Tuesday, August 11, 2009

It's a dangerous business going out your front door.

I finished book three last week, and skipped ahead to book four. Without blogging.

I think a part of the problem was that I just did not know what to make of book three. It really didn't come alive for me until the very end. The majority of the book went at a snail's pace and then it picked up to a breakneck speed. The whole thing left me feeling rather dizzy, to be honest.

For once, I actually liked the Muggle scenes in the beginning. His uncle's sister, while even more evil than Harry's guardians, is an evil that's believable. I personally have an aunt that would get on really well with that woman. And the panic and fear and hopeless that Harry felt in those first chapters was palpable. My stomach was in knots. And that continued throughout the book...I kept gasping and my eyes kept widening, and I repeatedly felt like I needed to vomit. And that's a credit to Rowling. But I loved the Knight bus. The Grim thing was confusing and I actually missed that Harry saw a dog before going on the Knight bus. For an actual motif, Rowling really didn't spend much time on descriptions and explanations when this dog actually showed up.

Now, as for James Potter and his croonies, I'm less than enchanted. If we're supposed to feel that Harry is justified in his downright hate of Draco who is a bully (though not physically abusive), then Snape had every right to kill James Potter and his ilk. Harry's father and his friends were a thousand times the bully that Draco is. They're prats and I don't care for any of them except Lupin. I quite like Lupin and feel that he was used as a tool for evil purposes by his friends.

The dementors. Oh, the dementors! One more thing on the long, long list of things Rowling 'borrowed' from Tolkien. Dead and shrouded the suck the joy out of their surroundings and can infect others. There's not an ounce of creativity in that. And I won't give Tolkien all of the credit because I have read fairytales with similar creatures, but almost every description used exact words, just paraphrased, that Tolkien used to describe the Ringwraiths.

The end was interesting, but weird. I'm truly still reeling. I didn't see the Scabbers thing coming at all. I had actually liked Scabbers. I truly, truly love the little grey owl that Sirius gave Ron as a replacement though. I want that owl. I have a spare cage.

I actually really loved the bit of Harry saving himself, and his in-real-time-self mistaking his time-traveling-self for his father. That was really poetic and beautiful, I thought.

Other than this, I think I can just safely say that I'm happy to be done with book three.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What his right name is I've never heard

Well, that went quickly!

I must say...I really enjoyed book two. It was a fun ride and had some nice twists in it. I still can't quite shake the Tolkien feel to it....the giant spiders, in particular. Even the fight scene with the snake felt like a combination of Eowyn's battle with the fell beast, as well as the first age worms. The encounter between Harry and Tom Riddle, though, was awesome. That was a great ending.

I quite liked the Moaning Myrtle scenes. Out of all of the ghosts in these books, she was the first that really felt like a ghost. I get why she's haunting Hogwarts...I don't really get that from the others, except perhaps for the Professor.

The only thing that really got under my skin was Dobby...he annoyed me to no end. And when Harry figured out that Lucius Malfoy put the diary in Ginny's transfiguration book? Yeah, I'm calling that bull. A kid (or anyone, really) who just went through everything he went through remembering such an inconsequential moment from ten months prior? Get real. I get that it makes a neat and tidy ending, but that's one of the moments that I took out my imaginary red editor's pen and slashed right through those lines.

I don't really have much more to say about the plot, other than it's quite strong. I absolutely adored all of the scenes with Ron's elderly owl. What an adorable little creature. And Professor Gilderoy was a whoot, and I loved that Hermione loved him. She's such a smart and savvy little girl, but not even she can resist a pair of baby blues.

The whole feud between Draco and Harry is laid on thicker than snow in Alaska, and I don't really understand why Snape would seem to encourage it. I still find Snape interesting, but I think Rowling rather dropped the ball a bit in terms of character development. Plot was obviously her primary focus...and it certainly benefitted from her efforts.

As for the 'What HP Girl Are You?' quiz, I got Luna Lovegood. I haven't seen her mentioned in the books yet so I really can't say if I feel there's anything to it, but I am a bit surprised by the three of you thinking that I'm like Hermione. She is much too enterprising, too studious, too prompt to be me.

Now, off to book three!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Remember that the Mirror shows many things...

I like Harry.

