Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Potter: It's all over now

LOOONNGG post coming here!

Well, I must say, I've found it difficult to keep up a blog, or keep up with my forum posts, since going back to work. I've also been finding it difficult to write. Not difficult to know WHAT to write, just difficult to get around to it. Writing was something I was able to accomplish on breaks at work at my last job, and then... well, whenever I wanted, during my unemployment. I'm finding it hard to actually have to "schedule" time to write, and then to stick to that schedule.

So this weekend, I decided I absolutely needed a break from even worrying about it, and maybe something to spur my creativity so I would feel the urgent NEED to write. So I was definitely looking forward to the release of the final Harry Potter book.

Don't read further unless you want spoilers!

Just kidding. I wouldn't do that to you. I, along with about five million others, am a very fast reader, and finished the book in just a few hours, but I would never spoil anything for those throngs of fans out there slavering to discover all the secrets for themselves. I'll leave that to whoever those schmucks were who scanned the whole book and put it on the Internet a few days ago, or whoever it was that decided that Wikipedia needed to be IMMEDIATELY updated with every significant detail of the book! I'm just going to give my own vague impressions here, trusting that my readers (if I can be said to have "readers") actually want to experience the end of the story for themselves. So there will only be a few sentences of review here.

Before I do that, though, I just want to touch on that whole spoiler thing. Don't get me wrong, in certain circumstances, I'm not averse to spoilers. For my favorite comic books, sure, I sometimes enjoy a little advance warning about what's coming. I find it entertaining, as well as a good marketing tool for the comic companies. Oftentimes, I'll buy something based on an advance review of the comic, or spoiler pages I've read. With TV shows I'm really bad about it... I almost ALWAYS want to know what's going to happen on Smallville. Who the newest FOTW is going to be, what DC canon character is going to show up in a totally new form just for TV. But as an author... albeit an unpublished one... I sympathize with J.K. Rowling. A bunch of folks out there are saying she should just let it drop. Who cares if someone got an advance copy of her book? Or 1200 someones? Who cares if it was posted on the Internet? The fans are going to buy it anyway, it's not going to affect her bottom line.

At this point, does anyone really think Rowling cares about her bottom line? Richer than the Queen of England, people! And that's pretty rich!

She cares about the product of her work, and pleasing her fans. She cares about seeing her carefully laid plans come together, and the excitement she's managed to generate over all these years for the culmination of this story. And yes, like every other author, she gets a perverse pleasure from seeing the shock, surprise, and emotion on peoples' faces when some unexpected twist they've written sincerely moves a reader. No, I'm not saying Harry Potter is incredible, heart-stopping literature, but no one can deny that it's become a serious phenomenon all over the world. And to be honest with you, I'm a fan... I love the books. Not my favorite series, but still, I've thoroughly enjoyed every installment. And I honestly feel for the woman that this pall was placed over the proceedings for the final release at the very last moment. And if it were me, and the release of my novel (first, second, seventh, or millionth!) was coming up, I'd be mortified to find out the entire text had appeared on the Internet. Then again, judging from the fans I saw in our little town's B&N release party, no one even noticed outside the big newspapers.

Now... on to the review...

It was good. Go buy it.

Not enough?

OK. Let's see.

Without giving too much away, then...

J.K. Rowling managed to tie up just about everything, every loose end you could think of, in a nice little bow. Everything (just about) is explained. Everything makes sense in the end. And you can tell that she meticulously plotted these books out from the beginning. There were plot points and simple comments from as far back as book 1 that turned out to have far more significance to the overall story than I would have believed.

OK, so not EVERY question ever asked by a fan is answered. But some of the questions us fans can come up with are pretty... ummm... nit-picky. So let me clarify and say, every question that J.K. Rowling intended from the beginning to be important to the story, was answered.

As far as the flow of the book, and was it an enjoyable read... it flowed pretty nicely, overall, and I certainly did enjoy it. There were a few parts that dragged a bit, and a few parts that seemed just a tad repetitive, but they were things that needed to happen. You'll have that over the course of a story that takes seven books to tell. Look at Jordan's Wheel of Time series... every third or fourth book is basically just filler, to get people from here to there and set up the exciting events of the next three or four. But those slightly dragging parts weren't overpowering, and the story flowed quite well from one concept to the next.

For the writing style, this book is a very drastic change over every book prior. Each book has had a darker and darker tone, especially since Goblet of Fire. Half-Blood Prince was pretty dark all around. But this book is by far the darkest, most adult of the entire series. This is reflected in Rowling's writing style. She uses far less flowery speech, and far less humor. In fact, a lot of the sense of delight and wonder in this magical world is missing, replaced by drama, fear, and angst. But that's most certainly to be expected, and even desired, when a story has followed its main characters from childhood to adulthood during what have to be considered perilous times.

Who lives? Some people. Who dies? Some other people. That's about all I can say on that, other than to point out... well, death and loss are pretty prominent in this book. Then again, so is self-sacrifice, triumph, and celebrating life.

So, all in all... I liked it. I don't think it's the best book of the series, but it was a highly satisfying ending to the story. There were sad parts (starting less than 60 pages in), there were happy parts, there was triumph and loss, and the ending... well, read it yourselves.

Anyone else have any thoughts? On the review, or on the mini-scandal leading up to the release? Feel free to comment.

1 comment:

Alex Andronov said...

I liked it a lot. I got to the end and felt satisfied which is the exact thing that you want after 7 years of waiting. I was slightly worried before I started that I wasn't going to feel that everything was resolved and yet that's exactly what I felt.