So. It finally happened.
I actually read a Harry Potter book.
I kind of loved it. ^_^
by J.K Rowling
To be honest, I anticipated that this book would be plagued by overhype, but I was pleasantly surprised. The story is interesting, well-placed, and all around a fantastic middle grade. I wouldn't say it's 'action-packed' until near the end. It reminded me of the slower paced Voyage of the Dawn Treader, with the kids exploring school instead of islands.
You'd almost expect from the slow pace that this could be a boring book, but it isn't. There is so much interesting worldbuilding at play and we're being teased with evil Professor Snape and what he's up to so things never get boring. There's enough mystery and magic to keep you entertained and the story possesses an irrefutable charm that's hard to resist. It's one of those stories that has such an ease about it, like Rowling just sat down one day and there it was.
Another thing that struck me were the strong and vivid personalities of the characters, practically bursting alive from the page. (I loved the inflections in Hermione's dialogue, because you could just hear the know-it-all in her voice.) And it isn't just the main characters, either; Fred, George, Neville, Hagrid, the Dursleys, and other minor characters have just as much depth and distinction. Harry, Ron, and Hermione experience some development along the lines of friendship and self-confidence, but I'll be excited to see them development deeper over the rest of the series. Because of course now I have to read the rest.
One harsh truth I enjoyed seeing is Ron being constantly teased by Malfoy about his family's poverty. I liked that this was so vivid in the story because it's very realistic. Of course a nasty boy from a well-off family is going to degrade the poor kid that Harry Potter chose to befriend over him, and it's quite obvious all his ammo toward the Weasleys came from dear old Dad. (Obviously the Malfoys are a happy bunch.) But what I really liked is seeing how Harry deals with this and how he sticks up for Ron. A favorite moment was on the train to Hogwarts.
[Malfoy] turned back to Harry. "You'll soon find out some wizarding families are much better than others, Potter. You don't want to go making friends with the wrong sort. I can help you there."I would love to see Malfoy grow out of this behavior over the series, but we'll see.
He held out his hand to shake Harry's, but Harry didn't take it.
"I think I can tell who the wrong sort are for myself, thanks," he said coolly.
The tone of the narration has such a classic children's book flavor to it -like Lewis, Nesbit, Eager, MacDonald. It made me incredibly nostalgic for those years when I first discovered the joys of reading and it brought that joy back tenfold.
I did have a problem with page 93. I almost cried. With Fred and George, I instantly fell in love and I hate it because I've been on the Internet long enough to know what happens to Fred and George, so every funny line makes me want to laugh and cry. Curses. It's like Fili and Kili all over again. *sob*
On the whole, yes, I can see what the craze is about. And while it wasn't quite what I was expecting, I don't think it's suffering from overhype. It's a good, fun story, filled with laughs and daring deeds and friendship and, really, what's wrong with that?