I'm kind of surprised that I like Harry because he is a bit of a cad and reminds me a bit of the type of boy I hated when I was eleven. But he isn't being given the Mary Sue treatment and that makes me like him even more. Even his peers go back and forth between loving him and hating him...and they (so far) have had very good reasons to feel both of those ways about him.

I was also really surprised by the dynamic of the Harry/Hermione/Ron trio...I had no clue that Hermione wasn't their friend from the onset. I actually really enjoyed that aspect to it. Her transformation is believable and heartwarming. She's a sweet girl and I like her. But, out of everyone...I love Neville Longbottom. I wish these books were about Neville, not Harry. I kind of want to take him aside, hand him some treacle tart and tell him he's worth ten of everyone at the school...combined. Love.

The Tolkienness of the story did tone down once Harry got to Hogwarts, but it's still there. Most notably with the inclusion of the mirror. A mirror that doesn't show you reality? A mirror whose images could consume your thoughts if you let it? A mirror that is both dangerous and valuable? Nope, doesn't sound familiar at all! ;)

The bit at the end with Voldemort kind of lost me, but I absolutely loved the tasks they had to go through to get to the end. Felt kind of videogame-ish, but I love videogames, so I loved this. And Dumbledore assigning the last winning ten house points to Neville Longbottom made me break out in a huge grin. Neville really did get most of my strong reactions. The one time that I really laughed literally outloud was when Neville ran off still wearing the sorting hat. What a little goof. Love him.

The strange enemy relationship between Harry and Draco confuses me. I kept trying to figure out why it started, because nothing big enough really happened to fuel that kind of hate they both have for the other. I can, kind of, get why Draco would immediately dislike Harry...he's a spoiled boy that does not being outshined and would resent Harry's popularity. And, knowing what I do about the Malfoy's more sinister connections, there could be an element of that to it as well. Draco knew of Harry long before he met him and it's very possible that not everything he heard was favorable. But Harry really had no reason to respond to Draco in such a negative way aside from associating Draco with his cousin. Which really isn't fair, but that harkens back to some of Harry's flaws. He's no saint, and I like that.

I really look forward to seeing more from Snape. His backstory intrigues me. He had precious few mentions in this book, but even that limited offering exposed such depth to him. He seems so cerebral and I can't wait to see want of mental torment he puts himself through.

Oh, and I want an invisibility cloak.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.

My original plan was to give myself one week to read each book, but now I'm thinking that I may be able to read all seven in just one week combined!

As soon as I picked up the book, I put it back down again. Every line that I read reminded me of some aspect of Tolkien. Even the narration seemed as though Bilbo had somehow stepped out of Middle-earth and into this world of Muggles...the sarcasm and biting judgement cloaked in simple, plain speech was full-on Disgruntled Hobbit. There's a bias in the storytelling that is so heavy-handed that I could barely focus on anything but that. But, after the first few pages, the plot started to carry me through and the pages practically turned themselves and, before I knew it, I was on page 151.

I rather felt that the Dursley's were hard done by. Petunia seemed to have lived in her sister's shadow for a long time and (pretty understandably) harbored resentment. And what happens as soon as she manages to carve out a life for herself, complete with a loving husband and child she adores? Her sibling is murdered, which must have been a very difficult thing for her to work through emotionally as she seems to feel that her sister (like some sort of hardcore drug addict) was flirting with death and danger for some time. And, on top of that, this prodigal sister's young son is left on her doorstep like some modern Moses. The writing, though, is very flat and relies on these very unimaginative character types; you get more depth out of Disney. But when I looked beyond the words and at the actual actions, that's when I got sucked in and just mentally filling the holes in as I went. The Dursleys are not people I'd want to be related to, without a doubt, but the type-casting applied to them borders on absurd.

Even if Petunia was resentful, hurt, or angry at her sister, to treat her nephew like the Orphan Annie is just...well, unbelievable. Having a child live in a small dusty, spider-ridden closet under the stairs from ages one to eleven? Am I really expected to buy this? Moving on from that, though, I go back and forth about whether or not Harry Potter is being given the Mary Sue treatment. Regardless of the answer to that, I just can't help but take a little bit of a shine to him. Despite his extraordinary circumstances (the neglectful abuse of being raised by gaurdians who show him nothing but disdain, the unhealthy living conditions of a cupboard under the stairs, etc) he really is a very ordinary little boy and quite relatable. He has a temper, he has decidedly unkind thoughts, and, in general, reacts in ways that are completely unremarkable. He's just a Typical Kid and I kind of like him. He's eleven, and acts it, but he's still the sort of boy that you'd want to hug and take care of. Or, if you're his elderly neighbor, feed stale chocolate cake to.

