After finishing the final film of the Harry Potter series, my friend officially decreed that I had attained status as a true “Potterhead.” So, that’s what I am now, eh? After all those people I had judged in high-school – the ones who showed up late to class with dark sunglasses on while it was overcast and rainy outside, the ones who hadn’t shaved or showered in weeks and proudly strutted across campus in the same pair of sweats and stained t-shirt. And now I was one of them, my drug, Harry Potter.
I had made a deal with my friend way back…well, I don’t know when (I think early this year) that I would read all the Harry Potter books and, when I finished, we would watch the movies together. She agreed, though she had confessed long afterward that she wasn’t sure if would actually follow through with it. I laughed when she told me, as I, myself, was unsure of the same. I knew I was taking on a prodigious reading task (nothing like the Wheel of Time of course,) but still, 4,182 words is nothing people usually do in a short time.
I just kept thinking to myself, just a few pages at a time. That was my strategy. That’s how books are read, right? Whether you read one page a day or two hundred, you still move forward and, sooner or later, you’re done. It was a plan that worked out just as I had planned. I really hadn’t figured on a completion date for the books, but after starting on April 20th this year, I finished the last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, on a plane from Dallas to Tokyo on November 17th, 2011.
And the story?
J.K. Rowling’s a splendid storyteller. Period. There are critics lurking in every corner of every medium of creativity. The truth is how we receive works of art are, in the final analysis, subjective. We can only speak, in truth, of how the piece’s impression was upon our own person. In this light, I thought the British Young Adult series was well put-together. She graduated her writing style to fit the characters’ journey through adolescence and their society – an impressive task and one which I would wager seldom-accomplished among the ranks of the Young Adult writer. I found the series a success for several reasons, one being that Rowling made you root for Harry as he traversed his way through the morass of obstacles that plagued him in Hogwart’s World of Witchcraft and Sorcery.
And in so doing, she was able to craft a world in which you as the reader found yourself wanting, very much, to be a part. I found J.K. Rowling to have created places of splendor and mystery where dwelt fantastical creatures and unknown plants and trees. There were beauties of Hogwart’s (the school of Wizardry) and the magical world that enchanted the reader, and created a place for him/her to follow the story almost (just almost) as if you were there living it yourself. There was laughter, suspense, fear, comedy, romance, and drama stacked upon drama. It was much of what, I found, likely to exist in the everyday life of any given teenager, sans all the spells and the ominous notion of a dark wizard coming to end one’s life. It was four thousand pages of great fun.
Using a camera and a screen, the films matched as much of this world as they could. It was so delightful to see my favorite characters come to life in front of me, living in this world that I had felt happy to have spent time in myself. All of the films were gripping, and even more so as they went on, the last one (in my opinion) being the best of all with the scenery, the action, and the full-blown array of fantasy ensorceling my vision. It all brought me back.
After the last film, I dreamed that night of all-things-Potter, and woke the next morning to find myself speaking in a British accent to no one in particular. My god, I thought, what has gone wrong?. I suppose after that journey I am a Potterhead. But at least, Harry Potter’s not some lame British band for which I’m a “groupy” doing anything to get back stage. I am a fan of the story though. I like where it took me. It was a fantastic place in which I’m grateful to have spent time. I’ve enjoyed the ride, that is. The best part is I can go back anytime I please.