Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Book Review: Harry Potter 1 & 2

When I tell people that I like to read, a frequent response is something about how I must really love Harry Potter.  These people have been generally shocked and dismayed when I confessed that I hadn't actually read any of the HP books.  The first book came out in 1997.  I think I was just a few years too old to care at that point.  As some point, the series became such a staple of pop culture that I was sort of tired of hearing about it, and a little bit proud of the fact that I hadn't read any of them.  Plus it was fun to see the reactions of the shocked/dismayed people.

About a month ago, I finally gave in to the peer pressure and started reading the series.  I've read the first and second books so far.  I'm not going to a full review, because I assume everyone has read them.  Here are a few thoughts:
  • Expectations were very high going into book one.  After 15 or so years of hearing these are the BEST BOOKS EVER, I thought I would be hooked right away.  Based on my expectations, I was disappointed.  Then I thought about it compared to other books that I liked, and decided it was better.  So, my expectations sort of skewed my perceptions.
  • Book One started slow.  I got bored with the beginning, but understand she was setting the stage, and introducing everyone. 
  • Book two was better than book one, partly due to the fact that my expectations were back in a reasonable range.   Since we already knew the characters from book one, there was less explaining to do. 
  • Even though I "don't know anything" about Harry Potter, I do sort of know some things.  It's enough of a pop culture reference, that I'm not worried when one of the main characters is about to die, because I know they are still a main character in the last movie!  
  • There are Harry Potter references (usually spoilers) EVERYWHERE!  I hadn't noticed before because I wasn't in on the reference, but now I have to be careful!  Out of nowhere, people are talking about Voldemort and I'm quickly covering my ears.  But then again, I know enough of the story that I'm pretty sure he will be the bad guy in every single book.  
  • This is a silly complaint, because Harry is the main character, so of course he is going to be the one who solves the mystery and battles the villain, but it's pretty ridiculous.  I mean, he's a brand new wizard student at a school full of these impressive wizard teachers, and upperclassman who are more skilled at magic than him, but he is still the only one who is brave/smart enough to figure out what is going on.  I mean, what is Dumbledore doing while students are being attacked by monsters?  Come on!
I'll keep you posted as I read the other books.  I have a few priorities before I start book three.

Have you read the HP books?  Are you a fan?  And should I even bother with the movies?


  1. I never read the HP books either. They just didn't interest me. Same thing with the Twilight books. Glad to know I am not the only one who held back on the HP craze! Heather

  2. I've read them and I loved them, by the end of the series. I actually had no interest in reading them but had to read the first two for a elementary reading class I took in college. Then my college roommate starting reading them all and I just kept up with it. I think the first one that I really loved was probably book 4, but I'll even say that book 3 was better than the first two. You can see how it starts out as a children's series and develops into so much more as you keep reading.

  3. I started the series, then gave up because I hated having to wait for the new one to come out. I did check them out for the summer to Re-read the first ones and finish the series.

  4. I'm glad you're finally reading Harry Potter! I read the first one back in 1998, when I was in 4th grade, and they weren't popular here yet. I feel like I grew up with Harry (we're the same age!). Every summer when a new book would come out, I'd re-read the entire series to prepare for the new book, and then read the new book all day long until I finished. I'm a huge Harry Potter nerd, and I never get sick of reading the books. I've read the first one about 15 times, I think...and I've never been so angry reading a book as I was when I read the 5th HP book. Wait until you get there! :) The books get darker as they go on...there is a lot of wonderful, deep material in there that is thought-provoking, raw, and emotional. I love the books so, so much!! Can't wait to hear your thoughts as you keep reading! (As for the movies, they're pretty good, but I might wait to watch them until you're done with more of the books. I liked having my own idea of who Harry, Ron, and Hermione were before seeing them on the big screen...but after watching the movies, I'd visualize them as the characters in subsequent books.)