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On Harry Potter and why I dislike the series

There could not be a better time for this post. There could not have been a worse time for this post. Now that the penultimate movie of the series is out, and my facebook wall filled with people who loved the movie. But this is something I really wanted to say, and I shall say it anyway.

Harry Potter is pathetic literature.

Now, you must be wondering why I say that. There are many reasons.

Firstly, the storyline itself is flawed. When a writer sits down to write anything, he/she must set up some essential rules about what is happening. These rules must remain constant irrespective of how many times he/she changes his/her mind. This is so that the readers are allowed to have some sensibility in what they are reading. In the fourth book, Rowling goes ahead and kills Cedric. Then, at the end of the book, the horseless carriages are there again. Nothing special. We all knew that they are horseless. But then comes the fifth book, and BAM, the horses are actually winged beasts that only those people can see who have seen death.

But hadn't Harry seen death last year. Why did he not see the thestrals then? And while we are on the subject, had he not already seen his parents being killed?

Going back to the third book... It makes me think that Lupin was an ass. Here is a guy who can change into a rat any time he wants, would it not make sense to stun him, keep him there, and then get help, or take him unconscious to the castle? Why all the rubbish with the chaining and stuff? But now that I think of it, stunning spells were discussed only in book four. There is no mention of them in book three. I am no expert in writing, but I really cannot accept a storyline so weak.

Further, the spell reparo is shown to repair almost anything. Then why could not anyone repair Harry's Nimbus? Or for that matter, why would wizards ever wear anything away?

And of course, the best part... This one has done rounds on many status messages... Why cannot Harry Potter fix his own damn eyesight?

Then in the seventh book, when Harry goes out to fight Voldemort... now, honestly, which seventeen year old can do that? And the entire King's Cross chapter... that seemed to me to be put in just to patch the massive holes that the author had put in the storyline. But then, the storyline remains, well, patched.

But it is not for this that I dislike the series. The first books were in fact well written. I think what really turned me off the series was the books that followed. It seemed to me that the author wished to write something, then bowing to popular demands, changed the storyline many times over. Or it is possible that she was forced to go through these books much faster than the first, and she had not the time to properly think the story elements through.

Why are these books so popular? Maybe because they make easy reading, in which you need not think too much. And that is exactly what I do not like. I grew up reading classics, and the notion of a book with a simple good-guy, bad-guy plot is just not palatable. I prefer something closer to real life, with characters in shades of grey. And the idea that people can use magic to fulfil their needs at some times, and not at others is plain frustrating.

And if I dislike the book, I just cannot tolerate the movies. Since the fifth, the movies have been made as if someone just put in a blender in the storyline and turned it on. Needless to say, I am not going to be watching the movie that was just released.

Comments

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  2. If you grew up reading the classics, why did something as silly and asinine as Harry Potter catch your eye, and how the heck did you manage to read all of them? I admit I read shitty books as a kid, and Harry Potter was one of them. But if your so called classics did not prevent you from reading Harry Potter, you'll have to admit that either you've made an error of judgement regarding your own taste or the quality of the book for the age group it caters to.

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  3. Well, you really do not know something is silly unless you read it. That is how I have read Harry Potter.

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  4. 1) Thestrals are in fact a breed of winged horses.
    2) Baby Harry doesn't actually witness his parents' deaths. James is killed elsewhere in the house, and even though Lily is killed in the same room as Harry, as they show in the movie, Harry is sitting in his crib, and doesn't actually SEE her die. With regards to why Harry doesn't see the Thestrals at the end of the 4th year, JKR has given the explanation that a person has to "accept and understand" the death before being able to see the Thestrals, and at the end of the 4th year, Harry is still "in shock" over Cedric's death. No doubt, it's something she came up with because she didn't want to introduce Thestrals before OotP, but a satisfactory enough explanation nonetheless.
    3) Yes it probably was a little silly to tie Pettigrew up instead of knocking him out, but this is hardly a jaw-dropping factor.
    4) The magic shown in the books (or any other fantasy book, for that matter) isn't some Hocus Pocus snap-your-fingers and you can have whatever you want type magic. It's more complex than that. Reparo only works on certain objects, not objects that are beyond "magical repair". To ask why it can't be used to fix EVERYTHING else is like saying "If you can glue together a broken vase then why can't you use the same to fix broken bones?", which is a rule that applies to everything else. Magic is sort of like a science in itself, it is complex, it is developing, it has certain laws of its own.
    Just like science has solved a lot of our problems, but not all of them, so it is with magic.

