Hi all! I know I’ve been MIA for the past few weeks but I had a very busy weekend two weeks ago when I went to London for my Harry Potter Studios trip with my friends and this weekend I was busy with work and my family, hence no Jo Talks posts for a few weeks (but I’ve been spoiling you this summer anyway, when I get back to Uni, it will probably be back to the usual schedule of two posts a month). I had planned on doing a different topic this week, but I decided since it was quite similar to my Hype discussion and this has been on my mind recently, so I decided I want to talk about it.
As you all probably know if you read my blog regularly, I am a big Harry Potter fan. Big seems like kind of a puny word to describe the size of my love for Harry Potter but it’s very difficult to describe your love for a series that was essentially your childhood, an author that you have always looked up to and aspired to be and a world that in essence started my continuing obsession with the fantasy genre. But alas, I don’t think a word out there exists to describe how much I love this series, so we’ll stick with big. So naturally, I was very excited when I heard about Cursed Child. Less excited when I realised that the book was just going to be a copy of the script, but still excited. I wish I could see the play, but alas, that’s unlikely. Anyway, that’s besides the point. The point is, I was excited that after so many years, my favourite author was adding another story to my favourite series.
At the same time however, that excitement comes with a lot of nervousness. And so here we are a month later and I still haven’t read Cursed Child. Not because I don’t want to read it, I do, but I’m really nervous after hearing all the mixed reviews. And I think another part of my nervousness to read it came from the fact that I felt like I was expected to review it afterwards (because I review everything I read) and I didn’t want to not like it and then have to review it and say I didn’t like it because that would break my heart just a little bit. Not liking something Harry Potter related is unthinkable to me at this point, so if I didn’t like it and then had to review it, well lets just say that would be a hard review to write. So that’s part of the reason why I’ve decided I don’t want to review it, I don’t want the pressure. I don’t want to feel like I have to like it because it’s Potter (though that pressure is kind of there already) and that I have to give a glowing review of it because I’m a Potter fan. I want to be able to go into Cursed Child and enjoy/not enjoy it without the pressure of having to share my opinion afterwards.
Another reason why I don’t want to review it, is because I feel like there’s absolutely no way for me to be objective at all. Ha ha Jo you say, you’re a book reviewer, reviewing is telling people your opinions, so you’re never objective, book reviewing by definition is a subjective and personal thing. All of this is true, however I’ll explain what I mean when I say I can’t be objective when it comes to Harry Potter. With most books, yes I go in with expectations if they’ve been highly hyped or I’ve loved the authors previous works or it’s part of a series I’ve loved, but most of the time, I am able to judge the book objectively based just on what I read and not on how I have viewed the author’s previous works. However I don’t feel like I can do that with Cursed Child because it’s not just any book (technically it’s a script which is yet another issue-how the hell do you review a script? But I will talk about this more later), it’s a continuation of a series that was a huge part of my childhood. I grew up with Harry Potter, it greatly influenced who I am as a reader and JK Rowling has been such a huge inspiration to me as a writer that I don’t feel like I can separate all of that from my reading experience of Cursed Child, it would likely cloud my opinion and I don’t want to write a glowing review purely due to nostalgia, equally, I don’t want to write a scathing review if I feel like it doesn’t live up to the original series, because the comparison seems unfair. How do you compare something totally new with adult HP characters to the series that you grew up with? You really can’t, it would be unfair to try and I feel like this is inevitably what would happen if I tried to review Cursed Child.
I also feel like the script aspect of it all is making me reluctant to want to review it. I know it shouldn’t because a play has all of the things a novel has, you can talk about characterisation, you can talk about plot, you can talk about themes and all of that stuff but I feel like there are some things, like pacing for instance, that are harder to judge in a script than a novel (though I have to say, aside from Shakespeare, this will be the first script I’ve ever read) and I think it’s a lot easier to visualise a novel than to visualise a play script, I feel like a play is better experienced than read, though unfortunately in this case that will not be possible (given my student funds and the fact that I go to University in Scotland). I’ve found this with Shakespeare in school, I always like the plays better when I see them than when I had to read them for class, though I imagine I will probably enjoy reading Harry Potter more than reading Shakespeare) but still, it doesn’t seem quite right to review something which isn’t in the form it was meant to be received. I imagine a lot of the magic (excuse the pun) has been lost from the stage to the page because you don’t get to see all of the cool effects and stuff like that, so it would feel weird to be reviewing it knowing that I’m not experiencing it fully. If I was going to see the play then it might be different but since I’m probably only going to read the script, it doesn’t feel quite right.
So basically, whilst I have reviewed books by authors I love before (in fact I do it often) and it’s been no problem, this feels different. I can’t think of another series that I’m as close to and has touched my life as much Harry Potter has, I grew up with this series, JK Rowling has been my idol for so long and I don’t think I could forget all of that if I reviewed Cursed Child. Also I’d like to just be able to enjoy reading without having to think about what I’m going to say in my review at the end (don’t get me wrong, I like reviewing but it’s been a long time since I’ve read a book without having to think about how I’m going to review it! This is also going to be a really good time to read a non-review book as I have a long drive back up to uni in Scotland where I can’t exactly make notes in my notebook). I am looking forward to reading Cursed Child without the pressure of having to review it afterwards. Sure I might not get to see the play, but I can read the script and I plan on savouring (and hopefully enjoying) every minute of it.
Over to you! Have you read Cursed Child? Did you enjoy it (no spoilers please!)? Did you review it? Have there ever been any books that you couldn’t review because you were just too close to them or the author or they just made you feel so much you couldn’t write a coherent review? Let me know in the comments!
I’ll try to get my next discussion post done during the week next week as I’m moving in to my new Uni accomodation over the weekend and then it’s my birthday on the 12th, so it will be a busy few days, but if I don’t then I’ll get it done the week after next. In the meantime though, I will have my #RockMyTBR Update for August up tomorrow so stay tuned for that!