Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

I am not planning on reviewing these books, mostly because I believe most people have read them and have loved them. These books, to me, are like that old pair of comfy jeans - so familiar and comfortable and so enjoyable. The books open a whole new world to me, one that I always enjoy and one that I can't get enough of. Most of the experiences (in some way) I can identify with, the adolescence, the drama, the awkwardness, the family, the friendships - all are so universal. I love books that I can get so wrapped up in, that I can almost think I am taking part in the scenes, the action, the experiences. And when I read these books, these chapters before bed at night, I have these great dreams about running the halls of the Hogwarts castle with Harry and Ron and Hermione. I know, a little childish, but honestly, something that is really missing from my life of science and real world bills and responsibilities? Imagination. So, I can't exactly knock it. It's like directing my own movie in my head.
Alex and I were talking about whether Rowling would write more Harry Potter books, and I have to believe that she will. Alex thinks a prequel, dealing with Harry's family before he was born and their time at Hogwarts, or even a focus on Dumbledore might be fun. I was thinking that even a book just focusing on the normal, everyday life of kids at Hogwarts might be fun, especially for littler kids - simpler, schooltime adventures or some such thing. Alex firmly believes that anything taking place after Harry has killed Voldemort would be boring and wouldn't have much interest or excitement, but I beg to differ. I think the world that Rowling created is so imaginative, and the characters so identifiable, deep and memorable, that even simpler, shorter stories would hold interest for the fans.
I think one of my favorite things about the books is Hermione and Ginny (in the later books). They are both true modern feminists, portrayed as both brave and intelligent, able to complete any of the tasks the boys can, and never held back by traditional gender roles. These girls are wonderful role models for both girls and boys, helping to remind us all that we are all capable to doing what we put our minds to, no matter our background, our gender, or our families.
I think the most disappointing part of the books is the ending of the seventh book. While I like the ending, it is just a little too far out of my reach in terms of understanding and believability. I guess I don't understand why Harry couldn't be killed by Voldemort, but everyone else could be. And I understand that Rowling had to somehow explain all the things about Dumbledore, but I don't really love the scene that takes place when Harry is in "limbo" (I'm assuming that's what it is). And I think, for a romantic like me, I wanted more closure. I know that Voldemort is eliminated, and his Death Eaters go on the run, but some of the most enjoyable part of the books (for me) were Harry's experiences with his "family", the Weasleys, Hermione, the Order of the Phoenix, etc. I think I would have liked another chapter about his life, where he ends up, how he ends up there. And (while this is really complex, and likely not appropriate for a children's book) how the magical world recovers from such a thing as Voldemort. How do you first ask people to prove their "blood status" and then, relatively soon thereafter say "just kidding, go about your business". How do you go about reunification? I know that Germany struggled with this after WWII, and the US is certainly struggling with it 150 years after the Civil War. I realize these things are difficult to deal with, and perhaps I am reading too far into things....
The truth is that I love these books and I know I will read them to my future children - they have brought me joy and I have thoroughly enjoyed re-reading them again and again. I am looking forward to the last movie in the series, although I am sure to be disappointed as the books are always better!

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