Title: Harry Potter (book series, 1997-2007)
Author: J.K. Rowling
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Sci-Fi, Fiction
Rating: 4.5 stars
This is probably one of the few long (2+) book series that just keeps getting better and better. Though I do wish that I could have read the series when I was younger, reading it this year has not made it any less enjoyable than it would have had if I had read it as a child (except maybe for the first two books). Rowling’s ability to combine all the elements and characters into these beautiful and imaginative plot twists is just… perfect.
I decided to do a review of all seven books together to show my opinion regarding the changes and progress that Rowling made throughout the books. Reading the series not only enabled me to see how the characters developed into more mature students, it also enabled me to see the progress in Rowling’s thoughts and writing.
The story itself may not be completely original in the fantasy world, but Rowling is able to create an aura of mystery in this already fantastic world and unveil seemingly massive reveals at the end of each book, to then surprise the readers with more unforeseen and heartbreaking truths as the series got closer to the end.
Every time a book finished with a supposedly conclusive ending, I would be surprised by the following book by how much connection it had to the prior book’s occurrences.
As a young audience, we can all relate to the characters in some way, particularly regarding the three protagonists. Or maybe we identify ourselves a bit like each of them – Harry’s strong moral conscience, Ron’s clumsiness, and, Hermione’s strong affection for books (obviously). All the characters are so relatable that the only barrier separating us from becoming one of them is the (currently) non-existent Wizarding World. These three characters become heroic because they happen to be at the same place at the same time, without possessing any ‘special’ talents that would have otherwise created a barrier with the readers.
Though all the students are split into four fixed Houses in accordance to their personalities, qualities and/or values. However, many characters show us that such is not always the case, e.g. Harry’s traits could have landed him on Slytherin, and Hermione’s intelligence and wit could have landed her in Ravenclaw.
One thing that I would have changed would be the characters’ development throughout the series, particularly in the first few books. I felt that the protagonists’ traits were more static than dynamic, particularly during the first chapters of each book, where it seemed that none of the horrible ordeals they had gone through in the previous books had happened at all.
Hogwarts, being both a safeguard and in risk of external threat, is the ideal dream for any child/teenager/YA reading the series. The setting always possesses that sense of novelty, excitement, risk and creativity that our Muggle world has yet to offer. Even if by the time we grow up, and no School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has appeared, deep down, we know that we will always belong there.
The most important themes presented are the power of love and death, combined. Throughout the series, Voldemort exploited Harry’s ability to feel love by killing off his loved ones – mainly his parents, Sirius, Lupin, and Dumbledore. The first deaths marked him the most, as it awakened a sense of loneliness, loss of identity, and vengeance in Harry.
The following deaths affected me, as a reader, much more. The connection that Harry had built with each of them was destroyed the moment they died, creating an irreplaceable gap in his life. This made me question whether love was a source to happiness, or just a cause of deterioration. Until the last book. The memory that Harry was able to get from Snape before he died was all it took to make the best possible ending for the book. Though Voldemort exploited his inability to love and Harry’s craving for love, it was ultimately the power of unconditional love that beat the odds, settling my skepticism regarding the power of love.
Though Rowling’s writing style enables the plot, the characters, and everything else to fall into place perfectly in each book, this was still probably the element that I liked the least about Rowling. Again, this was more notorious in the first few books, where I felt that Rowling lacked some of the linguistic flair that she was then able to exhibit in the later books of the series.
The main details that bother me the most when I read her books were the excessive use of adverbs that sometimes overflowed her descriptions, the structure of her sentences. It doesn’t change the fact that Rowling is an incredible storyteller, and most of the things she mentioned were given a ‘closure’. For instance, I kept wondering why none of the magicians never thought of using a Time-Turner after “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” – until my doubt was resolved when it was revealed that the stock had been rendered useless by the Ministry.
I thoroughly enjoyed the films and felt that they were the perfect visual and audial complement to the books. However, due to the complexity and amount of details that the series encompassed, no one who only watches the films would be able to understand completely everything that went on in the films. More often than not, many occurrences were just ‘shown’, and lacked the explanations that the books had. For instance, in “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”, I felt that the Horcruxes lacked more in-depth explanation, particularly as to how Dumbledore realized where one of them was hidden (something that was explained in the books).
Additionally, I felt that many of the characters lacked the presence and voice they were given in the books, namely Ginny and Neville, with the latter being of crucial importance as he could have been ‘The Chosen One’ instead of Harry. I feel that the films only made an attempt to show this in the last film, where Neville stepped up his game in defeating Voldemort and his army (by killing Nagini).
There are soo many topics and aspects portrayed in the series, which means that I’ll most likely read the later books of the series again sometime in the future. I tried to make this review as brief and succinct as possible, because it’s like the most well-known fantasy series ever, but I still wanted to put out my opinions. I am not usually a fan of fantasy books, but this series has become the exception.
What were your thoughts on the series? What other (similar) book series have you read and/or do you recommend?