This year, #1 on my 2014 Goals list was J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. I’ve been meaning to get to them for years, and kept putting them off for one reason or another. But I’ve finally, finally read them all and am officially hooked.
When I was reading these books, I kept thinking to myself that there was no way on Earth I’d be able to write a review for them. How do you write a review when it seems all of the reviews have already been written? So instead of finding and expounding on the things I liked and didn’t like, I thought I’d simply discuss the reasons that, in my opinion, you should read or maybe hold off on reading this fantastic series.
So here they are:
Why you should read it:
1.If you think this is just a children’s series but are able to put any biases to the side. There is a lot of darkness mixed in with the typical childhood and teenage hijinx, which is why I enjoyed them so much. The wizard aspect is really neat, too. It wasn’t terribly childish, and, contrary to what Uncle Vernon thinks, went far beyond “magic tricks.”
2. If you’re looking to break from YA without venturing into adulthood. These are categorized for ages 9+, so you won’t find the typical YA cliches. While there are romantic interests (5 of the books are about teenagers, after all), they’re not focal points.
3. If you’re looking for something engaging that you will want to go back to, even if it isn’t a quick and easy read. I got through it very quickly, but it’s summer, I’m off from work, my daughter takes long naps, and I stay up late. It’s easy in that the language isn’t complicated, but the story gets super emotional at times and I shed more than a few tears while reading.
4.If you’ve already seen the movies. I’m not an advocate of judging books based on their movies, but in this case I wavered some. The movies were relatively true to the books – much more so than many cinematic adaptations, although quite a bit was left out, which you can read about here (contains some spoilers). There were changes, of course, but you can’t really avoid that. Reading the books second meant I was getting everything I saw in the movies with all the blanks filled in. Not only did I have clear pictures of characters and settings, a lot of questions were answered and the story lasted a lot longer. It was like getting the 8th book in the series without even asking.
shouldn’t should wait to read it:
1. If you think it’s just a children’s series and will let this fact bias your reading of it. Which, to be fair, is part of the reason it took me until I was 31 years old you finally read them. I’d only seen the first 3 movies, the first 2 of which were done by the same guy who did Home Alone, and I’d witnessed the first book being read to 2nd graders, so you can’t really blame me.
2. If you’re hoping for a quick and easy read. There are 7 books, the shortest of which (The Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone) was only 310 pages, the longest (The Order of the Phoenix) was 870. If you’re a fast reader with nothing else to do, you might get through them in a few weeks. If you’re very busy or take you’re time reading, you’re looking at at least several months.
3. If you think wizards and witches are stupid and know you will let this fact bias your reading of it. Again, this is part of the reason it took me so long to read them.
4. If you’re hoping for any of the typical YA material to dominate the plot. Again, they’re rated for 9+. There are no dramatic romantic overtones, no life-changing decisions based on boy/girlfriends, no inter-species romance. It’s first and foremost about Harry Potter – The Boy Who Lived. There are love interests as he progresses through school (he’s a teenager throughout most of the series, after all), but the bulk of the story has to do with self-discovery and the fight against evil.
Be forewarned: Once you hit The Goblet of Fire things progressively darker. Harry & company experience a lot of loss and it’s written in such a way that makes it almost impossible not to empathize. If you’re already sad or unhappy, the more heart-wrenching parts of some of these books might make you feel worse.
So there they are, the reasons for or against tackling the world of Harry Potter.
I guess the only question left is, will Harry Potter and his world stay in my heart; will I want to go back and revisit again and again?