View Full Version : What's so good about Harry Potter?

07-09-2000, 02:17 AM
Who is this kid? What's the big deal about a children's book? He's EVERYWHERE! What am I missing?

07-09-2000, 02:26 AM
I could be wrong, but it's possible that it is a well-written, interesting, popular series of books. If that is so, doesn't matter so much whether it was originally conceived as a "children's book" or not, as such attributes are just as important to adult readers. Heck, I just got myself a copy of The Children of Green Knowe, and that's a "children's book".

07-09-2000, 02:27 AM
*smiles* Go read it.. its quite interesting and not just for kids.. I've read all three and await the 4th book with anticipation..

But also this 'kid' is getting lots of kids to read now. Not very many kids actually sit and read books other then what is assigned in school.. this one is interesting them enough to go and do that.

07-09-2000, 02:43 AM
The Harry Potter books are real page turners...which is good, considering the new one is over 700 frickin' pages...

07-09-2000, 02:47 AM
I just wanna be a seeker on a quidditch team, but alas, I'm a Muggle.

07-09-2000, 02:51 AM
I'm not the sporting type anyway Chief, but I'm a muggle-born myself. I do, however, have some "seeking" you can do...

07-09-2000, 03:03 AM
If Piers Anthony and Beverly Cleary sat down together and wrote a book, it would be something similar to these books (with a little Terry Pratchett thrown in!) These books are wonderful. At first, I was afraid that it was all kid-hype (Pokemon, Goosebumps, etc) but I finally borrowed the first book from a co-worker and I loved it! They are very well written, the characters are deep and well-explored, the settings are descriptive and there is just enough magic and sorcery thrown in to add some mystery and intrigue. I highly recommend reading the entire series!

07-09-2000, 03:19 AM
I read the first three last night, and enjoyed them a great deal. My nephew likes them enough to ignore Pokemon--what better endorsement could a book have? Seriously, they're well-written and entertaining. They encourage kids to read, and to be open-minded.

I'd make a better Beater or Keeper than a Seeker, but, alas, I wasn't picked...er, I mean, I'm a Muggle, too. Really.

07-09-2000, 03:43 AM
They're good! They're well-written, they're funny, and sometimes I'm consciously started at how smart they are - there is none of that condescension toward kid readers that are common. The characters are really well-drawn, too, I have genuine fondness for them.

By the way, I've already finished Goblet of Fire. Anyone else done with it yet? I'm kind of confused by something at the end, and I'd like to discuss it with someone else.

I heard that there are some people actually trying to play quidditch, on the ground. Sorry, Muggles, sounds silly.

However, I work in a bookstore. We ran out of #4 today. It was bad. It was very bad. However, the kids were pretty well-behaved. It was the adults whose behavior was so reprensible. Ugh, get a grip! You waited a year, you can wait another couple days!

(BTW, I dressed up as Professor Trelawney and gave the kids silly divinations. "I see...a very thick book in your future...")

07-09-2000, 04:26 AM
I hereby request, nay, beg that before anyone even attempts to discuss the ending or any other part of the fourth book (or the ending to the second and third) PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE preface your post with the words, "SPOILER ALERT" so the rest of us won't accidentally read it and have to spend hours beating our heads against walls!! Thank you in advance for your courtesy!

07-09-2000, 10:31 AM
I hate it when some smartass blurts out the end of a book.

I haven't read any Harry Potter, but I love the series because my youngest son, who hates to read, has started reading Harry Potter from front to back with few breaks.I was leery when I saw that the latest is over 732 pages! I thought for sure that he would turn away without opening the book. His nose is glued into it as I type although he has complained about the long length of each chapter.

My standing ovation to the auther JK Rowling because my son now understands the pleasure of reading a damn good book.
"Ya know Mom, it's like I am there standing besides Harry or I am inside his head ..."

07-09-2000, 10:38 AM
I think Harry Potter is just hype.

There are lots of books more popular with kids, but once a "phenom" hits the newspapers, the media feeding frenzy makes it take off, long before the kids catch on.