Dumbledore, though he is a watered down Gandalf, I can't help but like instantly. And there really is a lot of borrowing from Tolkien. First thing I noticed was how the Dursleys are basically mean versions of the Gamgees...instead of 3 Bagshot Road it is 4 Privet Drive. An ordinary, unremarkable house filled with a family that wants nothing more than to continue living their dull, ordinary lives uninterrupted by adventure.

I do love the concept of having a secret fame. It is very Sleeping Beauty, actually, and that was one of my favorite fairy tales growing up, so it's no real surprise that I like it here too. And I thought his reaction to all of it was very believable. The moment in The Leaky Cauldron when a fully grown man was excited and beaming just from being recognized by this slip of a boy was absolutely adorable. 'Did you hear that? Harry Potter remembers me!' So adorable and those were the moments that I really felt like I was there with this man in a purple top hat practically bouncing from the happiness of seeing his physical reminder that they now live in a time of peace. In his position, I'd be hugging the little boy-Jesus too.

I have read into the Hogwarts half of the book, but I'll make a separate post for all of that. And I'll post my little quiz results Tuesday as planned so you still have time to go back and comment that I'm Hermione (or, you know, any other female character, lol).

Aside from all of that, I have to note that the names are very intriguing and I'm going to go through the book once more and make lists and notes of all of the personal names used. There's clear themes used, but the Gryffindor names kind of confuses me. Yes, I'll definitely go back and make notes on that.

Sorry for the novel. Please let me know if I'm too long-winded. If so, then I'll try to be more concise next time.

Friday, July 31, 2009

It's a job that's never started that takes the longest to finish.

Good news, my Minions!

My most darling sister is going to borrow both books one and two from the library so I will be able to get started! Huzzah!

That is all.

P.S. Actually, that is not all. Where are my minions? My last post (re: the quizzy thing) has two replies. Two! For shame!

P.P.S. Now, that is all.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Short cuts make long delays.

Plan: Read Harry Potter.
Reality: Only HP book in the house is book seven.

Plan: Borrow from library.
Reality: Owe hefty fine, and am broke.

Plan: Borrow book one from fellow knitter.
Reality: She's missing book one.

Plan: Borrow book one from other fellow knitter.
Reality: She forgot to bring me the book.

Plan: Wait one more week and hope other fellow knitter remembers.
Reality: To be continued...

Part of me is sad in the way I always am when my plans fail, but it's a sadness I'm used to. Part of me, however, is not so bummed because now I'll have more time to finish the knitting project that I'm working on. Always a silver lining, folks.

So to make this a somewhat Harry Potterish post (and interactive!), let me just share that in my excitement over this project (yes, I'm considering reading these books a Project) I have been taking oodles of online quizzes. Most notably, a 'Which HP girl are you?' quiz. Now I want to know if the quiz was totally off, so post your opinion on which HP Girl (TM?) I am and why and I'll post the actual quiz results next week...hopefully with my first installment of thoughts, notes, and reviews of book one!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

And so it begins...

For the past ten years, I have publically denounced the Harry Potter series as mediocre, overhyped, and just generally undeserving of the fanfare. It was born mostly out of a sense of booksnobbery, but also partly because of my loyalty to Lord of the Rings and all things Tolkien. But something has changed...

That something is Twilight.

And in light of the recent suckage of popular "literature", I've realized that...well, maybe Harry Potter deserves a chance. I mean, surely overhyped barely-developed wizards are better than sparkly, bipolar vampires?

So starting next Tuesday, I will begin to read Harry Potter, starting with Book One (because a certain singing nanny told me the beginning is a very good place to start) and because I am narcisstic and needy, I will blog my thoughts and experiences which will hopefully give all of you (whom I am sure have read these books long, long ago) feelings of nostalgia of how it was to read them with fresh eyes.

Sound good?

We'll see.