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Saturday, September 22, 2007  

Potted

Warning: Harry Potter spoilers!*

*I feel like a complete idiot even saying that at this point.

I just finished the seventh Harry Potter book last week, which I think officially makes me the last person in the English-speaking world to have done so. I was able to avoid spoilers, but even so, here's the stuff that didn't surprise me:

1. A bunch of people died. I felt especially bad for Mad-Eye Moody, who spent the majority of his onstage time in the series being impersonated by somebody else. Tonks and Lupin also stung, especially since they had a baby and all. But I don't see how, as Teddy's godfather, Harry didn't end up being raising the kid himself. He can engage in a sprawling, epic battle with an all-powerful snake-wizard but can't handle a baby? Okay, well, actually I can see that. Fred's (or was it George's?) death wasn't the blow it could have been, because it's not like we were going to get to enjoy a lot more of his and George's (or was it Fred's?) jokes that late in the book anyway. Colin Creevey, though, that was just gratuitous. "This is what happens to rabid fans," Rowling seemed to be saying. Nice message.

2. Harry was a Horcrux all along. It was the only explanation for his longstanding telepathic connection with Voldemort. This of course led to the dilemma of how Harry could defeat Voldemort and still survive without some kind of absurd deus ex machina. In other words, how was Rowling going to spare Harry's life without having him get -- to use Jacob's expression – "shot in the cancer?" Answer: she didn't, and she did.

3. The final confrontation between Harry and Voldemort was going to be a huge letdown. To be fair, this was pretty much inevitable. What I did not predict was that it would all center around arcane rules of wand ownership. It's like if The Fast and the Furious had ended with, instead of a climactic race, a scene where everyone whips out the titles to their vehicles.

4. Snape isn't actually evil. Rowling fished me in on that in the first book. Never again! Even when he killed Dumbledore at the end of Book Six I knew there had to be a good reason. My theory was that Voldemort needed Draco to be the one to kill Dumbledore for some reason, and Snape was foiling that part of his plan. That kind of fell apart the further I got into book seven, but then the real reason -- that Dumbledore asked him to, to protect Draco, and also he was dying anyway -- was even more than I expected. And naturally the de-earing of George (or was it Fred?) was a favor to everyone, so they could tell them apart for the last year of Fred's (or was it George's?) life. And then when Harry learned the truth, he was too self-absorbed with his own petty little problems like his imminent death to feel bad about misjudging Snape. Again. Naming a kid after him years later strikes me as too little, too late.

4. Dumbledore sucks at being dead.

Don't misunderstand me; I loved the series, and found all of the books riveting. I wasn't disappointed that Rowling pulled out all the stops -- as well as a few still-beating hearts -- for the finale. She just needed more stops, is all. I was hoping the last book would be my favorite, but that honor still belongs to The Prisoner of Azkaban, probably because it's also my favorite of the movies to date. Everyone I know prefers The Goblet of Fire, which is an opinion I can't share because the whole Triwizard Tournament strikes me as completely retarded in both conception and execution. Hey, let's all go sit and watch the opaque , undisturbed surface of a dark lake for an hour!

I would have finished the series sooner, but I put The Order of the Phoenix aside for a couple of weeks when I got to the third act, because I wanted to see how the movie ended first. My logic was that I'd rather read a book whose ending I know than see a movie whose ending I know. Because you can always put down a book. I don't know, it made sense to me at the time.

It was weird finishing, because here it was mid-September and I'd been reading nothing but Harry Potter since May. What was I going to read next? With what should I cleanse my palate? What would be my anti-Potter?

Well, Trash had recommended a book she read last year called Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, so I picked that up without knowing the first thing about it. Imagine my surprise upon discovering that it's about people in England who do magic.

Maybe that's better than going cold turkey anyway.

posted by M. Giant 6:10 AM 16 comments

16 Comments:

Azkaban is still my favorite one, too! After I finished Book 7, I took a little break and started re-reading it. I'm planning to re-read the whole series in reverse--I've heard that leads to interesting insights.

I've also heard that I'm a nerd. Heh.

By Blogger Jenny, at September 23, 2007 at 7:24 AM  

I loved Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell. It is funny and touching and full of footnotes which should not be skipped. As much as I loved Harry Potter, I think JSAMN is a much better book.
Nancy

By Anonymous Anonymous, at September 24, 2007 at 5:15 AM  

I also feel that PoA is my favorite. For that matter, I enjoy HBP more than DH. It goes 3, 6, 7, 1, 5, 4, 2 for me, with the placement of 1, 5, and 4 pretty close but 2 definitely being my least favorite. I've been meaning to read JSaMN for awhile but am now afraid it won't live up to the hype.

By Blogger Emily, at September 24, 2007 at 10:42 AM  

Ooh, I've just finished Jonathan Strange and I absolutely LOVED it, it is so charming and witty. Stick with it! Oh, and Azkaban is my favourite Potter too. It's the scariest.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at September 24, 2007 at 12:46 PM  

Jonathan Strange is absolutely one of the most exquisite books I've ever had the pleasure to read. Be warned: it's addictive!!