    And what "massive holes" in the storeline are you talking about exactly? Do elaborate.

    Also, not all books have to be in old, classic or rather "perfect" English that require presence of mind to read. There sure wouldn't be as many readers in the world if it was so. Harry Potter is primarily a children's series, so of course it is "easy reading". Just think how many people got into reading just because of the Harry Potter series! I for one started with it and went on to read Wodehouse, Ayn Rand, the Sherlock Holmes series and lots more.

    And the story of good vs. evil is perhaps the simplest one, but so many great books have been based on it: The Lord of the Rings for example. So as long as you find a new way of telling the story, there's nothing wrong with it.

    No doubt your tastes don't suit the HP category of books but you are being overtly critical, and maybe it won't hurt you to broaden your tastes a little bit, or at least learn to appreciate what you don't necessarily like. The HP books aren't perfect, but it's how it makes you feel at the end of it that counts.

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  5. Well my reaction to this post is too long to fit into a comment here, so I posted it on my blog for you:

    http://anylinde.livejournal.com/141291.html

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  6. But usually, if I'm not into feminist writings, I can just read 4-5 pages of "bride and prejudice" and decide that this (for me) is shit. Why can't that done for something like Harry Potter? Or do you intend to say that JK Rowling masked the shittiness so well that you didn't get it till the end? Either way, you've gotta give her credit, no?

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  7. @Anisha
    Well, the "massive holes" are in fact the very fact that Rowling had to patch up the storyline with such silly explanations.

    You may give Harry Potter credit for introducing you to books, but the fact remains that the books cannot be counted as good literature, no more than one can call Chetan Bhagat a good author or a reformist for his work.

    About appreciating what I do not like, I think it should be the other way around. I think people have to understand that they may not always like the best, and indeed, it is foolish to expect the masses to understand or appreciate Dickens or Melville. But it does not mean that pop culture is always "good." I simply stated Harry Potter because the movie release was a kind of trigger for this post.

    And yeah, Wodehouse and Sherlock Holmes again are pop fiction, and "easy reading."

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  8. A tip: If you're out to show what a great big intellectual and connoisseur of literature you are, aim bigger than Dickens and Melville :P. They're every bit as "popular" and "easy reading" as Harry Potter. Just because something was written in a different century does not put it in a different league to modern stuff. This is not to say that Charles Dickens wasn't a genius, he was. But so is JK Rowling.
    And her feat is all the more laudable because under extreme scrutiny, her world (which far exceeds any other than perhaps the LotR universe) has held up to logical nitpicking.

    And very frankly, I believe the only reason people haven't found plotholes in your classics is, that they haven't read them as many times over. Did you notice the discrepancy the first time you read the book or did you get it off some fansite? Either way, somebody had to read it a lot of times for it to be sorted.

    And as far as your "Why not this rather than that" arguments go, Dude! She's the one who's writing the story. If the story requires it, then why not. I can say "Why did miss Havisham not move on, or at least remove her Wedding Dress?" or "Doesn't the wedding dress stink after so many years of use?" but I don't. Because you need to give the author some license and some degree of freedom for them to tell their story properly.

    And as for it being easy reading, yes it is. And what's wrong with that? Personally I find authors who force gigantic words into their books just for the sake of it stupid. This way more people can enjoy a wonderful story. And it is not as if she has compromised on the grammar or the style of narration a la Chetan Bhagat. I challenge you to find a single flaw in the entire series.

