One Day, Three Books

Well, Harry Potter has been laid to rest again.  I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows about fifteen minutes before the plane landed in Chicago.  Ah, such a climactic conclusion.  So many sad deaths, so many joyous lives.  And yet, the part that brings tears to my eyes is not any of those moments, but the one where Harry realizes that, in order to bring Voldemort down for once and for all, he has to die.

Speaking of sacrifice and self-sacrifice, last entry I mentioned that Harry is a Jesus archetype.  If you can’t see that in book seven, you must be completely ignorant of Christian mythology or willfully blind.  Harry sacrifices himself for the greater good, and he dies.  But he comes back to life!  And the evil is defeated!  Let’s also remind ourselves that, back at the beginning of this book, six people drink Polyjuice Potion of Harry.  This disgusting broth tends to become even more so when you add essence of whomever you wish to appear to be.  However, essence of Harry turns it gold and attractive.

That doesn’t even take into account the whole “Chosen One” nonsense that starts getting thrown around after Fudge is forced to admit that Voldemort is back at the end of book five.  And yet, despite the increasingly obvious parallels, I regard Harry-as-Jesus with a resigned eyeroll and not outright disgust.  Maybe it’s because I genuinely enjoy the books and am willing to overlook it.  Maybe it’s because Rowling is not nearly as heavy-handed as certain other authors (C.S. Lewis, Orson Scott Card, John Irving, and Donita K. Paul come to mind).  Who knows, though I’m sure both of the above are factors.

You really can’t say that the whole series wasn’t building up to that moment though, because Rowling did lay a very solid foundation from the very beginning, starting with Quirrell.  So, for those incredibly perceptive folks, it was foreshadowed from the start. And then you have to consider that that ending is so good, it almost completely buries the fact that Harry, Ron, and Hermione are teenagers and there’s still angst and hormones going on and driving us crazy while they wander in the woods.

There’s so many reasons why Harry Potter became the phenomenon we all know, chief of which is the fact that these are genuinely good and powerful books.  I mentioned that I tear up when I read the final volume – this is not at all a common occurence.  It only happens when I get to a truly heartfelt moment in a series that I have a real investment in.  Something that sucks me in and has allowed me to become attached to the characters involved over time.  Needless to say, there are not that many books that can reliably elicit such a response.  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is one of those few.

Let’s also chat a bit about the physical book.  I’ve discussed the new artwork and the way the backs are done.  This one, however, takes the cake.  Instead of a half-page image and a two paragraph synopsis, this one features a full page illustration and two simple lines.  The quote is from Harry himself this time, and the rest, well, let’s show you.IMG_5243

Once again we have Harry’s back, we have the climax, and we have the simple sentence about this being the final book of Harry Potter’s story.  Which, after the back covers of the rest of this set, only adds to the tension and excitement and meaning of this volume.  On the continuing subject of the physical books, I’m pleased to report that I had no real trouble fitting all seven books back in their lovely little box.  Sure, you have to make sure the last book in is somewhere in the 2-6 range, but that’s fairly normal when discussing paperbacks and boxes.  And of course you want to be careful because this is not a cheap set, but again, you’d think that’s common sense.

Shifting gears into a totally unrelated direction, I also read Star Wars Jedi Academy: A New Class today.  While I was in California, I ended up in a Barnes & Noble and spotted this book on the tables.  I have the other three Jedi Academy books by Jeffrey Brown, so I had to pick up this new one.  It’s by Jarrett J. Krosoczka instead, but there’s a note inside that this is done with Brown’s blessing.  Because I am such a dork, I went and compared the annual numbers on the Padawan Observer (school newspaper) and can say that A New Class does take place the school year after The Phantom Bully.  It’s worth noting that Krosoczka does not use any of Brown’s characters aside from faculty and staff, nor does he use the same comics inside of the paper.  So, instead of Roan’s original comic about the Ewok pilot, we have Not-Garfield and Not-Peanuts, which are still cute as parodies even if I preferred the original comics.

In comparing this book to the its predecessors, I think A New Class is weaker overall.  The story felt rushed and underdeveloped in multiple ways, I wasn’t a fan of how much more strongly Krosoczka borrows from real life comics and memes, etc.  That being said, it was still enjoyable and I’ll probably continue reading the series for the time being, at least long enough to see if we get any further explanations for Artemis’ choice in clothing.

Then I decided I needed another quick read for the day.  Also that I wasn’t quite done with Harry Potter for the day.  So I opened up another box set and read Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.  Again, I’ve read this and Quidditch Through the Ages before.  At some point someone gave me a nice box set of hardcovers and so I had no qualms about giving my little old paperbacks to my sister.  Today was the first time I felt like rereading either of them since giving away my original copies.  It’ll be interesting to see what kind of plot they create for the upcoming movie, since this book is just a beastiary.  Well, a beastiary and further evidence of how far in advance Rowling planned some of the notable moments in the seventh book.

Of course the most entertaining part of Fantastic Beasts is the fact that it’s a reproduction of Harry’s actual textbook, with all the notes and such he, Ron, and even Hermione have added over four years or so.  A quick and easy read for when you haven’t had quite enough of Harry Potter for the week, but simply can’t read scripts.  (I find reading scripts to be like reading really shitty fanfiction or other poorly written stories – the ones that are all dialogue and no description.  I’m not saying that The Cursed Child is a bad story – I haven’t read it and so can’t judge – I’m just explaining that I don’t see myself reading it because I truly dislike reading scripts.)

I don’t know if I’ll reread Quidditch Through the Ages at this time as I find it less interesting than Fantastic Beasts.  I certainly won’t be rereading Tales of Beedle the Bard because, while I may be a sucker for fairy tales, most of these just seem too ridiculous.  I understand the concept of fleshing out a world by creating the cautionary tales, but I don’t think most of them are very good.  The story of the Three Brothers, of course, being the best and strongest for several obvious reasons, including its centrality to the plot.  Beedle is one of those books that I keep purely because it’s a part of the set, rather than because I foresee myself rereading it.  Well, I’m lying slightly.  I could reread the story of the Three Brothers happily.  Just that one.

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