Books are sold to dealers and libraries, not individuals.
They want what will be hot next, not what's sold before.
All the big numbers are pre-release sales.

Of course, a reasonable book will be bought if it gets start treatment in a window display, bought by parents, aunts and uncles hoping for a sure thing.

The kids don't care. They would swoon over Tom Swift if he started appearing everywhere again.

07-09-2000, 11:12 AM
Often, with children's books the author feels s/he doesn't need to bother with such things as a reasonable plot or deep characters. I've always felt that, just because you're a kid, doesn't mean you should have to read crap. That's why I like Harry Potter.

HotMama, have you read any of the books?

07-09-2000, 11:35 AM
Thanks everyone. I had seen a little blurb about the fourth book on the cover of USA Today, and how they printed 3.8 million copies just to handle the hype. Apparently stores are already selling out. Anyway...

I may just have to pick up the first book, and see what you all are so enthralled about. However, a little kid who's a magician, and deals with sorcery isn't exactly a Christian's cup of tea. Then again, I'm sure to find the first book at the library, so I wouldn't have to feel guilty about buying it.

Thanks again. Adam.

07-09-2000, 11:44 AM
HotMama, so what if they'd swoon over Tom Swift? The fact that the Harry Potter series is getting millions of kids back to books and away from the Nintendo for a little while is great.

Now, I haven't read the books. I know a few kids who have, though, and all I hear from them is that these books are excellent. Parents were standing in line at midnight this morning to buy the books. I say, cool! Better standing in line at a bookstore to buy a book than Pokemon.

07-09-2000, 11:47 AM
Zion so you know it might take awhile to get it from the library.. When I got the books from the library I was at about 120 or so on the lists.. now for this one I'm number 725 on the list.. Oy I'll probably be able to buy the book and read it myself before I can get it from the library!

07-09-2000, 12:15 PM
Read the books first, Zion, then decide whether or not it's unChristian. It's not like they're running around calling on dark powers or anything; there's a strong good vs evil theme all through the books, and good always wins. There are much worse thing to teach kids (and adults, too) than loyalty, courage, and self-sacrifice. I would think those are qualities that a Christian would approve of.

07-09-2000, 01:51 PM
There really is more to these books than just hype. My mother (the elementary school librarian) mailed me a copy of the first one last fall with orders to read it. I hadn't heard of it nor of any of the hype (pro or con) around it. I didn't get around to reading it until December, then tore through it on a plane flight home. I went straight into the next two from there.

"Children's books" or not, they're well written, well thought-out, very creative, and extremely captivating. While I don't have the money to buy the new one, I'm sure that I'll spend a day on it in a bookstore as soon as they get them back in stock. Whenever I have kids, I bet I'll be ordering the full set of the British version.

BTW, I think the second is my favorite of the first three. What do others think?

Wendell Wagner
07-09-2000, 02:03 PM
I've read the first of the Harry Potter books. While it's a reasonably good book, I wouldn't even put it in the top ten children's fantasy series that I've read. I talked with people who knew children's fantasy pretty well, and there were varying reactions. Some thought it would fit in their top ten list, but none of them rated it as the absolute best. On the other hand, one person who'd read a huge amount of children's fantasy said that it wouldn't even go into his list of the top thirty children's fantasy series.

In general then, if you ask people who've read a lot of similar series, they would say that it's pretty good, but a little bit overrated.

07-09-2000, 02:55 PM
I usually read the book myself to decide wether it is overrated. I find the people who havnt read the books are the most likely to say: Its all hype" too.

I have read all three, and I enjoyed them very much. My son is half way throught the second one and likes them alot. I read ahead and then finished the third because it was slow going reading with him, and I wanted to know what happened.

If you will excuse me, I think I see the golden snitch!

Johnny Angel
07-09-2000, 04:34 PM
I have no doubt that the Harry Potter books are well written, and probably very thrilling for a child. But this media blitz is irritating to me because of all the other very good children's books that are not also being read. When is Daniel Pinkwater going to get his due?

