Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Harry Potter

I know I am seven long years behind the times, but I just finished reading HP now, and I'm going to post my really out of date review right here. If you're somehow even more behind the times than I and are still planning to read the things, then please note SPOILER ALERT.

I really quite liked the first six HPs. I've heard people observe that the characters aren't that complex and the writing style isn't that elegant/lyrical/etc., but I think it's a bit dumb to complain about those things as they were clearly never strengths of the series and were probably never intended to be. In my view, the strengths of the series were a) the detail-oriented and well-paced storyline, and b) the atmosphere: JK R did a great job creating a really vivid and compelling magical environment. 

However, these strengths pretty much went to pot in the seventh HP, which is the one that ultimately revealed whether JK had really thought the whole shebang through and knew where it was going, or was simply making shit up as she went along and hoping it would all somehow *magically* come together. And I am sorry to say that the latter appears to be true. Here are a few of the many problems I found with HP 7:

1) The really long camping trip takes up the entire first half of the book yet never goes anywhere.

2) Practically all the key plot points, like finding Hufflepuff's (or Ravenclaw's? I forget) diadem and finding a way to destroy the remaining Horcruxes are introduced and then very quickly resolved right near the end.

3) Ron is suddenly able to imitate Parseltongue well enough to get into the chamber of secrets even though everything in the entire series up to that point suggests that Parseltongue is not a normal language that can be learned or imitated.

4) If HP's invisibility cloak is a completely one of a kind thing the likes of which has never been seen in the magical world before, and if it's so powerful that even Death can't see through it, then how in the hell can Mad-Eye Moody see through it?

5) The whole business with the super-powerful wand and its progressive ownership was sort of poorly explained and didn't entirely make sense to me, and I swear to goodness I'm not a TOTAL moron.

6) A ton of new material was introduced when it probably would have been more effective to resolve things using only what we knew already.

7) The Snape twist wasn't as big of a deal as it seemed like it was going to be, and it didn't actually make him any less creepy which I got the feeling it was supposed to.

8) WHY would anyone want to follow Voldemort? This is neither explained nor explored. I mean, we know from the very first book that Voldy's not going to reward loyalty (Quirrell) and we know at least from the sixth book that no one's family is going to be safe just because they followed him (Draco Malfoy). In fact, it is pretty much completely clear the entire time that following him will result in a faster death than not following him. So why would anyone follow him? I know Voldy's supposed to be based on Hitler and I likewise don't know why anyone followed Hitler, although I think it's because there was an economic crisis, people were looking for a scapegoat, and he gave them one. None of which seems to have occurred in HP.

9) Is all of England seriously being taken over by like 10 people?

10) Snape being a double agent plays no part in bringing down Voldemort, so the all-knowing grand schemer Dumbledore had him commit a murder and ostracize himself from the Order of the Phoenix for no reason.

11) HP and friends losing Gryffindor's sword to the goblin is kind of pointless and plays no role in the plot, since Neville pulls the thing out of the sorting hat at the critical moment anyway and before that they don't really need the thing.

12) The final scene where HP and Voldemort circle each other for like 5 mins while HP gives him a lecture about the meaning of friendship is kinda like wtf.

13) The epilogue? Never should have happened. Or if it had to happen, at least tell us what became of Luna Lovegood, who was at least as important a character as Neville. And I know we don't like them, but probably also shoulda told us what happened to the Dursleys.

13) Xenophilius Lovegood and that weird ass horn he had in his house? I feel like that needed some sort of a follow-up or tie-in that never happened.

14) Um is Hagrid immortal? If he was classmates with Tom Riddle that means he has to be at least in his mid-60s when Harry STARTS Hogwarts. Then 19 years after Harry FINISHES Hogwarts, he's apparently still there.



  1. I don't remember the details but I remember vividly thinking your point 6 when I read the last book.

  2. Heya, it's Caroline :-)

    So many thoughts! Especially since I'm such an HP fan (and you know it).

    The 7th book was definitely more of a mess plot-wise than the first 6....however, I'd like to point out that it's a lot closer to what actual war would be like. Everything goes to shit! And you're lucky to come out of it alive if you do. War is not enjoyable and cannot be tied up neatly with a pretty bow. So, I actually think it was the right route to take. Things randomly happen and they still manage. If it was on purpose or actual laziness/bad writing on JKR's part is irrelevant.

    However, I do completely agree with you on points 3, 4, 5, 12 and 13 (who doesn't love Luna?).

    Got to say, I adore how you've broken down the book from an author's point of view. It was not neat. It was not organised. The pacing was weird. It was less enjoyable.

    Point 8:
    The first time around, Voldemort came extremely close to "conquering" the magical world.
    The second time around, I think it was more out of fear than anything else. I think he can painfully kill his followers via the Dark Mark.

    Point 14:
    Giants live longer. Hagrid is half-giant.

    VoilĂ . Glad you finally joined our ranks!


  3. Jennie. You nailed it. Also, I read this and laughed - alot - aloud - at work.