potter. I read 5 and 6 within about 48 hours of their release and 7 within 12 hours. I have absolutely no idea how many times I’ve read them total as I lost count ages ago. I’ve actually worn out copies and had to replace them because pages fell out. I am actually in need of a third set at the moment.
Due to jet lag, although I did pick this one up the day of its release, I didn’t actually start this one until it had been out for a few days. Being a play though, it was a very quick read and I finished it in an afternoon.
I think being a fan of certain other things that not necessarily all Harry Potter fans are into, I was able to enjoy the primary genre of this more than I would imagine some Harry Potter fans did. The main thing that made it more palatable to me I think is my liking for time travel and messing about with time for narrative purposes. Being a big Doctor Who fan and a moderate Terminator fan, I can appreciate time travel being well used in a narrative and the bulk of this book is about time travel. The original Harry Potter series does use time travel to great effect in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, but not so much that you have to love time travel stories generally to still love Harry Potter.
I don’t think time travel was used as cleverly in this as the best of the two franchises mentioned above or in as well as in Harry Potter 3, but nor was it an especially poor use. It worked to power the incredibly nostalgia driven plot, revisiting all sorts of major moments from the originals. I’m not sure this book/play/script needed making. It didn’t really add much to the canon of Harry Potter, but then, I think that was a good thing. I think this was mainly created out of an understandable desire to revisit a world many of us know and love, but to find a way to revisit it without mucking about with the original too much.
I can also imagine, as it is a play, it is probably much better to actually see it on stage. That said, it read more easily than I expected. I hadn’t really sat down and read a whole script before, so I wasn’t sure how I would fare with the format, but that was fine.
Even though I don’t rate it anywhere near as highly as the original 7 stories, I am OK with that and I did enjoy it more than not due to not expecting it to be anything more than nostalgia. I am looking forward to the whole new batch of stories set in the Harry Potter universe that are sufficiently separate from the Harry Potter canon as I suspect something more properly amazing may be able to come out of them. I think it would have been impossible to do anything that actually touched the Harry Potter canon in a good way after all this time. I’m really glad they had the good sense to do a reset at the end. The original 7 were a perfectly crafted narrative just the way they were. I am glad they have been allowed to remain so. 🙂
Here is an extremely short video of us buying the book: