Reviews: Harry Potter
Extremely flawed, but mostly enjoyable.
I would have reviewed Harry Potter a long time ago, but before now I was simply too dishonest with myself to have the courage to say this series is pretty damn flawed. Harry Potter's biggest achievement its sense of creativity. The sheer number of different ideas Rowling brought to the table in this series is just incredible. Every book is crammed with all kinds of unusual words, magical concepts, objects, spells, animals and secrets, painting the universe into your mind. There's also a wide selection of interesting characters and loads of different moments of all different emotional styles which stand out wonderfully in the books. Creativity-wise, it's charming. Unfortunately though, as I've grown up, I've noticed that these books are also deeply flawed and therefore, far from perfect. The writing is absolutely horrible at times. Entire phrases, explanations and descriptions are recycled so often that it's angering. Even certain words are overused. For example, the number of things in the series described as "large" is so utterly huge. Notice how I've put the word "extremely" in the title? That word is used a ridiculous amount of times as well. And this is the tip of the iceberg. As a story, Potter is wonderfully artful, but the actual prose is alarmingly inconsistent, jumping from decent to utterly awful and back repeatedly. Not to mention of all the gaping plot holes and that god-awful epilogue. The book series also includes a specifically massive flaw that almost brings down the entire series - the portrayal of Slytherin characters. Rowling completely failed to develop the Slytherin house beyond its dark, elitist, bitterly snobbish roots. Instead of challenging the stereotype of "evil Slytherin", she instead makes almost every potrayal of Slytherin characters negative. It's inarguable that Slytherin characters are very, very rarely portrayed positively in the books, to the point where it's impossible to take seriously. When the most heroic Slytherin in the books is also one of its nastiest characters, you know there's a "large" problem. It's "extremely" biased, clichéd writing. But when all is said and done, I'm glad that I grew up with Harry Potter. The series does have a lot of very nice things in it; it's just very inconsistent. It's a messy series, equal parts enchantingly imaginative and sloppily written.
Harry Potter = My Childhood
I'm not going to review all of Harry Potter here. That would be impossible. Really, all I have to say is this- Harry Potter still holds the same amount of wonder and mystery for me today then it did when I was six years old trying to figure out how I was going to get those four HUGE books down from the top of my parent's bookshelf. It's odd, with all the death, angst, and violence the series contains, that I consider Harry Potter to be my ultimate escape. More than comic books, more than Star Wars, more than video games, more than any other fictional universe I have ever come in contact with, I feel compelled to retreat into the Harry Potter world every few months or so. Why? Because in Harry Potter's world, there's always a home waiting to take you in, always friends that will never abandon you, always some new secret to discover. Harry said it best when he called Hogwarts the place where all abandoned boys could find a home, as this socially awkward, often bullied and even more often friendless Troper can attest to. And don't even get me started on the fanbase. So much has come out of Harry Potter: Potter Puppet Pals, A Very Potter Musical, wizard rock, and more fanfiction then you could shake a wand at. Jo Rowling's dream hasn't just succeeded in entertaining- it has kickstarted an entire wave of creative thought, and brought so many people to reading that it just boggles the mind. Lots of people claim that the books are overrated. Are they? In my opinion, absolutely not. The story and characters are amazing, but beyond that, the prose is very excellent- why do so many people call it simple? Does it have to be complicated to serve its purpose, which is to entertain and spark the imagination? I don't think so. I still get an empty feeling in the pit of my gut every time I read the epilogue (which is kinda cheesy, but in a good way), but I always find great contentment in reminding myself that one doesn't need to be a British kid born with magic powers to visit Hogwarts- if you for some reason can't visit it in your dreams, there's always those books (which seem to get smaller and shorter with age- Shrinking Charm?) sitting on the top of your shelf, begging you to crack them open and get back to Hogwarts again.
Good, if not great
I read the entire series when I was younger. There are bits and pieces I don't remember too well, but I think I've got most of it still in my head. Anyway, this was a mostly enjoyable series, and while it has its flaws, I still think it's worth reading. My favorite part is probably how ridiculously well planned-out this is. That leads to a meandering and episodic plot throughout the first couple books, but once you get further in, it's well worth it - Rowling has clearly put a lot of thought into this plot, and it shows. The story is genuinely suspenseful and unpredictable, which is actually pretty unusual for a series that gets this big. The worldbuilding, also, was expertly done. We got an entire world, completely without dumps that felt almost like a real place. (Almost.) And, finally, most of the characters were very interesting and realistic. There's a large cast, and almost every member was well-developed. But I do say 'almost'. Because there is one characterization problem, and it's my biggest issue with the series: Harry. He's so bland. His only characteristic is 'whinny', and even then, it's inconsistent and fluctuating, depending on the situation. People say he's brave, but he's more of a Pinball Protagonist, thrust into dangerous situations not because he wants to, but because he doesn't have a choice. The other thing that bothers me is the morality, which is completely Black and White. Oh, sure, Rowling will discuss how you can't divide the world into good guys and death eaters, how there's no real good or evil, but when it comes to the actual heroes and villains, that doesn't show. A couple of the enemies have shades of grey, but for the most part, they're just stock characters meant to be threatening. Voldemort is, of course, the worst example: he has literally no characteristics at all other than being a psychopath bent on destroying the world. I would say he's like Hitler, but Hitler had motives. They made no sense, but at least they were there, at least there was something about him that made him human. Voldemort has no such characteristics. He's just evil. Why? Because evil. This book has many strong points, and they're worth celebrating. I'm focusing on the negative, because they're usually overlooked, but really, this is a strong series that I recommend.
