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19 August 2009 @ 10:43 am
I've finished the Harry Potter Series  
Took me long enough, but I'm done. I'll discuss a few highlights under the cut.

I was very very resistant to reading this series when it first become popular. I held off for a long time. After I watched the first couple of movies, I decided to give it a try.

I read The Sorcerer's Stone, The Chamber of Secrets, and The Prisoner of Azkaban a couple of years ago. I started Goblet of Fire, but I got bored and stopped. Out of the entire series, I find that The Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite. I find the story, the plot, and the characters to be the best out of the series in this installment.

I still find that Goblet was the hardest book for me to get through. I'm not sure why. I think I just didn't like the TriWizard Tournament.

The Order of the Phoenix is probably my least favorite. I really liked the plot. In fact I enjoy JKR's plots and backstory; my criticisms are in how she presents that material. I struggled through this book because I couldn't stand Harry throughout the story. He was too angry and it was hard to sympathize with him. I understand that anger was part of the plot and is a part of adolescence, but I've read/watched angry youth before and never got this annoyed. I also always enjoyed the banter between Harry, Ron, and Hermione so having nothing really going on between them was a bore to me. I also like Dumbledore very much and his absence was striking. I knew that Sirus was going to die so that didn't really impact me.

I really loved the plot behind The Half-Blood Prince. I particularly liked the mystery of the Potions book, even if the outcome was predictable, and the lessons between Dumbledore and Harry. However, I think this book was by far the worst written in terms of info dumping and exposition. All of JKR's book suffer from this problem, but for me it seemed most pronounced in Book 6. Despite always having a soft spot for Ron/Hermione, they annoyed me to no end in this book. Again, a lot of the magic from the first three, or even four, books was missing from this installment.

I really didn't like The Deathly Hallows when I started it. It seemed to drag something fierce, and that turned me off especially as this was the final installment. The wedding seemed out of place to me and slowed the story, and too much time was spent on camping out, looking for information. I felt once they went to Godric's Hollow and Ron came back, the story started to move along at a better rate. Pacing is a big issue with me in anything I read or watch, so it's something I tend to harp on. However, I found the climax and ending battle to be satisfying. I enjoyed the hunt for the Horcruxes and the Hallows, and I liked the reveal of Snape even if I already knew it. (I wasn't exactly spoiled for it, but I didn't believe him to be evil anyway.) I am sad that Snape didn't get a better send up, but his quick death did make an impact on the story and I'm glad it affected Harry the way that it did. I wish we'd have seen Snape's portrait, though. I figured that Harry was a Horcrux himself and I liked the whole end between him and Voldemort and his final appeal to him. I tend to really be drawn to stories that have that good vs evil tone, and where there is a spiritual edge. This was a battle of souls that I enjoyed. I found the epilogue to be unnecessary and the name everyone after their relatives thing was very fanfic-ish. But I did like the nod to Snape and the end with his scar finally being silent.

Question: In Book 5, everyone was worried that Voldemort would be able to use Harry and possess him. He placed false images in his mind. This stopped once Harry realized what was going on and Voldemort didn't like what was inside him, to a certain extent. But why did Book 6 and Book 7 never have Voldemort try to figure out what Harry was up to by going in his mind? Was there a block I don't recall? Because if Harry could keep seeing into Voldemort, I would assume that Voldemort could at least try to manipulate Harry like he did in Book 5, even if Harry could deflect him. Was this touched upon? I might have missed it since I was reading this series fairly quickly.

All in all, I think it's a worthwhile series to read. JKR's weaknesses seem to be with exposition and length - she could have edited quite a bit out of the book to streamline them - and sometimes she was a little too obvious with her reveals. I don't feel like she rally built up Harry/Ginny enough as it seemed out of the blue, and Hermione seemed a weaker character in the last 3 books (did she ever stop crying?). However, I found her strength to be in her ability to plot over the course of several books, create detailed histories for a huge number of characters, and to have characters that were unique and individual, each one its own person. Her writing had a witty tone, and it was laced with something whimsical. JKR has quite the imagination.

I'd recommend them for a fun read and to anyone who wants to pass on the message that love and bravery can conquer all.
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
aurora_novarum: Daniel book readingaurora_novarum on August 19th, 2009 03:32 pm (UTC)
Dang, when you decided to get back into it, you really got back into it.

I like Goblet of Fire as my favorite and didn't care as much for Prisoner, but it's hard for me to judge it fairly because I read "4" before "3" so the whole plotline of "who's this dangerous guy about to kill Harry" was spoiled.

