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Harry Potter Book Review from an Acknowledged Potterhead

July 15, 2009

I step into the crowded room, and my breath hitches in my chest. This has been a long time coming, but it’s something I have to do. I tap the microphone and clear my throat. “Um, my name is Krista, and I’m a Potterhead.”

“Hi Krista!” comes the crowd’s enthusiastic response.

Grinning like a Cheshire cat, I stare into the crowd. I have found my people.

Yes, it’s true. I am a Potterhead, and I’m dedicating this book review not to just one of the books in the Harry Potter series, but five of them. It seemed a fitting thing to do with the movie opening today to reflect on my Potterheadness. The funny thing is I came to the whole Potter fandom late—as in this June late. For years, I would step lightly around Pottermania. I wasn’t completely out of the loop—I watched the first and second movies, and I’d read the first book back in 2003. I knew the buzz words like Hogswarts, Dumbledore, Hagrid, owls….oh yeah, I attempted to be down with it. But within me, I knew something was missing. I would feel a twinge of envy when people raced to the bookstores at midnight to get the latest book or bemoaned the Half Blood Prince being pushed back.

So, I decided to do something about it. In February, I got on Amazon, and to my amazement was able to find a moderately priced box set of books 1-6. A few days later, my heart jumped for joy when I opened the box. There was the key to unlocking my Harry Potter appreciation.

But I can hear you questioning this equation. “Now wait a minute, you say you bought the books in February, but you just started reading them in June? What’s wrong with you, woman!” I know, it’s insanity. Please put the pitchforks and torches away—I couldn’t help it. Life got in the way, but I promised myself as soon as school was out, I would begin reading the series. It was one promise I kept.

I managed to devour the first two books at a steady pace—often reading late into the night because I just couldn’t put them down. I think that’s the beauty of the series. Every book takes you someplace new and exciting with a new cast of characters. Even after five books, it still seems fresh and intriguing. I was desperate to finish the series by movie time, but alas, I didn’t make it. Which after attending the midnight showing last night(more on that later), I’m kinda glad I didn’t read book six. Why? Because I was totally blown away, and in the same token, I didn’t have the book to base it on to be disappointed. So, I hope to wrap up The Half Blood Prince before school starts in two weeks.

So let’s talk about the author for a minute. I think it would be hard to find anyone in the writing community who isn’t awed and inspired by JK Rowling’s success. It boggles the mind to think someone one day could be living in poverty and writing on napkins as an escape and then a little while later become richer than the Queen of England. You almost have to pinch yourself to believe it. But for me, JK Rowling’s true success is not in her monetary wealth, but in the fans’  love for her characters.

Sure, I’d be a total sellout if I didn’t admit I dream a little dream from time to time of making a living solely off my writing or slipping into a darkened movie theater to find “Based on the Novel by Krista Ashe” in the credits. But the writer in me dreams of character love—that undeniable bond that some writers forge between their characters and an adoring fan base. JK Rowling has that in abundance. Harry, Ron, and Hermoine are some of the most beloved characters in modern literature. I fell in love with them myself along with Dumbledore, McGonagall, Hagrid, and the entire Weasley family.

The theme that stands out for me the most in the series is love and friendship. In the very first book, we’re introduced to the idea that Lily Potter gave her life for her infant son, and it was her love that warded off Voldemort’s curse. We also see the early remnants of the “adoptive” family Harry acquires in the world of wizardry. Although Harry grows up quite unloved and unwanted with the Dursley’s, he forges an unbreakable bond with the Weasley family along with Hermoine. Through the series, he builds more of a makeshift family with Dumbledore, Lupin, and Sirius Black—not to mention Ron and Hermoine. And when you get right down to it, who doesn’t want friends like Ron and Hermoine? They’re the truest friends anyone could ever want—the kind who are willing to go to the ends of the earth for you.

Finally, I think the beauty of the series is it has a little something for everyone. First off, there’s magic. Like Harry, I’m anxious in every book for him to get back to Hogwarts. I love all the mishaps and mayhem that go on there, and the fight scenes are so intense. Second, there’s something for sports fanatics in the form of Quiddich. Then as Harry and his friends get older, there are the typical “teenage” infatuations. I think we’ve all experienced the mix-ups that Harry goes through with his first crush, Cho Chang and then his inability to tell Ginny how he actually feels for so long. And some of us have struggled with feelings of more than friendship like Ron and Hermoine. In the end, it is a series that is so fantastical, but at the same time, has it’s feet rooted in the real world.

