Wednesday, March 4, 2015

MG Fantasy Book Review: Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.

I know. There really isn't much left to say about these books, but I'm trying to include everything I've read on these lists. I'll get there (eventually).

The Harry Potter series is one of the stories that has defined me as a reader and writer. Before I read it (oddly enough, I started with Chamber of Secrets), I wasn't much of a reader. Most of the books people found for me were boring. When I read Harry Potter, though, I finally realized why I wasn't liking any books. It's because they weren't like this. They weren't fantasy or science fiction.

At the age of 10 or 11, when I first read these books, there was nothing cooler than a kid close to my age having magical adventures. It was even better that he managed to have them while going to school, a place that's normally so boring and mundane for most kids. When I first read the end of Chamber of Secrets, it was the greatest thing I'd ever read. I was sitting there thinking Harry was about to die from the basilisk venom, and it was the first time I'd ever read a kids book that put the character in so much danger. I was hooked. I loved every second of it.

I continued to grow up with Harry Potter. I always seemed to be about the right age for the books. For instance, I was 17 when Deathly Hallows came out. My love for the series still had not gone away. If anything, it was stronger than ever. Harry and his friends were like my friends. I'd watched them grow up, watched them struggle and persevere. It was nice to finally get a conclusion to this series.

Oh, and I cried my eyes out when Harry was walking to the forest toward the end of the seventh book. For those of you who haven't read it (if such people still exist), you'll know when you get there.

It's great that I loved the books when I was younger, but the big question is how they hold up now that I'm older and wiser and more versed in what makes good writing. Every year or two, I do a complete reread of the series. It's one of the few series that I actually do reread. On reread, it holds up very well. Sure, Rowling uses too many adverbs, especially in dialogue tags, but I don't really care about that. I'm there for the story, and she's one of the best storytellers I've ever encountered.

She makes you care about her young characters. She fills you with wonder about her magical world. She gives you a plot with twists and turns and lots of mystery (as well as kids just doing kid stuff every now and then). Her foreshadowing is brilliant. There's nothing more fun than realizing something from an earlier book was actually really important.

One of the other things I noticed in her writing was memorable descriptions. I always had a sense of what characters and places looked like. In most books, I just gloss over descriptions because they're not written with any life. They're just there because the author feels the need to write them.

I have this issue in my own writing. I have not yet managed to bring my descriptions to life the way Rowling did. In many ways, she is my first role model as a storyteller. If I can tell a story even half as good, I'll be happy.

Okay, the gushing is over.

Rating: 10/10

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