I'm glad that Goosebumps are no longer the rage. The fact is that Harry Potter seems to be among what I consider the good kind of children's books, not pandering to dumb kids in order to get them to read, but rather pandering to the kinds of kids who are inclined to read books anyway. The function of a good children's book is, in my opinion, to help smart kids cope with the sense of alienation that comes from being smart. In essence, that's what the Harry Potter books are about -- the very thing that makes Harry Potter an outcast is what makes him special, and this is very comforting to a kid who is trying to deal with being smart in a world made for the mediocre.

I'm glad someone is getting recognition for good work. I just wish there was enough credit to go around to all those who deserve it. How about Madeline L'Engel? John Christopher?

07-09-2000, 04:43 PM
Kellibelli, there are children present! Watch your language about various metallicized female bodyparts, PLEASE!

BTW the book is I think 734 pages. I got it shipping-free b/c I preordered several months ago knowing there would be a mad rush. I pity those delivery people who had all those books in their trucks and had to carry them.

And what's so good about Harry Potter is that it makes peeple reed. and spel.

Medea's Child
07-09-2000, 06:34 PM
Harry Potter is fun. There are a lot of good children's books. Few kids read them, even the good kids. Having a fun, intellegent book out is good for people. I'm glad there is hype for it. Hype for any product is pretty silly, but I prefer hype for a quality children's book than a poor quality music group or video game.

They are thrilling for your average educated adult as well as children. They are simply good literature with good lessons and some really good jokes.

My favorite part about Herry Potter is that he finally moved my brilliant little sister off her "I willonly read books in pastel covers" phase. Previously she would only read Babysitters Club books, and only the ones that didn't have blue covers, green ones were iffy. she has finally started to read good fantasy. Stuff I have been begging her for years to pick up, and she loves it.

It may not be the very best stuff ever written, but Shakespeare hasn't published anything new in a while, and I think I can make do with some of these new upstarts.

On the Christian view, unless you insist that since the stories never mention Christ's name they are evil, you probably won't have a problem. My favorite philosophy teacher loves them enough to read them with his 'only begotten son' and that is high distiction indeed. My teacher and his wife are bound and determined to create a "Christian family in a secular world" and do a fine job of it. I got to hear his response when he was asked how he deals with the "anit christian support" the series gives. He basically said 'what anti christian support' and that he was happy with the books, the boost to imagination the give his son, and the ideals they champion.

07-09-2000, 06:48 PM
It's true that I bought the first Harry Potter book to read to my 3 year old, a chapter a night, not sure if he was ready for books without pictures or if I could stand a children's book for that many nights. To my surprise, I was totally enthralled. Being a voracious reader, I read the first 3 books in 2 weeks myself, and am in the middle of the second one with my son. We went to a Harry Potter book release party Friday night and I was really stunned to see this phenomenon in person. Kids and adults of all ages were swapping stories and speaking strange words, and it was wonderful.

The reason I bought the book was because I read an article on the author. Turns out she was on welfare, and typed each page out of the first manuscript. She was so broke, she could not afford to have those have those typed pages copied, so she typed each page out again. And you gotta respect that.

Do yourself a favor. This is one phenomomenon that really surpasses its hype.

07-09-2000, 07:02 PM
While I haven't read the series, I can't see how Harry Potter can be "evil" when several generations of Christians have grown up reading L. Frank Baum's "Wizard of Oz" books. Very few of them burn babies as incense to Satan.


07-09-2000, 07:19 PM
The Harry Potter books is achieving what was thought impossible just three years ago: Children wanting to read 700-page books. If that is not a sign of greatness, then I don't know what is.

07-09-2000, 08:07 PM
sweetcan said:

"I read the first 3 books in 2 weeks myself, and am in the middle of the second one with my son."

Pray tell what took you so long? When I reread the books it takes me all of maybe three hours for the first one. I plan on starting and finishing HP4 tonight, possibly having to stay up an hour or so past my bedtime, but not much.

