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book review 0

I’VE FINALLY READ THE POTTER SERIES!!

It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve finally finished reading the Harry Potter series. I’ve only watched the first three films and, up to this point, I knew lots of the events that followed in the books but I didn’t know the details of how the events transpired. The reason it took so long for me to get into the books was simply and plainly ignorance – an unfortunate idiosyncrasy that certainly doesn’t only belong to me.

We all have our own idiosyncrasies – little bits of ignorance or stubbornness that reside within each of us. Parts of ourselves that we are not particularly proud of but exist regardless. I think a big part of growing up and accomplishing that all-powerful title of “ADULT” is realizing or recognizing those little nuisances within each one of us. Wherever possible, it is necessary to eliminate them. Being a nerd, I will fully admit that I am chock-full of idiosyncrasies, and this is something that I would not have easily admitted to myself or others, even a few years ago.

DISCLAIMER: Nerd rage is a thing and it exists. Don’t believe me? Check a Stars Wars comments section. Some of the angriest nerds on the Internet reside in those deep and dark places.

IGNORANCE IS NOT BLISS!

As I said, I deal with my own idiosyncrasies all the time. There are many that I have recognized and changed, and there are others that still exist because I either haven’t discovered them or I haven’t figured out how to deal with them yet. It is all a learning process – a system of trial and error. It is all part of the massive open-world adventure that we are all a part of called LIFE!

An idiosyncrasy that was strong with me (no, not the Force!) was this stubborn little voice inside that basically said: “if a lot of people like that one thing, then you cannot like it too!” Don’t ask me where the origin of this dumb voice came from because I legitimately don’t know. I do know one thing though. That voice is an utter pain-in-the-ass. A few notable properties beneath the all-encompassing umbrella of nerd culture that were stymied by this little voice of stubbornness, stand out for me though. Those properties were The Lord of the Rings, The Walking Dead, and Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world is what I’d like to zero in on with this post, but I’ll discuss the other two as well…

FIGHTING AGAINST POPULAR OPINION…

When the first Potter film adaptation exploded into the social conscience of the masses in 2001, it was met with both critical and financial acclaim. The little bespectacled wizard with the lightning bolt scar upon his forehead was suddenly everywhere! And I do mean everywhere! Coffee cups, lunch boxes, stickers, pencils and pencil sharpeners, napkins, curtains, bed covers, Halloween costumes, toys and dolls, backpacks, coloring books, talk shows, and news programs. The list can go on an on for ages. In short, it was difficult to go anywhere without being met with a Potter reference, in one form or another. I remember being intrigued by the imagination of Rowling’s world but as a general nerd rule that I stubbornly stuck to for many, many years I refused to succumb to the appeal. The idiotic reason I held back was simply because most of the planet had fallen in love Rowling’s world, so I could not too. This was something I only internally told myself; it was never something I publicly exclaimed.

In the beginning I resisted. The first Potter film came and went in theatres, which I avoided, and then when it moved to VHS (yes those were still around when Potter emerged), I still managed to evade the wizarding world. One day, however, my mother and my brother and I went to the video store one weekend to rent a few videos. My mother rented Harry Potter out of curiosity. I honestly don’t remember what I rented, probably because it wasn’t very good. That evening, after dinner my mom said she wanted to watch “this Harry Potter movie and see what it’s like.” This is where my little idiosyncrasy became a full-blown dilemma, at least to me.

Up to that point I’d been quite vocal in my disdain for the boy wizard (even though I legitimately didn’t know what the story was about) and when the film finished, I discovered that I actually really liked it! What ever will I do!? Well, my stubbornness won out and I simply repressed my curiosity for a long time. I wound up seeing the next two films per chance, one at a friend’s house, and the other in the theatre while on a date. I hid my curiosity with a cynical front: “Harry Potter is lame,” I would often say, or something else to that affect.

