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message 1: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1845 comments Considering its popularity (and the amount of controversy it stirred up), it's surprising that we've never had much discussion of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series! That's a favorite of mine, so (inspired by the recent release of the latest movie adaptation, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince), I thought I'd start this thread to invite some comment about it. Is there anyone else out there who likes it? Or anyone who thinks it's a scandalous abomination? :-) Why, or why not?

message 2: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) This series got my daughter out of special education for reading, so I'll always have a soft spot for it. It's a neat world with fun characters.

I don't know if it was just me burning out on it or if J.K. Rowling felt darker, but the last few books weren't as much fun as the first. Better writing - I think she matured as a writer through out the series. The books got longer & technically better, but the story suffered at times.

I especially disliked a big part of one of them, maybe the 'Half blood prince', where a third of the book was aimless wandering by Harry & his crew. I felt like Rowling was marking time & words, trying to get things to come together.

message 3: by Henrik (new)

Henrik | 43 comments I agree with you, Jim; I also felt a large chunk of one of the later books was "aimless wandering."

That said, I think Harry Potter is a wonderful Series. In my opinion it improved (aforementioned wading aside) in later books. Rowling simply became a better writer; and I personally appreciated that everything turned darker. It also added to the realism--what with all those dark things going on and turning up volume.

A detail I admire is Rowling's various ways of "recapping" earlier books. This is a typical tactical move--demanded by editors, I am sure--in Series, and too often it ends up being a weird "add-on" early in the story, without any relation to the story we are reading at the moment. Rowling manages to do it in a varied way, seaming it into the volume in a natural flow. Kudos to her.

message 4: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1845 comments Jim, the HP book where you noted the "aimless wandering" was probably the final one, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. That's an apt description of what Harry and his pals do for much of that book --not, I think, because Rowling didn't know where the story was going, but because the characters didn't. They had no clue how to go about coming to grips with Voldemort, or finding the tools to defeat him, and their cluelessness shows in their wanderings; it was frustrating for the reader, but probably realistic given the circumstances. :-)

The books definitely do turn darker as the series progresses; by Rowling's own statement, she intended to introduce those elements gradually as the original readers aged along with the characters, and could handle more darkness and complexity as they went along. I'm with Henrik in appreciating this, and viewing it as realistic --though admittedly this does diminish the more lighthearted, "fun" tone that the earlier books are more characterized by.

message 5: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) I don't know of any other series that started as short, fun & simply as this one did & wound up so long, dark & complex. Most other series seem to keep the same tone throughout. Books are about the same length & reading level. Now that you mention it, Werner, I do recall her saying that about the development. Anyone else know of another series that does this, though?

Excellent idea for their release. I wonder how it will work for kids now that they're all out, though. My daughter was the perfect age for their release. She was the target audience & grew apace with the books.

Henrick, I appreciated the darker side too. It did add to the realism.

I can see Werner's point on the wandering. It wasn't a good reading experience, though. It reminded me of Frodo's initial journey from the parting of the fellowship until he got near Mordor - my least favorite part of that trilogy.

message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Um... I guess I can say you guys really did sum up a lot about the series growing and advancing. Though I really never thought as a kid it would grow on more than it was.

It sure has become a huge pop culture topic for most of 2000 to at least 2013, I think that is when the second part of Deathly Hollows comes out...

Anyway these books have gave me such amazing memories. When the books first came in to my life my neighbor and godmother read the first few for me and I will always remember that! :D

message 7: by Elvia (new)

Elvia (elvb) The Twilight Series does that...starts off slow and "pretty". Once you get to the last book you are almost in shock with what she's done with the characters (I loved it btw :).

message 8: by Twoina (new)

Twoina I think "aimless wandering" happens to a lot of authors between their first books and their later writing (not necessarily series and I can't speak to Harry since I've only read one Goblet of Fire of sequence so far. I loved it.). Compare Interview with the Vampire to The Witching Hour, the first Anita Blake book to whatever the latest one is, seems to me that often authors start out spare and taut and as they become more popular their words run away with them. They know that whatever they write, good or bad, will be read and loved by their gazillion loyal readers.
My own beloved Dean Koontz was guilty of it--I can't remember the book but he injected way too much of his own prejudices into it and it was distracting. He only did it the once though I'm happy to say. ;)
I could go on and on and I often do, but I gotta headache and must retire for the moment.
Carry on. :)

message 9: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) My wife is re-reading the series right now. While she's cruising through it pretty quickly, things are still getting done around the house, like laundry & dinner. That is a good indicator that while she's really enjoying it, the story isn't super engrossing this time around. The first time around, we ate a lot of 'starve for yourself nights'.

message 10: by IUHoosier (new)

IUHoosier | 3 comments My husband and I are constantly arguing over which series is better - Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. I vote Harry, he votes Rings. Altho we both love Harry, he's the only one of us that's managed to read the complete set of LotR. I find myself falling asleep even trying to get thru The Hobbit!

