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Reviews Comments: An interesting, if overhyped, story. Harry Potter whole series review by Reg Shoe

There are people out there who have declated this series of stories to be, among other things "An instant classic", "One of the greatest series of all time" and even "The resurrection of the fantasy genre." What it is is a fairly interesting and detailed re-imagining of the classic "Hero destined to destroy evil" story line. It has some very interesting ideas, themes and characters (Snape is a particular favourite of mine), but it is far from meeting the overhyped level of greatness its fans often ascribe to it.

There are several things that make it fall short of this lofty goal. Prime among these is Protection From Editors. There are massive chunks of the fifth, sixth and seventh books that are not only utterly unrelated to the main plot but are also utter snooze fests, large chunks of borderline impenetrable text. Like many authors who reach a certain level of acclaim it is clear that she didn't get any notes, or any notes she got where ignored.

The plot too has a rather scattergun level of quality. Look at the Deathly Hallows. J K Rowling said that she was surprised that no one had asked about Dumbledore having the invisibility cloak when he could turn invisable on his own. Fine. OK. But the information that normal invisibility cloaks wear out after a while is dropped in the last book, and hammered home with an anvil shaped "but they knew one that did didn't they", making the reveal cheaper than a tin foil cauldron. Also, I know that he was an orphan, but how could someone as well read in all things magical as Voldemort be unaware of a common children's story? I mean Grindelwald's symbol is far from secret. Wouldn't Voldemort have investigated the history of this dark wizards? Especially seeing as he once managed to put a decent fight up against the only wizard he feared!

Another annoying thing, brought to my attention for the first time in a press release of a speech of Terry Pratchett's that he never actually gave because he was worried about it looking like an attack on Rowling, why do the wizard community determinedly shut themselves off from all modern technology? Nothing Wizards are shown to do come close to being able to replicate, say, the Internet. It makes no sense, save for insane level of Xenophobia.

All in all a good story told well, but not the legendary epic its fans seem to think it is.


  • Phrederic
  • 26th Jul 09
But it is a legendary epic because its fans think it is. Was Beowulf well written, not really, is Gilgamesh well written, not really, are many myths well written, not really, but they're still epic, because they're popular. Many stories aren't perfect, or even great, Lo TR has many, many dull and boring parts, but it is an epic. So I agree with your hypothesis that it isn't as deserving as of much praise as it gets, but it's an epic because it's so popular.
  • 12th Sep 09
Really, no series could live up to "Harry Potter" levels of hype. In fact, considering popularity and quality so rarely go together, I think it's remarkable the books are as good as they are. Sure, they aren't perfect, but they're a long way from Lowest Common Denominator.
  • Magus
  • 23rd Oct 09
Well, no. It DID resurrect the more niche British Boarding School genre.

It's a great read, but it's obviously not great literature. There's a difference.
  • maninahat
  • 24th Oct 09
Popularity does not give a work epic status - scale gives a work epic status. Harry Potter is a lot more focused on the individual than say in Lord of The Rings were massive battles with thousands of men occur often.
  • Cliche
  • 25th Oct 09
The thing is, while it's a fun read overall, it's not particularly deep. It embraces its genre, but doesn't do much particularly revolutionary with it.
  • 30th Nov 09
<I'm sorry, I had to delete this comment. It had nothing to do with the review and frankly sounded like a troll. If you're going to spout conspiracy theories about how Harry Potter is - what was it, Calvinist? - at least put some reasoning into it, please.>
  • 25th Dec 09
Hahaha wow. I must agree with Shrikesnest. I agree that I didn't read the book because of the hype, but after reading the series, it deserves the hype it gets. Unlike Twilight which is regarded as the fandom successor of Harry definitly isn't (I mean people compare that book to Romeo and Juliet) There are a lot of deep and complex themes and elements in the story. It is a classic despite what others may think. Consider this, did people think that Shakesphere's stories were classics....NO! the time they were regarded as pieces of POP CULTURE just as Harry Potter is today. If nothing else, Harry Potter has influenced many children to become avid readers in this video game driven society.
  • 26th Dec 09
My biggest complaint with HP is much like the OP's. A noticeable drop in quality and definite change in tone in the last two books. I do chalk it up to Rowling being a victim of her success. She forced the last books out, with full knowledge they would further her millions, and didn't edit them as much as they should have been.
  • Reg Shoe
  • 10th Jan 10
Wow. It is amazing that people can accuse me of saying based on nothing.

I said: 1: The books are good, not brilliant. 2: The story is interesting, but overhyped. 3: The later books are bloatd.

I did not say: 1: It was written differently to the classics (it is, but as you said that is irrelevent) 2: It is bad (it isnt.)

I did not bring up Shakespear but seeing as you did:

I know full well that Shakespear was viewed as POP CULTURE and that people did not call them classics, but many HP fans have declared them instantanious classics and the idea that JK can come near WS is hillarious to me, much of his strength was the weakness I accused JK of, his plays and prose are tight and punchy, her later books are bloated and have some disapointing gaps in the plot and logic.