Yes, about the fifth book. The rage was plot related with the tie to Voldemort with additional teen angst, but it was very very annoying to read.

Is it great literature? No. But I enjoy jumping into Harry's world and reading favorite moments or scenes. It's a comfortable, interesting world Rowling created, and it's great it inspired so many kids to read.
aelfgyfu_mead: Shaun with bookaelfgyfu_mead on August 19th, 2009 04:28 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm so relieved to find not one but two people who didn't like Harry's adolescent angst and anger! BH seemed to think I was a bit cracked to be so turned off it. (I think he suggested it was because I didn't have a proper adolescence. Or maybe I suggested that. I missed out on most of the teen angst and saved my crises for college and grad school.)
Working for the Mandroid: C.K.moonshayde on August 19th, 2009 04:32 pm (UTC)
I never experienced the whole "teen angst" thing either, aside from being depressed and withdrawn at times. But the anger? Nope. I never did that. Of course, I've also never dated, having always thrown myself into my work. I really need to change that. But moving on...

I think aside from the exposition nightmare from these books, my biggest complaint is that JKR didn't seem to be able to fully blend the plot and Harry's anger in a way that satisfied me as a reader. I feel like I should have been able to relate to him, to understand his pain instead of just an academic understanding of why he would be upset. His anger was also part of the plot, tied to Voldemort, but I just don't think we had enough insight into that in a way that would have made Harry sympathetic. Instead, he came off whiney and entitled to me and I have no use for that.

Other books, movies, and tv shows have done the teen angst/anger in a way that worked for me. This time, it just didn't.
Working for the Mandroid: Arrestedmoonshayde on August 19th, 2009 04:35 pm (UTC)
One of the reasons I fear sitting down to read a series is because I am compulsive enough that I have to finish. Heh.

I'm still mad about Book 5. I was really interested in the link between Harry and Voldemort, but Harry's Capsloock of Rage just grated at my every last nerve. There had to be a way of showing teen angst coupled with Voldemort's influence without making me want to throw the book.

JKR is highly imaginative. I can level all the crit I want, but she obviously did something right ;)
Gategrrl: Akeela and the Beegategrrl on August 19th, 2009 03:58 pm (UTC)
I found after rereading the books while keeping myself divorced from all the book-talk made it easier for me to *see* what Rowling is really good at, and not so good at.

Her exposition in the earlier and middle books wasn't as bad as the second to last book, and I did find the hiding out in the woods with Harry section of the final book to drag. But I came away thinking that she's actually a much better writer than many people (esp fans with a stake in the characters and critics who expect the next Tolkien) give her credit for.

I agree, I find her ability to plot a cohesive story over so many books is excellent. I do wish her editors had taken a tougher stance on cutting out some of the extraneous material in some of the books, though. But I guess even editors can be fans, or can get told by their bosses to "let it alone!"
Working for the Mandroid: badassmoonshayde on August 19th, 2009 04:49 pm (UTC)
I've read a lot of the crazy within the fandom, but luckily I stayed away from any real book discussion. I went in reading this series with seeing half the movies, knowing a little bit about fandom, and really not having an opinion either way.

I find the exposition to be very tiresome. I don't recall it as bad in the first books, but I noticed it in Book 4, and then much more in Book 5, was astounded by it in Book 6, and was thankful that while it was in Book 7 it wasn't quite as bad.

Then again, I hated when Tolkien did his lumping of massive amounts of "historical" exposition, too.

I think sometimes she is not subtle enough. Her foreshadowing is kind of blunt and obvious while other times she places importance on something we've never heard about or seen but once or twice. But overall, I did find her plot extensive and enjoyable. I think her dedication to unique characters with specific histories enabled the plot to have the breadth and scope that it did.

I don't think she is a goddess or master of the pen like some of her supporters do, but at the same time I agree she doesn't get the credit she deserves. She can tell a story - she's a great storyteller - and no one can deny that she's done just fine :)
(Deleted comment)
Working for the Mandroid: The Lois Lookmoonshayde on August 19th, 2009 04:44 pm (UTC)

I don't mind an angry character, but it just didn't work for me this time.
aelfgyfu_mead: Danielaelfgyfu_mead on August 19th, 2009 04:30 pm (UTC)
I could not stand the camping. I had to know what happened, but page after page after page after page in the darned woods? I almost gave up. I thought of skipping ahead, but I didn't know how far to skip ahead.

