Author: J K Rowling
We feel that ‘reviewing’ something as popular as Harry Potter would never do! But a selection of opinions, some complimentary, some critical; these might help to give a sort of composite picture of a book, from which readers might come to their own conclusions. Here, from five of our reviewers, are five different viewpoints on the Harry Potter series by J K Rowling.
Vanathi Parthasarathi feels: I was introduced to Harry Potter much earlier than an average Indian Harry Potter fan when my dad bought this book about an orphan boy who is introduced to a world of magic, and since then I tend to measure each book’s goodness against this series. Although this series has 7 books, no one book is below the other. This book is not just about mere magic and fantasy but more about friendship, love, courage, trust and so many more such moral values that we try to instill in our kids. No matter how much of a realist one is, there is always a tiny bit of a desire in one’s mind to escape to a world of unexplainable happenings and magical events. And this is exactly what these books provide its readers with. The ingenuity of this series lies in how the Author builds each character and event and the unexpectedly links them throughout the books. Rowling concocts a truly magical story about an innocent and unassuming 11 year old, who grows up into a bold and gallant teenager and saves the magical world from its diabolic villain. It may sound like the regular Hero-beats-villain story but what makes this book different and truly exceptional is the way the author slips in bits of realism with which the reader can relate to easily. The story gets darker and serious as the series advances but Rowling beautifully builds an unforeseeable plot with her rare writing style which is agile and easy to read yet striking and descriptive enough. As you read, the book makes you wish you were a character in it which is a sure sign of a classic!
Lakshmikanth Koundinya says: A story of a young boy who grows into a wizard and kills the all-powerful antagonist. This is Harry Potter. But if I dare attempt such an assertion, the world would reply saying “Hey mindless minimalist, there’s lot more to it than you can ever imagine.” But why? The writing is not so exceptional. There are equally captivating plots out there in the world and there are equally creative imaginations by others. Yet, what made it a sensational piece of writing received with rivaled fervor by the young and the old?
The answer is one word; one essential ingredient. Philosophy. Love triumphs over power. This is the philosophy of Harry Potter. Some realize it, some don’t. But this element of philosophy is the cause for the emotional-fission-reaction within us. Enticing writing, mind-blowing imagination and this philosophy makes this book what it is. Anyone would normally tend to love it.
But for a person who reads Wordsworth by the light of morning sun, Dante after breakfast, Rushdie post-lunch, Ayn Rand before evening’s volleyball game, Oscar Wilde under 8 P.M.’s moon and Poe while sleeping, Harry Potter becomes but a sweet story meant for kids.
Janani Hariharan avers: Harry Potter- the only word that sums up this mania is ‘universe’. For me and the millions of fans out there, J.K. Rowling is our queen and Weasley is our King! In many ways, I consider the Harry Potter universe to be a tribute to the power of human imagination. It’s been more than a decade since I read my first Potter book, and the magic has still not worn off. This is the series that tells you that it’s okay to be that girl who loves to read and spend time in the library, that it’s okay to be confused as long as you make the right choice in the end, that it’s okay to believe in things that nobody else does. And of course, this is the series that gave us Quidditch and Chocolate Frogs. Here’s to a generation of new Potterheads!
Mugdha Wagle questions the trend: Don’t get me wrong; I love Harry Potter. The lead characters are the best I’ve come across in children’s literature: downtrodden outsiders who rely on old-fashioned virtues like courage and integrity to come out on top. The detail that has gone into the universe is commendable.
But I, for one, noticed a marked decline in the quality of the books over the course of the series. The first three were near-perfect, the best part being how Rowling sneakily made us pay attention to every tiny detail in the books; miss something that sounds innocuous and you might end up missing the most important clue ever! (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, in particular, drove this point home). Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was a tad bit too long for comfortable reading. Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix was an interesting children’s book, one that explored the concept of governmental propaganda in school syllabi; a distinctly adult theme in a children’s book. But the writing, the language, the excitement that infused the earlier books starts to go missing here. And the 6th and 7th books were quite a disappointment; neither challenging, nor path-breaking, not particularly strong on plot, or characterisation; and unforgivably long.
A die-hard Potter fan at the beginning of the series, I ended up feeling cheated by the uninspired and insipid ending.
Neha Yadav feels: I came to the Harry Potter fandom quite late – 2005, to be precise. The time lapse is explained by two things – the fact that I was born in the cultural wasteland that is Ghaziabad and my latent hipster tendencies which make me wary of popular phenomenon. Like almost every other kid in the world, I was enchanted (sorry!) with the series. While I was aware of having missed out on some years of delicious geekery, I was glad that I read the series after I had passed the tender age of eleven or I would undoubtedly have been one of those sorry kids who waited up for their letter from Hogwarts and eventually cried themselves to sleep in muggle disappointment. I know it’s a cliché to say that one has grown up alongside the boy wizard and his two best friends but like all clichés, this too has a grain of truth in it. I read the series long before I learnt to critique literature through the Marxist, Feminist, Focauldian, Structuralist, Post-structuralist lens and I fell in love with it without restraint or reserve. Harry Potter taught me several excellent virtues while being massively entertaining. It introduced me to a fantastical world created in such detail that no suspension of disbelief is required. It peopled my head with brilliant, dazzling friends and never mind that they never existed and never will. Most importantly, it showed me just how powerful the written word can be.