Really, not all that good
When I first had to read the first book in school, I was maybe 12 or younger, I became obsessed, read all I could find, bios, fanfics, you name it. As more and more books came out and I myself became older I started being disillusioned in Rowling as a writer.
This book is excellent for children and adolescent youths (or is 14 young adult?), but as one matures the holes in the story and the characters become more apparent. Rowling is entertaining, fair enough, but as the story progressed she got it into her head that this should be a book handling every problem in the universe. She decided that this is serious literature, damn it! When it simply isn't. If she had stuck to her short and sweet hints of racism throughout the book then I would have no qualms but as she becomes more serous she invites us to use harsher criticism on the HP series and it just does not hold up.
The characters are stereotypes (some very unfortunate ones as well), the magical society doesn't make any sense from a logical point of view, often the handling of the relationships is clumsy and to be fair even in my heyday of HP-love I never found the main hero truly likeable (I was a Snape fangirl in part due to the sheer fact of him being the everyday antagonist). In one interview Rowling stated that she never intentionally wrote HP as a feminist novel and I must agree with her here, she didn't.
The more JK wants us to think about the horrible things she discusses the more we start to think about the trivial things and then the beautiful childhood memory crumbles. Rowling tried too hard, maybe nobody was there to explain to her that though she means well she's going overboard.
In short, give the first five or four books to your children, to your young cousins, brothers-sisters, but not to someone over the age of seventeen or so.
28th Jul 11
^What he said.
I know 400 words is a very restricting limit but, honestly, I have no idea what you're talking about. Elaborate, please.
28th Jul 11
Yes, quite a few people from all age categories enjoy the series. It's just that I grew up with it and then grew out of it and saw all the holes, if all seven books are given to a child at once then they will enjoy them much more. I think that Rowling should have written the series for an age group, not a generation.
The magical society makes little sense in quite a few ways, actually.
I rambled in the comments section of another review how our technology should not be able to exist in the Wizard part of reality not even because "technology can't work in Hogwarts"(so they enchanted every single flushable toilet? Really? And yes, I am obsessed about flushable loos) but because so much of the 'technology' that they use all comes from more or less the same period in history and that means that it got brought into the community all together and there is no way in hell that the elites would stand for it. I think in the second book there was some talk that only recently has there been open mingling among the Wizards and Muggles marriage-wise.
I don't buy how the standards of decency work, in the forth book they run around in swim-trunks, which in theory should cause mass hysteria. Same goes for why women actually have the same employment opportunities as men, because you see what really pushed women rights in the 20th century is WWII and Wizards couldn't give a hoot about that not to mention that they don't have factories which needed workforce.
As for stereotypes, for one Rowling has an obsession of giving single women cats. Ahah! you say silently, but Hermione has a cat! She doesn't, that ginger thing is part something else and noted to be much smarter than any cat. From my point of view Rowling has some sort of irrational dislike for single women above the age of, say, 30. Mcgonnagall, and this irks me to no end, is a strong no-nonsense lady, highly intelligent and successful but several times in the books she is made fun of because she decided that she had better things to do than to spew out children, she is associated with a cat. The first thing we learn about Mrs Figg (or whatsherface, the neighbour) is that she is highly unlikeable and has cats (she is a widow or divorced so in a way she is single). Umbridge is obsessed with cats. The only thing between Snape in the later books and a protest-causing spinster stereotypes is the absence of a cat and his disused penis. (Don't worry kids, there's more)
Rowling also has an obsession with One True Love, all of from school. Surely I'm not the only one who noticed that she paired everyone off like rabbits? There is the thing that if you're One True Love did not blossom in school then possibly something nasty will happen to you, Remus-Tonks, Fleur-Weasley and Dumbledore-Griswold spring to mind.
Yes, am a jaded bastard.
28th Jul 11
(edited by: gerjan)
What's wrong with women and cats? You go on about it for so long, it must mean something to you.
