Oh man, you guys, this is the second last "classic" review! However, next month we're going to be taking a detour into NaNoWriMo...land? or whatever you want to call it. It counts because I'm writing a Harlequin-style romance novel this year! -M.R.
Context: I'm definitely a fan of the Harry Potter series, but I'm not what you might call a super fan. I've only read the books once, except for the first one, which I read to my brother. And I've only seen each movie once, although I did wait outside in the snow to get into the theatre on opening night to see the second one. I've never written fanfiction of it or anything like that, but I did go to the midnight release of the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which comes after this one (everyone and their dog should know that, of course, but just in case...). I'm not sure I agree with 2005!me on every point of this review, but I still tend to think that Rowling burned through the final books a little too fast, and the books definitely seem to make a leap from children's to YA fiction partway through the series. I made a lot of allusions to things in this review that I could probably elaborate on right now, but I think I'll save that for some future posts.
Year Published: 2005
First Sentence: Somehow I couldn't find this on the internet and I don't have my own copy of the book. Anyone is welcome to help me out! hehe
Alas, I made the terrible error of visiting a book message board shortly after the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince where no one bothered to announce their spoilers (since it's obvious that everyone read this book within the first day after it was released, and didn't have to share it with their younger sister, who is the actual owner of it), and, anyway, I found out who dies in this book. Not, albeit, how, but still. I didn't even know someone was supposed to die. I guess I'm just not a loyal enough Potter fan.
But anyway, to review (and I'm honestly going to try to do a proper job of it this time!), we must first begin by explaining the basic premise. Harry Potter, as always, goes away to school and finds himself in the midst of exciting and evil whatnot. That's basically it, when it comes down to the bare bones of this book. The whole series, in fact. What I'd really love is to see it on Book-A-Minute*.
But I'm getting off-track, and using the word 'anyway' too much. Let's continue.
What I have to say right now, what I said immediately to my sister when she asked me what I thought of this book, is this: it's not a children's book anymore. Really when you think about it, the Harry Potter books have never been children's books in the ideal sense--and I'm not talking about how magic is evil and satanic. I'm just talking about some really disturbing subject matter. But then, conversely, a lot of the stuff here is pretty much identical to the dumbed-down versions of old-school fairy tales. So whatever. It's some sort of a tie. But now, we've got Horny Harry and his buddies running around kissing everybody; and then we've got people dying left, right and centre. I don't know where this qualifies as something that's fit to be read by young children. Or, you know, to read to them. Either way.
Of course, I'm not suggesting that Rowling should censor herself. The books would be a great deal worse because of it. It's just that I think the marketing strategy needs to be changed. Whatever, I'm reviewing the book, not... this.
Rowling is cutting corners. I recall, from my reading of the first four books over a period of six days, being annoyed four separate times by a description of Quidditch. The fifth book is all but disappeared from my memory, but I know for sure that there was no description of Quidditch in this book. Cut corner number one. I'm too lazy to think of others--cutting my own corners, you see--but I'm sure there were more. I guess maybe this was to avoid writing a thousand page book, which, no matter how you slice it, would be much too similar-looking to a Bible, and then wouldn't the fanatics scream? Rowling doesn't want to be burned at the stake, I'm sure.
Overall, despite cut corners and shocking subject matter (well, not really, it's not like she keeps dallying off into descriptive sex scenes like Ms. Auel) Harry Potter and blahblahblah wasn't a terrible book at all. It was quite entertaining on the superficial level, and that's the truth. Although Rowling quite efficaciously didn't avoid the cliché of having the evil people confess in long speeches at the end, I guess she can be forgiven since she's still the biggest rock star author who's ever existed.
*In fact, the first book of the series is right here.