And … done. All seven Harry Potter books have been read. They were actually finished two months ago, and my response to them has been turning itself around in my mind for some time. However, I find that I have not been able to come up with any eloquent or profound observations, so here is my basic review:
I get it now. The books are good, and would sometimes even be considered great. J.K. Rowling was able to create an interesting and suspenseful plot, likeable characters, and intriguing meanings and symbolism. There were moments when I was deeply engrossed with the wizarding world, moments when I chuckled out loud, and moments where I actually felt a little frightened. (I would say reading the books late at night contributed to my being a little scared. Reading about Voldemort coming back while sitting in a dark nursery with my sleeping son at 1:00am and using a flashlight to help me read was not one of my smarter moments). I would think about the books when I wasn’t reading them, which to me is one of the criteria for a great series. I am pleased that I now get all of the Harry Potter jokes and memes that present themselves to me as I explore the Internet. I will say that there are probably other books out there that can rival the Harry Potter series in terms of plot, creativity, and adolescent interest. There were points where I was comparing Harry Potter to Percy Jackson, and then thinking that it was an unfair comparison because the Olympians books were published much later.
Overall, I can understand why people migrated towards these books and accepted them as their own, and why the series did such a great job at helping to re-establish the fantasy genre. My only word of caution is to not assume that the Harry Potter series is the epitome of young adult fiction, as some people seem to believe it is. Although it remains to be seen if any other series can reach the heights of Harry Potter, there are certainly going to be future books that will give it a try, and a few may succeed.