Much has been written about the “Harry Potter” series before, so I won’t be reviewing it here. I’m only trying to capture MY experience reading it.
Nothing I write will do justice to how I feel after reading the series. I didn’t read the book when it first came out. Magic??? Soooo not my kinda book, I decided, and never gave it a try for a long time. Then I picked book 1, with a slightest bit of curiosity. I liked it, but not enough to pick the next.
Something about becoming a mother and learning to see the world through a child’s perspective nudged me to give the book another try, years later. I read the first book again, because I’d long forgotten the story. The main characters, Harry, Ronald and Hermione are introduced. They enter Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, to learn the art and science of Magic.
Secrets lurk behind the castle’s umpteen, unseen doors. Ghastly beasts and trolls tread its dark passages. Stuff happens. Exciting but dangerous. Harry and Co. find themselves in the midst of a hullabaloo. They save the day. I loved it! I raced through the second. Then third. And fourth.
In the fourth, a character dies participating in the Triwizard tournament, a competition between the 3 wizarding schools. Murder, in a book written for children. It felt like a deathblow to Innocence. I cried.
The fifth was hard to read. The Dark Lord returns from his parasitic state ( dependent on others for sustenance) to his powerful full-form. He is out to wreak havoc. And kill Harry. Because Harry is destined to kill him (This got me thinking about Lord Krishna’s story). Evil prevails. Happiness is sucked out. Reading it felt like trudging through a post-Apocalyptic Earth. I couldn’t read beyond the first chapter.
But I knew I had to. I craved to know the end. Lord Voldemort’s end. I was determined to read the rest of the series.
So when I drew up a list of things to do before I turn 29 next year, I knew ‘reading the “Harry Potter” series would be one of my top goals. Setting myself a goal and a deadline might help me stay motivated enough to read the whole series without drifting towards other books and losing the continuity, I felt. Also, I dragged my sister along for the ride. We read the books together (but, with miles of distance thrown between us), discussed them and helped one another to keep reading when the reading got tough.
As I read the last book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”, it felt bittersweet, bitter because I will never be reading the series for the first time again. There won’t be the suspense, the tension that comes with reading a mystery for the first time. It felt sweet because, reading it would help me accomplish a big goal. And accomplish I did. 7 books in less than 5 months. An achievement for me.
Now I want to re-read the series next year. The first time around I read it for the story. But the next time I want to read it deliberately, like a writer, paying close attention to see how the author, J K Rowling, made it work (Is she a wizard herself? Did she wave a wand and have perfect words spew out and link one to another, like beads in a beautiful necklace? The writing surely felt so.)
Of all the characters, I loved Hermione the most (I can’t say that enough!). Her zest for knowledge has inspired me to learn as much as I can about anything that fascinates me (Oh! She’s capable of learning everything about everything! But I’m a real person. With limited time. And limited mental capacity!) Now I don’t just read a book, I study it, which slows my reading, which is totally fine. What’s the big hurry anyway!?
Which book was the best of the lot? I’m still not sure. Each read beautifully, captivated me and kept me reading till the end. But if I had to pick one, I’d choose Book 4, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”. It stands at the threshold of innocence, beyond which the series gets murkier, cynical, with less humor… In short, more grown-up.
After I re-read the series I will review it once again. And hope that the next review comes close to expressing how I truly feel about this masterpiece.