Friday, 20 July 2007

Two days before the end

Don't worry, no spoilers here.

In just 32 hours we will be standing with a (hopefully not too large) group of people waiting to get our hands on a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. We are aware that we could travel the short distance into the centre of London and attend a massive party that will probably be quite cool, but instead we have decided to get it from the local bookshop and get back home as quickly as possible. The reason for this is that our primary concern is reading the book and finding out what happens without any key plot points being spoiled for us. The likelihood of us making it home from the city without being spoiled seems ridiculously slim, especially given that I have just found out that even the New York Times is not above acquiring a copy and posting a review full of spoilers. No doubt there will be people who will think it's highly amusing to find ways of spoiling it for people (such as the morons who drove past bookshops shouting out "_____________ dies" as book 6 was released).

Part of the problem with being caught up in the hype that is Harry Potter is that not all fans are created equal. To quote Graeme, in a conversation we had just this morning, "some people are just followers - not real fans... they are just caught up with the 'in' thing, ie. Harry Potter - and they don't really enjoy the books like true fans. because any real fan will want to know next to nothing about the book." As much as Harry Potter has been held responsible for encouraging children to read, the films and other related merchandise seem to have been responsible for teaching kids to not bother with the book, because you can just watch the movie. The number of students I have spoken with about Harry Potter is large. The number of them with whom I can actually discuss theories about book 7 is tiny. When they find out I'm a fan, they claim they are too, so I ask them about stuff only to find out they've never actually read the books and are basing all their information and adoration on the movies.

In fact, I'm not sure how many people out there are fans in the same way as I am. I'm not interested in fanfiction, I don't obsess over characters as if they were real people that I had some chance of marrying or sleeping with, I don't haunt Harry Potter fan communities and pretend I attend Hogwarts, I see the movies purely as one person's (or group of people's) interpretation of the book condensed into two and a half hours rather than something to be taken as additional information for the story and as much as I love the story and the characters my future happiness does not rest on the outcome of book 7. Sure, I've made a few crafty things inspired by HP, but they generally come out of my head and the way I've imagined the things described, rather than a book or website that is trying to make money by jumping on the HP bandwagon.

I guess its that I'm just a fan of JK Rowling and her books. I would be enjoying the books and anticipating the release of the next one just as much, even if there weren't hundreds of websites dedicated to it. I'd much rather discuss theories and interpretations with my family and friends than try to gain some sort of 'street-cred' by spending all my time on HP forums. I'm sure I will continue to re-read the series, even after it stops being "cool".

And why do I love the books so much? Because the characters feel real, the story makes me laugh and cry and scream and think. Because no matter what those "literary critics" say, they are well-written and captivating and even on a 5th reading I find it hard to put any of the books down. Because I think the story says a lot about humanity and some aspects of society without being preachy. And because it's just damn enjoyable.

I am excited about the release of the 7th and final book. I think it is an awesome thing to have experienced the phenomenon of Harry Potter - the eager anticipation of the next book, getting up early/staying up late to get the book the minute it is released, the mad sleepless day(s) spent reading it as fast as possible to find out what happens, the discussion of what happened and what it means for the next book, the re-read looking for more clues, the growing excitement as JK Rowling announces where she's up to in writing the next one, and so on. I admit I'm a little sad that it is coming to an end - I think it's about 7 years since I read the first one and that's a long time to be emotionally involved with a bunch of characters - but I am SOOOO looking forward to Harry kicking Voldemort's butt once and for all (and no, that's not a spoiler, just my assumption about what will happen).

OK, back to my spoiler-free, internet avoiding day.

Happy Reading!

1 comment:

  1. I only just read this then when I came to see if you'd updated before going to bed.
    You are so right. That is all.