The Harry Potter Book Series
Many people have read these books and have their own opinions about them, or just heard enough about them to make judgments. People have seen the movies and decided if the books are good or not from them. I have been told many different things about them:
"Every child should read these books"
"These books should be banned, they are evil"
"This is my favourite series ever, you need to read it"
"Oh, no you should not read the Harry potter books."
Having never read or watched anything Harry Potter (at least as far as I can be absolutely sure of doing) I did not like to voice an opinion. But one day, after yet another of these conversations, I decided I would read them so that I could have an informed conversation about them. As it turned out, I like them.
The series as a whole is a magnificently written set. There are seven books in the series and each has a well developed plot, with building tension through the book and a black moment. Each book is an individual story, yet it is also one whole story, with the tension building thought the series. This means that the last three books, but mostly the last two, get what some people call 'darker'. I would say that the bad guy gets stronger, and the stakes higher, I would not really say 'darker' though.
I would say that this is one of the best series I have read. I am excluding trilogies here, there would be some of them that were better. But in general other series I have read tend to be a series of stories set in the same world, that take place after one another. Sometimes two or three books are directly connected, and things are solved in later books that I wondered about in previous ones. I have never before read a series that left me wondering if the writer had written them all before publishing one. Obviously that is not possible, but the books tie together so well, and are one big story, a fantasy, adventure, coming of age story.
Although I really like this series, there are some things to be taken into account. I understand why some people hate it and say it is 'evil'.
- Normal people are degraded. The wizards are the main characters of the book, the normal people are called 'muggles'. Although the 'good guys' say that muggles are no lesser than the people of the wizarding world, they are portrayed as such, and often a bit stupid.
- The main characters are 'wizards' and 'witches'. In real life a witch is a person who practices evil and consorts with devils. Naturally this could cause confusion to younger readers. For example Hermione is called a witch, yet she is one of the 'good guys' and she is one of those we are rooting for.
- There is magic in the book..... yes, well it is a fantasy book, and I love magic in books! But I know some people hate any book with magic in it...... pity, they are missing so much....
- The main theme of the series is not so much good versus evil, (although it is in a way) But it is Love and courage and friendship versus.... evil? lack of love? power grasping? I can't even be sure. But the main theme of the series did not resound within me like some other books that are Light versus Darkness, Good versus Evil. In The Harry Potter series it is more like two groups of people with different ideas that are fighting each other, the good guys don't stand for anything higher then themselves or their own ideas.
- The characters are not obviously good or evil. In Tolkien's books, each character is quite obviously on the side of either good or evil, some people fault his writing because of this, but personally I really like it. In the Harry Potter books the characters are not obviously one or the other, and in one case it takes the entire series for a character to reveal which side they were on all along. And half or an entire book or two for other characters. That makes good plot twists, but, I like to know who I should be rooting for.
- There is also a bit of 'romance' as such in the later books. I found that a little annoying, I really did not want to read about characters hanging off each other and kissing each other all the time....
I find my ratings quite interesting though. I rate a book as soon as I have finished it and try write some kind of review. That may not be the best state of mind to do it in. I had not realized I had given any of the other books five stars when I rated the last one. Possibly I should not have give any of them five stars, but well, I think the enjoyment and interest the produced far outweighed my problems with the books.
The next part contains a few spoilers, as I do a short review of each book individually. (previously written as I finished each book). So proceed at your own risk. There are not many spoilers or any massive ones, but there are some. I also took out most of the bits where I mentioned all my main dislikes of the books as I already mentioned them before.
My Goodreads reviews:
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone I thought about giving this book four stars but decided against it. I really enjoyed it. Rowling's sense of humour is great the book had me laughing a lot. At times the story got predictable, but then because it was often predictable the unpredictable bits hit hard. I never even thought to expect a few of the plot twists. I couldn't help going for Harry, he is a magnificently written character. At first I did not want to like him but just could not help it. I sympathized with him instantly, he truly made an unforgettable character.
At first the story struck me as completely unbelievable, but after the slow beginning I got into it and enjoyed finding out more about the world of wizards. J.K. Rowling did well in creating an extra dimension onto our world. I really enjoyed this as a fun read. I had trouble putting the book down..... and that only got worse as I got more and more into the series.
I don't have a problem with light and dark wizards such as Gandalf and Saruman in Tolkien's writings, there they fight light against dark, but it is not like that in Harry Potter. There are just good guys and bad guys and it is a face off between love and hate. True, love is a good thing. But this book does not have the same feel of good and bad that Tolkien's works do. It is hard to explain.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets ** spoiler alert ** I laughed through this book just like the first one and yet again it was full of greats plot twists and surprises. I really liked the characters again. One thing that bothered me was why had no one else had seen the paper in Hermione's hand. And I thought the encounter with Giant spiders was a bit pointless. But I really did enjoy this book, it is a really fun read.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Plot twist, within plot twist, within plot twist. This book is so surprising at times, I didn't even think to suspect most of the plot twists, I didn't even suspect there would be such a big one.... I really should have known, having thought the same about the previous two books and been wrong. The characters too were as wonderful as ever. The story is so suspenseful and oh it's such a page turner. I enjoyed this one even more than the first two.... they also took me a few days to read and somehow I stayed up late to finish this one in one day....