When the Tolkien series came out did it garner this much attention w/respect to people saying it promoted cultish stuff? HP doesn't exactly promote bad magic, IMO.

07-09-2000, 08:18 PM
What's so great about Harry Potter?

1. As everyone above has said, they're well-written and very entertaining. So maybe they aren't instant classics like Lewis Carroll, but given the attention they're getting, they mostly measure up on the literature scale.

2. They're getting kids to read, again as mentioned above. I have to wonder if Rowling's plan with the latest 700+ page tome was to hook kids with the first three, and then show them that a gigantic book is just as much fun to read as a "normal"-sized one. "Moby Dick," here we come!

3. They drive the fundamentalist right-wingers crazy. Nuff said.

Yes, a lot of the media coverage amounts to hype-mongering. But I'd rather have a high-quality book (or series) be the subject of hype, rather than something pointless and shallow like The New Kids on the Block or "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire."

07-09-2000, 08:43 PM
Parents who have read the first few books are HELPING hype the next one. As a parent, I WANT my son to read the big one. I want him to love reading, and if I help hype a book that is making reading 'cool' hell, sign me up!

The most important thing is to get them to read. Once they start....

Wendell Wagner
07-09-2000, 08:44 PM
iampunha wrote:

> When the Tolkien series came out did it garner this much
> attention w/respect to people saying it promoted cultish
> stuff? HP doesn't exactly promote bad magic, IMO.

When _The Lord of the Rings_ came out in 1954 and 1955, it got very little notice. It only slowly built up its popularity over the next decade. It wasn't until the Ace paperback edition in 1964 and the Ballantine paperback edition in 1965 that it really achieved cult popularity. The first time that I ever recall anyone accusing Tolkien of anything cultish or magical was a Jack Chick tract from the '80's about Dungeons and Dragons that had a footnote claiming that C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien's books were just as bad as D and D because they also advocated magic.

People just didn't go around accusing people of cultish, Satanic behavior in the '50's, '60's, and '70's, or at least they didn't get any media coverage for it.

07-09-2000, 10:25 PM
Originally posted by capacitor
The Harry Potter books is achieving what was thought impossible just three years ago: Children wanting to read 700-page books. If that is not a sign of greatness, then I don't know what is.

I've never understood multi-page phobia, but lots of people have it. *I can't read anything over 200 pages*. For crying out loud, you're reading one page at a time. When you get tired or bored, stop, bookmark the page. Continue later. One page at a time.

07-09-2000, 11:33 PM
Originally posted by iampunha
sweetcan said:

"I read the first 3 books in 2 weeks myself, and am in the middle of the second one with my son."

Pray tell what took you so long? When I reread the books it takes me all of maybe three hours for the first one. I plan on starting and finishing HP4 tonight, possibly having to stay up an hour or so past my bedtime, but not much.

Time, baby, time. Being a single mom that works full time and works out 10-12 hours a week, I read whenever I can. And I read HP during lunch, at stoplights, bedtime, whenever. It's as close as I get to not being able to put a book down :)

Before I had a kid, yeah I would have INHALED these books in a few hours myself :)

07-10-2000, 07:00 AM
They're accessable.

That's the key. The kids can relate to the stories much better than most other books, without them having to be set in modern times with modern heavy issues bogging it down.

Also, it's just the right kinds of books, at the right time, a kind of respite from more superficial pleasures that tended to be get the hype in recent years. No Tickle-Me-Elmo, no Pokemon, no Teletubbies toys, no Playstation - it's all about imagination, reading, so much better for the stimulation of little minds than video games.

07-10-2000, 07:39 AM
Harry Potter is fun, literate and engaging. More than one poster to this thread has pointed out that they are well-written and entertaining. Those are the primary criteria for any book.

As far as getting children to read books other than HP, how do you know they won't? Libraries post book lists with the heading "If You Like Harry Potter, Try These Books!" Pretty insidious, huh? My daughter even told me of a list that bullets some titles with the squib "J.K. Rowling really likes this book!" Man, these kids don't know what they're getting into! Heh heh heh. Once kids start reading, and discover the joy of good literature, they'll seek out other authors. I don't mind the hype of Harry Potter if it gets children reading.