    If you think it is meaningless, I suggest you go over the storyline again. I really think it has much deeper philosophical connotations than many so called "classics". In fact I'll write a post to that effect once my endsems get over. And there are no pure white or pure black characters in the series. Except perhaps for Voldemort. Dumbledore, the only one who could've claimed to be all good was shown to be just as human as everyone else in the last book. Grindelwald the worst dark wizard the world has ever seen was shown to repent. I don't mind a well-grounded and logical criticism of a book (or series) I like, but I hate it, yes hate it when people do it just for the sake of looking cool without proper knowledge or research.

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  9. And to call Wodehouse pop fiction is sacrilege in the most extreme sense of the word. Have you ever read a single book by him? Seriously...

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  10. Well I dunno if you deleted my comment or if it didn't post for some reason, but here it is (dated 22nd Nov)

    http://anylinde.livejournal.com/141863.html

    @ ~M: Spot on man, spot on.

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  11. Why on Earth are you deleting my comments?!

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  12. Okay I'm gonna try posting this one last time:

    But I don't get it. What exactly did you feel needed to be "patched up" and what "silly explanations" are you talking about? If you're going to make such allegations, you need to be more specific. If it's Harry's survival that you're referring to, the fact that Harry didn't die has a complex explanation to it. I only understood it fully the 2nd time I read the book (which I don't think you must've done, going by this post of yours), and there's nothing silly about it. Going by the rules of magic that Rowling established in her previous books, the explanation given by Dumbledore in King's Cross was quite logical.

    You say "easy reading" like it's a bad thing. When most people read books (especially fiction), it's because they want entertainment and relaxation, and not something that requires presence of mind to read or something where every line has some greater, deeper meaning to it. The beauty of Harry Potter lies in its simplicity, in the end it is about good, evil, love, friendship and bravery. Rowling has created such a wide array of interesting characters over the course of the books, from Harry to Dumbledore to Voldemort to even Umbridge. They have become a pop symbol BECAUSE they're so good. And in some years, they too will be known as classics. Which is exactly what happened with Oliver Twist and Moby Dick.

    And when I ask you to adjust your tastes, all I mean is that don't look at everything with such a critical eye. You seem to be judging the entire series on little mistakes here and there instead of looking at the series as a whole. Dickens and Melville wrote standalone novels. Rowling wrote a 7-book novel over the course of 10 years, so a few mistakes here and there can be forgiven. Again, Harry Potter is a children's story, it is not meant to be taken so seriously, and that is one of the reasons for its success.

    And if you "simply stated Harry Potter because the movie release was a king of trigger" then at least have some solid grounds for making such harsh criticisms. Just throwing words around is easy and anyone can do it.

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  13. Skand Hurkat. While I can accept some of the arguments you have presented here as to why "you" dislike the series, I absolutely refuse to let you state that "the books cannot be counted as good literature". That is your own personal opinion, and I beg you to not attempt to force it down others throats. As someone who also grew up reading classics, and who worships Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, I have to admit that most of the Harry Potter books were amazingly well written.

    It's a sacrilege for you to compare the series to Chetan Bhagat. Oh, please! I cannot stand that author, but unfortunately, I cannot describe "in detail" as to why I dislike him. And why is that so? It's because the books were so badly written that I COULD NOT FINISH THEM. If you really dislike Harry Potter as much as you have said you do, I'm sure you would not have bothered to finish the series either.

    I'm not saying Rowling's writing is impeccable.. nay, that would be taking it too far. But it is certainly in no way disgraceful. I know many who state that the first book was "boring". Wait a minute-WHAT? If the first book was "boring" what sort of argument can you give me for continuing the series? It's ridiculous how critics lash out after all is said and done.

    Have you read Enid Blyton? I'm sure you have. Yet I cannot see a "why I dislike famous five" blog post in here. Why can you overlook her faults? Because she wrote for children. Yet you find it hard to accept that the Harry Potter books which were originally targeted at children were so well written, that adults began to read it too. If you even go so far as to try and compare it to Twilight, I promise I'll hunt you down and kill you. Because that's not just an insult to the books and the author, but a proof of your distaste in good books.