I also had a soft spot for Snape that seeing Alan Rickman as Snape only cemented. (Wait--if you cement a soft spot....) But two of my favorites were Tonks and Lupin! Still annoyed at JKR!
Working for the Mandroid: Animalmoonshayde on August 19th, 2009 04:53 pm (UTC)
I found the whole beginning of Book 7 to be a waste. The wedding was cute, but was it really necessary? The camping went on forever; there are ways to pass the time without it being so boring. Once all of that was over, we finally got to the good stuff.

I saw the movie before I started reading the books, so Alan Rickman will always be Snape to me. I think the only time I was annoyed with him was in Book 6 because I was just tired of the Snape vs Harry thing. I figured he was good and I just wanted to get to that point already. I knew it wouldn't happen until the end, though (with more exposition).

My faves were Dumbledore for the adults and Ron for the kids. But I really did like Lupin, and the character Luna really grew on me.
Prehumous Professor of Morbid Bibliomancy: Wearyblpurdom on August 19th, 2009 04:33 pm (UTC)
Voldemort in Harry's head
But why did Book 6 and Book 7 never have Voldemort try to figure out what Harry was up to by going in his mind?

I think it's at the end of OotP where Dumbledore tells Harry that he thinks that Voldemort won't even be trying to enter Harry's mind again because of the pain he felt when he was possessing Harry because Harry was so filled with love for Sirius that he didn't mind dying if it meant seeing Sirius again. It's somewhere in the vicinity of Harry trashing Dumbledore's office, IIRC.
Working for the Mandroid: Across Realmsmoonshayde on August 19th, 2009 04:43 pm (UTC)
Re: Voldemort in Harry's head
Yeah, I saw that part, though to be honest I thought that was a rather weak excuse. I understand that Voldemort's arrogance made him ignorant to many things, but I just thought there would be a stronger reason, you know?
Prehumous Professor of Morbid Bibliomancy: Harry as South Park Canadianblpurdom on August 19th, 2009 04:56 pm (UTC)
Re: Voldemort in Harry's head
Well, you know, Voldemort wasn't allowed to disobey the Evil Overlord Handbook that decreed that he would have a rather convenient aversion to doing exactly the thing that would screw up all of the hero's plans. ;)

Edited at 2009-08-19 04:57 pm (UTC)
Working for the Mandroidmoonshayde on August 19th, 2009 05:53 pm (UTC)
Re: Voldemort in Harry's head
LOL, so true!
Gategrrl: Harry Pottergategrrl on August 19th, 2009 05:44 pm (UTC)
Re: Voldemort in Harry's head
If I'm remembering correctly, doesn't that have something to do with Harry taking lessons from Snape about how to keep Voldemort out of his head? Or Snape, who is very proficient at it, doing it *for* Harry for a long time?

Per the earlier conversation about Angry!Angsty!Harry--yeah, I find constantly angry characters tiring, but then, it's also sometimes nice, because when I was growing up I was thoroughly taught that Being Mad or Angry was not acceptable. (took me years to be able to express anger at certain people) So, if anything, I think Angsty!Harry was a writer's release as well as a plot point: I only wish there'd been earlier warnings that this was the reason why Harry was so ticked at everything all the time.
Working for the Mandroid: Detective Castielmoonshayde on August 19th, 2009 05:52 pm (UTC)
Re: Voldemort in Harry's head
Harry failed his lessons with Snape. He couldn't seem to master it at all. To my knowledge, there was nothing in the following books that showed he mastered any part of it at all. That is where I get confused.

I only wish there'd been earlier warnings that this was the reason why Harry was so ticked at everything all the time.

This was my problem. As I've said, I have no issue with angry characters. It's normal. I just had a hard time latching onto the anger in this book. It wasn't clear to me.
Banana Cave: Harry Potter: Snapebanana_cave on August 19th, 2009 05:09 pm (UTC)
"too much time was spent on camping out, looking for information"
I know! When I heard there would be two movies made from the last book, I thought, is the first movie going to be camping? Haha! Seriously, we get it. They camped a lot.

I pretty much agree with you. I actually related to Harry's anger in OOTP. But otherwise I like the same things about JKR's style as you and I don't like all the exposition, either. She has created a wonderful world and plot with Harry Potter, but sometimes the delivery could have been done a little better. Then again, each book has some great one-liners (usually in dialog) and I can't help but enjoy reading the books.