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.
Deserves every bit of its fame
To say it upfront, the series is not perfect. But what in this world is? I think the first four books are better than the last three because for one, they were written under less pressure (some aspects of the later books needed a little bit polishing), and two, in a way the last three books are less self-contained than the first four and more part of a long arc. But what makes the story so good? 1. A really creative world. You can read all the books multiple times and you will notice stuff which might slipped because you read them, but didn't really think about it. 2. Some really well plotted mysteries, which you can solve for yourself if you pay attention, but usually don't because the author just slipped an important detail by you. 3. Really well done characters! Nobody in those books is perfect, everyone is allowed to make wrong decisions. Thus said: Read the books before you watch the movies! You otherwise ruin a great experience for yourself.
I've read the reviews.....and I have to say that I didn't agree with any of them. Its either people saying "Its not that great, fans ruined it for me" or "OH MY GOD THIS IS AWESOME!!!!". Both of those made me facepalm. But lets get other peoples honest opinion out of the way. 1. The characters, aside from a few, are great. 2. Great setting, its very atmospheric in terms of appearance. 3. Plot is decent, sometimes great, sometimes awful. Why do people insist on using "good" as an equivalent to "Meh, average". Just some nitpicking.
HP: Hype Perception
At first the hype made me skeptical of the series, but I had other concerns as well. First of all the name smacked of unoriginality to me. Harry Potter. The book is named after the main character. That is a pet peeve of mine and I try to avoid such works, but they hype said it was good anyway so eventually I gave it a try despite my misgivings, besides at least the subtitles were creative. At this point the first three books were out, and the rest of my family had read them. I found that the three of them where in fact an enjoyable read, despite the title and the fact that it was Urban Fantasy. Yes by this point I knew that that type of fantasy wasn't exactly my cup of tea, although I didn't know the word for it. So I was all the more impressed. When the fourth book in the series came out I was even more impressed. This was non-stop fast-paced action. Such a drastic improvement in quality boded well for the series. Then, the long wait, even longer then for book four. My own anticipation need no hype now, but alas the novel when it came was not what I had expected. The previous style had been abandoned, for a new style, one its complete opposite. I hated it. I considered abandoning the series, but everyone deserves a second chance. So I decided to wait and see what book six was like, and let its quality decide whether I would read the final instalement in the series or not. Well it met my standards and the series was redeemed. I was glad of it too, because when the seventh and final book came, I found the series had returned to the quality of the fourth book. Now I am given to understand that others respond differently to each of the books, with everyone having their favourite and their least favourite. So the only way to two know for sure which is which for you, is to read the whole series yourself. As a whole the series lives up to the hype and is worth the read. Which books justify the hype is still a matter of everyones own perception. So give it a read and find your favourite, you'll be glad you did, but when you find one you hate, its probably best to read the cliff notes instead.
An interesting, if overhyped, story.
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.
I Like How It Gets Darker
I fail to see why people bash on the last few books for being gloomy and serious. Yes there were dull parts where they veered off the plot and the romance was bland but with a evil overlord coming back from the dead and all his servants old and new eager to do his bidding, were people really expecting jokes and butterbeer? I loved Deathly Hallows and Half Blood Prince the most, I liked how unexpectedly characters got killed and the whole rebellion thing that went on. I could feel that there was a war happening in a world that consisted of more than just the main characters. It had a intensity and suspense I couldn't find in the first few books. Our trio had to be serious now, or they would die horribly. In Deathly Hallows they screwed up and got captured as deserved, eventually to be rescued but at the cost of someone dear to Harry being murdered. I liked how the characters developed in the last two books. They felt human and relatable, doing what they needed to survive like any of us would have done in their shoes. They also reacted like how people in their current mentality would, which while hard to read sometimes just served to show how bad things were going. Life is not smooth sailing and I know literature doesn't have to reflect reality but if they got through the whole thing laughing and messing around wouldn't that just be cheap and too unrealistic?
The trains do NOT run on time.
