Harry Potter, what a tool.

7 Nov

from July 2006

Now that I’ve finished the book, here’s my review.
Would I let my child read it? Yes
Would I have read it as a child? Yes
Would I recommend that you read it? No
The opening chapters are dreadful and ponderous. Harry is mentally and physically abused by his family. (His parents are both dead, and he is living with his aunt, uncle, and cousin.) This is in the tradition of Cinderella and the step-sisters, but taken to a horrendous degree. There are no redeeming comedic features to the characters. They are ogres and monsters. Further, there is no redeeming comedic feature to Harry. He takes the abuse, never getting any childish revenge or satisfaction. He is a perpetual victim.
The next chapters are concerned with Harry’s preparations to attend Hogwarts, the sorcery school. Harry meets both school-mates and school-teachers. They are not unlikable. Even the teachers, who are (mostly) stern and strict are not dislikable. However, nothing much happens. Harry is introduced to various people and devices, with little development. It is a shallow story.
The last 1/3 of the story is better, and is why I raised my opinion. A small mystery develops, and it is this, along with Harry dodging some less-than-nice school-mates that propels the remainder of the book. However, “mystery” is a word with several connotations. This is not a mystery that engages the reader. There is no chance of solving it with the clues provided (there are none.) As with the rest of the book, it is simply a series of events which we witness, never with any interaction or concern. Further, the author cheats. She fudges some important points, and doesn’t  explain at least one vital plot point. However, this is a kids book, and they aren’t likely to notice. Not important to the reader, but just another point against the author.
I’ve got some more serious problems. Harry and his friends break some rules (albeit in a good cause) but are never punished. Moreover, they are praised and rewarded. Not a good lesson. It also lacks any morals or lessons. It is full of empty calories. Won’t hurt you, but doesn’t help either. I don’t understand how this book got its reputation.
This novel is very much in the style of most children’s “literature.” If you have ever read “Beware The Fish” by Gordon Korman or any of its sequels, you’ve read this book, just with magic added. It mines all of the typical feelings and fears of children, i.e. parents aren’t fair, teachers are out to get you, rules are made to be broken, kids are smarter than they are given credit for. It is writen in the style of “The Phantom Tollbooth” but lacks the sense of wonder and depth present there. That book works on many levels, “Potter” only functions on one.
Go ahead and read it to satisfy your curiosity, if you wish. It’s a fast read, and won’t hurt. It is even likeable, though not to the extent that I’ll bother to read the sequels.
Any comparison to Tolkien, Narnia, Oz, or any real fantasy is totally unfounded. This is a child’s view of fantasy, not an adult’s. It has a small scope, never really developed. It never attempts to describe the larger wizard world, only introduces small elements as they become relevant.
If you want to borrow my copy, you’re welcome to it.    😉

4 Responses to “Harry Potter, what a tool.”

  1. Jess July 29, 2010 at 9:12 pm #

    What happens when an adult reads Harry Potter?

    I’m in my late 20’s and I started reading the series last year and blogging the whole experience: http://mugglemeetswizard.wordpress.com/

    I avoided the books up until that point with the “these are for children” mindset to back me up. Why would I waste my time on kids’ books?

    I went in armed with sarcasm and cynicism. These couldn’t possibly be as good as everyone was saying they are.

    Here’s what I discovered: It’s not a children’s series, or at the very least it’s not JUST a children’s series. I can see what an adult would pull from it and why they would love it.

    Actually, my baby sister is reading the series right now – she’s 13 – and she can’t stand it, because it’s “not Twilight”. I’m actually going to say that she’ll like it far better when she’s older. As a kid, it’s just not compelling to her.

    But I’d also say it’s not a heavy fantasy book, either. This is Fantasy 101. I’m not actually a fan of the genre, so that was fine by me. I honestly don’t think it was meant to be something like LOTR.


    • bmj2k July 29, 2010 at 10:10 pm #

      Glad you liked it. I think, candidly, that anything that gets anyone to read can’t be all bad. (Even Twilight.) What HP has going for it, at least from my particular adult perspective, is the sense of innocense and awe, whereas Twilight (for example) is full of cynicsim.

      I agree, it was never intended to be compared to LOTR, but that blog is a bit dated and I vividly recall the HP films being compared in the press to LOTR and I found it ridiculous.

      Thank you very much for taking the time to respond. I really appreciate it.


      • Jess July 29, 2010 at 10:26 pm #

        I saw that the date was old, but I loved the perspective, so I figured what the hey. It’s interesting, because it’s a conversation I had a lot with my friends when I said I was reading the series. Adults struggle with liking this series and not feeling like little kids.

        Maybe I should pick up LOTR next!


        • bmj2k July 29, 2010 at 10:35 pm #

          Please, start with The Hobbitt and let me know how you feel. The feel and tone of The Hobbitt is different than LOTR, more like, actually, Harry Potter.


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