I don't understand the people who thought Snape was really evil. I thought it was pretty much a "gimme" that he was really on the side of good. Ever since the misdirection on him in the first book, I wouldn't make sense for him to actually be evil in the later books.
Working for the Mandroid: Flamesmoonshayde on August 19th, 2009 05:56 pm (UTC)
I was okay with 2 movies for book 7 until I started reading and thought, oh crap. We're getting a movie about camping, aren't we? LOL

I always wondered if she would just make Snape evil for the hell of it, but plotwise it just seemed silly. They really set him up well in the first book and to stray from that would seem wrong to me. But I think she did a great job at least keeping some doubt there. I did think it was pretty clear in Book 5 and 6 that he was Dumbledore's man, though.
draco_somnians: Snape draco_somnians on August 19th, 2009 07:07 pm (UTC)
The only thing I really really didn't like out of the entire series was that godawful epilogue! What was she thinking?? And why didn't someone tell her not to?! Lol. It really was just a badfic tacked on the end. JKR...you have more talent than this!

Other than that, I find very little to complain about. :D

Really must go back and read them all again sometime.
crayonbreakygalcrayonbreakygal on August 19th, 2009 07:11 pm (UTC)
Your favorite is mine also. I really think that's the only book where an editor actually edited it. The rest, not so much. They're still good books, but really could have used some trimming down. I did listen to some of these through books on tape in addition to reading them. That made them enjoyable too.
settykins108 on August 19th, 2009 07:57 pm (UTC)
I was very very resistant to reading this series when it first become popular. I held off for a long time. After I watched the first couple of movies, I decided to give it a try.
lol I was like this too, at first. Even though I was in the 3rd/4th grade, I thought it was too childish and nerdy and wasn't gonna get anywhere near those books. But the first movie came out, my father bought the dvd and I was captivated. XD

Out of the entire series, I find that The Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite. I find the story, the plot, and the characters to be the best out of the series in this installment.
I love you so much for this. :} I love PoA! It's my favorite, mainly because of the character, but I also enjoyed learning about Harry's father in school. The marauder era is my favorite. :>

I, too, thought the seventh book dragged on. D: I didn't enjoy it much, which sucks because I spent a whole seven-ten hours reading it. D:

I found the epilogue to be unnecessary and the name everyone after their relatives thing was very fanfic-ish. But I did like the nod to Snape and the end with his scar finally being silent.
I HATED the epilogue and yes, it was very fantic-ish. It seemed like she didn't really try with the book, and that really disappointed me.

As for your question I thought it was the fact that Harry loved which was what stopped Voldemort. I haven't read OotP in a loooong time, but I'm pretty sure that was it. Because Voldemort possessed Harry at the end, and the whole time he was thinking about Sirius (who had recently died) and the love caused Voldemort to be expelled from his body, and it was too great for Voldemort to attempt a return. Idk, it's what I took out of it.

I agree about Hermione, and it really annoyed me. I think that's why I prefer Luna and Neville over the golden trio. =P But I still love the books, and I like the message in them. :]
Vanae: Love Smilevanae on August 19th, 2009 08:29 pm (UTC)
JKR's weaknesses seem to be with exposition and length - she could have edited quite a bit out of the book to streamline them

Yes to this. Especially during the last few books I often found myself thinking that perhaps her success were dragging the quality down. In the sense that they might not be so strict on the editing as they might have been otherwise.

I pretty much agree with your overall impression of the books. Seems like we liked and disliked the same things in the individual books except... Goblet of Fire is probably my favourite of the series. I'm not alltogether sure why because the first part felt unnecessarily long and I wasn't that into the tournament either. I think the last few chapters did it for me... Voldemorts return and the following scenes are some of my faves of the series. I'm such a sucker for the dark stuff. I'm probably a bit biased, too, by the fact that it was the first HP book I read in English (my first "real" book in English in general, actually) and I kinda fell in love with the experience of it.
brijeana: Harry Potter - R&H reallycorkingbrijeana on August 20th, 2009 03:25 am (UTC)
Great Review...
I enjoyed reading your thoughts and I agree with a lot of what you say about the strengths and weaknesses of the books as a whole.
     Mandya_phoenixdragon on August 20th, 2009 06:06 pm (UTC)

I enjoyed them - but I agree: OotP was a little too 'too', and Deathly Hallows dragged horribly at first. My only problem with the ending was that it seemed too...final? I guess?