By Blogger Marissa, at September 24, 2007 at 4:14 PM  

Jonathan Strange is FANTASTIC. In many senses of the word. And, as a previous commenter said, don't skip the footnotes - they're amazing! The only thing is that it took me awhile to get into the rhythm of the book, and now that I have a toddler, I can only read in 30-second stretches. Hrmph.

By Anonymous Rachel, at September 24, 2007 at 4:24 PM  

Azkaban also my favorite! I'm just sad you didn't mention Dobby the house elf in the deaths of book 7, that one made me weep - even though I found his character so annnoying.

By Blogger Lisa, at September 24, 2007 at 5:36 PM  

i am a hp nerd - dobby's death made my CRY. i was upset that tonks and lupins deaths didn't get more wordage. Same too with george (or fred). just to make you feel better - my husband has just STARTED book 6.

By Blogger Sara, at September 24, 2007 at 9:26 PM  

Noes, noes, noes!

At first I thought you had written that you didn't see why Sirius hadn't raised Harry. Which I'd never thought of before, and which made perfect sense. Oh wait, I guess he was in Azkaban. Fiiiine....

But DEAR GOD, Harry was 18. 18 is too young to raise a child anyway, and then you have the fact that he hasn't even started dealing with years of emotional and physical abuse from the Dursleys and insane crazy trauma shit from his insane crazy adolescence. He's busy running around refusing to talk to anyone about anything that bothers him and sulking and lashing out instead, and he's never had any kind of positive parental modeling. Possibly the Weasleys, but you can't rear a child on what you get from occasionally visiting the Weasleys.

NOOO. *Hagrid* would be a better parent than Harry. (sort of.) I just hope that he got to work through a lot of shit and get a lot of healing and serenity from all those years that she so blithely skipped over before he had kids.

By Blogger oakling, at September 24, 2007 at 9:37 PM  

oakling beat me to the punch - though I will point out that Harry was seventeen, not even eighteen. Way too young for an incredibly messed-up teen to start raising a child. I figure either Teddy's grandmother (as next of kin) or possibly Molly Weasley (Order member, mother extraordinaire) took the baby.

Strange & Norrell is awesome, but entirely different from HP aside from the surface comparison. It's more like Ann Radcliffe and CS Forester had a baby and GK Chesterton raised it.

By Blogger Naomi, at September 25, 2007 at 5:46 AM  

Why would Harry (as a godfather, and also a high school dropout) have raised Teddy, when Teddy's grandmother (next of kin) was still alive and functional? Did Harry have a job -- or an education -- or a decent home -- or experience -- or anything else required for the proper raising of a child?

Aside from that, I loved your synopsis here, especially the car title reference. And this must be the lamest way to de-lurk ever. Um, bye now!

By Anonymous Sara, at September 25, 2007 at 1:53 PM  

I loved Jonathan Strange too. Another great read is Cornelia Funke's Inkheart series. Aside from being a riveting story, it has a lot of interesting things to say about books, the experience of reading, and how storytellers relate to their audience. It also has some awesome villians in Capricorn and Basta.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at September 25, 2007 at 5:51 PM  

Strange & Norrell kicks absolute, utter ass. I don't think I have *ever* had as big a thrill at a book's conclusion as I have had at that one.

Well, one of its conclusions.

OMG I have said too much.

Oh, and if you, like me, are annoyed at afterlife!Dumbledore, try taking a look at this short fanwork:

http://trickofthedark.livejournal.com/148325.html?thread=1810789

A bit of weird - but a lot more of absolute, moving *good*.

By Blogger SB, at September 26, 2007 at 8:25 AM  

dangit.

Try cutting & pasting these parts:

http://

trickofthedark.livejournal.com/

148325.html?thread=1810789

By Blogger SB, at September 26, 2007 at 8:26 AM  

You say there's a dilemma because "how (could Harry) defeat Voldemort and still survivie (if he was a horcrux)"... I think it was explained that when Voldemort "killed" him in the forest, that destroyed the horcrux within Harry. So Harry was able to kill Voldemort with no repercussions on himself.

AND I TOTALLY KNEW SNAPE WAS GOOD. My theory was that he killed Dumbledore on Dumbledore's orders. HOORAY FOR ME. :P

As for Teddy... *he had a grandmother!!* Why should Harry raise him?

Chamber of Secrets was my least favourite too. Fave would be a toss-up between 3 and 6, I think. Harry was too angsty in 5. Although we did get introduced to Tonks there, and I love Tonks.

By Blogger Leah Maria, at September 27, 2007 at 5:23 AM  

Can I recommend Diana Wynne Jones http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diana_Wynne_Jones if you're looking for a new writer to follow? She writes fabulous books about magic and other worlds, in my opinion they are far more appealing and satisfying than HP. Some are aimed at younger children and some are for much older readers, but like HP readers of all ages will enjoy them. Libby.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at September 28, 2007 at 1:38 AM  

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