Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Harry Potter

Ah, Harry Potter. It had to happen eventually. I own all seven books, I have read them all and I occasionally reread them. The first one I read was Goblet of Fire, the fourth book. I was working/volunteering at a convent school in England. The book was lying in the senior common room, so I picked it up and read it. It was a good book. When I came home, I went about purchasing and reading the rest of them.

This is a good series. It's fun, mostly well-written and full of glorious details. The books centre around Harry Potter, the Boy who Lived, and his experiences at wizarding school. Though, really, if any of you don't actually know this I'd be very surprised.

The earlier books are much better than the later ones, in my personal opinion. The earlier books are very much school stories with, of course, the obligatory adventure at the end. My favourite of these is Prisoner of Azkaban, though I am very fond of Chamber of Secrets as well. The later books are far more action-oriented - they are far more in the adventure style than in the school style. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but the books lengthen and the plots suffer for it. It's hard to pick a favourite here, but I'd go for either Goblet of Fire or Order of the Phoenix. Phoenix does have the problem of making me cringe, but then Goblet of Fire has the problem of Hermione looking drastically different in the same way that no-one recognises Superman when he puts on different clothes and glasses. It's ridiculous. There are increasing plot-holes and bad characterisation as the series goes on.

I'm not going to detail my every objection to the series, but Rowling needs some practice at writing believable teenage romance and angst. She could also have used a better, less star-struck editor who was capable of spotting the glaring errors and fixing them. I cannot complain too much though, given the horrific editing of some of my favourite books (here including Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie, but not Tolkien). I will, however, complain about the way that she 'develops' her characters. They not only grow, they regress. Now, while I grant that there is some cause for some of this, occasionally she just takes a character and disregards their entire personality and turns them into someone else with the same name (and yes, I'm thinking particularly of Cho here). I also think that a few of her supporting characters are a little too two-dimensional and could have been far better developed, considering the length of time she had to develop them in all the enormous tomes she wrote.

I don't think very much of the movies, but that's mostly because of the way that they deviate from the books. The errors that the books make are bad enough - there is no need to compound them by making even worse errors in the movies. They did, in my opinion, have very good casting for the most part.

And, a word about the covers. I for one like the majority of the covers. There is only one I object to and that's the one for Deathly Hallows. The artwork seems out of character with the rest in the sequence. I would have much preferred for all the artwork to have been done by one artist, preferably one of the ones that did Prisoner of Azkaban, Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix. I do not like the covers by the artist who did the ones in the Afrikaans translation (and possibly the books that were published in the States? It's hard to tell). There are also the 'adult' covers. Entirely unnecessary in my opinion, but some people are weird about their book covers. I personally don't usually care too much about the cover (except when it comes to my Enid Blytons' - I don't want the covers to be too modern 'cause those covers tend to be awful).

Anyway, if you haven't read these, you probably should.

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