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My Harry Potter Thoughts

JK Rowlings is a brilliant storyteller.

As I read the book, I feel more and more, that JK Rowlings is a brilliant storyteller. I liked the book. I really did. There were definitely cliche or boring moments, but especially towards the end, I just couldn't put it down. It wasn't great literature, but heck. A lot of "great literatures" are boring as heck. Maybe literatures that are great, are the ones that get people passionate and reading. Lots of people, not just the intellectual elitist.

- The climax was great. It was great.
- I did believe for a moment that he would die. Despite me reading from the idiotic nytimes that it was an "old-fashioned" ending, and googling harry potter, and seeing a title that said "Harry Potter" lives forever.
- Yes, I teared up.
- At several moments in the book I cried: "Sweet!" and "Yes!"

Ok, that's it. I'm too much in a high right now to talk about the negative aspects.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 24th, 2007 07:59 am (UTC)
Fun. But.
It's ok. But it's much to convoluted. Which it has to be, I guess, for the story to span 7 monumental books with a relatively trivial main-thread.

Made it trickier, I guess, that Voldemort was confronted and defeated in book *1* already. That was definitely a monumentally bad move for a 7-book series. You can keep defeating him in every damn book, but it starts feeling like whack-a-mole or a bad RPG (where every main bad-guy is defeated atleast 3 times, and generally comes back stronger after each defeat but the last)

Infact the move was *so* bad that I'm not at all convinced Rowling tells the truth when she claims the story was planned to have 7 books from the get-go. There are -zero- public statements from her to this effect from before the first book, she started claiming it a few months after book 1 was released.

There's also enough unknit yarn that I'm convinced Rowling will spend the rest of her productive years writing one "add-on" book after the other, with ever diminishing success and ever diminishing readability. (there's already 2)

It's like, the details are great, but the overall story is banal. I really enjoyed the adventures of our trio, it was great fun. But the overarching "Voldemort" main-thrust was anything but inventive.

There's this bad guy. He killed your parents. He is invulnerable until you've destroyed all Horcruxes. Thereafter there's a big figth, which you win. A little romance is thrown in, as is a large number of side-quests of questionable relevance to the actual story. Reads like 75% of all RPGs out there, frankly. Oh yeah, and thereafter we live happily ever after.

Also, you have to manage to live with the marketing without puking. "Who dies", endless, carefully orchestrated "leaks", drips of info to keep people interested. All swallowed up wholesale by the media, despite the fact that anyone who's really *wanted* to know has known for atleast a month.

Also, extremely stupid threats towards journalism. What, exactly, is wrong with the NYC publishing a (non-spoiler!) review of a book 2 days before the book goes on sale ? Other than that it destroys your marketing oh-ultra-secret-nobody-knows-bullshit ?

So, to me it was a question of ignoring the main story and the offensiveness of the author and publisher and enjoying the sillyness. At that it was quite enjoyable.
Jul. 24th, 2007 03:39 pm (UTC)
Re: Fun. But.
Whether or not you like the book is subjective, so I'll leave that alone.

In regards to spoilers.. you said:
"What, exactly, is wrong with the NYC publishing a (non-spoiler!) review of a book 2 days before the book goes on sale ?"

The problem was, it was in the front page of nytimes.com. I actively wouldn't have clicked on such a headline.. but unfortunately, under the headline was a description which said that the ending was "old-fashioned" and not a "modern" "soprano-esque" ending (Soprano was a series that ended recently and left things ending, it didn't resolve. This to me was a major spoiler. I knew immediately that Harry was going to live, and it was a happy ending. This points out that JK Rowlings was still a good writer, because when I read it, for 5 seconds, I still did think that Harry was going to die.

I don't care if people want to review the book. I just don't want it on the front page of a major newspaper. A lot of good story-telling is about anticipation and suspense. And when you know the general outcome.. (like the hero winning) .. then it kills some of the joy of anticipation.

As for "Reads like 75% of all RPGs out there, frankly. Oh yeah, and thereafter we live happily ever after."

I don't understand what's wrong with that. Major human stories are the same. It's about people falling in love, obstacles. Estrangement from father, reconnecting with father. It's part of the heroes journey.

What makes a story great is -how- you tell that story. And she did it in a way that she kept the interest of little kids, and adults.

A lot of modern writers try to be original by writing from a viewpoint of say, a tea-bag. But to be interesting, it has to have a human story. And the human story is about love, and despair.

My pet peeve is when I watch a movie, and the hero dies, just to make it "artistic". Or when things don't resolve just to make it "modern". People want to see things resolve. And if things don't resolve, there better be a darn good reason for it.
Jul. 24th, 2007 08:16 pm (UTC)
Re: Fun. But.
I don't think we disagree that much. I just think we phrase differently. I say the main story is banal, but I like the details. You say it doesn't matter which story is told, but how it is told. Amounts to the same thing, or close to it.

There's nothing wrong with a happy ending. I *did* find this one very much clichee, a ending can be happy without, essentially, ending in marriages and children. There where other over-clichees too. Is there a more commonly used way of setting up a conflict between a "bad-guy" and a hero than having the bad-guy kill the heroes parents ? But as I already said, despite this I found it a fun read.

90% of the books are not about the main conflict at all. It's about a bunch of kids growing up, essentially. Visiting school. Having favourite and less favourite teachers and subjects, falling in love, falling out of love, sneaking out at nigth, getting picked on, winning, losing, basically your normal childhood. It is well-written and entertaining. As is the many irrelevant side-tracks, down to the naming of people and creatures. I still grin at the Knallrümpfige Kröter.

As for the reviews, my problem was with Rowlings response to them, claiming they spoiled the fun for millions of children etc. Frankly, most children don't read the NYC, and if they do, I'm not sure they'll draw the same conclusion you did. And if they're smart enough to do that, then they could've told you since literally book 2 that none of the main trio will die. It's also not really a whopper that Voldemort is defeated....

As for different, surprising, but, as you say, ultimately about the human condition, did you ever read "The story of Pi" ? If you did, I'd be deligthed to hear your opinion of it. If you didn't, please consider, it's well worth your time.

Jul. 24th, 2007 09:18 am (UTC)
It would be interesting to go through books one and two again to reread the parts about N. Longbottom, and see how she is setting him up for transition to heroics later.
Jul. 24th, 2007 03:40 pm (UTC)
Reading the book was great for narrative improv. Neville was a classic case of status change.
Aug. 2nd, 2007 01:00 pm (UTC)
Ok, I'm done! I finished the last 80 pages in a rush last night so that I could chatter before leaving for Pennsic. I managed to drag it out for a week, though!

I loved the end. I, too, thought Harry would die (until I realized that he was walking to his death with a good 50 pages left to go--in the British edition!), I teared up and was shouting "No" and "Yes" beginning with Hedwig's death at the very beginning. Lots of blood!

Some things I was hoping for more resolution of but never got: The Petunia storyline (very unsatisfying); the Snape storyline (also unsatisfying, plus I was sure he was part Vampire!!).
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


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