And then last night came my first Harry Potter on the big screen experience. A friend of mine and her daughter got advanced tickets, and they asked me to come along. I said, “Sure!” I’d planned on going, but not necessarily for the midnight showing. Although I wasn’t born in 77’ when the first Star Wars came out, that’s the only thing I can equate to standing in a line, with advanced tickets, that wrapped completely around the side of the movie theater.  People came bedecked in costumes from characters like Harry, Hermoine, and even Dobby. There was a fevered excitement running through the crowd, and when the credits finally rolled, applause and cheering rang through the theater—or theaters I should say since it was playing on eight screens.

So as I close this review, I have a challenge for you. We’d love to hear your Harry Potter love stories. When you started reading, who your favorite character is, what you thought of the movie—whatever you’d like to share.

Do it for Harry!

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4 comments

  1. I have no idea when I started reading Harry Potter. It was years ago though, before the fifth book came out. I was young, probably nine or younger and my cousin had read the first book. He let my mom borrow it and she read it first. She likes Harry Potter, but she’s never been the fanatic I am. Then she gave it to me to read. It’s the first book I remember reading and I absorbed it like a magnet. Slowly I worked my way through the four books that were out at the time and began the long waiting period between books.

    My favorite character has always been, and will always be, Hermione. She reminds me a little of myself. We even have the same hair (not the color, but the way her’s is so bushy.)

    Personally, I loved the movie very much and I’m trying to find an opportunity to see it again next week. I know they left out some very vital pieces of information so I’m looking forward to seeing how they’re going to fill in the gaps.


  2. Brilliant post, Krista!
    I fell in love with these books 10 to 11 years ago. I spent the whole of my teenage years reading them, admiring them, feeling the same emotions as them. They literally got me into reading. Before the books, I read here and there. I would find a short book that I had to read for a school class. Afterwards, I became a book fiend. I became one of those kids that could read a book in one sitting. I believe my record for the sixth HP book was 13 hours.
    Even as I entered the theater, I felt the giddiness of sitting down to watch this movie, regardless of whether it would stray off like the others did.
    I was not disappointed with the new movie though. I found it to be spectacular; the best one made yet. I’ll be seeing it again definitely. Maybe even a third time.
    I owe these books so much. They helped inspire me to write through fanfiction as well as short stories. I learned to thoroughly enjoy reading. They got me to where I am now.


  3. My fellow Potterhead, welcome to the club! Better late than never. 🙂 My Potter journey started when my friend, an English teacher like yourself, read the first one and forced me to read it too. She said I’d fall in love with it and be forever in debt to her for making me read it. As usual, she was right. After seven books and countless hours on Leaky Cauldron dot com, the journey came to an end and left a big hole…and then there came Twilight. But, that’s for another time and post.

    I have yet to see HBP and I’m itching to get there! I’m always disappointed that every little detail isn’t on the big screen. I could sit through 6 hours of movie if it meant seeing everything in the book come to life. But, I understand why things have to be taken out to make a regular length movie. That said, I always find myself loving each movie more than the last and six looks like the icing on the cake so far!

    Thanks for the great post and look back at the phenomenal Potter series and awe inspiring writing of JK Rowling. – Jamie


  4. It’s funny, I was pregnant and almost ready to deliver before one of the “new” books was being released. I made sure to have bought and read the book before going into the hospital. Maybe it was the hormones? or that my son-to-be wanted me to finish reading him the story?

    I actually started reading the series after I saw the first movie in the theatre (2001). Fiction is great fun.

    My favorite character in the stories without a doubt is Harry. The author and directors have done a good job with his progression of innocence and dealing with the dark side. I also look forward to his interactions with the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher(or in this latest movie, the Potions teacher). I like the mystery involved, and it is fun to see how he and his friends are going to get involved with this person.

    We saw the newest movie last night. Luckily, we arrived at the theatre early. We were at the beginning of the mile long line. So, we had good seats.

    The movie as we all know was necessary, and everyone knows what has to happen. First, Severus and Malfoy did a good job at taking on the evil role of this movie. Also, the flashbacks were good with Dumbledore and Harry; I liked all the scenes throughout the movie with those two together. Moreover, the new Potions teacher was interesting to watch (actor from “Moulin Rouge”). Lastly, some of the cute, teenage love scenes could of been deleted; I am not saying all of them. These were the comic relief and were fun. They could of easily taken 20 minutes off the movie though. Overall a very good movie! 3 Star. I will definitely own this one too.



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