Friday, July 20, 2007

The last Harry Potter

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is released at midnight. My family's copy will arrive by owl post on Saturday morning.
It seems a very long time ago that I went to the school book fair at my son's first school and purchased the first Harry Potter. Because he was eight, I wanted to know what he was reading. I can remember thinking that reading this must be what reading The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe when it had just come out was like. And the annoying thing was that the series was not finished! In fact, it had barely begun.
My son loved it as well. We had to join the Harry Potter fan club, and received a mugglfied golden snitch and he got regular newsletters as well as invitations to book launches. However, after the third book was released, I think the fan club had to be disbanded as it became far too big.
My lovely dh for some reason went out to the bookstore and happened to discover a hardback copy of The Chamber of Secrets which he duly purchased. I think it had just been released. Anyway, I kept telling people about this wonderful book. Most had not heard of it. Those who had, enjoyed it. A good friend remarked on the similarities with Eva Ibbotson's The Secret of Platform of 13 3/4. And there are some but both books are very different. I suspect it is more a case of ideas floating around in the ether.
I sent copies to my sister in the US as she had never heard of the book. She then went to a book fair and was able to pick up posters for her classroom as no one was interested. The next year, the Scholastic area was swamped!
My long suffering husband, after the third book was released and both my son and I had to read it on the day of publication, gave in. He was going to prove that it was not very good, and read it aloud to my daughter. Suffice it to say that he became an evener bigger fan of the series than I was.
It has been a magical ride. Yes, there is hype about the series, but it is the stories that speak to people. JK Rowling is a masterful story teller. I have my own theories about what should go on at the end, and I shall be reading avidly. I am certain that the series will become a classic. And all those lucky children will be able to read it straight through, without waiting...


Unknown said...


That's an interesting thought about the future generations of children who'll be able to read the whole series without waiting, Michelle. I don't know if they're the lucky ones or not though.

My eldest has followed it-- not quite from the beginning, but caught up somewhere about book 2 or 3 and eagerly awaited the subsequent ones. My middle daughter just started them at the beginning of this year and is currently on book 4. It's been great to see her immerse herself in that world, and not having to wait between books certainly intensifies the experience from that point of view, but I was incensed this morning when on BBC news they casually mentioned the fact that Dumbledore dies in book 6! It was awful that she had to find that out!

I think some of the shine and the magic (excuse the pun) of the whole phenomenon is the fact that the whole world is waiting to find out what will happen-- it gives it a sort of verisimilitude that must be pretty unique in fiction. I just hope that marketing, which has been so clever in bringing the wizard world alive, doesn't end up reducing the power of the stories for new readers by putting too much information out there, and detracting from the wonderful writing and the fabulous, twisting plot.

Michelle Styles said...

Grrr about the BBC.

I can understand why she did it and why it made perfect sense to do it. it works on the hero's journey level. Think about Star Wars when Obi-Wan had to die.

Even then, I remembered that Dumbledore has a brother...and thought what if...

Also for Dumbledore, as he says about Nicolas Flammell in the first book -- death is the next great adventure.
And she appears to use a concept of a shadow world -- for example those who have been killed by Voldemort's wand are able to come back and prowl around a bit...

And you do not want to know how many times these books have been read and reread by my children. My eldest who is nearly 17 just reread them so that he would be up to date when the last one comes out. I think he is planning on going in London and purchasing a copy as he is down there watching the cricket!

Kate Hardy said...

Interesting thought, definitely - I discovered the Falco series when she'd got to book 12 and I was SO pleased that I could casually nip into town and grab an armful when I'd finished one batch. But it's also been kind of nice waiting for the next one in the series to come out. The year Lindsey Davis came to the Norwich crime festival, I bought the new hardback as well as the new paperback (to get both signed) and I hated having to wait two years for the next one.

One other thought about a series of books: inevitably some are stronger than others, and when you read them back to back that can sometimes be disappointing.

It'll be interesting to see what she does with the shadow world. There's a character I'd dearly love to see back - I very nearly ended up writing my own version of him as a hero. (Michelle, I think we've had that conversation... India, we probably will at some point *g*)

My theories are probably the same as yours, Michelle. And I'm getting my copy on the way to Wales tomorrow morning.

Ray-Anne said...

I stopped reading the books afer 'The order of the Phoenix' but love the film versions - seeing the latest this week.
So, there I am, in the Supermarket this morning, next to a huge bulging display of the new book out today.
I confess.
I read the last two pages.
I am hopeless. And will not spoil it for you because those pages told me everything I needed to know about the whole book.
If you are still talking to me, I fully expect to be hauled before the 'how dare you' and 'have you no respect, you could have at least bought the book' police, but I don't think JK will be loosing sleep.
I am now a pariah. The shame.
LOL and enjoy it. Ray-Anne

Anonymous said...

I had just read the first book because you suggested it to me. I told my dh and he became a big fan. I made a lot of people read Harry Potter. When our local radio station was doing "Good Summer Reads" series, I called in and suggested Harry Potter. The dj host, not too bright IMHO, scoffed and said,"A children's book?" Now 40% of the Harry Potter books are sold to adults!