Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Trouble with Harry

Potter, that is.

Believe it or not, until just about four weeks ago, I hadn't read any of the Harry Potter books. I'd bought all of them for my niece, who loves them, but I'd always avoided reading them, despite rave reviews from friends whose tastes in reading usually match mine. Maybe I just thought a "kid's book" wouldn't really be of much interest. Also, I'm not normally a fan of fantasy books.

But a few weeks ago, I was in need of reading material and my niece's Harry Potter book (conveniently book #1) was sitting there. For about two weeks, I read a few pages at a time, just when I was in the room where the book was. Then, when I started nearing the finish line of COWBOY ALIBI, I started using the book as incentive to get my scheduled pages in. If I made my pages for the day, I could read a while.

I finished HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE that way. When I finished my first draft of COWBOY ALIBI early, I gave myself permission to binge read my way through the rest of the books. I started book 2 on Thursday and finished book Seven on my lunch hour at work the next Monday.

What can I say about the Harry Potter series that hasn't been said already? It was fun, exciting, thought-provoking, heartbreaking and thoroughly enjoyable. There were a lot of themes in the book that I think speak directly to who we are as humans and how hard it is to do what is right instead of what is easy. I like that the values of the books cross all political spectrums and speak more about decency than policy. The books were really well-crafted, too, with set-ups that paid off enjoyably, in a very satisfying way.

So, here are a few "favorites" from my Harry Potter experience (warning: spoilers for those who haven't read the books):

1. Favorite character: Snape. Although Ginny Weasley and Hermione Granger are also in the running. I loved that Snape was unlovely and unlovable, and yet he was probably the most courageous of all the characters in the entire series. Because what he was asked to do by Dumbledore, what he dedicated his life to, was not something that came natural or easy to him. If ever there was a character who symbolized the idea of doing what is right rather than what is easy, it was Snape.

I loved Hermione because she reminds me of myself at her age--serious yet sometimes silly, with grand ideas (free the house elves!) that are never as simple and universal as they seem when you're that age. And I loved Ginny because I got to see her grow and blossom over the course of the books into a woman worthy of Harry, his equal in so many ways and his perfect complement in others.

2. Favorite book: Either THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE or THE GOBLET OF FIRE. Although THE DEATHLY HALLOWS was an excellent end to the series, and it was the only one of the books that made me cry.

3. Favorite non-human: Oh, so hard to choose! I was heartbroken when Hedwig died, so that owl is certainly a contender. Loved Dobby, and by the end, I loved Kreacher as well, so both of the house elves deserve mention. And Pigwidgeon, Ron's little owl, was so cute!

4. Favorite surprise moment: Learning that the doe Patronus belonged to Snape. It helped explain the rest of his behavior long before the exposition was over. Because once you knew it was his, and a doe, you instinctively understood the rest.

5. Favorite Quidditch match: The one Harry couldn't go to because he had detention. He was so certain Gryffindor was going to lose, but when he entered the common room and the cheers went up--yay! And it doesn't hurt that he ended up snogging Ginny. And speaking of snogging...

6. Favorite mental image: Kreacher snogging a pair of old Mr. Black's trousers. Honorable mention: the image of Dobby wearing all those hats that Hermione knitted in hopes of freeing the house elves.

7. Favorite "I'm surprised I feel sorry for him, but I do" moment: Pretty much any scene involving Draco Malfoy in the last book.

Now that I've read the books, time to watch the movies. I pre-ordered the 5-movie DVD set that's coming out December 11th as a Christmas present to myself. I think my niece and I will be having a Harry Potter movie marathon before the holidays are over.


Tripp said...

Hee, welcome to the wonderful world of Harry Potter!

Have you seen the movies yet? I will say the third is my least favorite (they take liberties with certain characters I don't agree with) and my favorite is the last. (Which is funny as the 5th book is my least favorite).

So excited for you!

Tracy Montoya said...

Paula, isn't the series amazing? I just don't understand people who think the books should be banned or burned. The core values in them are ones every child should have. (Free the house elves!)

I reread the entire series after book 7 came out--it was such fun to read them in order and get all the links between them that I missed the first go. I just bought the fifth movie and am so excited to watch it. We saw it at a drive-in, but the screen was so bad, I'm sure we missed at least half of it. Gotta love cheap Florida drive-ins.