In the short amount of space provided here, it would be downright impossible to review the pros and cons of all seven books, or even give a decent overview of the plot without getting into Better Than It Sounds territory. Thus, I offer a substitute: an explanation of what parts of this series appealed to me, and why I think it became so beloved worldwide. First and foremost, I have a hearty dislike for the trope known as No Delays For The Wicked - I like my villains to be human and susceptible to everyday misfortunes, at least to some degree. In a strange way, what I like the most about the HP series is its realism - just like the good guys, the Death Eaters cut corners and make mistakes; a good number of them probably don't even know what the hell their allies or their enemies are up to. And Voldemort himself is less a genuine Evil Overlord than he is an overgrown bully; his philosophy is riddled with holes, he inspires genuine loyalty in very few followers, and if you've been hanging around this site long enough, you'll see just how many gaping mistakes he made during both Wizarding Wars. Clearly, his only redeeming trait is his raw magical talent. Does this make him a less threatening villain? Perhaps. But in my humble opinion, it makes him that much more interesting (perhaps for the same reason that has led me to prefer the Riddler over Ra's al-Ghul any day). When all has been said and done, you realize that his schemes have been in danger of becoming unglued almost as many times as those of the heroes trying to stop him. A case of the blind versus the blind, if there ever was one. And I, for one, find this a refreshing and realistic dynamic. Long-time tropers, after all, will surely know that World War Two wasn't a question of whether the Nazis would lose, as much as when their state would have collapsed (from within or without), and how much they would have dragged down with them. When Harry Potter is criticized, chief amongst the complaints is how flat and nonthreatening the antagonists are. I like it for that very reason.
Book one: it was a little slow and the characters a little flat but i loved the way they became friends. nothing makes you best friends better than fighting a troll together. Book two: the story was better the characters still a little lacking in personallity but a bit more is shown about the golden trio and for the first time it shows that those at the ministry are stupid. Book three :in this book is where the characters started really developing deeper personalitys. In this book the plot was more serious but still had some humorus scenes like Herminone punching Malfoy. I thought Trealawnys personalty was funny in general and that the time turner was an interesting idea. I think the characters introduced here made the plot better and added a interesting twist in the plot. Book four: I absolutly loved this one how it introduced Krum showing Rons jelosey loud and clear. It aslo introduced Harrys first love intrest Cho Chang. Personly I hated her. Ever since 2 I wanted harry and ginny together. I thought the book was great and the plot was completely unexpected. Book 5: ABSOLUTLY LOVED IT! It was amazing I love luna I think luna and nevile should have got together! Dumbrige I mean Umbridge was an amusing oldfudgewad who must have been fun to see her atacked by centars. in this once again the ministry proved idiocy. I love how leadership is thrust at Harry in this and how he takes it unwillingly but does great overall it rocked! Book6: I loved this book but bloodly hell I cried at the end. I love how Harry was getting prepared to fight voldemort by Dumbledor or how he is right every time his friends don't belive him (thats in 7 too about the horocrux at hogwarts) my favorite parts of this book would be slughorn, harry and ginny finnally getting together or ron drinking romolda vanes love potion that was meant for harry Book7:why fred why mad eye why remus why tonks noooooooo well at least voldys gone (loved peeves song) I thought the story great in general
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.
I love the whole series of books
And I stand by it. Yes, the first two books are lighter and my least favourite in the series is the second one. But that was/is just Rowling's way of showing the ageing of the heroes along with their audience. At age 11 you are just a kid and in a kid's mind there are monsters and heroes and not much inbetween. So Potter 1 was pretty much without a whole lot of gray shades. But those shades were added continuously and Harry, Ron and Hermione grew, in body height and experience in life: heroes can make mistakes (Dumbledore), sinners can repent(Snape, and how!), sinister looking people can be good (Mad-Eye Moody) and vice versa (Prof. Quirrell). Then the strong, if not indestuctible friendship the main characters have, with each other and the less featured, but nonetheless loyal characters. What wouldn't I give for friends like that. But I'm afraid that is the MOST fantastic part of the books. Nowadays I'm afraid such friends are not possible. Please correct me, if I'm wrong.
Enjoyable, but not brilliant
I had avoided Harry Potter like the plague due to the popularity and the fact I believe Jane Yolen about the possibility of plagiarism. That said, I decided to read the whole series so I could say I did. Spoilers below. "...Sorcerer's Stone" I found entertaining and easy to read. I found the majority of characters to be likable, but felt that the Quirrell/Voldemort connection was rather flat, although I don't think Rowling could have fleshed out the relationship between them any more without giving the books a tone too dark to become wildly popular with all age groups. "...Chamber of Secrets" was extremely predictable for me. I liked the mythology in the book, and Tom Riddle's first appearance (as Tom Riddle, anyway), but I could tell where the plot was going at all times. Other than that, it's probably my second-favorite of the series. "...Prisoner of Azkaban" was based far too much on conversations between the characters. Honestly, I felt as though nothing happened in the book apart from characters talking... and talking... and talking... and TALKING. Easily my second least-favorite of the series. "...Goblet of Fire" was my favorite of the series. I loved the tone, the humor, and the Mood Whiplash toward the end. Many side characters were added in, all enjoyable ones, although Fleur annoyed me at first (she's now one of my favorites). "...Order of the Phoenix" was my least favorite of the series. I felt that it dragged, and I honestly had trouble getting through the entire book. "...Half-Blood Prince" was predictable but also the most emotional of the series with Dumbledore's death. I shudder thinking back to his scene in the cave with Harry... Gah. "...Deathly Hallows" was long, but I never had any trouble getting through it. I did think that some of the book seemed to say "Oh, what was in the first few books? Eh, Throw It In." Oh, and there is no epilogue. ;)