Posted by Casey on August 19, 2007
I finished the first Harry Potter book.
In all honesty, if I had picked up this book without any knowledge of the hype around it, I probably wouldn’t have read much beyond the first chapter or two. Even if I had finished it, I wouldn’t have had enough interest in the characters or the storyline to read any more books in the series.
I hear the series gets better and more interesting. I think Rowling got lucky that there was something about this first book that caught the attention of kid readers for them to pass the word about it until it became popular in England. In the meantime the second book came out and it was good enough to really get the readers hooked. I wish I knew what captured the kids’ attention in the first book because otherwise it’s weak as a work of fantasy and very weak in the writing department.
Rowling does a lot of telling instead of showing and her descriptions and imagery aren’t very vibrant. She tends to use weak sentence structures. There’s a part in the middle that contains several grammatical problems that seemed to have been overlooked by the editor and are a symptom of the weak sentence structure habit. The plot meanders and threatens to die in a couple of spots.
But the thing that really irritates me about this book is that an adult steps in and saves the day. I was appalled when I saw it happen in the movie and I’m still appalled after reading the ending of the book. Not only does an adult step in, but Harry Potter isn’t even conscious when the climatic event of the book happens and has to be told after the fact how the bad guy was dealt with. My first reaction: what a cop out. My second reaction: what kind of message does this send to the young reader?
Having an adult step in and save the day is pretty much considered a no-no in children’s literature. What’s the point of setting up everything for a confrontation between the young protagonist and the antagonist and then have the protagonist not only shoved aside, but rendered unconscious at the height of that confrontation? It’s a cop out plot-wise and not fair to the young reader to not have the satisfaction of witnessing the climatic events of the book in real-time with the protagonist participating.
Also, the young reader not only wants the protagonist to do something beyond what kids can normally do and be the hero, the young reader needs to see the young protagonist do this. The cop out is that Rowling with all her imagination couldn’t figure out a way of having Potter remain conscious and a part of the final dramatic confrontation to the bitter end, even if an adult has to step in and lend a hand.
These young readers raised on Harry Potter are a part of the same generation that have parents involved in their job interviews.
On the other hand, maybe I’m beginning to understand why the parents love these books as much as their kids. The books re-enforce the parents’ own over-meddlesome behavior in their kids’ development into healthy, independent adults.
The Weasleys own a flying car . . . coincidence?