Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Harry Potter, The Finale

I just closed the cover on Deathly Hallows. Allow me to say how relieved I am to finally have that project behind me. I'm glad to move on from those books. I was beginning to feel I couldn't deal with their blatant disregard of anything resembling a logical consistency.

Don't get me wrong, the Plot made sense.. it just could have been compressed into about half as many pages and been the better for it. But you can't jump off the gravy train like that.. I realize.

The series is so full of stuff that had me frustrated I nearly quit reading them. The characters never really grew on me. If they did, they died before the series was up anyway. I can also say, I've never met any kids who act like they do in this series.. but I've met plenty who THINK they act like they do in this series. Thats probably why the series was so popular. My eyes have rolled so much in the course of reading this series I may have caused permanent torsion to the muscles.

Handful of Adults know whats what and know to stand back and let the kiddos handle the tough jobs.. while the rest are off being blithering idiots and ruining the kids plans. Its pretty thin.

The whole concept that the book teaches Witchcraft is absurd.. but it does Beyond encourage some dramatically dangerous attitudes. Genetic superiority, racial purity, ethnic slurs, slavery.. these are all things the magic users make regular use of and think nothing of it. They toss around "Muggle" like jim crow era southerners. They are encouraged by adults to do this. So of course by the time we get to the 7th book, the "muggle" Lynchings have begun too. I'm honestly surprised that theres no bonfires with death eaters standing around chanting "Wizard Power, Wizard Power" But since the "muggles" are all clearly idiots.. worse even than the adult wizards.. no one seems to feel they need to be let in on the whole thing.. This is clearly more a fear on the part of the wizards that they wouldn't stand a chance against the "muggles" if it came down to brass tacks. The Wizards it seems have begun to delude themselves into thinking it was their choice to go into hiding.. rather than being forced into hiding by the Torch & Pitchfork wielding "muggles".

The magical abilities of the characters, due to spontaneously showing up in 'Muggle-borns" is obviously Genetic.. yet at the same time it requires a wand to work.. Freud would have had a field day with this. This fact leads many of the Magic users to feel they should be running the world.. yet most don't even seem to grasp how to wear clothing properly. This is laughable at best. The fact they seem to nominally be Christian is also a head scratcher. The characters celebrate Christmas in all the books.. and Harry puts a cross over the grave of several of the casualties. I assume this could be a vestige of his childhood with the Durselys, but I'm not sure.

Harry himself has to be one of the more annoying characters in literature. He's not annoying to me the same way, say, Cugel or Richard Rahl are. They are annoying because they seem incapable of understanding other peoples views of the world. Neither of them has any problem with wanton killing if they see their views justified, as they are, being threatened. Harry is the complete opposite. Even when his friends are being murdered left and right around him, he can't bring himself to kill. He's the perfect spokesman for the "duty to retreat" laws that are in effect in so many places. It's always best to run away from danger and let some one else handle it. It makes him a very unbelievable character.

But any time you bring up an inconsistency like that. Its hammered home again and again that "it's only a kids book". Right.. it's better to patronize the little monsters and make them feel special since thats what gets the money out of mommy and daddies pockets and into the till. But make no mistake. It is only a kids book. It's not even as complicated writing wise as the Narnia books are. It lacks their moralizing, but it also lacks the character building. It's easily out classed in that department by the Prydain books. Taran starts off as a bit of a crybaby too, but through grit and determination comes to be a good man. I don't think its fair to compare the Harry Potter series with adult novels like Lord of the Rings. But it is fair to compare it to other novels written for kids. Rowling is no Lloyd Alexander or Susan Cooper..

Rowling's writing style is, very similar to Stephen King's, and that probably goes a long way to explain his admiration for her work. I like Stephen King, his books remind me of a comfortable chair, lacking any complexity in the language.. Rowling has that same feel. I don't think its a style that lends to the sort of epicness she apparently intended for the series to take on. To me it reminds me of a small child walking around in his dad's shoes, and barely managing to keep them on.

I'm really dreading watching the films now. The series was a cute kids book for the first 3.. and then just flip flopped from book to book with the rest. 4 and 6 were pretty good. 5 and 7 were pretty dire. The Idea of sitting through close to 20 hours of Harry Potter makes me more than a bit uneasy. Hopefully though, the movies are an improvement on the novels. Hopefully some of the stuff that read poorly, will be rendered more believable on screen. Hopefully.

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