Sunday, July 22, 2007

Harry Potter, 1997-2007


I sobbed as I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows yesterday. Not because of the plot (I said I wouldn't spoil for those who haven't yet finished; although, if you haven't read it yet, what on earth are you doing reading anything BUT?), but because I will miss Harry Potter. The genius of J.K. Rowling's books is not just the amazing descriptions of a fantasy world filled with conflicts making for excellent plots, but her exceptional characters whom every reader loves. Her characters are so real, we all love them as if we know them personally. Harry, of course, we know most intimately, having grown up with him. Truly, the books would be quite different if they were told from Ron's perspective. But it was with Harry we learned about Hogwarts and everything else in the wizarding world.

I had never been very into any fantasy-type genre. I rejected reading Harry Potter for several years. The first four were published, pretty much one a year, and I scoffed at the mania that had risen so quickly from these "children's books". I do remember, however, how my video-game obsessed cousin of Harry's age, was enthralled and began reading just because of these books. Cool. But I resisted (much like I first resisted blogging...). Shortly after the first movie came out, my very dear friend Angie gave me the first three books in paperback as a gift. "There. Now you HAVE to read them."

And read them I did. In one week. Then I went out and bought the fourth. And read it. Then I saw the movie. Then I became a maniac, too. "When will book five be out?" I whined along with the rest of the Potter fans. And when it did, I bought it at midnight and read it cover to cover. Same with book six. For book seven, I didn't do the midnight purchase thing, but instead had pre-ordered it and waited for the mail to come like a child at Christmas. And it didn't come until after 11!!! You can imagine my anticipation. When it came, I ripped it open, sat in awe for a few seconds, removed the dust jacket, and turned each page carefully. Reading the epigraph was rather depressing, I thought, but I knew it would all be explained. Stopping only to use the bathroom and supply minimal sustenance, I read straight through the book; it took ten hours. Today, I started reading it again.

The movies are their own piece of art. I enjoy them and anticipate them as well (HBP, late 2008; DH, early 2010), but not in the same way. By the time the movies come, we know what's going to happen, we just get to see how it appears on screen (and we all love bitching about the things inevitably left out). Seeing the movie on opening day is just as important as reading the book on release day. I do both for the following reason: I don't want anyone or anything to spoil the experience for me. Bad reviews? Spoilers? Yuck! Yesterday, I didn't even turn on my tv or go on the internet on the off chance I came across something revealing. In fact, I am a little upset because I heard a rumor of something that was leaked and it was actually in the book, exactly as it had been described for me. Some people...

Fact is, I love Harry Potter. I love Ron, Hermione, Fred, George, Ginny, Luna, Neville, Dumbledore, Hagrid, and even Snape. Even Percy, for that matter. Not a single thing in these books turned me off for one second. They are bold, exciting, intimate, and riddled with deep messages and lessons that resonate beyond any capacity of "children's books". I feel very lucky to have been a part of "Harry Potter Mania", even if I jumped on the bandwagon a few years into the game. Never before have a series of books caused such an immediate fanbase. Never before has an author reached billionaire status from just her books. And I was a part of it. I'm proud of that. My husband doesn't make fun, exactly, but he has repeatedly said, "I don't get it." He hasn't read the books; he may never read them. That's fine. He and everyone else in the world who shakes their heads at grown adults dressing up and waiting in line for days to be the first to begin reading will never "get it", because now it's too late. My husband could read the books and love them (he has seen the movies, but only because I made him), but he will never be able to be a part of HP Mania like those of us who waited anxiously for years at a time for the next installment.

And now it's over. There will be no more HP books. In fact, I would be disappointed if there were. And the sadness I feel is bolstered by a sense of finality. No more waiting, debating, and rating. No more desciptions are needed, no more answers are needed. J.K.R. has explained it all. The final installment was brilliantly written and makes it easy to say, "Goodbye Harry and Friends; you will be missed."


Medea Zorba said...

Hear, hear. It was amazing. Awe-inspiring, really. I must have cried at least once every other chapter, out of sorrow, pity, joy, or, quite simply, because I was so moved. You're absolutely right. These characters have become parts of our families. We love them like kin.

I swore off the Internet from Friday night until I finished this afternoon, just in case. I also started humming very loudly if my parents turned on the TV. My dad wrote down the spoilers on a small scrap of paper while at work earlier this week, and taunted my mom and me with them all weekend. My mom and I agreed: the people who want the spoilers are the people who aren't a part of it, who haven't read the books. They want to know what happens so they can FEEl like they're a part of it. When I finished, I went, still soggy-eyed, to find my dad and sighed, "That was the best book I've ever read." He told me to go get the scrap of paper from where he had stashed it and tell him if "he" was right. I said, "Dad, you know you're right. You read the last two chapters as soon as the books came." Just the same, he made me check. Of course, the spoilers were accurate. Proud as a peacock, he crowed, "See? I was right." I just shook my head and said, "Dad, it's not like you PREDICTED them." Men.

What a great book. What a great series. I'm very pleased I was a part of getting you on board. See? Every once in a while I get something right. All is well.

Molly said...

I have mine, I'm not far enough into it, but today is dedicated to recovering from vacation and reading. I worked the last three release parties, so I get to claim an even more intimate location in the mania. And my fiance was the one who introduced me, so I'm glad I can sit by him in bed at night, side by side, reading our identical books (we have to get two in this house on release day).