Friday, March 2, 2012

Reflections: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Adam C. Zern shares his thoughts on the third book in the Harry Potter series:

"My debt is paid.  Around a year ago, I lost a bet to my wife.  The condition of my losing was to read J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.  So as to not read out of order, I read the second book and have finally gotten around to finishing the third book.  As I said after reading the second book, how I felt after reading the third book in the Potter series would really determine whether or not I'll continue with the young wizard through four more books.  The third book was not an exceptionally persuasive reason to finish the Harry Potter series.

My biggest problem with the book is also the biggest grumble I had against the film version.  I think J.K. Rowling can be somewhat cheap with her fantasy.  She establishes, often far too conveniently, laws in her particular universe, but then treats them rather flippantly or ignores them altogether.  No doubt many admirers would plead the case that the books are for children, and therefore a finer attention to detail is unnecessary.  That's fine.  But cheap is cheap, sloppy is sloppy, and it doesn't bother me any less because the author is directing it toward kids.

The strongest parts of the book are its revelations about Harry Potter's family history and the various personalities that intertwine with it.  I was the most engaged when reading about events that haven't taken place in any of the Harry Potter books.  In fact, Harry Potter as a character is far less interesting than many of the characters that interact with him.  Also, I don't think anyone can or should deny J.K. Rowling's creativity.  Her world is fun and full of interesting creatures, people, and discoveries. 

I might finish the Harry Potter series.  But it won't be because of some deep and abiding motivation to do so.  Furthermore, if I do finish the series, it will no doubt be over several years and after long absences away from Hogwarts.  Or could I lose another bet."

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