28th Jul 11
Ok, those reasons are pretty bad.
28th Jul 11
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30th Jul 11
I have to disagree with you that Rowling was making fun of single women with cats. Firstly, Mc Gonagal
doesn't own a cat, she can just turns into one. And no one ever mocks her or any of the other women for being single. When I think of Mc Gonagal
, I think of her as a strict teacher but one who is fair and cares about her students. Not, "She's single and a crazy cat lady." And while Mrs. Figg at first seems like an unpleasant person who only loves cats, you have to keep in mind that she was only being mean to Harry because if the Dursleys had thought he was enjoying himself over there, she wouldn't have been able to watch him. Also, since she's MRS. Figg she was married at one point or is still married. She also apologized to Harry for being hard on him in the fifth book.
Umbridge does like cats, but I think that the main thing you're supposed to take away from her character is that she's psychotic and shows that you don't have to be a Death Eater to be a bad person. Her single status and love of cats are really background traits. You also failed to mention that Filch who is a man, and single, also loves cats. Mrs. Norris seems to be the only thing he loves. Filch is very unpleasant and cruel but he does get some sympathy when you find out that he's a Squibb. It must suck to come from a family who all have magical powers and not have them yourself.
With that, you get two nice people who like cats vs. two unpleasant people who like cats. And when you add Hermione in, that number of nice people who like cats goes up to three. I don't think Rowling was really trying to invoke the stereotype that all older women who love cats are crazy. It could be possible that she was trying to subvert it by showing nice older women who like cats (except for Umbridge).
As for women having equal rights to men; I don't think it's too unrealistic since the Wizarding Community does adopt some Muggle technology and ideas. Plus, gender inequality and class inequality showed right up when people invented agriculture. Since Wizards have magic, growing food is easier for them, they probably didn't ever need to have 98% of the population making food. There are still rich and poor Wizards, but there doesn't seem to be as much segregation attached to it as we have. (Translation: All magical folk go to the same school, regardless of family income.) Also, in there is a Wizarding Card you can get in the Chamber of Secrets videogame that has the first female Prime Minister who held office in the mid-1800s. I'm not sure how canon this is, but it does seem indicate that women in the Wizarding community got rights before Muggle women. It also seems that Wizards don't really care about race either; only how "pure" your blood is.
I think you're wrong about the One True Love obsession from school. Bad things don't just happen to people who meet the person they loved after school. Keep in mind that horrible things happen to people who met their one true love when they were in school together. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley met at Hogwarts and their son Fred died. Mrs. Weasley's two brother were killed by Death Eaters in the First Wizarding War. Lily and James also met at Hogwarts and were implied to be dating near the end of their schooling and they died. On top of that, they died because their friend who they loved and trusted betrayed them. Harry meets Ginny while at school and consider how many awful things happened to him. I'd also call Hermione getting tortured by Bellatrix very unpleasant too. There was also what happened to Snape too. I really don't think Rowling is trying to tell people to stick with their high school or college sweetheart or bad things will happen to them at all.
I can get how you might like a series less as you get older, but many of the things you focus on are rather nit-picky and don't hold up too well if you look at them closely.
1st Aug 11
To add to casualtystar's thing, yeah, high school sweethearts and whatnot but then you really must consider thatthese kids don't only have angst and hormones to deal with. There's also Tom "Dracula Hitler Voldemort" Riddle and his Second Reich. They didn't have "he was there for me when my mom was in the hospital
", they have "we saved each others asses a lot while fighting for our lives". That might be a bit more powerful bonding than, to use a Mountain Goats quote, twin high-maintenance machines getting along amidst all of the shit you imagine is going against you as a teenager.
1st Aug 11
4th Aug 11
If that's the case then I would ask you to define "takes itself too seriously".