I am PO'd a little about some of the posts on this thread from people who are surprised that a "children's book" is so much fun to read. Don't act so surprised. Sure, a lot of mass-market stuff for children is crap. But then, a lot of mass-market stuff for adults is crap. But there has always been quality in children's books. Their issues and vocabulary are usually a little simplified, but children's issues and vocabulary are like that in real life.

Don't judge children's lit. based on limited-vocabulary picture books (although there are some great ones out there) or mass-market books. Read Dear Mr. Henshaw or The Prydain Chronicles or From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Children's books are an art form unto themselves, and you can't really criticize them or minimize them until you understand them.

Who knows, you might get hooked on kiddie lit.

07-10-2000, 08:55 AM
Dave actually I love reading childrens books. Some of my fav authors (who I haven't read in awhile.. I need to read again) Are Beverly Cleary and Tamora Peirce.. I also have a bunch of fairy tales on my bookshelf and one of my fav childrens books I have is "The Velveteen Rabbit" One book I remember really enjoying was '50 ways to eat Fried Worms' I think it was called.. but then I always was a strange kid and more apt to stick my nose in a book then play games..

07-11-2000, 04:45 AM
Originally posted by TopazAntares
One book I remember really enjoying was '50 ways to eat Fried Worms' I think it was called.. but then I always was a strange kid and more apt to stick my nose in a book then play games..

It was called "How to Eat Fried Worms" by Thomas Rockwell--one of my favorites. I also really liked "Freckle Juice" and "Chocolate Fever"--did you ever read those? (Apparently I had a thing about food-based books...)

07-11-2000, 05:03 AM
Yes thats it evilbeth.. I remember reading Freckle Juice and I envied her some of her freckles (I think them neat) but I don't remember reading Chocolate Fever.. maybe I should go to the library soon..

07-11-2000, 05:21 AM
Man, Topaz, I have got lists of the great kids books! "Chocolate Fever" is about this boy who loves chocolate and eats nothing but. Eventually he starts breaking out in these weird spots. It's not the measles, not chicken pox--the spots are chocolate! It's great! Have you ever read "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs"? It's a little younger than the stuff mentioned above but it is great. Drop me an e-mail if you want--we're completely hijacking this thread!

07-11-2000, 06:06 AM
*laughs* Yah we are.. and no I haven't read that one though I have heard of it.. I'll send you a mail and not keep this thread from its course any longer *grins*

07-11-2000, 08:47 AM
Saw an item on the news today about a game of quidditch between mixed teams of 14 year old High School kids. Teacher was referee and everyone was dressed in their favourite fantasy costumes. Looked great fun.

The score was 580 vs. 510 but no one really knew how that happened as there aren’t too many rules.

Bored to death with Harry Potter over here now but anything that gets kids to read – and read 700 page books – is just wonderful in this age.

09-04-2003, 07:59 AM
I finally succumbed and read a Harry Potter book this weekend. Decent, but not fabulous; definitely overhyped. Just MHO of course.

09-04-2003, 09:15 AM
For your consideration, DAVEW0071 -- Another author of excellent children's -- well, "young adult"/teen-targeted books is Rosemary Sutcliff. She wrote a number of historical novels set in Britain, from Pict times to the Norman era. Really well-written and enjoyable. She also wrote Sword at sunset,an adult-aimed novel about King Arthur as he might really have lived. Some of her books are still in print, and they're well worth searching for.

I haven't gotten to the latest Harry Potter yet; it's still a few books down in my to-be-read pile; but I'm looking forward to it.

09-04-2003, 09:19 AM
lucwarm, did you read just the first one? If so, it's not the best of the series, and it's the one most written as a children's book. I've found books 3-5 to be absolute page-turners.

09-04-2003, 10:30 AM
Moderator's Notes:
I'm moving this ancient thread over to Cafe Society - with all the other Harry Potter threads.