FAST-FORWARD… A COUPLE YEARS

The first allowance of the three big properties was The Lord of the Rings. I had allowed my curiosity to win me over first with J.R.R. Tolkien’s beautiful universe by reading The Silmarillion first. The logic behind this was: it is not Lord of the Rings. The world was in love with Frodo, Legolas, Gimli and Aragorn and the Third Age of Middle-earth, but many of them were quite unaware of the First Age which saw the birth of Middle-earth and the rise and fall of the first Dark Lord, Melkor! I wasn’t conforming to the masses if I was reading a book that wasn’t being adapted by Peter Jackson, right! I suppose you could say I found a loophole in my idiosyncratic brain. Because The Silmarillion was simply awesome, I eventually moved onto The Hobbit and then The Lord of the Rings. I watched the films too, and now I am definitely an unapologetic Tolkien fan. Both the films and the books are amazing, and I still stand by that!

The next allowance I made was with The Walking Dead. I was initially skeptical to watch a show about a genre that my brother and I had discovered many, many years before. The reason I was skeptical, and even a little bitter, was because my brother and I were always looked upon with somewhat demeaning eyes. We liked zombies before liking zombies was cool, dammit! Liking the zombie genre was not a popular thing for a long time, but now AMC made it a pop-culture staple. I suppose you could argue that Danny Boyle or even James Gunn reinvigorated the zombie genre but let’s not go there. Long story short, I eventually came around with The Walking Dead and I am also now unapologetically a fan of both the show and the comic books.

FAST-FORWARD AGAIN… 2 YEARS AGO

I finally decided that it was time. This decision to read the Potter books was largely due to the insistence from my girlfriend (fiancé now!) that I should give them a try. She owned the entire series in paperbacks, and she adored them so much. I figured, what the hell!

I flew through the first four books! They were very easy and enjoyable. Rowling manages to write these complex worlds of imagination, filled with multi-layered and well-rounded support characters that I are fun and interesting. I really enjoyed the ride-along with Harry, Ron and Hermione, and experiencing all the trials and tribulations that they faced in those first four books. The atmosphere gradually changed from a fun adventure tale with wizards to a more perilous one with a growing feeling of impending doom — talk about something wicked this way comes!

BIT OF A HICCUP

Personally, I feel that The Goblet of Fire really upped the ante in the Potter series and it almost acts as the transitional book, from adolescents to adulthood (although I guess you could argue that The Order of the Phoenix does this with all the teenage angst-y stuff.) Goblet had, in my personal opinion, the BEST opening because it was mysterious and grim and cold and kind of eerie. It was the first REAL demonstration of how cold and evil Voldemort was. The story that followed then, was wrought with a sizable amount of intrigue but also anxiety and suspense that kept me turning the pages toward the explosive but tragic closing chapters.

Sadly, all the steam and all the build-up that Goblet managed to provoke, The Order of the Phoenix mishandled and stifled with a rather lackluster story and a large chunk of underwhelming characters. I don’t argue that this book is necessary to the series though — it absolutely is. I only found it to be a tedious entry and a somewhat mundane read. The last 200 (or so) pages though! Awesome! The Order was the main reason this series took me two years to complete. I would read some of it, put it down for a long time, read some more, and then put it back down. This went on until I reached those last 200 pages. Then I read the rest of the series, pretty much non-stop, until the end of Deathly Hallows.

WHAT AN IMPACT!

I can’t help but feel that I was supposed to wait until this time in my life to read the Potter series. I honestly don’t think I would have picked up on Rowling’s numerous comments on societal issues of sexism, racism and bigotry within her wizarding world, had I read this series when it released. This is one of those great series, filled with such an immense world of layers and ideas, that I can read again and again and get something new out of it each time. For that reason, the societal messages therein, and the fun of it too, I would recommend this series to anyone else that might have been as stubborn as I was. Read it! It’s fantastic! There is a great deal of relatability to many of the characters and there is loads of comedic and emotional impact in each of the books. I would go so far as to suggest the implementation of the whole series into the educational system. One Potter book per year, so students can age alongside Harry and his friends. They can learn, as Harry does, valuable life lessons and discover new and wondrous things each year. If I ever have children, I will absolutely be introducing them to this magical world as soon as I can.

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