I don't know for sure if the story gets better or it I was just liking the series more and more. Each story does have more tension in it, though, as the stakes are raised. In other words, the characters have more to lose if they don't win, and winning looks more and more impossible.
Though this is a very fun read it is no more than a story, it gives no hope or light to this life and there is no hidden beauty in it. It is just what it is, which is all well and good, but it just makes the story a bit light and fluffy.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire I really enjoyed this book. The writing and plot is amazing, oh the story twists! I found it almost impossible to put down and hard to read each word and not just skim to find out what happens, but there is only one first time of reading, so I had to (with great difficulty) force myself to read slowly and not miss a single clue to any one of the many questions/mysteries. The book eventually answered all my questions and brought up another few at the end that should lead well into the next book. I do highly recommend this as a really fun, and very exciting read. The writing is amazing. And some bits in this book even tie in with bits in the last books!
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix I did not write a review on this one because I had nothing different to say. I'm not sure the book needed to be quite that long. Some of the other fat ones did though! The injustice in the book riled me a bit, I felt as though the characters should have done something more about it. At least more of the characters than the Weasley twins. Harry suffered so much, which made me feel for him, but I though he could have done a bit more about it. Oh but can I just say how much I like Hermione.... except when she is being silly with boys and not on speaking terms with people.... I would be studying just as hard if I somehow got a letter to go to Hogwarts........
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince J.K. Rowling's writing.... ah... I am enjoying this series, gotta love the characters. It appears that things do finally get "darker" (maybe the word 'creepier' would be more correct) I had been told it happened and was wondering when that would be. At the end, some characters have to make their way to something, getting through all of the things Lord Voldemort put in their way, and that could be considered quite creepy. This is also the book in which the romance stuff kicks in. The "snogging" otherwise known as kissing and cuddling and girls hanging of guys or vice versa, starts. Immature relationships that are not very nice and in some cases entered into just to spite another. Saying that, they are probably rather realistic to what happens in when a large group of guys and girls are thrown together without parents/guidance. Like schools..... So I don't approve of it and it did make me like the MCs who participated in it a bit less, but yes, it is realistic.... but it is also true that it does not work that way.
Other than aforementioned facts, brilliant! This is looking like the book before a magnificent conclusion to the series. Tension is not dropping in the least! I mean, the stakes are being raised, and the job is looking more difficult, more painful than ever before. I am looking forward to reading the next book.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows This is a wonderful and dramatic closing to the series. Loose ends are tied and the enemy defeated. There are fights, people are killed, but really the violence, well at least the description of it is not very bad.... and fighting is hard to avoid in the biggest black moment.
One part of this book horrified me though. So spoiler alert Peoples! Harry actually resorts/stoops to using or trying to use the Unforgivable Curses a few times....... A good guy using evil even to bring around the better good is not my idea of a good story. I would say that 'evil' should never be used, even 'for the greater good'. I was really disappointed that Harry did such things, even if they helped with his quest.
(Although I said this earlier I shall say it again in slightly different words) This book though an amazingly written story, does not have that beautiful, light darkness thing. Yes there is the good guy, bad guy stuff. But what is really contending, the values that are facing each other down, are courage, friendship and LOVE against; lack of love, or grasping for power, or just badness, (it may in the book call it Evil at times, but I am not sure what makes it evil, or how it is different from their good in any way but opinion). It does not give inspiring hope to the world outside that of the Wizards, likewise to the world outside of books. The Love, courage and friendship themes are really great, but somehow are not enough, or at least, there could be more.
I have also read The Tales of Beedle the Bard, by J.K. Rowling, so I will put it in here too. This book only deepens the world of Harry Potter, which is already amazingly deep.
The Tales of Beedle the Bard I found this quite an amusing book. There is not much to it, but it is, well, as it says it is; a few short fairy tales with a commentary by Albus Dumbledore. And I must say, very cleverly done and presented. I do like the idea that I have a book that people from the Harry Potter books also had. One story/fairy tale was rather gross though.... the others more funny. The book is nothing amazing, but just cool and interesting, in the way that it gives us a few more tip bits of information about the Harry Potter world.
So just don't start reading this expecting another novel or anything like that. It is short, straight forward and a nice winding down of the series (though it does not technically belong in the series at all, but hopefully you know what I mean). I now want to find the other two 'Hogwarts Library' books....... which are the trilogy it really belongs to.
So, those are all my thoughts on the Harry Potter series and The Tales of Beedle the Bard, by J.K. Rowling (that I have thinked while writing this). I do recommend that people read them, for an enjoyable, exciting read, and to appreciate how well they are written. Of course, don't read them if you dislike magic and fantasy, as they are some of the things that make the book so good. But I would recommend that readers be of an age to recognize the problems with the books. I think they are just as enjoyable for older people as ten year olds.... except that there is not much hope that we older people will ever get our letter from Hogwarts.....
Have you ever read any of J.K. Rowling's books?
What did you think of them?
If not have I managed to convince you to have a go at reading them?