Thursday, July 19, 2007

Pottered Out

A dear friend of mine told me yesterday that she was in the throes of Potter-mania brought on, of all things, by a visit to Hong Kong (don't ask!). She is apparently plowing through the books at the rate of over one a day, whilst simultaneously watching the movies. Since the next, and last, book of the series will be released in just about an hour and the world at large will be in throes of Potter-mania, this is my "Stop the world and I'll get off" moment. For you see, I am not a fan.

J. K. Rowling is a wonderful author and she has a created an universe as rich and detailed in its mythology and history as Middle Earth. And the analogy between Frodo and Harry are also fairly obvious. Ironically, the richness of the rendering of Harry's world is the primary reason why I am not a Harry Potter fan.

I read the first few Harry Potter books (through Goblet of Fire - I think the fourth in the series) and here's the truth (and if anyone ever quotes me on this, I will flat out deny it with a straight face):

The fourth book scared the bejesus out of me.

There, I said it. The fault, dear Brutus, lies not with the stars but with me. You see, when I started the series I was expecting a mix of Enid Blyton and Hardy Boys with maybe a little Bewitched thrown in. And the first two books were like that - you had Hogwarts instead of Mallory Towers, quidditch instead of lacrosse and the weird jelly beans instead of the tuck box. The whole Voldermort angle was the Hardy Boys part (in a Case Files sort of way).

But then the books started becoming darker and more serious and by the end of Goblet of Fire someone had lost their life and it was not fun and games anymore. I was disturbed and yes, scared at the ending of Goblets of Fire. This, in my mind, was not a book for children.

Yes, I know that the growing seriousness of each subsequent book is a progression - planned - and a reflection of an audience growing with each book and as such, beautifully written. But still, for reasons that I can't quite explain rationally, I found the books, especially the fourth one, rather disturbing (by design?).

Will the epic of Harry Potter be regarded one day on par with the epic of Frodo Braggins as a literary endeavor? Probably. In fact, I think it is already happening judging by the gushing review each new book receives. And the good news, at least from my perspective, is that in a few hours I will know - without having read the book - how it all ends.

And once I know for sure that Harry - and his gang - lives and Voldermort dies, maybe I'll read the other three books. For now, I am just going to cower under the bed.

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