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It's hard to say goodbye to Harry Potter

Voldy I find I can't quite let go of Harry Potter.

First let me confess: Though I once was one of those slightly scary adults who went out and bought Harry Potter books on the day they were released - and read them with the excitement of a 10-year-old - I never made it through The Order of the Phoenix. Not because it's the longest book in the series, clocking in at 870 pages, but because I felt it was bloated and took way too long to get moving. Perhaps there were other reasons: Too much to read for work, too little patience?

I still feel that way, but seeing the new Deathly Hallows 2 has sent me scurrying back to Phoenix and the final two books in the series, which I've never read. Hundreds of books demand my attention, and yet Rowling has captured my attention and clearly will hold it hostage until I finish Half Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows.

Such is the power of Potter.

Maggie Deathly Hallows 2 is a terrific film, the best moviegoing experience I've had in ages. Look at Professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith) over there, throwing down with the forces of evil! But though it's thrilling and enchanting and immensely fulfilling, executed just about perfectly by the filmmakers and actors and screenwriters, Rowling's magnetism is what gets us in the end. I want to see the movie again and will, no doubt. But I also want to stay immersed in the heady joy of what is plain great storytelling. I don't want this feeling to end, even though the story has.

And so I return to the books I haven't read. I'm completely enjoying Phoenix this time round (skipped those troubling first 100 pages or so). Guess what! It gets better. I'm laughing at Fred and George Weasley's antics with the fireworks and their flip-off to Professor Umbridge when she demands they be flogged for creating a swamp in the halls; wincing at Harry's horrified discovery that his dad was something of a jerk at 15 (much like Harry himself in this particular book); grimacing over the bullying of young Snape (always my favorite character, with Hermione a close second); mourning the loss of - well, I won't say, in the interest of not spoiling anything, although by now if you don't know how Phoenix ends, what have you been doing for the past few years?

Snape I can't imagine what it's like for kids who grew up with these books, anticipating each new release, arguing over who in the family got to read it first. I don't know if we'll see another phenomenon like Harry Potter in our lifetimes (though Suzanne Collins' compelling Hunger Games series makes a respectable stab at it), though I like to believe imagination is not a finite thing. No one on earth has done more to introduce kids to the pleasures of reading than Rowling, and I salute her for it. And I'll happily welcome the next Rowling when she comes along.

 

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patrick

Order of the Phoenix just has stretches of repetitiveness and tedium. And it isn't all at the beginning. It is 50 pages here, 40 pages there. The basic story is pretty good though so I stuck with it. I actually would flip ahead to see when it got good again! The last two books are fantastic though..especially the end. I reread the end of Deathly Hallows several times.

HoCo

I was one of those adults who stood in line at midnite from the fourth book thru the end, too.

Connie

I didn't for Half Blood Prince or Deathly Hallows. But perhaps I should have.

Vicki Brennan

Amen to all of this, Connie. This weekend marks the end of my children's childhood in a sense. My 17-year-old wasn't even old enough to read when the first book came out. On Thursday, she was old enough to organize the midnight party of her friends to see the last movie. For my 19-year-old, it's also bittersweet. Ours was one of those families that attended the midnight book parties at Borders and Barnes & Noble and fought over the books. I'm sure I'll read them again someday, but for now, I'm just sitting back and savoring the last moments of Pottermania.

jwilliford

To Connie: Gotcha! We'll make a fantasy reader of you yet! (Yeah, I know, like you really NEED more to read...)

To Vicki Brennan: I know exactly what you're describing - in my case the 19-yr old is away at college and, after all the midnight book and movie release parties over the years, it was a bit heart-breaking not to be able to see the last movie together!

Connie

I loved Half Blood Prince. LOVED IT.

BTW John, just please don't make me read that last China MIeville book; i had enough trouble understanding a description of its plot!

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