For the most part, I stopped reading the Harry Potter series at the sixth book. I should’ve stopped at the fifth. The middle and the last part of the “Half-Blood Prince” was utter garbage (except the chapter where he takes the good luck potion) and the ending was just an excuse to kill off a main character (and a lame death too, amirite?). I started reading “Deathly Hallows” but sadly never finished it. Thankfully, I stopped watching the films at the fourth one, since I knew it could only go downhill. “Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire” tops both lists. I saw the movie version of the “Prisoner of Azkaban” and it was atrociously bad indeed. They even cut out the famous scene where Sirius Black gives a speech to Peter Pettigrew, telling him he should’ve died for a cause rather than betray his friends. That scene is the main reason that “Prisoner” is one of the most consistently high-rated books of the series.
They also managed to make the revelation that Ron’s pet rat was a man in disguise all along dreadfully ho-hum, and I don’t think I was the only person in the theater who was disappointed they both castrated the grit out of Harry’s “Snape’s abnormally large nose” line and made the final revelation a noisy, incoherent scene of chaos rather than the medium-paced, deliberately plot-heavy conversation it originally was.
After that experience, I almost couldn’t bear to go back to see the other movies, but I dragged myself to “Goblet of Fire” because it was also my favorite book. Again, they completely ruined the slow drama of the final scenes in exchange for loud noises and flashes that made it almost incomprehensible, but overall it got my stamp of approval, and upon giving it, I decided barring insanely convenient circumstances where it would be easy to do so (which rarely come, I’ve noticed) I wouldn’t see the other films. I am certainly not going to tolerate Dumbledore not being Richard Harris.
I have my gripes with the series, as I often do, but I largely enjoyed the ride. I’m not sure if I’ll ever finish the seventh book, since I have been told what happens. You can go ahead and blame me for “cheating” if you want, but one cannot ignore Harry Potter, against one’s will or not. People want to discuss it, what can I say?
The first three books were of course childrens’ fantasy stories with enough complex themes for the adults. The rest, beginning partially with the “Goblet of Fire,” tried to become something else. I still enjoyed “The Order of the Phoenix,” though it didn’t quite measure up to the “Goblet of Fire.” By the “Deathly Hallows” the story becomes a magical Nazi Germany. I’m always up for a little attack on fascism and eugenics, but for god’s sake, couldn’t it have been done in a less “good guys” and “bad guys” way? I also would’ve liked to see a few more collaborators on the wizarding side that kowtowed to the wizarding fascists, similar to the reactionary governments in Finland and Poland during WWII. Instead, we get the typical idealist “good” and “bad” analysis, and the story becomes a fight between the forces of liberalism and the forces of fascism with no analysis where either comes from truly. Although let me end this section on a positive note by mentioning Rowling at least took the time to connect social origins and motivation. Most people do not bother with such fleshing-out and settle for the villain wearing black.
The first thing I’ve noticed that bothers me about the Harry Potter series, apart from the generic morality, is how the main character is never actually revealed as anyone special. Harry Potter is a character that is constantly called “special” by the world around him. Much foreshadowing is made of his supposedly epic powers. However, at no point in this series does whatever power he has reveal itself.
Harry as a character never actually accomplishes anything by magical ability. The story never mentions any particular talent with magic—Hermione is shown to be the most powerful young wizard/witch. His grades are perfectly average except his Defense Against the Dark Arts class, and he is mostly saved by others, such as friends, teachers or more powerful wizards when he is in trouble. In addition, his powers usually come from external objects, such as his wand with a special phoenix feather, and not from his human essence. The only manifestation of his own powers is his scar, which only saved his life once in the first book and subsequently became irrelevant when Voldemort was revived.
I suppose one could argue that J.K Rowling is trying to give a subtle critique of the “Great Men of History” concept by giving us a perfectly ordinary boy (albeit a wizard) who just happened to make the most virtuous decisions at the right times and therefore became an epic hero/Messiah figure, but that may be giving her too much credit. The fact that Harry himself never wonders how he is so worshipped when he is so ordinary undermines this perception to begin with, and if it is what J.K. Rowling intended, to go the Frank Herbert/Muad’Diub route, she still gets demerits for not having Harry become a tormented Wizard Messiah. That would’ve been cool.
I have a radical thesis I’ve been working on for some time now. I suspect these last few books have been partially ghostwritten. Outrageous accusation I know, but take my word for it. I’ve read authors that have ghostwritten before, and it has a certain literary taste to it. K.A. Applegate’s Animorphs series comes to mind (over 20 of the books completely ghostwritten), as do half of the books by Dean Koontz, who is the only 64-year-old man who manages to crank out a book every month. Coincidence? Many of my favorite series were ghostwritten by outside authors, and it’s a horrible thing to do. It’s always obvious to someone who’s read everything else.
It’s my prevailing theory as of now that the various filler chapters of “Order of the Phoenix” and about 90% of “Half-Blood Prince” were ghostwritten except for a few key chapters in the latter, one being the good luck potion chapter I mentioned at the beginning of this exercise, which “miraculously” brought back the old Potter style in the middle of the awesome green sea of soul-killing mediocrity that was “Half-Blood Prince.” This alone is incredibly suspicious. An author’s style doesn’t just change radically like that. This theory of mine would also explain why fans call the sixth book “Harry Potter & the Half-Baked Plot.”
Come now, seriously. You really think Hermione went from a genius know-it-all to an ignorant drama queen in the course of one summer? Even the forces of puberty cannot explain such a radical change. Ron also went from merely ineffectual to an absolute idiot with no character development. He stayed a 13-year-old when he should’ve evolved into a 17-year-old.
If you notice, they stopped the development of his relationship with Hermione dead in its tracks. There are brief allusions in book six, but they are swept aside for a simple joke. Let me get this straight – you want me to buy that the original author wanted to wait until the very last minute, when all the world was going to hell, to develop two of the main characters? And they expect us to swallow this when there were hints of a Ron/Hermione thing as far back as “Chamber of Secrets?”
Even more strangely, the relationship stopped developing directly after “Goblet of Fire,” when it seemed Ron would explode if he held it in any longer. During “Order of the Phoenix” there were barely cloudy traces of it left, then poof! Hundreds of pages of sexual tension built up disappear and do not re-emerge until the finale, and then manifest not out of character development but rather obligation to tie up the loose ends. This just does not happen.
I suspect Rowling began after the “Goblet of Fire,” but I think even up to “Order of the Phoenix” she was still writing the vast majority of her books herself. At the beginning of “the Half-Blood Prince” she seemed to just give up. The real portions of “Deathly Hallows” were probably written ahead of time.
Every Sorting Hat test I have taken nowadays places me in Ravenclaw for some reason, although before I was a communist I got Slytherin.