Monday, July 11, 2011

Amy on Potter #3 - The Books

As said in my first post about Harry Potter, these books threw me into the wonderful world of reading. And I always try to get the Harry Potter books into my schedule if I have no book on the go. They are easy reads and before you know it, you'll be burning the midnight oil 100 pages ahead.

1) The Philosopher's Stone

"He couldn't know that at this very moment, people meeting in secret all over the country were holding up their glasses and saying in hushed voices: 'To Harry Potter -- the boy who lived!'"

So it is hear that the glorious story starts. A boy names Harry Potter finds out he is a wizard and leaves his nasty relatives to go to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Throughout the book, we find that he has been famous in the Wizarding world his whole life because he caused the downfall of Voldemort, a dark wizard that killed his parents, when he was just 1.

I read this book all in one afternoon after seeing the movie and I actually preferred it to the film. Yes the films are fantastic! But when I say I prefer it, I do not mean it's better, I mean I preferred it mainly because there is content that does not make it into the film, which is fair enough. Film has restrictions that written words do no have! The world also felt richer, as JK Rowling has such a wonderful way of making you feel you are part of it.

2) The Chamber of Secrets  
'That'd be a cheerful visit,' said Ron. 'Hello, Hagrid. Tell us, have you been setting anything mad and hairy loose in the castle lately?'

Continuing my last point, JK Rowling knows how to make you feel a part of a fictional world. And this is the one the made me feel the most involved. For one glorious weekend I believed that a tree can attack you, and that cars will one day be able to fly. In this one Harry is back at school with Ron and Hermione but there is a lurking evil. The Chamber of Secrets has been opened and is causing all kinds of havoc!

As I see it, it was the last of the "fairytale"-type look at Hogwarts. After this, it just gets darker and darker. It was the first book that explored the theme of racism in the wizarding community, with some people thinking they are better than everyone else because the are "pure-blooded". 

3) The Prisoner of Azkaban 
Extremely unusual though he was, at that moment Harry Potter felt just like everyone else - glad, for the first time in his life, that it was his birthday"
Now here is where the good stuff starts. It is this book that starts off the chain of events that leads to the action in the later books. It is also my favourite of the lot! The eponymous prisoner, Sirius Black, has escaped from the Wizarding Prison Askaban and is supposed to be after Harry. What I love about this one is that Voldemort does not make an appearance and that's very refreshing. It is the one book in the series that I wish I can read again for the first time. I can say that about all of them but if I had to pick one, it would be this one.
4) The Goblet of Fire 
"I will allow you to perform an essential task for me, one that many of my followers would give their right hands to perform..."
The last one was where the events of Voldemort's return are set in motion (what with Wormtail being set free) and this is the one where it all kicks off with Harry being entered into the Triwazard Tournament without his knowledge and forced to compete. I remember thinking I would not finish this because it was huge (well it was the biggest at the time!) but I flew through it. It is creepy the  appropriate parts and quite often funny, with Harry and Co need to find a date for the Yule Ball. It just makes you realize that they're growing up!
5) The Order of the Phoenix 
"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches..."
This one I'm a bit shaky on. I do not want to say it is my least favourite because that implies it's shit but it really isn't. So Harry is not believed by the wizarding world over his claims that Lord Voldy is back and think he's a nutter. And the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher is out to get him. It actually really affected me on a personal level because all that anger displayed in the novel is how I was feeling at the time. It's a bit of a stretch to compare myself to Harry, I mean, I was a spotty, depressed 13 years old and Harry was a spotty, depressed and bereaved 15 year old. But the anger was still there and I felt it on a very raw level. 

Also, despite being my least favourite book, Rowling provides us with one of the best characters. The pathologically cheery bitch Dolores Umbridge. Now, it's all well and good to hate a character: we hate Voldy because he killed a lot of people and is the antagonist; we hate Bellatrix because we love Neville and she is part of the Black/Malfoy clan. But Dolores Umbridge was a character that was written of her to be the absolute hated of the lot: a racist, patronizing sadist who is appointed at the school out of the Ministry's fear that Dumbledore is creating an Army out of the students. She ends up abusing her power to put the school under her control. A better villain than Voldy!

6)The Half-Blood Prince 
"And now, Harry, let us step out into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure"
This one is less serious, for the most part. HBP is about exploring Voldy's past and trying to find ways to defeat him. Harry is still trying to come to terms with the death of Sirius and in turn deal with his feelings for Ginny. There is a cracking bit where Harry takes some "lucky potion" and it is almost like a recreational 
drug use with hilarious results. But this is only part of the fun. The novel ends in such a way that makes you wonder what the hell is in store for Harry and Co for the next, and final book. 

7) The Deathly Hallows" 
Harry is the best hope we have. Trust him"
Book 7 strays away from the formula that we are so used to that it throws us off guard: There is no Hogwarts, Death Eaters are everywhere and Harry, Ron and Hermione are on the run trying to find the Horcruxes, eventually leading to the final battle at Hogwarts. The series couldn't have ended better. And most would probably fair better in the film than the book. 

It's hard to describe just how much these books meant to me over the years.  I started reading them at 11, which is when, in the HP universe, you get your admittance letter for Hogwarts. So it was ripe in the imagination and as Harry grew up, the genre of the series shifted. So it is an integral part of my life. How many book series change to your own style as you grow up? Answer: only 1... Harry Potter. And with this last film coming out it would truly have ended... except for Pottermore. Which I am looking forward to!

Amezzeray Out...