Thursday, July 26, 2007

and the Deathly Hallows

Note: Contains spoilers ! Don't read if you don't want to know what happens in the latest Harry Potter Book. Read if you've already finished the book or don't care what happen. If you don't give a damn about these books, and don't want to read me expounding on them in any way shape or form, I suggest you come back later.

Yes, I finished. Last night, around 10. I'm not going to write out a long book review because (a) there are tons of others out there (a good one is the Caffeinated Librarian) and (b) I don't think any of my two readers are Harry Potter fans. So here are my thoughts on the book and the series as a whole:

First, I don't remember the last time a book has made me weepy. I remember reading The Color Purple and crying. It's not really fair to compair the two books, but a couple of times, when certain characters died (Dobby, Fred), I found myself tearing up. I also felt elation when certain characters did good or showed their true spirit (Neville, Mrs. Weasly, Snape). So kudos to Rowling for making me care so much about these character. (and just to let you know, I am not PMSing...just my normal overly sensitive self).

However, I think Rowling's books seem to have more in common with the more recent television fantasy/suspense shows (Twin Peaks, Lost) than they do with other fantasy/suspense book series (Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia). While all of these works draw on universal themes such as war, religion and death, the television shows work on the premise that it will only go on if they have enough viewers to continue to tell the story (no cries from the TP fans, I was know people were watching it and it still got cancelled). Books, generally don't work that way. Tolkien had wanted to release his books as one rather than broken up into seperate novels. Both Twin Peaks and Lost worked because we kept (or keep) coming back to find out what happens next. When one plot point is tied up, another, more outrageous one, begins. Frodo and the Pevensie children (and the readers) find out what they have to do well before they have to do it. Like the characters on Lost and TP, Harry doesn't find out till the very end.

Does this mean I think Rowling has dumbed down literature to the level of television? No. There is room for all kinds of literature in this world, and not everyone can be Tolkien or Lewis (thank God). The success of her books has started many people reading who may not have other wise (and I say this not just from hearing other people say it - but I witnessed it in my brother who did not take to books like his sisters did, but has devoured each book in the HP series, sought out others like them and has turned into at least an occasional reader because of them) - and that can never be a bad thing. Do I think Rowling drew out the series a little longer than she probably needed to, tied up all the loose ends a little neater than they should be and gave her readers most everything they wanted? Yes. But then again, did I go get the book when it came out? Do I plan on watching all the movies over and over again? Have I ordered a Gryfindor scarf for the winter? You betcha (jk on that last one).


Bethany said...

Where did you get your scarf? Did you knit it? i can't wait to see pictures!

Melanie Higgins said...

bethany -
a quick search on Google gets lots of results for Harry Potter gear. And several knitting patterns. Maybe I will knit myself one.

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