Thursday, August 04, 2005

Harry Potter Finally Beat Me

I like the Harry Potter books. I'm not a rabid fan. I don't line up at the bookstore in my pajama's at midnight to buy the newest book. When the Half Blood Prince came out it didn't bother me at all to have to wait 2 weeks to read it.

I have never really enjoyed books with child protagonists. The last books I enjoyed like that were the Bobsey Twins and the Hardy Boys when I was in grade school and junior high school. So the Harry Potter books were for me a turn off before I ever read the first one. They were books about kids.

But after reading the first one they didn't bother me too much because the kids in the books didn't act all that much like kids. In the beginning Harry Potter and his contemporaries are 11 or 12 years old. But they make decisions that are a lot more mature than they generally act. Where I have noticed that in the real world (while coaching middle school girls volleyball) that most girls that age think they are a lot more mature than they act. Boys neither act nor think as maturely as the girls.

In spite of that bias I enjoyed the first five Harry Potter books and the first three movies. I visually liked the first movie best.

Inspite of enjoying the books and movies I never really connected with the characters. I suspect this was because J. K. Rowling was a beginning writer. As such she tends to rely way to much on cliches and plot tricks that I have never cared for. I didn't like the end of the first book when a minor character (Dumbledore) in the book has to explain to the hero how he won the day. The hero once again carries the day in the second book when he receives help late in the fight from an outside agency because of his faith and dedication. Sorry if I want that kind of resolutions to stories I'll start reading pulp mysteries.

While Rowling had created a wonderfully entertaining world to read about, her gaps in plot logic, reliance on last minute miracles to aid the hero (Harry Potter) and logical inconsistancies never let me really connect with her characters.

Through 6 books Rowling's writing style has improved. I still have some complaints about the style and plot in the 6th book. But unlike the other 5 books, this time I found myself inexplicably connecting with the characters.

In the past I would finish her newest book and it didn't bother me having to wait a year or more for the next one. But this time I'm going nuts. I finally get to the point where I'm interested in these characters. I want to know how they turn out, and she hasn't even started writing the last book yet.

My dear wife and daugher seem to be handling this so much better than I am. In the past they have fretted waiting for the next book. I didn't care. This time we're all three going nuts but they seem to be getting over it much quicker that I am.

We have discussed what we think will happen next. They are both being pessimistic. They think that there will not be a happy ending for Harry Potter. I'm afraid that they might be right. But I will remain hopeful. I'm a romantic at heart. As sappy as they might be, I like stories where the hero wins the day, wins the girl and the two of them ride away into the sunset to live happily ever after. So I'm hoping that my dear wife and daughter are wrong. After all, J. K. Rowlings spent 6 books getting me to really connect with her characters she wouldn't take that happy ending away from me now. Would She?

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