Judith Prietht
09-04-2003, 10:54 AM
evilbeth, I can't believe you mentioned Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs! That was such a big favorite of mine.

Anyway, on the Christian thing. My mother is a born-again Christian and very dedicated to her faith and belief in God; she might even qualify as a borderline "fundamentalist right-winger." She used to be pretty extreme as far as not allowing us to listen to rock music and hiding my Motley Crue tapes, but that's another thread. She LOVES Harry Potter. Two Christmases ago all she wanted was the complete set of Harry Potter books. I gave her a silver Hedwig bookmark. Balance says it best upthread; the books deal with ideas of good and evil in a mature, educated way. Family is of the utmost importance, particularly for Harry. My mother finds nothing objectionable in the presence of magic in the book. She loves the victory of good over evil, the portrayal of family (especially the Weasleys), Hagrid, and the amazing detail Rowling gives to the magical world.

A friend of mine who scoffed at Harry Potter is now hooked. He's milking every last sentence out of Goblet of Fire.

Soapbox Monkey
09-04-2003, 01:43 PM
Originally posted by Zion

However, a little kid who's a magician, and deals with sorcery isn't exactly a Christian's cup of tea.

Oh Jesus Christ! :rolleyes: (no pun intended)

It's just a book.

And the best thing I can foresee coming out of the Harry Potter craze is that it will probably get kids interested in more original and enthralling fantasies, like Lord of the Rings.

09-04-2003, 05:53 PM
I hated the hype. Well... maybe not hated. I mean I trusted the people who were telling me that it was good, but I just didn't like how everyone was reading it and telling me I had to read it. So I didn't read it. I figured it was probably pretty good, or at least had something appealing about it, but I didn't bother to read it. I told people who were excited about it that I hadn't read any of the books and that I didn't plan to. In fact I was just irked by the cultishness of it and would probably read them once people backed off.

This summer it seemed like it had been over six months since anyone had gushed to me about the Harry Potter books so I decided to read them discreetly. I liked them, no big surprise. They were generally pretty good.

I really can't say they are great, at least not compared with truly great books in the young adult genre, but they are pretty good. I do like that they don't talk down too much and that they are pretty well thought out.

I didn't exactly like The Order of the Phoenix as much as the others. I think it could have been better, but it is fine as far as that goes. I think it might become better in light of the next book, but it will always have some flaws I think.

Slow Moving Vehicle
09-05-2003, 12:43 AM
Okay, hate to be the Grinch in Whoville, but I've read this whole thread through, and I gotta disagree with some of the statements.

Granted, true, anything that gets kids to put down the Gameboys and pick up a book is great. For that matter, anything that gets adults to put down the damn cellphone and pick up a book is great. No argument about that.

But I stopped reading the Harry Potter books after the third one because I finally realized that they aren't very interesting. For adults, anyway. Well, for this adult.

I got tired of the moral simplicity of Harry's world. Every thing good and noble and decent was on Harry's side. Anyone or anything that is not, is evil and disgusting. Think about it. Ever encounter a Slytherin character who wasn't brutish (a la Crabbe and Goyle) or malicious (a la Snape and Draco Malfoy)? The Gryffindors' Common Room and dorm is a lofty tower, and their symbol is - what, a lion or a griffin or something like that? I can't recall at the moment. Something noble, anyway. The Slytherins' live in a cave, and are symbolized by a snake. Pretty subtle. And the Dursleys apparently have no redeeming values at all.

How many times has Harry broken the rules? Snuck out in his Invisibility Cloak? But when he does it, it's okay; he's the good guy, says so right there in the book. When any of the baddies break the rules, they're punished. The only character who shows any sort of moral depth is Snape. He saved Harry's life, remember, and was on the track of the evil Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher in the first book. Even though he hates Harry.

The Harry Potter series are great books for children. Shows them the power of imagery, of fantasy, of characterization; introduces them to the wonderful treasure of English literature. But I suspect that as the kids who devour Harry grow older, they will be drawn to fiction with a little more depth.

