POSTCARDS FROM THE MUSE
Another Cliche Book Review
By Nandy Ekle
Time for me to join in the ocean of reviews for the Harry Potter series, books one through seven. Yes, I love them as much as every other person in the world. As a reader, I have enjoyed every word of the epic hero on his journey to save his world. Bravo, Ms. Rowling!
As a reader, I followed this poor orphan from the time before he even knew he was special up to the moment when I closed the last book and the only words that crossed my mind were, “But of course! How could it have been anything different?” And I’ve loved the books so much that I re-read them all, in order, about every other year. And I never get tired of them.
As a reader.
As a writer, I have a completely different view. Oh, I still adore the stories, the words, and the tongue-in-cheek writing style. I love the world, and I love the emotions that develop when it all comes together in such a grandiose way. But as a writer, I see much more than a good story.
Character development. Each and every single character in all seven books has a distinct arc. Harry, Ron, Hermione, Neville, and Draco, and the other kids/young adults have what any reader would expect. Growing up, maturing, becoming adults. And Ms. Rowling captures the stages of growth perfectly. One of my friends says The Order of the Phoenix is her least favorite because the characters all so angry all the time. But since they are all 15 years old, it wouldn’t be as real if they weren’t angry.
But that’s a rabbit hole I’m not going through. The point is that even Dumbledore, McGonagall, Hagrid, Snape, Fudge, even Voldemort all have character arcs. In the first two books, Dumbledore seems a little distant, a little dodgy, maybe slightly off his rocker. He does show whisps of insight and wisdom, but this is something that doesn’t seem to actually come out until deeper into The Goblet of Fire. McGonagall, the stern, no-nonsense professor begins to show compassion and sympathy in The Order of the Phoenix. And I’ve always said I knew about Snape all along because of the energy Ms. Rowling used to make us hate him. There had to be a twist.
Consistency. Never have I read a series more consistent in voice, tone, world, and facts. I am in the middle of reading them all over again and as a writer I am picking up on things I missed the first couple of times I read them. One small item mentioned in the first book, then not again for two more books, suddenly appears in a later book and has become a cornerstone. And I can only ask how did Ms. Rowling do it? Amazing. Also, I’m discovering hints to the last pages of the last book in the first book that go completely undetected until BOOM! There it is.
Hooking her readers. Ms. Rowling is a master of this. The first words of each book are like glue. And the last line of each chapter causes gasps. And she has the incredible ability to retell parts of the story in a later book and it’s not an “info dump” at all. It’s perfect.
So, JK Rowling, your stories are destined to be considered as classics in the future. And I definitely look at them as learning tools for writers.