Archive for July 25, 2007

Egads…

This one may have spoilers. I’m going to try to hide them, but it may not work. Read with caution.

The problem with reading HP7 quickly in the wee hours of the morning and then immediately blogging about it with a pulsing headache is that it is so easy to miss what should have been blindingly clear. Settling down for a much-needed lunch hour nap, it came to me like the voice of a smug lit professor who can’t believe he has to spell this out to sophomores. I’ve been discussing (elsewhere) the epilogue, and whether it was extraneous, too tidy, satisfying. I realize now that the romantic angle is incidental. The epilogue is ESSENTIAL, because it sets the stage for _____’s closing conversation with _____ about the Hogwarts Houses.

Harry Potter 7 is the lynchpin in a brilliant, ingeniously-crafted, long-resonating message about choice.

This isn’t a fantasy series. Its not even a kids book, in the common sense of the phrase. This is a non-author’s daring stand against a bleakening future, against apathy and selfishness. And it’s BEAUTIFUL. Millions of children will internalize the Harry Potter myth, will latch onto one character or another as a small part of their psyche, and by that will come to unconsciously understand that we have CHOICES.

We have the choice to be good or evil, to do harm or good, to be brave or craven. More importantly, we can choose to CHANGE. We can choose to turn the darkness in ourselves into light.

We’re all human. We are all of us going to hurt one another, cheat, fail, turn tail and run, betray, wound, disappoint, misplace (dis)trust, fall from grace. But we can choose to get back on the broom, return to our friends, beg forgiveness, devote our lives to rebalancing the equation.

I am thinking, and I can’t come up with a SINGLE CHARACTER of any note in the HP saga who isn’t given at least one moment of choice, an opportunity to turn around. Not all of them make worthy choices, not all of them make unpredictable ones. But every single one of them chooses: whom to love, to trust, to join, to leave. They change the road they are on. ___ returns to the front lines and rejoins his estranged friends. _____, against all odds, turns his back on his livelihood and joins his family for the final battle. _____ chooses his child over one last adventure. The students of Hogwarts choose to take a stand rather than give in to enormous power and pressure. It’s every single character. It’s the entire story.

And even when a choice doesn’t turn out the way we hope, we’re told in the epilogue, it is still within our power to take THAT and make it work for good.

The Sorting Hat represents destiny, and seems an inevitable thing – but it listened to an eleven-year-old boy who preferred Gryffindor over Slytherin. It bowed to free will.

Harry Potter is a seven-volume saga about “Invictus.”

Brilliant. I was appreciative before, but now I’d really like to shake Rowling’s hand. What a masterpiece. I know there are lots of you out there who are kind of indifferent about the books… but you might give them a shot. There’s something more to these books than the hype and the movies and the merchandising. These books just might accomplish something.

Update: If you liked this review, consider clicking here and giving it a “thumb’s up” by clicking on the little symbol in the lower lefthand corner. I submitted it for the LibraryThing Harry Potter 7 review contest, even though I don’t strictly think it’s a true review – it’s more formal than most on there, though, so why not?

July 25, 2007 at 12:02 pm 2 comments

Again Regarding Harry Potter 7 (Still No Spoilers)

Four and a half hours.

It wasn’t as bad as I’d thought. Wasn’t as good as some people would want me to believe, either. Best book ever? Please. Best of the seven? Up for debate; it certainly wasn’t my favorite, but it was very good. Formulaic in bits, predictable, derivitatve in bits, too – but hey, seriously. An amazing story, very well-written, very much worth the headache brewing behind my eyes because I stayed up too late. And yes, I’d say that even if no one else in the world had ever heard of Harry.

Who dies? Hell, this is Hamlet on broomsticks. Everyone dies. Except the rutabaga.

Oh come on. Did you really think that I, grateful depender-upon-those who don’t spoil, would spill the plotbeans? Even on four hours of sleep?

Don’t get me wrong. I want to talk about it. But online – at least on the public side, this soon – is not the place. Maybe I’ll do a… yes. If you have finished reading the book, and want to, leave me a note and I’ll add you to my protected list. It’ll be a brand-new shiny protected list just for this. The downside is that it is limited to ten people, since I let my Premium expire, so if you volunteer to be one of the ten you’d better promise to bring good discussion! 🙂 Oops. This is why I shouldn’t copy/paste from Xanga this early in the morning. Sorry about that.

Speaking of discussion: I was thinking about characters on the way to work this morning, and about how the minor characters have all become pretty fleshed-out and realistic over the course of the last seven books, and how I can see people I know in the people in HP. This led me to this question, that I hope all you HP readers will answer:

Think seriously about it, and be honest. Which supporting character (not Harry, Ron, or Hermione) is most like you? Not the you that you would like to be, but who you really are. Don’t consider magical ability in your consideration, just personality, actions, etc.. Base your response on what you know of that character given how far you’ve gotten in the HP books – no answer will be mocked. 🙂

I’ll post my answer in the comments.

What can be said without spoiling anything:

  • I now totally understand why my sister threw the book in chapter four. I don’t know how far she is (she bought the book right before boarding a plane to Orlando for a convention, and probably doesn’t have much time to read) but she’s going to get another chance to hone her book-chucking skills here before the end of the book. Poor git.
  • The prediction I posted online, some time ago, was proved partially correct. My long-standing theory of – well, my long-standing theory was proved 100% correct. R’s and my revised prediction, which was never put into print, was proved rather spectacularly correct – not 100%, but startlingly so. Well done, R!
  • I think the American version was too hastily edited for British vernacular. Most of the books use the occasional British slang word to add a sense of setting, but the inconsistency of vernacular usage in book 7 did not have the air of deliberateness. I’m all for the word “snog,” and I grew up on Brit lit so my comprehension is pretty high, but some of the phrases in this book stopped me cold and made me wish I had a dictionary.
  • Not enough Hogwarts. And I miss the Quidditch matches. Truth be told, I loved the first four books, and ever since then it’s been a slow downhill slide into dark fantasy land for me. I like the sense of wonder and exploration as the children discover the school and the wizarding world much better than all this war and emotional disturbance and betrayal. I guess that’s the 7-year-old daisy-chain-making fairy-tale-reading idealist in me, but I can’t help it. (How I ever made it as an English major, I’ll never know.)
  • I am a sucker for heroicism. Is that actually a word? It sounds good in my mind…
  • Love the character development that wipes out some of the black-and-white nature of some of these major characters. Thanks for de-cartooning things, J.K.!
  • My head hurts.

July 25, 2007 at 7:01 am 1 comment


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