Needless to say, all of the above is simply my own opinion, and de gustibus non disputantem est. Still, I hate to hear people talk about Rowling as if she's the next J.R.R. Tolkien.

shy guy
09-05-2003, 01:59 AM
I got tired of the moral simplicity of Harry's world. Every thing good and noble and decent was on Harry's side. I have to completely disagree with you there. One of the points of Order of the Phoenix is that not everyone who's evil is affiliated with the enemy and not everyone that's on your side is a good person.

(mild spoilers for OOTP)
Witness Dolores Umbridge (evil but no affiliation to Voldemort) and Professor Snape (yes, he's malicious, but he's on Harry's side).

And heck, there's nothing noble about a lot that happens amongst the good guys in OOTP. Harry is a jerk because he's 15 and he's pissed that it's his destiny and he's being completely left out of the loop, Dumbledore admits to making mistakes in how he's handled Harry up to this point, Sirius looks at Harry more as a friend than a charge, Harry and his friends aren't safe in their own school, etc. Things aren't nearly all black and white in Harry's world.

And the Dursleys apparently have no redeeming values at all. Wrong.

OOTP sheds some light on the Dursleys, and their full scope hasn't yet been revealed.

But when he does it, it's okay; he's the good guy, says so right there in the book.Harry gets punished a lot. He ends up in detention with Gilderoy Lockheart, Snape, Filch, Hagrid, and Umbridge in book 5. Often multiple times. By contrast, Draco Malfoy gets away with a lot.

I do think that the whole "Gryffindor gets like a zillion points!" thing from Dumbledore is really, really lame.

Little Plastic Ninja
09-05-2003, 02:01 AM
She ain't the next Tolkien, granted. And her world is incredibly simplistic and doesn't hold up to really strong scrutiny.


I think that with every book, JK introduces a little more moral shakiness, a little more confusion as to who's right and wrong, who's good and bad. The moral of the first two books was "There's bad things, so let's be good friends and stick together. The third one was "People oughtn't judge others too quickly." A bit more grown-up, really. And then the fourth one: "It can be really difficult to figure out what the right thing is to do, who the 'good' people are." Book 5 basically says "Just because you're 'good' doesn't mean you're perfect or right."

She's getting more shadowy as time goes on...but there's still things about the books that really irk me. I love 'em to death, mostly because I love young adult books. I'm really hoping she touches on some of the (IMO) important issues: casual disregard of non-magical folk, for one thing.

09-05-2003, 08:24 AM
A friend recommended them to me RIGHT before the hype really hit, and I didn't read them.

When I started reading them, I really enjoyed them, and have looked forward to the release of each (though waiting for someone else to finish them so I could borrow theirs - budget's not solid enough to blow $25 on a book right now).

I do think the borders between right and wrong and fair and unfair are nicely blurred. In OOTP, a girl who is suddenly getting a lot of attention due to the death of her parents (this isn't really a spoiler, trust me) remarks to Harry that she doesn't know how he can stand all of the attention.

It's not all "Harry Potter is ultra-powerful and can do anything because his allies are Good" - he gets out of trouble because of that occasionally, true, but he also gets punished both fairly and unfairly. He's loved by all one minute and feared by all the next - frequently because of events or people over which (or whom) he has no control. He gets hurt. His friends get hurt. Good guys die. Bad guys get away with stuff.

I'm not saying they're Tolstoy for the lunchbox set. BUT.....I still read children's books. I still very clearly (sometimes TOO clearly) remember what it was like to be in school. I remember how some people who were total snots were popular, and some of the nicest people you could meet were distained. I remember morons being allowed to skip assignments and wonderful folks being given extra work, often both wholly according to happenstance. And vice-versa, on both accounts.

Are you there, God? It's me, Margaret is great if you have a pre-adolescent around and you want to help them gently make the transition into puberty. Then again, maybe I won't....same thing. If you have a kid who's got younger siblings, by all means, buy them the Fudge books. Harry Potter is (IMNPHO) a nice way to get kids involved in reading books for the fun of it. The books are engaging, the good guys usually come out on top, but not without some sort of struggle, and unfair things happen to everyone.

