Harry Potter 7.2

I wanted to enjoy it, I really did.  And I did, in a way.  The casting and sets were as usual delightful (go, Snape!); the special effects fully up to industry standard (great dragon!); the 3-D was much better than I thought it would be (even if, without the glasses, the world looked like nothing so much as post-PRK); the audience was enthused and cheerful.  And yet...

I've had a love/hate relationship with J.K. Rowling's blockbuster series ever since book 4, which I thought contrived beyond imagining (really, three trials spaced out over the academic year so that, what, the plot could end in spring as necessary?) but nevertheless read in more or less one sitting the weekend after it came out (my husband read it first, the same night).  The first three books had me fully captivated, but the last three I read more out of duty to my earlier interest than out of joy.  Not that they weren't gripping reads.  But.

But what?  What was missing for me?  Was it just that I was no longer captivated by yet another techno-gadget dressed up as "magic"?  Was it that I felt squirmy over Harry's efforts to date Cho?  Was it that I simply couldn't care whether Harry was ostracized yet again?  Was it that the books were simply too long?  Yes and no.  All--and yet none of the above. 

Partly, I suspect, my disillusion had nothing to do with the books as such, but more with their reception.  They were simply too popular.  I'm a geek, after all.  I hate being one of a crowd.  And yet, there I was, part of the adoring mob circling the block when Rowling came to Chicago back in 1999 on her book 3 publicity tour.  No, I didn't get her autograph in the book, but I did stand agape watching her sign.  And I read and reread the first three of her books, as enchanted as I most likely would have been if I had read them at age 11 myself.

There is, after all, something truly magical about wanting to believe one is special, specially endowed with a story like Harry, specially endowed with intelligence like Hermione, specially endowed with a loving family like Ron.  And, of course, I am more or less doomed to enjoy a story set around a special school, with the professors as towering heroes and heroines and the days punctuated by what classes to attend.  But why did it take Harry so long to learn about his family?  Didn't he think to do any research?  And why was Dumbledore so irritatingly secretive about everything?  Was it really as suggested in the movie (although I don't remember this from the book) that he was just keeping Harry alive long enough so that he could die at the right time?  And don't even get me started on what Rowling has to say about history.

Even so, I'm having trouble summoning any real interest in the problem.  It's been years since I read the last book, and I don't remember a good deal of the plot, much less the details.  I am almost--almost--tempted to try to read the books again, but, you know, I don't really want to be sucked in.  'Cause I will be, just as I was the first two, three, four times round (I stopped rereading the series at book 5).  And I will still be left angry and disappointed for reasons that I don't really want to spend the time examining.  I feel like a crusty curmudgeon, not wanting to join in the party.

But I also, in a curious and even more powerful sense, feel betrayed.  Betrayed by Rowling for not writing...what?  A better series of books?  Less of a best-seller?  I wish that I had some clearer idea rather than just this nagging sense of being somehow hoaxed.  'Cause, you know, I want to join the party.  But I can't. 

Meanwhile, I highly recommend what Alan Jacobs and Russell Fox have written about Harry.  They say it much better than I could.


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