Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – pre-read musings

As many of my readers know, I am a die-hard purist when it comes to modern books originating in the UK. I buy Terry Pratchett and JK Rowling’s books through Amazon.ca so I can get the UK editions.
As a result, I always have to wait for a while before reading the new book. It’s annoying, but worth it.
Especially because I don’t have a big problem with spoilers.
And I especially don’t mind spoilers of HPatDH because I have long expected it to be a fairly crappy book. I’m pleased to note that from the spoilers I’ve read, it seems increasingly to be exactly that.
Obviously, there are spoilers below. Duh.

I can’t really harsh on the book properly until I’ve read it, of course, but here are a few essays I suspect I will agree with: snarky and a bit ranty, well-written in HP-world style.
It sounds to me like Rowling is killing folks off because she can, not because the plot requires it (C’mon, Snape around Voldy and Nagini without an antivenin at hand? Give me a freakin’ break!), and that turns me off (it would enrage me if I had come to expect actual, yanno, plot competence from Rowling). I expect character deaths to be necessary to the plot, dammit, not thrown in as a way of building tension (Joss Whedon, I’m looking at you!). I am very aware that folks can die randomly, thank you, but I don’t read fantasy for its realism. I read it for my enjoyment, and I don’t see how having folks randomly die is supposed to be enjoyable.
All this leads me to wonder what happened to Rowling between the early books, which were so full of whimsy and fun, and the recent books, which involve beloved characters dying for no obvious reason and nary a wisp of whimsy to be found. How did we get from “Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!” to this?
Also, I find it fascinating that so many of us who actively dislike Harry and other characters in the series keep reading them, even though we know Rowling is a second-rate writer at best. I wish I knew what it was about her writing that made it so infectious. Perhaps after I’ve read DH, I’ll reread the series and try to pin it down.

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7 Responses to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – pre-read musings

  1. Alex Summers says:

    Well, yeah.
    The funny thing is, while I certainly agree with most of the criticisms I’ve seen, I kinda feel like I’m pissing on people’s parade if I tell them.
    Then again, it is true that there is a certain je ne sais quoi that some authors have which makes one look beyond their technical faults and like their work anyway. Perhaps in the fullness of time I’ll forgive the problems with this last book and Rowling will take her place amongst them.

  2. keith says:

    I have to agree that Rowling is no Tolkein. However, as an example, The Star Wars Series is fraught with terrible acting, shoddy directing, and down right shitty script (especially episodes 1-3). Why do we love them so much? I find I have the same feelings I have with Star Wars that I do for Harry Potter.
    On the element of the deaths: I don’t agree with a number of them, infact some of them where big breaks in character (2 to be exact). On randomness, well it is the war that the last three books have been leading up to and death in war is random. It didn’t come off very well but I think that is what she was trying to hit on.

  3. Ealasaid says:

    Keith – well, I hate SW 1-3, but I love me some original Star Wars. The editing of the films is top-notch, and the storytelling is genius. Classic themes.
    Maybe that’s what makes Rowling’s stuff work? Classic themes?
    I’m planning a thorough reread of the whole series to try and pin down my thoughts on them.
    Alex – yeah, that’s because you’re nicer than me. I don’t mind pissing in people’s cornflakes when it comes to opinion. If folks can’t handle that I love Snape and am pissed that Rowling isn’t as good a writer as her stories deserved, then they should grow up.
    Wow, I’m cranky today.

  4. elkit says:

    > All this leads me to wonder what happened to Rowling …
    How about what’s happened to the world at large in the last few years?

  5. Ealasaid says:

    How about what’s happened to the world at large in the last few years?
    Hm… an interesting theory, but I am skeptical. The books were published in these years:
    1: 1996
    2: 1998
    3: 1999
    4: 2000
    5: 2003
    6: 2005
    7: 2007
    And the change in tone started in book 4, well before the attacks of 9-11 and the subsequent wars.

  6. elkit says:

    I didn’t say 9/11. Don’t forget that Rowling is a Brit. From inside the US, it may very well seem that the world changed drastically on September 11, 2001, from “all is well” to “we’re at war”, but if you were watching the news in Europe in the late nineties, you saw lots of war, for example all over former Yugoslavia, and the never-ending Chechen war.

  7. Ealasaid says:

    Elke – Hm, I’m aware that Eastern Europe has had terrible things going on in the last decade (heck, it seems like there’s always been nastiness going on there), but I’m not aware of any specific wars/events that fit the timeline of the Potter tone change. I’m happy to learn more, of course.