Still debating whether to read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child? Read it, and felt the same way Libby did? Well, I’ve put together a carefully curated list of alternative titles that “do it better” than Cursed Child.
This book does “secret evil father” better.
A BOOK OF SPIRITS AND THIEVES by Morgan Rhodes
You don’t need to have read Rhodes’s bestselling Falling Kingdoms series to enjoy this action-packed spin-off. Chilling cults, a bashful necromancer, and yes, a secret evil father, make this YA novel a quick and exciting read.
Why is it better? Because the villain is human enough that I can believe that he has a sex drive. Sorry, but the Voldemort I know is more monster than man, and I don’t buy that he would get down and dirty with anyone, let alone Bellatrix. In addition, Cursed Child’s situation is cut-and-dry, whereas A Book of Spirits and Thieves makes things far more complicated—and therefore believable.
This book does “frowned-upon friendship” better.
TROUBLE IS A FRIEND OF MINE by Stephanie Tromly
Not satisfied with Albus and Scorpius? Try Digby and Zoe, the stars of this hilarious debut that’s best described as 21 Jump Street meets The Breakfast Club. With killer dialogue and a fabulously quirky cast of characters, you’re sure to race through this contemporary mystery.
Why is it better? Because we don’t see much chemistry between Albus and Scorpius. Meanwhile, Digby and Zoe make one hell of a duo. With Digby’s outlandish scheming and Zoe’s cynicism, they compliment each other beautifully.
This book does “traveling through time to save someone’s life” better.
A WORLD WITHOUT YOU by Beth Revis
Bo refuses to believe that his girlfriend Sofia has committed suicide. Convinced that he abandoned her in 1692 Salem by accident, he vows to use his special abilities to rescue her. But can he really travel through time? Or is he just suffering from delusions? Beth Revis keeps you guessing in this heartrending exploration of love and grief in the midst of mental illness.
Why is it better? Because Cedric. Really? Of all the people Albus wants to save, he chooses Cedric Diggory? I don’t buy it. I do buy that Bo wants to save his girlfriend.
This book does “this thing I did led to an alternate reality” better.
CRUEL BEAUTY by Rosamund Hodge
In this retelling of Beauty and the Beast, the “Beauty” means to assassinate the “Beast,” who is responsible for a nine-hundred-year-old curse. Of course, breaking that curse may involve resetting a timeline, thereby leading to an alternate reality that doesn’t make you cringe.
Why is it better? Because the alternate reality is similar enough to the regular world that I can believe it, whereas in Cursed Child, the characters act like entirely different people. Hermione is suddenly Katniss Everdeen? Snape is making inspirational speeches? What? In Cruel Beauty, however, the changes to the characters are miniscule, and so the alternate reality is easy to believe.
This book does “let’s jump off a moving train” better.
REBEL OF THE SANDS by Alwyn Hamilton
No silly trolley witch here! In this stellar debut fantasy that’s Wild West meets Arabian Nights, heroine Amani is all gunpowder and grit. With breathtaking writing and a wholly unique setting, this is one book that’s hard to put down.
Why is it better? Because the trolley witch is silly. Pretty much anything would be better.
This book does “boohoo, I’m the spare” better.
THE REST OF US JUST LIVE HERE by Patrick Ness
The spares take center stage in this hilarious look at today’s YA tropes. Our protagonist, Mikey, is not a Chosen One, but there are plenty of Chosen Ones—usually named Finn—at his high school. While he’s occasionally witness to their battle against the Immortals, he really just wants to graduate before the school blows up. Fans (and critics) of YA will especially love the cheeky chapter openings and constant references to books we love to poke fun at.
Why is it better? Because rather than having angsty spares, we get spares who are completely fine with being spares, and that makes for a much more entertaining read.
This book does “this is literally fan fiction” better.
CARRY ON by Rainbow Rowell
Sorry, but Simon and Baz make a way better Harry and Draco than Cursed Child’s actual Harry and Draco.
Why is it better? Because we get the ending we always wanted.