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Whole series, sans the 7th.
When I first picked up Harry Potter, I thought it was bloody marvelous. I laughed out loud on reading the first book. I was hooked into the whole detective-mystery style plot. I was curious about this developed alternate magic world that mirror's and parodies ours in so many ways. Likewise, I enjoyed the next two, though even by then it was apparent that Rowling was sticking to a formula; Harry hobnobs about with his relatives from hell, he meets his mates and pops off to school, some mysterious conspiracy centred around the school comes to the kids attention, the kids do a bit of Famous Five style sleuthing, bada-bing, bada-boom, they go off to drink lashings of ginger beer.

Now I haven't a problem with this and I think it is snotty to criticise any work for being formulaic. JK Rowling had an especially compelling formula too, so I only wished she would have kept it up. Unfortunately, she felt the need to go beyond her own formula, and I think this is where she fails. By book four, Rowling is starting to experiment a bit. By five, the formula has essentially been dropped. By six, it is a distant memory.

Without the laughs at the beginning, books five and six get off to a shaky start. Without a proper mystery to keep things busy, the plot slowly trudges along in no specific direction. In keeping with the darker tone, the characters all become very serious, which also makes them a lot less endearing. The sixth book was terrible for this, what with Harry incessently whining, I so wanted him to hurry up and die. The book completely deprives itself of mystery by giving away the conspiracy at the very start. Instead, we get hundreds of pages of mawkish romance and uninspired filler, and the story only picks up at the climax.

Book six was so bad, I have plain refused to read book seven. Hell, I only read six because it was one of the conditions I had to follow to go out with some girl who clearly liked Harry Potter a little too much. If I'd have known then what I know now, I would have told her to stuff it. Son of a bitch.
How did books 4, 5 and 6 drop the forumla? They kept to it as much as the previous ones. It was 7 that Rowling abandoned it.
comment #1839 Fulcon 10th Feb 10 (edited by: Fulcon)
And 7 only dropped the formula because it was, ya know, the big finale last book?
comment #1841 ManwiththePlan 10th Feb 10
The series only began to trudge in book 7, and even then it was perfectly good read in my opinion. I thought book 6 was one of the best, personally.
comment #1854 128.243.253.101 12th Feb 10
I'll talk about book six, as it is the one I can remember reading best. Rowling's aversion of her own formula is pretty blatant: She starts the story by revealing the villain's plot. It is revealed to the reader exactly what the baddies want in the first chapter: they aim to kill Dumbledore. We are told exactly who is supposed to kill Dumbledore and who is going to help him carry the task out.

This is completely different to all the previous books. Part of the fun of the first few books was that the kids had to work out what the villains were after in the first place, before working out how they were going about getting it, and how the three goodies were going to stop them: Means, Motive and Oppurtunity. The effect of book six is very different: Rowling has already revealed the Motive, and the Means to reaching this goal is nothing like as elaborate as the previous books, simply because the villain is too incompetant to pull anything spectacular off. We already know exactly who the real culprits are, were typically, it would turn out be someone completely out of left-field. The only real mystery is whether they will actually succeed at all - less of a mystery and more about suspense.

The actual mystery Rowling tries to buy us off with is "who is the Half Blood Prince?" This mystery feels more like a side-plot and doesn't seem all that important. Heck, even when the Half-Blood Prince's identitiy is revealed and it is linked into the main plot, it still doesn't seem to matter much. Compare it to the "who is Tom Riddle?" question, which is tied far better to the main plot of the second book. Finding Tom Riddle's true identity comes across as a side-plot but it is actually part of a complex scheme, and only when the identity of Tom Riddle becomes clear does the whole villainous plot come together.

The initial exposition screws up the mid section of book six. This is even more apparent in the film, where the second act really trundles along. I can hardly remember what even went on, despite seeing the film twice only a couple of months ago. I'm impressed teh film managed to do as well as it did with the material it had to work with. (As it happens, I dislike most of the films, though I like the fifth film best and would even go so far as to suggest it surpasses the book in strides).

Other elements that distance book six from the previous ones? The humourous beginnings with the Dursleys. They were great, weren't they? Unfortunately, the silly antics of these characters did not fit with Rowling's plan for the series to grow progressively darker. Their presence decreases as a result. Also, Harry's character shifts from a snarky, modest, decent kind of guy into a whiny, self-centred, hormone riddled wangster. Rowling wants to show how the darkness and bleakness of Harry's situation is slowly getting to him, but really, it just made him insufferable. After a while, I lost count of how many times Harry lost his temper and started shouting at people. I just plain stopped caring after a while.
comment #1861 maninahat 13th Feb 10 (edited by: maninahat)
Book 7 is actually not too horrible. It reveals dumby's past, and offers an interesting lesson about how, while you should respect your idols, putting them on a pedastal is idiot.
comment #4967 PirateKing 30th Oct 10
You'll get a lot more enjoyment if you quit judging books based on how similar they are to the originals.
comment #4970 150.212.50.218 30th Oct 10
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