The other thing I accomplished during my busy Labor Day weekend was finishing the final installment of the Harry Potter series, sent to me by my kind sister.
I must confess that I started reading without much enthusiasm. I was a little tired of Harry and just wanted to get to the end so I could make some kind of final analysis based on the work of art as a whole and not just by what I’d read so far.
I enjoyed the first Harry Potter books as light summer reading. In fact that’s exactly how I read the first three (which tells you something about how late I came to the HP game). I was on vacation, a friend had the books, I devoured them one after another in the course of a few days. This is the kind of book I pick up, speed through, and don’t think much about.
Then they became a phenomenon and the subject of many debates. Some held them up as anti-Christian, endangering children’s souls, and accused them of being bad fiction as well. Others have acclaimed them as new classics, great for promoting reading, and full of Christian values. I’ve always been somewhere in between. When I stopped to think about it and read some of the arguments, I felt that there were some merits on both sides. On the whole I found the people at each extreme to be, well, extreme. Some elements seemed laudable, others morally problematic. I’ve wanted to reserve my final judgment, however, until I’d read the last book. I think any work of art should be evaluated as a whole and not merely on the basis of some of its parts. As Harry Potter was originally conceived as a series, it deserves to be considered in that light.
On the whole I was pleasantly surprised by the way Rowling wrapped up the series. The first part of the book dragged; but then I got caught up in the action and it became a book I couldn’t put down till I got to the end. This last book did address many of the areas in which I thought the previous books were lacking. However there are still some problematic elements in the series that were not addressed to my satisfaction.
I don’t feel like my thoughts are organized enough for a formal review, so I thought I’d link to a few of the online articles that have caught my eye and add my responses. Maybe in the process I’ll move towards a conclusion. If not, then it will be a fun trip.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead