I am delighted at the response that this has gotten. Not just because it brings people to my blog (which is always awesome), BUT ALSO because I have had so many conversations IRL about it! Which means I get to talk about BOOKS! My favorite subject. With many people whom I did not know were big readers. And that has been a real pleasure. So that’s one thing I will say, again, for JK Rowling–whatever you think about her writing or these books, they certainly get people talking, and talking passionately. They are the most-beloved books of any books I’ve ever known, and that can’t just be luck. So kudos, JK. I respect you big time.
That said…this book wasn’t my most favorite. Don’t get me wrong, for a sophomore slump, it was fairly spectacular, and I still tore through it in a day, but it wasn’t quite as magical for me as the first one. I don’t know if all of the books will be less great than the first one because you can never re-meet the magical stuff for the first time again, but right now I just have a sample size of two. Also important to note: this is the last movie I’ve seen until HP 7, Parts 1 and 2. Because I was told by my friend who shall not be named that there were no spiders in this movie. Because I am terrified of spiders. And then there are GIANT SPIDERS and I buried my head in her lap like a small child and then I didn’t see another HP movie for eight years, until this dorky guy I was dating named Tom begged me to see the last ones with him 🙂 Here are my thoughts:
1. I was really, really sad that nobody wrote to Harry over the summer. I couldn’t imagine him going home to the Dursleys. Perhaps it’s because I picture all of them how they look now (like, D-Rad in “Horns” and “What If”, not baby D-Rad [yeah, I call Daniel Radcliffe D-Rad. As far as I know, I coined the term. Let’s make it catch on!]) but it’s preposterous to me that he has to go back to the scene of his childhood torture. I’m like, get an apartment or something! You’re an adult! Then I remember he’s not an adult, he’s twelve. But I was very worried about him. Dang it, I’m starting to care…but not about-
2. Dobby. DOBBY. He is the Jar-Jar Binks of HP so far. I immediately hated him. I don’t like cryptic BS and I was sick of his antics in about ten seconds. I know he dies and it’s a big deal and Harry has to bury him, but right now I can’t possibly fathom how anyone could shed a tear over this repulsive, annoying little pest. So we’ll see how that goes.
3. Not enough quidditch in this one. Not enough Lee Jordan. I demand more Lee Jordan! It’s funny because I hate real sports but I ❤ quidditch.
4. Prof. Lockhart is the WORST. I got sick of his shtick right away, even though I know he’s Kenneth Brannaugh and I love KB. I was like, why is Maggie Smith putting up with this nonsense! Fire this dude! Hermione’s crush on him bothered me too. Because she is the smartest ever and I know that she would see through that pompous windbag in a heartbeat.
5. I knew about the Tom Riddle/Voldemort thing from the movie, so that wasn’t a big deal, but I bet it would have been had I not known. So well done, JK.
6. Can we talk about Ginny? I have to believe that JK didn’t plan for Harry to marry her when she introduced her. But knowing what a crazy planner she is, JK probably did. And I have a ton of issues with that. Because hero worship does not a great relationship make! She is (not yet, at least…I am sort of willing to give her a chance) in no way his equal. It was sort of cool that she got possessed, and I was glad Harry saved her, but bleh. Not really a match for Harry. I am already rooting for Harry and Hermione to get together. I can feel some serious resentment growing in me about this (like I feel about Pirates of the Caribbean, because I think Jack and Elizabeth are a better couple than Will and Elizabeth). But Ginny…pretty lame. So far. She’s a walking punch line when Harry’s around.
7. Am I a bad person when I thought Ginny caught Percy masturbating? I am a bad person. It was still funny that he was macking on a Ravenclaw, and that “Fred looked like Christmas had come early” when he found out (I hope they tease him ALL summer) but I was sure that she’d caught him stroking the wand.
8. Isn’t it awesome that Hermione totally solves the mystery, even while out of commission? I can see her being like “boys, you morons, why didn’t you visit me sooner? I was LITERALLY holding the answer in my hand and it still took you forever to get it.” Also, when she says “oh no” when finals are canceled I lol’d. She is super-fast growing on me. Maybe it’s the meme version of her and not the real her, yet, but I am into it.
9. Yay that Gryffindor won the House Cup this year! And they earned it this time. Wouldn’t it have felt so much better if this was their first win? Yes. Yes it would. This is my only serious quibble.
10. Harry always dashes right in to save people, without a moment’s hesitation. And that’s part of what makes him awesome, but can we also for a moment talk about Katniss? Because I love, love, LOVE that sometime she’s all “hell no, that’s scary as shit, I’m not interested in your politics I want to go home to my sister and maybe go hunting.” Because on a typical day, I identify much more with her than with Harry. It was a revelation for me to see a hero who often did the right thing, but sometimes thought about not doing the right thing. Or at least acknowledged her fear of doing the right thing. So, ten points for Katniss, I guess.
11. Related, but maybe not the same as my last point: I’m not thrilled about the part where Harry talked to Dumbledore at the end and D-dore told him that he wasn’t a Slytherin. Because I really dig that Harry fears the darkness inside of him, because we all do that. So to be told “the bad parts of you are residual magic from the bad guy. There’s nothing in you that’s bad.” Because there are things in me, and you, and even in Harry probably that are bad, and to have all that explained away is disheartening. Again, this is still for kids, and I know dark, morally complex shit is coming later, but right now, I felt like there was a tiny hint of character development, which was quickly revoked by D-dore.
The whole thing just felt too similar to the first one, for me. Not enough growth, not enough change. The kids are still doing what they did in the last book. The adults are still doing what they did in the last book. With the exception of the introduction to Ma and Pa Weasley, there’s nothing really to be gained here. I feel like you can skip all of this book and still be ready for Year Three.
But what the heck do I know? I guess I’ll find out when I read the next one! Stay tuned for Girl Meets Boy Who Lived, Part Three.