Sunday, 22 July 2007

Farewell, Harry Potter series

I just finished the seventh and final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows (Wikipedia), released just yesterday. Abiding by the Golden Rule, I shall not give away any spoilers. Although I haven't had time to reflect much upon the overall quality of this much-hyped novel, it was clearly a good read. (The sixth book was also good; it chronicled Voldemort's life as the new book focuses more on Dumbledore's.) The events of this book also illustrated ties to the rise of the Nazis in Germany, with the Death Eaters — followers of the Dark Lord — being the Nazis and the rebels and non-purebloods being the Jews and other hated groups. Of course that connection doesn't totally fit, but the parallels are clearly seen. For a while the story also reminded me of Orwell's epic 1984.

It's too early to say whether this was my favorite of the seven Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling, but it is at least among them. The fourth and fifth were a bit weaker than the best; for some time I felt the sixth to be the best, now I am unsure.

I started reading the books nearly a decade ago, when I was at a fairly young age, in a totally different mindset than I am in now. Of the many changes that have occurred in those eight or so years, one thing that hasn't budged is my interest in reading. The Harry Potter books aren't the best written books, but they flow and captivate their readers — child or adult. While they are presumed to be aimed at younger readers this series has attracted a literary following of all ages, the likes of which has brought a rare, all-ages, cultural phenomenon causing people who rarely pick up a book to read.

As a whole this, to use the two words the inside cover flap of the US edition of Deathly Hallows uses, "epic tale" (or rather, series of epic tales) of witchcraft and wizardry will remain a classic in the eyes of mainstream readers everywhere. While I did not don a wizard's outfit and wait in front of the bookstore for three days, I did anxiously await the arrival of this book. It has brought closure to a great series in literature, in fantasy and in the art as a whole for it has made reading more accessible for the general population without dumbing the story down for the rest of us.

At long last, the adventures of Harry Potter are now over. Closure feels good, in a way (I often get too sucked into books of fiction, which is why I'm not always reading fiction, because I would be if I didn't stop myself). The question is, what are people of all ages going to read next? I.e., will there be another Harry Potter? Will more people embrace reading because of it?...

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