Pottered, Chapters Two & Three: Shit Is Getting Real

(Pottered is now an ongoing series.)

(Spoilers Ahead)

I’m less than halfway through the Harry Potter series and I’m pretty convinced it’s all about death. Am I right?

Well, only time (and spoilers) will really tell. Speaking of which, what do you think about about a bunch of murdered chickens and a hanging cat in a children’s story?

Now, I’m not dismissing the books or think they’re terrible. Not by a long shot. It’s just that if you took away the wands and broomsticks the central plot of Harry Potter is about a bunch of psychotic, power-hungry blowhards who want to kill a young boy. You can read the Bible and find stories like that, you know.

Seriously, take away the wands and replace them with guns. What have you got?

That’s right: shit getting real. (See previous entry)

Thing is, this is a series for the younger set. It’s disturbing and, yes, dark, and perhaps it set the tone for the next two YA series that would take over the planet: Twilight (which is so disturbing I don’t know where to begin) and The Hunger Games (which is like Series 7: The Contenders– but for kids). If this is the direction YA novels are heading I might as well plan on giving my eight-year-old a copy of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and saying, “knock yourself out.”

Despite this the books are more than effective, even though they’re flirting with disaster. Death and loss are difficult subjects to introduce to children, yet this is what J.K. Rowling is doing. She is starting out with small, reversible deaths (the petrification curse in The Chamber Of Secrets) and faking us out with animals (the afforementioned Mrs. Norris the cat; Buckbeak the Hippogriff; Scabbers the rat). It’s a way of introducing the concept: “Hey, things die.” If a child doesn’t get it, Rowling is perfectly willing to remind you that Harry’s parents were murdered. A lot.

If the books continue at this rate, I’m expecting The Deathly Hallows to be a complete bloodbath.

Which, come to think of it, wouldn’t be that big of a surprise. Each book revolves around a conspiracy to kill Harry anyway and eventually one of them is going to succeed. Anyone standing in the way is going to get pulverized. The characters in these books can’t continuously evade death and destruction forever.

For now, The Chamber Of Secrets and The Prisoner Of Azkaban seem like exercises for the real thing. They follow the same template of the The Philosopher’s Stone: Harry is in danger. Harry & Co. uncover clues about said “danger.” Harry & Co. break a lot of rules. Harry & Co. get caught. Harry ends up in the hospital wing. Harry & Co. solve the mystery and end up fighting a nemesis in an undiscovered part of Hogwarts. Harry & Co. miraculously evade punishment for breaking rules. Gryffindor wins something. The end.

Despite these repetitions Rowling’s plotting and writing style is impeccable. I would describe her as a juggler with five, six, ten balls in the air at once. You expect her to drop them all at some point, but she doesn’t. How does she do it? I have no idea.

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