    Do I worship Harry Potter? No. Do I dare to say all the books were enjoyable? No. Despite crowd opinion, I thought the second and fifth books were boring (maybe to an extent even the fourth and the seventh). I expected much more out of the seventh, but was a bit disappointed. I personally believe she did a really bad job on Harry, meaning I lost all compassion for him towards the end and actually wished him to die.

    But seriously, Rowling has to be given credit for her superb characterization, for her growth as a writer, for her excellent(yes, sometimes flawed) plot design, and most of all, a book that could be enjoyed by everyone.

    As a side note, I've never been a fan of Sherlock Holmes or Wodehouse, but if you persist on categorizing them into "pop culture" you probably need to get yourself checked. And if I remember correctly, you used to be a huge fan of Holmes. Now do NOT attempt to deny that fact.

    ~Manasa

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  14. ^Yeah excellent points raised by Manasa and ~M.

    And I say this too, please for God's sake, don't compare Chetan Bhagat to Rowling.

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  15. Well, let me make some things clear.

    I don't like Harry Potter, as I feel that the storyline is shaky.

    Sherlock Holmes and Wodehouse remain to me pop literature. They are popular, and I like them. But I cannot go ahead and classify them as ground-breaking or something that appeals greatly to me, or which brings about catharsis.

    As to why I don't post a why I dislike Famous Five, that is because I actually like them. Though I do not read them any more, they still constitute a fond childhood memory.

    And Manasa, if you say that you found the second, fifth, and also the fourth and seventh books boring and disappointing, then let me point out that it is four out of seven. That is similar to my opinion. Let me quote:

    But it is not for this that I dislike the series. The first books were in fact well written. I think what really turned me off the series was the books that followed. It seemed to me that the author wished to write something, then bowing to popular demands, changed the storyline many times over. Or it is possible that she was forced to go through these books much faster than the first, and she had not the time to properly think the story elements through.

    So please read my opinions carefully, before jumping to conclusions based on the title of the post. There is always a difference of opinion about what should be considered good literature and what should not be, and while you are all allowed your opinions, I am allowed mine. If you continue to be fans of Harry Potter, by all means be so, but I shall not be one. Allow me the liberty to dislike something and to tell the world that I dislike it and why I dislike it.

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  16. And Anisha, I am not deleting any comments. If a comment has any vulgarity or inappropriate language, then I shall definitely remove the contents of the comment. However, your comments were being marked as spam, hence they were not published immediately. They have been published now.

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  17. No, Skand, I am not a great Harry Potter fan. I share your feelings; the first few books were well written, but as the series progressed, there did seem to be a slight drop in the quality. But even then, I (and you) must admit each book has its brilliant moments. There are some parts which are extremely well written, and some which are below average. But does that not happen with every book?

    Anyway, talking of famous five brought back nostalgic memories to me too. I heart Enid Blyton, but Harry Potter was a great charm to me as a kid too. I cannot help but thank J.K. Rowling for memorable fifth and sixth grade summer vacations ^_^

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  18. with all due respect skand i think your complaint seems to be that Ms. Rowling did not time the release of her books with your childhood. you seem to be ok with Enid Blyton and yet feel J.K.Rowling's books are inaccurate. She is writing about magic for god's sake. it is meant for be simple enjoyment and not critical analysis. i have a feeling you might support putting James Cameroon to death for his wild fantasies in Avatar!

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  19. @Chadha: Seriously? Harry Potter was released very much with my childhood; at least the first few books were.

    I don't have a problem with Enid Blyton because she wrote for children. Her writing was consistent and realistic, with a breath of freshness in each page.
    Writing about magic is no excuse for a sloppily written text. If you cannot agree that the Harry Potter series is sloppy, then we cannot agree on this post. My dislike with the series is not as much with the story as it is with the storytelling. The storyline is sloppy, poorly written, and with gaping holes.
    Have you read my post on the Inheritance cycle? It's located here. You will not find such a post about the Lord of the Rings, even though the theme of magic and fantasy run thickly through the book.

    You think that Avatar deserves any recognition for the story? The only thing worth in that movie was the special effects, which I enjoyed. The storyline was worse than a B grade Bollywood flick.

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