As for why I love Potter? I can't help myself. Its such a beautiful, inspired world that Rowling's created. I would re-read each book when a new one was being released, just so I could have the background fresh in my mind for the newest edition. That kind of devotion doesn't happen very often for an author. I do hope that she's someday able to create more stories to entertain, even if they aren't as spectacularly received as Harry was. Such a creative writer surely has more gifts to share.

message 11: by Ron (new)

Ron I read the first two Potter books and abandoned the effort. Just too juvenile.

Just last night, a friend suggested Rowling didn't get in stride until the fifth book. Do you agree? Should I re-start later in the series?

message 12: by Henrik (new)

Henrik | 43 comments Ron, what I really enjoy with the Harry Potter series is that the characters evolve. Okay, not from childhood to becoming old, of course, but in a believable manner we see how the characters learn (somewhat) and meet new obstacles--also pertaining becoming teenagers and no longer being "just kids".

The first couple of books are juvenile, yes, but the last ones are much darker and, well, more grown up. (To an extent, of course.)

IUHoosier. Hah! That's essentially a matter of taste, isn't it?:-D For whatever it's worth I will say that even though HP is a favourite of mine, and one I will probably reread with a few years interim, I'd rate LOOTR as a better story. Also more literate, if you will. Tolkien really knows how to weave words intricately (erh, or something); Rowling knows how to weave words too--but not as delicately.

(Isn't it funny, btw, that LOOTR was published as a trilogy purely for publishing reasons, and not for story reasons, and the trilogy has since been the norm more than anything else in the genre; a phenomenon all in itself?)

message 13: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1845 comments No, Ron, I don't think there's a marked difference in quality between the various books. And there's enough of a linear quality to the series plot as a whole that I wouldn't recommend skipping two books in the middle.

That said, Rowling's main characters age from 11 to 17 over the course of the series (as she envisioned the original readers aging), so their emotional age, level of perception, and understanding of complexity increases accordingly. The characters (and the readers Rowling wrote for) aren't precisely the same people by the seventh book that they were at the first one, and the writing reflects that. But the progression is gradual and seamless, as growing up itself typically is in real life.

message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

Ron, I had just recently finished the fifth book and I loved it! The characters were great and the plot was amazing(IMO). Of course her first books will be more juvenille as she was writing for young readers at first, just as Werner has stated.

message 15: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) I think the first two were about the same level, the third a little higher, but by the fourth, they really started to grow to more adult like books. Personally, I enjoyed them all.

message 16: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thelastwolf) Ron, the third book gives us a glimpse of darkness, the 4th is not to be missed, by the end the battle lines are draw. I didn't like the fifth as much, the whole beginning was boring and pointless but it picks up and the last two were WOW. Read them all, they're worth it.
I'm wondering if you saw the movies past where you left off on the books?

message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

Yes, I agree Jackie, the last few chapters -were- WOW! Once they hit Hogwarts the fifth picks up and isn't draggin like it was in the begining.

message 18: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) Was the 5th the one where they wandered back & forth to no purpose for half the book? I was very disappointed in that.

message 19: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1845 comments Jim, I believe the one you're thinking of is the 7th book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (see message #4 above). The 5th installment is Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

message 20: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thelastwolf) For me, the 5th one, Order of the Phoenix, had an awful beginning, and I agree with Jim, most of it was aimless wandering. It's my least favorite of the bunch.
I thought Deathly Hallows was great.

message 21: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) Wow. I already goofed that once in this thread. That's bad. Thanks, Werner. Might be time for a re-read of the series. I really can't remember which book it was.

message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

There wasn't aimless wandering because they were basically in Hogwarts for most of it and Sirius' house, I hated that part. And I chucked my book at the wall when Sirius died in the fifth and I did the same when Dumbledore died in the following book.

message 23: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thelastwolf) Those two deaths devastated me, I'm still not over it.

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