Friday – Contest to win The Chocolate War
Saturday – The Giver by Lois Lowry
Sunday – Today’s review of Harry Potter
Day 2 of Banned Books Week here on my blog continues with a review of the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. Rowling’s series is comprised of seven novels: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005), and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007). Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Summary of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone taken from the ‘adult’ cover 2004 edition:
When a letter arrives for an unhappy but ordinary Harry Potter, a decade-old secret is revealed to him. His parents were wizards, killed by a Dark Lord’s curse when Harry was just a baby, and which he somehow survived. Escaping from his unbearable Muggle guardians to Hogwarts, a wizarding school brimming with ghosts and enchantments, Harry stumbles into a sinister adventure when he finds a three-headed dog guarding a room on the third floor. Then he hears of a missing stone with astonishing powers which could be valuable, dangerous, or both.
So begins Harry’s years at Hogwarts, which are filled with more adventure, near-death experiences, magical mishaps and crazed Dark Lords than any one boy really needs.
REASONS FOR CHALLENGES/BANNING
Harry Potter has made the Top 10 Challenged Books in 2001 (#1), 2002 (#1), and 2003 (#2). The series has also been on the list in 2005-2006 (Half-Blood Prince), 2006-2007 (Philosopher’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban and Half-Blood Prince) and 2007-2008 (Philosopher’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, Goblet of Fire and Half-Blood Prince. J. K. Rowling has been on the Most Frequently Challenged Authors of the 21st Century in 2001, 2002, and 2003. Harry Potter came in at number 48 on the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books: 1990-1999.
Most common reasons that were noted in suggestions for banning were: anti-family, occult/Satanism, religious viewpoint, violence, and promotes witchcraft.
REVIEW…beware of possible spoilers
I’m going to admit right up front that I may be slightly biased when it comes to this review. Why? Because I absolutely love this series and thus have blinders on when it comes to anything that might warrent a slight negative notation in a review. I fully believe that Harry Potter was my introduction into the amazing world of fantasy and started off a four year addiction to reading fantasy and only fantasy. I was thirteen when this addiction started.
I actually read the second book before I had even read the first – the first was unavailable in the bookstore at the time. I read it, loved it, and proceeded to borrow the first from a friend. I recieved the third book for my thirteenth birthday in March 2000 – not even a full year after it was published. I spent my high school years waiting for the next Harry Potter (book four, than five and six), always waiting – it only took me a few hours to read them, after all. Book seven, the final one, was released on July 21st, 2007. I was going into my third year of University and I went to the midnight release.
I find it hard to discribe exactly what it is that drew me into the series; if a friend hadn’t had the first book I probably wouldn’t have even heard of the series until it became so popular. I don’t remember what I liked so much about the books that I fell in love with them, I can only say what I love about them now, almost ten years after I started reading them: Harry and his world. The character of Harry Potter is one that I see in intense clarity in my mind (and no, he doesn’t look like Dan Radcliff). I find the world Rowling created to be incredibly rich in detail. I believe what helps the series appeal to so many kids is the idea of a secret world where everyone does magic and they live in a boarding school away from their parents in order to learn said magic. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always wanted to go to boarding school (summer camp was as close as I ever got to living away from home as a kid/teen). And to learn magic at the same time?? Bonus! Her characters are many and vary in personalities and likeability. Each one has his/her own quirks that either make you love them, like them, or hate them. Rowling’s writing style invites you in to the world she has created and asks you to stay. To become involved and invested and want to know more, to see how it all ends. No, her writing is not immaculately wonderful, she uses too many adjectives sometimes and occasionally spells things out for us when she doesn’t need to, but it’s engaging.
You’ve seen me mention my penchant for crying, yes? The last couple chapters of book six had me bawling into a kleenex – I could barely see the pages to finish reading. In book seven I starting crying at chapter twenty-four and it continued off and on (mostly on, near the end) until the book finished. That means from pages 387-600, I was in my room reading, crying and without kleenex (the corners of pilow cases work well). I was invested in the characters of this series and when they hurt, when the died? I cried. I didn’t want them to die! I love these characters (and even if I don’t love them, I’m still invested in them).
The Harry Potter books feel like stepping into a second home whenever I open them. Did I ever once get the impression that these books were telling me to go practice the occult and Satanism? No. Did they ever make me want to practice witchcraft? Well, ok, yes – but I never went around trying to jinx or hex people or make potions – I knew better. Did I think they were violent? Mmm, yes, but not more so than any episode of Power Rangers, Family Guy, pro-wrestling or UFC. In actuality, there was probably less physical violence than in most books – it was mostly done by spells. Did I get a vibe of anti-family? Not at all! Harry wants nothing more than to have a family. The Weasley family is one of the most tight-knit families I’ve read about in ages. They accept Harry and Hermione into their home with barely a twitch. Even the Dursley’s, for all the abuse (and keeping a child in a cupboard, making them cook/clean/weed/wash cars/etc. and withholding food is definitely abuse) they heaped on Harry, doted on their biological son. As for religious viewpoint? I really think this one only comes in to play for the people who think the books promote Satanism/occult/witchcraft. The books don’t mention religion at all, really.
Harry Potter is my comfort series. I don’t believe anyone should avoid it just because of all the hype surrounding it, or because they didn’t like the movies, or whatever. You won’t know if you like it until you actually read it. Oh, and those blinders I mentioned before? I do have complaints, but if I started talking about the series in depth, you’d all be here forever!