The Harry Potter Books by J.K. Rowling (Review) ~ BitterSweetLife

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Harry Potter Books by J.K. Rowling (Review)

Flash Review: There's a Reason I Read All the Harry Potter Books in a Month

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and one of the things I was thankful for was Harry Potter. More specifically, the fact that around 1 a.m. Thanksgiving morning (don't worry, I was up anyway), I finished the final book in J.K. Rowling's series so that my month-long Potter reading binge could come to an end.

I have this contrarian streak in me that causes me to defy the establishment in deeply meaningful ways, such as not reading books about Harry Potter while everyone else is wearing capes and standing in line to buy the latest installment at Barnes & Noble. I'm such a rebel. But once the hoopla died down a little, once J.K. Rowling cut her movie deals and established herself as a multimillionaire, and once people stopped swooning when Harry Potter was mentioned, I was ready to read the famous books.

I won't actually review the Potter books--there are seven, and their continuity in style and content makes it feasible to review 'em all at once--because everyone else has. Well, I won't review them in any strict sense anyway, because they deserve more than what I am about to say. Let's just call these comments a flash review and move on.
If I were going to, say, list the Potter books on the Master Book List, my commentary would be very positive.

I'd mention the way Rowling makes you care deeply about her characters, the pacing that makes reading the Harry Potter books a compulsive experience, and the tricky, two-faced plot lines. Also, the fact that Rowling's idea of redemption is more Christian than Wiccan. I'd also mention the fact that by the final book, I was able to stay one step ahead of the story most of the time, anticipating some of the big surprises. The trick is to ask yourself, "If this was a movie, what would happen next?" What can I say, I learned from the first six books...

Disappointments? That Harry never shoots spells to kill, even when he obviously should, so the same villains keep reappearing and killing more good guys. Is there supposed to be a positive lesson in this? Also, there were several characters who failed to live up to their "powerful" billings, succumbing to enemies too easily. But these are minor gripes.

Ultimately, Rowling creates a world you wish really existed, peopling it with complex characters and mythical creatures that capture the imagination and the affections. If I was, in fact, reviewing these books, I'd give J.K. Rowling high marks for what she does best: tell stories. And, well, what the heck: I award the Harry Potter books a strong A--highly recommended for lovers of fantasy, adventure, and good writing.

Not sure if you're ready to embark on the Potter odyssey? Wonder no longer. Pick up The Sorceror's Stone. (It's quick and painless.) After you've finished that first book, probably less than 24 hours later, ask yourself if you want to continue.

And, yeah, I broke down and put Harry Potter on the Master Book List.

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Alaina said...

Andrew and I both read them all this year and loved them! They were entertaining, they evoked many different emotions, and they made you think.

We enjoyed discussing them - although I read them a little ahead of him which made it challenging so I would call my sibs who had already completed them when I really needed to talk. :) (How's that for a run-on sentence?! :))

I love books that make you feel like you really know the characters. I wish more Christians would take time to actually read them (at least one and not just scan them!) and be informed instead of just writing them off.

Ariel said...

Wow, that's great that you and Andrew both read them. Those books really provoke discussion... I resorted to a sibling too, my younger bother--I mean, brother--Peter. He'd read them awhile ago (in a week, he tells me), but the story is memorable enough that he could relate to where I was in the plot at various points.

Fun to talk about.

Will Robison said...

I got hooked into HP shortly before the first movie came out - wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Less than a week later, I had bought all of the four books available at the time and was knee deep in the fourth book (still my fave). As a writer, especially, I love the way she tells these stories. There is nothing simple about them.

I know some people refuse to be swept away by fantasy literature, but they really don't know what they're missing.

P.S. At our more "progressive" church, we actually used HP as a theme for our confirmation classes. It was quite fun.


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