I have a confession: I have not read the Harry Potter books. Or at least, I’ve only read the first two or three or whatever the series had got to in 2000. I’m sure I’m not alone in this, but it is odd for me, because a) I read constantly, and fairly indiscriminately, and b) I went through a big fantasy stage as a kid, and still have quite a respect for youth fiction of this nature.
I think what happened was that by the time I got around to starting the series, they had already been highly hyped. So when I read them, I found them fine and engaging, but they didn’t really live up to the hype. (Although what ever could have, I’m not sure.)
Now, based on the movies, I’d say the books got better as they went along, so I probably gave up too soon, but my feeling in reading the ones that I read was that they weren’t actually anything new, and were extremely overrated. I probably would have enjoyed them without all the insanity, but as things stood, I wasn’t as impressed as I’d hoped to be.
I watch almost as many movies as I read books, however, and when the Harry Potter movies come out, it’s always an event, so I have seen them all. This includes the one that came out last Thursday.
With the exception of the final five minutes, I’d say the last movie was the best. (Tip if you haven’t seen it – There’s a bit at the end where someone throws something off a cliff. When that happens, turn away from the screen, get up, and leave immediately. It’s where the movie should have ended. Trust me.)
It’s a good series. Solid quest plot with a sufficiently menacing bad guy to overcome and a group of relatable protagonists. Things pick up nicely when they finally stop yammering on about quidditch.
I think what really won me over though, was when I realized that the titles were all big fat lies. “Harry Potter and the….” But the more of the movies you watch, and presumably the more of the books you read, the more you realize that Harry isn’t our hero. Hermione is. And she’s completely brilliant: she’s diligent, clever, decisive and emotionally complex; she has more common sense than Harry and Ron combined, and she saves their asses at least a dozen times. She’s the hero that Harry wishes he could be. I love her.
There’s something wonderfully subversive about naming a book or series after one character, letting the reader assume that’s our man, and then having the real hero sneak up on you like that. Maybe it just appeals to my contrary nature, but it made me happy.
So what can I say? I’ve been converted. I might even finish the books. With the release of the final movie, there are a lot of people bemoaning the end of an era. Me though, trendster that I am, I just jumped on the bandwagon last Friday.