Thursday, April 24, 2014

Books We've Missed: Cailey reads Harry Potter

This post marks the first in a new monthly series on Mentor's Reader. We are talking about books we've missed: popular authors, classics, bestsellers, etc. that we've managed not to read until now. We're choosing for each other on this, and for me, Meredith chose Harry Potter. Enjoy!

Somehow, I missed the Harry Potter craze. I just never felt that interested in reading these books about a boy wizard. It may have been that I was not much of a reader when they first came out (we all go through phases!), or perhaps because the idea just plain didn't appeal to me. Either way, I managed to avoid reading any Harry Potter books until just now.

At the risk of saying what everyone knows, the plot is as follows: Harry Potter was orphaned as a baby when his parents were killed by Voldemort, a dark wizard that everyone is still afraid of and won't even say his name. At the age of 11, Harry, who lives with his awful aunt, uncle, and cousin, begins to receive correspondence from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry: turns out he is a wizard! His family refuses to let him go to Hogwarts, but he gets to go anyway. Once there, he makes friends with Ron and, after a rough start, Hermione. The three of them are into mysteries, and begin to follow the trail of one right there at Hogwarts, naturally resulting in the three of them saving the day, relatively unscathed.

The verdict: I'm hooked, kind of.

This is the new, re-issued cover. 
I read the first book for this project, and at this point I've read the first three. I can see the progression of characters better after reading the second and third books and the wizard world is much more developed. Hermione and Ron are funny characters who have a love-hate relationship going on. They jokingly mock each other, but care about one another. Each of Ron's siblings are unique and different, and all of the ghosts, ghouls, and otherworldly creatures are well-explored.

Some sticking points for me are that Harry Potter and his friends are a little too good, and it is a little too convenient how they always get out of trouble, but that is what makes the series, I guess. What I liked best about the books was the development of the separate worlds. Rowling depicts a very modern England, yet also a completely separate wizard world. One thing I was not clear on was where this existed, but maybe I'm not supposed to know? Parallel universe or something? This particularly bothered me with the Weasley home.

I can definitely see how, when Rowling brought this out, the world was impressed. Quidditch, nearly-headless ghosts, and moving photographs--this world is certainly unique.

They make really good audio books, and I think I will keep going with them. The narrator on the audios is amazing, he does all sorts of voices, each distinct. Plus, since I already kind of know the stories (I have seen the films), the books do not take too much of my attention, but I've still had some surprises. Overall, I'm glad I finally understand some of the pop-culture references to this series, and I'll keep reading.

What books have you missed?

~Cailey W.

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