09-07-2003, 06:48 AM
Let me try to put into words what I think makes Harry Potter so great.

The series transcribes exactly what it's like to grow up. The first book is a boy at the very beginning of teenagedom. He is now adult enough to be introduced to the world, which seems magical and endlessly entertaining, but not adult enough to understand it. There are two categories of people: bad and good. His parents are basically deities. His eyes sparkle at everything around him.

As he gets deeper into the series, and lives in the world among these magical things, they begin to come into focus. He slowly learns the technicalities and rules of all the stuff he was so amazed at in the beginning. He finds some injustices and evils in the things he thought were pure wonder. He sees the same things over and over, but sees them in an ever-changing light. Then there's the moment of his parents' fall from grace, when he realizes that maybe they weren't the faultless people he thinks they were. As all this goes on, and the hormones kick in, the boy becomes embiterred and cynical - and that's what's happened so far.

I enjoy seeing this transformation happen. Lord knows why, because it certainly wasn't fun when it was happening to me. It's my favorite thing about Harry Potter - well, that and the "getting kids into reading" thing.

09-16-2003, 05:48 PM
I must confess to being a complete Potter-head.

I was initially turned off by all of the hype surrounding the release of "Goblet of Fire". I had never heard of the series before and couldn't imagine what the big deal was. I went to see the first movie not knowing the first thing about it, but prepared to be disappointed. Instead, I was enthralled. Immediately I grabbed the first book off of my daughter’s shelf and read it in one sitting. Then went on to the others. I’ve now read the whole series through several times.

So what makes it all so appealing? I can’t answer for anyone else, but here’s a few of the reasons I enjoy the books so much.

1) Rowling’s wizarding world is so complete. The idea that all of these magical things we write off as mythology are actually real is, of course, the foundation of any fantasy story. But Rowling’s concept lends it a bit more credibility than one usually sees. She taps into history and folklore and comes up with appealing explanations for the way things are. Having a governmental department set up to keep muggles from catching on to the actual existence of magic, wizards, dragons, and the lot is pure genius. Especially when the governmental body is overworked, understaffed, poorly administered, and universally sneered at.

2) The material ages with the audience. As many have noted, the books get thicker with each volume. But as they do, they become more complex. In “Sorcerer’s Stone” , the lines between good and evil are clearly drawn. As Harry matures, however, he comes to learn that the lines are really blurred. By the time you reach “Goblet of Fire”, he discovers that people on the same side of a conflict don’t always agree with one another, and don’t always like one another. In “Order of the Phoenix” , Harry sees vicious rivalries breaking out among the various factions who are all supposed to be “good.”

3) The characters are three-dimensional. Other than the fateful events of that long ago Halloween when You-Know-Who vanished, Harry’s a normal kid, not comfortable with the notion of being special or having a destiny. He throws temper tantrums and breaks rules, often for no particularly good reason. He’s frequently selfish, clueless and callous about the feelings of others. He makes snap decisions and acts without thinking things through. He wallows in self-pity. The truth is that there really ISN’T much about him that might be described as extraordinary. Which, of course, makes him such an appealing protagonist to all of those kids (overgrown and otherwise) who don’t see themselves as being extraordinary.

4) Like real life, the plot keeps you guessing. Some events unfold logically and over time. Others are sprung on you all of a sudden in ways that you could never predict. Even when the clues were there to be seen. Rowling sprinkles little details here and there that point to future developments, but the tapestry is so richly woven that the individual threads don’t stand out until they’re supposed to.

Is Harry Potter for everyone? Obviously not. NOTHING is for everyone. De gustibus non disputandum. But I’ve found the books to be very enriching and highly enjoyable. Even at the third and fourth reading.

09-21-2003, 01:00 AM
Well, I've read books 1 through 5 now.

My opinion remains basically the same: Decent, but not worth all the hype.

One thing that's nice is that Rowling clearly put a lot of effort into all the books, instead of cashing in with a crappy sequel.

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