4th Aug 11
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4th Aug 11
Look, everyone and their three-legged-hamster stated that the series grows as does Harry and the readership. Everyone was very keen on the idea at the beginning that the book series would be specifically designed for a generation not an age group but for me it makes it more wobbly. And yes, when I was still a fanboy this was a big thing in the community, apparently Rowling thought that each book would correspond (give or take) to the reader's actual age.
I know that some of you will point out that obviously the book has to be more grown up in it's style by the end because there's a war on, but I disagree. Take book 3, it has a murderer on the loose so there's paranoia and panic; all those things Black allegedly did; Lupin who is feeling once a month horrible agony because of his curse; the book introduces the dementers and they are by far the most frightening thing in the entire series (well, for me) because Voldy's a man, at the end of the day, but hell only knows what those things are. Still, book 3 is in every way a children's book, just because it's meant for a younger audience does not mean that it can't be dark.
I never bothered thinking up if gays stood for centaurs or anything of the sort (I remember being annoyed at the ripe age of thirteen that the centaurs are not drunk and raping people). Who the audience is and what the style is like determines quite a lot in a book, it sets the rules and borders for the suspension of disbelief. Of course JK messed up by giving us too much information outside of her books (like I found out quite a few things because they were said in an interview somewhere, makes me feel like the flick avatar where you need a huge manual), like a little girl who wrote a story (maybe even a fic) and then immediately started drawing all the characters and thinking up family trees even though it will never ever come up in the narration.
On One True Love: What I mean is that it's a bit odd that they all ended up together, couldn't somebody decide 'I have better things to do than to change diapers'? Someone has pointed out that obviously a war will create a strong bond, with which I could never argue, but it can also create bonds with the wrong people, you know, ending up with someone because you went through this together even if you're incompatible and have totally different views, a sort of 'I owe them' mentality so in the end the sensible thing to do would be to get a divorce. I'm not even happy that Luna got married (and that apparently happened to some Mr.Invented-For-This-Purpose).
On Lily's death: Well, a good portion of the books sort of hangs on Lily giving up her life for her son so no, she really did have to die. I can't even imagine how many times 'The Power of love' has been pointed out to us by Dumbledore or someone similar. Yes, we would still have a series, it's just that it would be a different series and maybe I wouldn't be here picking fights over trivial matters.
Ye gods, that was a lot of typing.
7th Aug 11
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14th Dec 11
I agree with most of which the reviewer says in the original post (I don't agree with the cat's point though).
Also, Kingcobrasaurus: I'm VERY happy there's no such a thing as a Rule Of Cautious Reviewing Judgment! Only because something is very popular can't it be criticized?
I don't hate Harry Potter. I actually enjoyed at least the 3 first books as I read them. But then it just tries to became a more "mature" story without really becoming one, at the same time that it starts to fail to adress the questions it tries to. So, overall:
1st - 3rd Books: Good 10-15 years old literature, still enjoyable by adults. 9/10
4th Book: Some of the plot-problems and failing to mature the characters start to quick in, but still enjoyable enough. I also believe J.K.H. was somewhat pressured to finish the books faster. Or maybe it was just the size of the books, but the narrative grows less polished. 7/10
5th-6th Book: Stuff grows REALLY out of proportion, the books try to be adult but fail miserably. There are still some good ideas here and there, but overall the story is tiresome and just seem to drag on and on. 5/10
7th: By the last book, the story becomes more "polished" again (seriously, 4-6 could use some rewritings), but at this point the discrepancy between the age the characters are supposed to be and how little character development they had in such time REALLY kills it. 5/10
So, overall, read the 1-4 book if you're 10-15 years old or just enjoy things targeted at this demographic (nothing wrong with that... I do, sometimes). I might recomend the last one just to get to the end of the story, but there are better books out there.
19th Dec 11
(edited by: Sligh)
I agree that Harry Potter is definitely not a masterpiece or crowning achievement; it's alright and all, but the fanbase simply kills it for me.
21st Dec 12
12th Feb 13
I don't think you should ever let the fanbase "kill" anything for you.
12th Feb 13
Even if the series is overhyped the movies are good at action and special effects. The books are worth something too.
12th Feb 13
It was good.
21st Apr 13
I don't think this reviewer has even made complaints big enough to add up.
26th Oct 13
Personally, I feel they have. I don't think there's too many plot holes (as it's been years since I touched a Harry Potter book, and can barely remember anything outside the bare basics), but the idea of writing for a generation and not an age group - while definitely interesting - really didn't rub too well on my end.
It begins as this small novel with a serious tone regarding Voldemort, with all of these fantastic elements - spells, a giant wizarding bank made of marble and gold, a school of wizards with ghosts and moving portraits and enchanted sets of armor - but by the end of the seventh book, the main trio have robbed that wizarding bank and escaped on the back of a blind dragon, one of the Weasley twins has been murdered, as has a close family friend (Remus) and Hedwig, a token of wonder from the first film/book, has been shot down. Harry's mentor, Dumbledore, killed. Hogwarts, partially destroyed, if not almost fully. I really don't like it. I preferred when the books were dark, but still written optimistically. After a while, it feels like JK tries to top everything with more misery and grief. And yes, I get that there's a "war" going on. I feel very in-the-middle about the Death Eaters, the personal army of a genocidal madman made of pureblood Wizarding families. Hitler had great PR, which is why he had an army. Voldemort is the most reviled modern wizard in the books' history.
The relationships are clumsy. Ginny has a crush on Harry in Book 2, she gets with him in the end. Harry has a fling with Cho Chang which ends poorly, which serves to drive worry and conflict for the Harry/Ginny shippers. Ron has a girlfriend which doesn't last long - to cause tension for the Ron/Hermione shippers, which is canon by the end. Their additional notes (or to put it in accurate terms, their extra comments) mention "the thing that if your One True Love did not blossom in school then possibly something nasty will happen to you" - this is actually pretty accurate. James and Lily met in high school, and were said to be one of the tightest couples anyone had seen before they died. Molly and Arthur Weasley met at Hogwarts too. The couples that met at Hogwarts stayed together, while those formed outside were either torn apart (the aforementioned Tonks-Remus) or fell apart (Chris and Fleur).
The cat thing is the same, though I understand Mcgonagall is meant to represent a witch's familiar. Ms Figgs has a cat and is a lonely widower. Umbridge - alone (for good reason), loves cats. If you really want to go there, Filch could be seen as a genderswapped stereotype of that. It's not common, but it's reoccurring.
My beef mainly lies with how the books got darker as they went along. I preferred the earlier books and films, with Chamber of Secrets being my favorite. I understand why JK Rowling wrote the series how she did, but I feel like it loses its way at some point - which is where I lost interest. I still read all the books.
(and Jesus Christ were some of these responses stupid. Germany had 2 Reichs already, which is why Hitler's aim was to create a third one. And Reichs are stages of government, instead of taking over the government and instilling a new Reich Voldemort would just destroy the Wizarding government and rebuild it completely. Hitler essentially broke down and rebuilt parts of the German government that did not suit the Nazis, while a lot of the Wizarding government is centered around law-keeping and regulation - Voldemort, being ChaoticEvil, would just start clean, with one government - his Death Eaters - RunningTheAsylum. And it would be more efficient then picking out what he liked.
And "you complained too much about the universe, rather than the books" - that made my head spin. They mostly spoke about the relationships and that motif of lonely spinsters and cats, and did flesh out their universe claim a bit - but it is a part of the books and fit for criticism.
I understand so many of these comments were made 2 years ago, but Jesus Christ they bug the crap out of me.)
26th Oct 13
This entire review can be entirely explained by two words in it: "Snape fangirl". Once someone declares themselves fangirls/boys (and of a character like that one of all things), things should not be taken seriously anymore.
1st Dec 13
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