Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Commentary on Harry

What person living hasn't heard the name Harry Potter? It's hard to fathom meeting someone who has no knowledge of J.K. Rowling's epic masterpiece. The books' original fans get that look of horror in their eyes when someone dares to admit that they have only watched the movies. It's a travesty, for how could you not appreciate the wonderful, amazing tale of Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived?

People everywhere say what mastery J.K. Rowling has, what amazing prose and story telling skills. Fans everywhere laud her ability to target the entire population as her demographic. But then again... is that really true? Adults can appreciate the trip down childhood memory lane when reading Rowling's sophisticated prose, but what about the children? The first three books are beautifully appropriate - just the correct amount of suspense, danger, and intrigue for a child. They know Harry's going to make it out okay, but they wait with bated breath to see what will happen in the beautifully crafted literature.

Then, "The Goblet of Fire" hits. True to her previous style, it's still rich and full of wit, and a pleasure to read. But this is where the Happy Harry ends, and the Emo Harry begins. The book begins to have a serious undertone to it. Lord Voldemort becomes more scary - death becomes a very real part of the series. Suddenly, children are scared for harry. They're scared, period.

Book five, "The Order of the Phoenix", opens with a severely depressed Harry who has horrible recurring nightmares about Cedric. This is truly when Harry Potter is moved permanently from the children's section to some other place completely. A shelf all it's own, where it says "Let your precious preteens read this at their own risk". Rowling introduces Umbridge, a teacher who, as punishment, makes Harry cut himself. Sure, it's with magic, but the disturbing, depressing element is still there. Then, we end with Sirius dying, and are left feeling even more disturbed than before.

"The Half Blood Prince" had me stumbling through it, trying to find redeeming qualities. I had waited so long for the book, only to be faced with something nigh unreadable. Who wants to pick up a book and be immersed with an even more depressed main character who mopes through the entire 500+ pages? Then, we're left on another cheery note - Snape kills Dumbledore. I can't wait to share this with my five year old. I love cynical children under 8.

Then, we end with "Deathly Hallows". I went to the midnight release for this book, and stayed up the rest of the night reading it. I had a swim meet the next day, but I didn't care. I was going to finish the book if it killed me. This book, however, took all the depression that had been building in the previous three and made it a stark reality. I have yet to read the entire thing through without extreme coercion. It's great prose. Character development, everything is great. And I love the Harry Potter series. But it should not still be classified as children's lit.

And the epilogue kills me. Ugh. I would have preferred it if she left it up to the reader's imagination who ended up with whom. Albus Severus? Really? If there's one thing Stephenie Meyer and J.K. Rowling have in common, it's their ability to kill younger characters names. Good lord, women! What are you thinking?

Again I will repeat my absolute love for the Harry Potter series. There's just something unappealing about reading about a depressed wizard. Very unappealing.

This wasn't a structured review. More of a public rant.