The final Harry Potter film is due out in a little over a month. I am positively quaking with antici… pation. I have been looking forward to it since the closing credits rolled on my first viewing of 7.1. But once it’s over, what will I do? No more new Harry Potter! How will I cope with life after Harry?
It’s been four years since the release of the final Harry Potter book, so the anticipation of each new film is what has been sustaining me. But now, that too will soon be over. It may seem a little melodramatic to those who are not Potter fans. But it’s a big deal to me. Harry has been part of my life for quite a number of years.
Somehow, Harry Potter became a worldwide phenomenon. Somehow, a series of children’s books captured a reader audience way beyond its target market. The books were even re-published with grown-up covers so that adults didn’t have to feel embarrassed about reading them on their train journeys to work. The world went Potter-mad!
I was a little late jumping onto this particular bandwagon (although I’ve never felt the need for a grown-up cover). I didn’t start reading book 1 until book 4 had been released. It was the insistence of friends that finally convinced me and my wife, Kerri, to read them. With book 4 having been released, books 1 to 3 were on special at our local bookshop, so it seemed like a good time to take the plunge.
I wanted to read it first. But I’m a much slower reader than Kerri, so she insisted she should get first dibs. We argued! Then we decided to read it together — out loud, each reading alternating chapters. By the halfway point of the book, I was doing all the reading and she was doing all the listening. We discovered that Kerri enjoyed being read to, and I liked the sound of my own voice. A win/win situation.
Needless to say, we both loved Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Looking at it critically, the book certainly has flaws, but the overall feel made us happy to overlook those occasional lapses in logic. Rowling had created a fascinating world and peopled it with a wondrous array of characters — characters that we desperately wanted to read more about. Her style was easy to read, but witty and insightful. We had quite a few late nights because we found the book difficult to put down. (This was before we had kids, so we were able to do crazy things like stay up all night reading. 🙂 )
We immediately moved on to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban — each better than the previous. The moment we were finished with these, we rushed out and bought Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Our reading experience with book 4 was a little different. We were about half way through when we left for our annual road trip from Melbourne to Adelaide. The friends we were staying with had already read book 4, and not wanting to have any details spoiled, we wanted to finish the book before getting there. So Kerri drove most of the way, while I read.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is my favourite of the books. The thing I remember most is being utterly shocked at the death of Cedric Diggery. I remember struggling on with the reading as I was getting all choked up and teary. This moment goes down as one of my all-time reading highlights.
It was then a rather long wait until Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. This was the only one of the books to have disappointed me, mostly because it took way too long for anything to happen. The comparison to the previous book didn’t help. And the long wait we had endured, added to the disappointment. It struck me that it would have been a much better book if it were given a darn good edit.
Not quite as long a wait for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It was a huge relief reading this book, as we had feared the previous instalment may have been the beginning of a downward spiral. But thankfully not. Rowling was back on form with this one.
And then came Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The book I never wanted to end… because I knew it was the last. But it was a fitting end. There were heroics aplenty and many deaths; excitement and thrills; laughter and tears — and a definite conclusion. It really was the end.
Oh yes, there were those other little books along the way — Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them in 2001 — and The Tales of Beedle the Bard would come along after the last novel. But they really didn’t do it for me. They were merely diversionary strolls. The main journey was over.
Except, of course, for the films. Tune in next time for my thoughts about them.
Catch ya later, George
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