Tuesday, June 12, 2007

HP Fever

I kind of feel like I should blog about the final episode of the Sopranos, since that seems to be what everyone is talking about this week. But considering I've never seen a single episode of that show and I spent Sunday night watching the Tony awards (*cough*theatregeekalert*cough*), I guess I'll skip the obligatory "wtf?" posting. Others seem to have it covered, in any case.

Instead, I'm going to blog about how excited I am for the final Harry Potter book. Why yes, I am a nerd. Why do you ask? I hadn't really been thinking about how close HP-Day was getting, but we've been watching the movies this week in order to get Serdic up to speed before the 5th film comes out next month, and it has suddenly occured to me how freaking excited I am about the final book.

I resisted the Harry Potter franchise for a long time. I'm not sure why, as I'm certainly not against the idea of reading "kids" books (uh, you all know what I do for a living, right?), and some of my all time favourites are things like the Narnia series or the Chronicles of Prydain. But for some reason I had it in my head that the HP books were more like those Goosebumps books, or other mass-produced-little-literary-merit-blantant-money-maker books you see publishers churn out. Now, I say that with the caveat that ANYTHING that gets kids to read is A Good Thing, but I'm enough of a book snob (between being an English major and a librarian, it's pretty much a given) that I'd much rather see kids reading "good" books (good being totally subjective, of course).

So, anyway. Eventually my curiosity got the better of me, I was home for a long weekend with nothing to read, and I borrowed my mom's copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. And didn't stop reading until I got to the end of Book 3 ... three days later. This was shortly before the 4th book was published, and I have since bought each one on the day of publication and devoured them within the day. I do think there is a, for lack of a better word, magic about the first book particularly, and even the first three, that J.K. Rowling hasn't been able to duplicate since, and the later books would definitely have benefited from some judicious editing (books 4 and 5 in particular!), but there's still something about this story that really speaks to me. And many, many other people, apparently.

And I have a great deal of respect for how carefully Rowling has plotted this entire thing, and the skill with which she has crafted so many strands and brought them together. I still remember sitting bolt upright at one point late in the 4th book when Voldemort says to Harry, "You do know how to duel, don't you?" Because yes, Harry did know how to duel, and we as readers had seen him learn how two books previously, in a throwaway scene that had a totally different meaning at the time. Everything has meaning in the books, no detail is plopped in there without it coming back to haunt you later. You can read the books a hundred times and still pick up on new things, and things that have a different meaning now that you know what's coming up.

It's going to be a wild ride. As a fellow HP lover recently said to me, this book is going to have to be 2,000 pages long to tie up all the loose ends and answer all the questions that have been raised so far. I can't wait, and I know Rowling is going to make it all pay off in the end.

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