Ever since I plowed my way through Deathly Hallows in one day back in June of 2007, I’ve been meaning to re-read the complete Harry Potter series. I wasn’t always a fan; being naturally distrustful of anything that’s hugely popular, I needed a lot of high-school peer pressure before I would willingly dip my toes into the whole phenomenon. But the first book grabbed me, bringing back fond memories of childhood fantasy favorites like The Dark is Rising and Goblins in the Castle, and by the time I’d finished Prisoner of Azkaban the deal was sealed. I had to admit that Harry Potter, just like the Beatles and The Simpsons, was actually popular for a reason. These were solid, well-written adventure books with compelling characters and richly detailed settings.
Now that time has passed, the series has come to its end and I myself am a (still unpublished) fantasy novelist, I think it’s as good a time as any to come back to the books for a fresh look. And since I claim to be a writer, I might as well start a blog series about it. This is the way of the Geek: sure, I’ll cave in and enjoy something with a lot of mainstream appeal, but I’ll be sure to get way too into it, and thus maintain my status as a snobby outsider, snort.
I was particularly inspired by Kate Nepveu’s re-read of The Lord of the Rings over at Tor.com, a chapter-by-chapter close reading that’s a very compelling read if you’re as nerdy and over-analytical as I am. I’m going to take a similar approach, although in the interest of brevity I won’t be going strictly chapter-by-chapter. I’m going to pick up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (yeah, I’m reading the American versions, I’m not that snobby) and just start reading; for each post I’ll cover as much of the text as I feel is reasonable. That might be one chapter, five chapters, or just a few pages, depending on how much I have to say about it. I’ll probably refine the approach as I go.
As I read, I’ll be looking at how J.K. Rowling structures her story, how she develops characters, settings and moods, what kind of language she uses, and how all of this reads now that I know where the overall plot is going. I’ll try to relate these things to other fantasy and young adult books, particularly Rowling’s own cited inspirations, whenever it’s relevant. I’ll speculate as to why these things made the book series so popular among so many readers. And I’ll likely throw in a revisit to each film adaptation as I get the the end of each book.
I probably don’t need to mention this, but SPOILERS will abound. You’ve been warned.
Seven books. Over 4,000 pages. I’ll shoot for at least one post a week, which means I’ll realistically be at this for a minimum of one year. Probably two. Whether or not you’re a fan, or a huge geek, I hope you’ll join me for the ride. The geeky, geeky ride.