Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Harry Potter Books 1 & 2 Reviews and Discussion

So if you have been visiting my blog for long you will know I was late to read any of the Harry Potter books (I only started them about 3 years ago) and you will also know I am not really a fan at all. I really didn't enjoy any of the characters or much of the storyline and only managed to get through book 4. Well I hate leaving series unfinished, especially when my Hubby went out and spent a large sum of money on a beautiful box set for me. Anyway, last month I found out about a readalong for new and old readers alike and thought that maybe reading it with others might go better for me.  (We only recently finished book 2 so there is still plenty of time to catch up and readalong - Novel Tea Club Harry Potter Readalong)
So here I am with my updated reviews of Sorcerer's Stone and Chamber of Secrets and a few discussion points I would like to add (and hopefully discuss with all of you).  So I doubt it will really matter to most of you but there will be SPOILERS in the discussion at the end.
My Review: It has been nearly 3 years I last attempted to read the Harry Potter series. I have to admit that reading with other people has helped me appreciate the story a little more (that or my expectations have just dropped in adjustment for my past experience). I am still not a fan of any of the characters except Hagrid and maybe Dumbledore. I really have an issue with the beginning of the book and I had a little chat with a couple other readers and authors about this but I feel like I should say it here too (and would be happy to discuss with any of you as well). I felt at the beginning of the book that I was being manipulated by Rowling into feeling sympathy for Harry, and that just irked me to the point where I don't feel anything toward him at all. I have in the past found sympathy for other characters due to their situations but it wasn't so blatant and forced, I was more lead into those feelings. Maybe it is due to the fact that this is for a younger audience but I think some credit should be given to those young readers, and emotions and situations shouldn't be dumbed down and spelled out for them. Again I find it all too convenient that Harry is able to get away with so much and always come out the hero (yes he had help but it wasn't enough to make it a team effort). I will continue with the group read and hopefully make it all the way through the series finally.
My Rating: I may have enjoyed this book slightly more the second time reading, probably because my expectations were much lower, all along I had been told what a fantastic series this is and if I am a book lover and fantasy lover that this was the perfect book - obviously that led to some severe disappointment the first time around. This time was a little easier so I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.
My Review: So in my original reading of this book I was horribly disappointed, after hearing this series raved about. I just re-read it for the first time in 2 years and my expectations were much lower this time so it made the disappointments a little easier to swallow. I am still rather bored with the characters, Harry of course is still comes out on top even though he has everything against him. It is the same villain, just a different version of him. Dumbledore is as mysterious as ever, Hagrid is the lovable oaf (though keeping scary creatures looses him some points). Honestly for me the most intriguing characters and events in this book revolve around the car! I do still appreciate that there is a longer time frame than most books, it was nice to see an author give character some breathing and development time, even though we aren't there for quite a bit of it.
My Rating: Again since I had previously read the book and been horribly disappointed, I went into this re-read with lower expectations. I appreciate that the story gives time but at the same time even with the action I was horribly bored. I find Harry to be really irritating, I don't like how his friends help him solve the problem but he always ends up being the hero (I see a self-sacrificing in the future). I give this one a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag as well.
So now on with the discussion, and I know this is difficult for many of you who have read the series to only discuss what has occurred in certain books. I have found while discussing in the Readalong group, those of you who have read the series in it's entirety make decisions based on impressions you received in later books (like I keep hearing about how Dobby turns out being a great character, while in this second book - his first appearance- he is insanely annoying and meddlesome).  But anyway try to remember not to give any spoilers away beyond the second book for those of us who haven't read more. This discussion is only on these two books.
Anyway, one of the things that really set me off at the beginning of the first book was the fact that Rowling was basically trying to force us to have sympathy for Harry before we even really got to know him.  I really dislike how it kept mentioning what a horrible life he had and how little the Dursley's cared for him. I really would prefer to develop my own opinions and sympathies instead of being manipulated into them. It obviously does work though as so many other readers in the group are in an uproar about his treatment.
The other thing I would like to discuss is how flat the three main characters, Harry, Ron and Hermione, seem while the settings are described in detail and the sub-characters all seem to burst with personality. Dumbledore has a very mysterious element to him that you just look forward to discovering more, Hagrid is such a meek yet powerful. Heck even the Weasley's car has personality, he kicks Ron and Harry out when it feels misused and turns wild yet comes to the rescue in the Forbidden Forest. With all of that those three main characters just seem so one sided, Hermione is studious and feels the need to prove herself being Muggle born, Ron is the youngest boy in a large eccentric family and is not the best at much but is loyal to a fault, and Harry is na├»ve yet somehow always comes out the winner in everything.
Anyway, did you find any of the same things as I have in reading this series? Did you read it when you were younger? Have you attempted to re-read these books? Have you noticed any difference in a re-read?


  1. I can understand your points. I never thought of the author manipulating into hating the Dursley's and pitying Harry, but that is exactly what she does. I first read Harry Potter when I was in middle school. I read the first three, and went the midnight release of book 4. In a way, I grew up with Harry Potter. There is a lot of nostalgia surrounding these books. I can see how they wouldn't be enjoyable if you didn't discover them a little younger. The first three books are my favorite, I have issues with the last three books.

    1. I almost wonder if this love of Harry Potter does actually come from a place of nostalgia, remembering that you had something to be passionate about with so many other people at that period in your life when you are desperate to fit in.

  2. I haven't reread these books for awhile now. I liked them when I read them and even read some of them s few times. Do I think they're the greatest books in the world? No but I get why people like them. I like your thoughts on this forced sympathy. I hadn't thought about or noticed it but I can see what you're saying.

    1. I am definitely thankful for them in a way, they brought a whole new generation of book lovers around, but I am just thinking they aren't for me even though they contain so many elements that I love. I am hoping that the writing will improve and the characters will fill out some more as the series continues so maybe I can grow to at least enjoy the series.