I never even mentioned Twilight, I never would.
  • 9th Aug 10
Wasn't the technology thing covered in Goblet of Fire? Having magic around causes electronics to stop working.
  • depaderico
  • 10th Aug 10
They do explain why the wizarding world is kept secret: some statute created in the 17th century  *. However, Muggle society has evolved since then, and it's not explained why they're still doing it. If I had to guess, I would say that there is the risk of government military regimes trying to abduct and experiment on wizards, as happens to the protagonist in District 9. One would hope that the US and UK governments would be above going all Josef Mengele on a poor handful of wizards, but I can't speak for e.g. North Korea.
  • Caswin
  • 23rd Sep 10
Alright, normally, I wouldn't have gotten involved, but... I have to ask. Shakespeare's prose was tight and punchy?
  • 26th Sep 10
Good is relative to everything else. I don't think there are any things in literary fiction that can be considered legendary epics.
  • longstreth
  • 13th Apr 11
Funny thing is, Harry Potter CAN be seen as an expression of Calvinist theology. (someone deleted a comment about that earlier.) There's a Sorting Hat that splits you into one of four Houses, and we all know Gryffindor is the best and Slytherin is for the creepy people. Sounds like Gryffindor is The Elect in Calvinist theology.

I'm NOT saying that Rowling did this on purpose. But it could be read that way.
  • gerjan
  • 25th Jul 11
I love the awkward levels of xenophobia in the books, some of it is intentional but some makes no bleeding sense. I mean, most of the Wizards use the Hogwarts train and that's a Muggle invention, they use the wireless and that's ours as well, clocks? jep, elevators? us again, even the flushing toilet. Obviously it's not just the weird guys like Mr Weasley who love 'lame boring us' who make use of our things, or is Rowling so high an mighty that she's trying to say that they invented all of our things and we nicked it?
  • Beyondnor
  • 25th Jul 11
How is saying that high and mighty? She doesn't pretend Harry Potter is anything more than a book series. I think the idea was that Wizards saw what the Muggles were attempting to revolutionize and magic helped them make it loads more efficient for themselves. Besides, who's to say that their stuff isn't magic anyway? The train probably has a few things of its own, the toilets (though maybe not considering they can get clogged...), and they have elevators that go sideways. Muggles are interesting to Arthur because he's probably curious how they accomplished so much WITHOUT magic.
  • Wulf
  • 25th Jul 11
Didn't they say something to the effect of "Muggle technology gets a bit wonky and useless when wizards and magic are about"? Or was that just fanon?
  • JackAlsworth
  • 25th Jul 11
It's canon that Muggle tech doesn't work around Hogwarts (I can't remember which book or which gadget, but Hermione said as much at some point), but I can't remember the justification given.
  • gerjan
  • 25th Jul 11
@Beypndnor : Obviously the train has some things in it that make it magical (invisible to Muggles, for one) as did the Weasley car but it still doesn't change the fact that it's a train - a piece of Muggle technology. If it was something that happened to accidentally look like a train but worked differently then it would have been called something else and Harry would go, when first introduced to it, "Oh, so this is the thingie, looks a lot like a train though,"

How is it high ad mighty you ask? It's looking down on humans because not only are we silly little things that don't understand anything, now it comes out the wonderful Wizards also have to provide us with every single bit of technology. Muggles aren't shown in the best of lights to begin with and now this. Remember when 'Twilight' had the audacity to use a real Baroque painter in it's cannon and what a wave of protests rose among the antis? Well, this is much more worse. It is a sad day when a piece considerably better literature fails where a girl-porno-in-denial manages to restrain itself.

Also, most of the things I have quarrel with (fuck chess, it's an old game, it was before they had proper laws about fraternizing with common folk) are recent inventions, how did the purity-obsessed elites not revolt at a sudden wave of Muggle things? Most of the purists are not really the reasonable kind so explaining to them that plumbing will make it more convenient wouldn't have worked. Really, if I now start to think about it then the only way to introduce such large quantities of Muggle things into the Wizard community at once would be via a bloody revolt.

@Wulf : can't say, maybe I was on the non-magical toilet when that happened. There was a statement that technology doesn't work in Hogwarts but that starts the unfortunate debate about what is technology.
  • McSomeguy
  • 28th Jul 11
@gerjan Is "overthinking" actually a word? If it is, then that's what you're doing. If it isn't, then you're nitpicking.
  • gerjan
  • 28th Jul 11
Quite possibly it's both :)
  • JackAlsworth
  • 28th Jul 11
re: overthinking

I'd say that's exactly what gerjan's doing, and furthermore, I'd say it's not that terribly big a deal.
  • Kingcobrasaurus
  • 15th Aug 11
I agree. Gerjan, logical loopholes in the Harry Potter universe do not decrease the quality of the stories themselves. JK Rowling intended to write an expansive fantasy series, not a hypothetical wizard society that could, in theory, exist.

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