One thing I do that has remained a constant practice in my life has been to avoid situations where I am guaranteed my expectations have exceeded reality. Mostly this comes in with movies and books. Should I happen to not see a movie just as it comes out, or read a book within a couple months of release, and that thing takes off with reports of it being “The best ever!” there is a narrow window of opportunity to see or read it before I’m forced to put it off until the hype blows over. The reason for this is simple… people talk it up so much that it can’t possibly stand up to it.
Harry Potter is one of those things. People were telling me for years that they were simply the best books ever written, utterly fantastic, it would blow me away. So, I didn’t read them. There was so much build up, that I knew it couldn’t possibly be as good as the hype. And it wasn’t. I finally started reading the Harry Potter books a couple months ago. I’ve been reading one of them, then another book or two, then the next Potter book, and so on. I’m almost finished with ‘Goblet of Fire’ now, that’s why I’m writing. The first book… ehh… it was good, no doubt, and for young readers its an excellent book for interesting non-readers. Its short, its light, full of fluff and fun, and to any person over the age of about 18 or so, completely and utterly transparent. The plot, while not bad, was predictable. Yeah, I’d seen the movies, but that didn’t matter, even the things left out of the movie I saw coming. It was not a complicated book. That’s both a good thing and a bad thing, as I said… good for young readers or new readers, bad for anyone who has heard all the hype.
The second book was better. Still a bit predictable, and more fluff than substance, but it was a fun read that I enjoyed. However, still far from being ‘the best ever’.
The third book, moreso… the story growing up as the boy does, becoming more complicated and involved, relationships becoming less simplistic, and overall a much better book.
As I move through the fourth book, I can see it continuing to grow. The story is more complex, more textured, the characters breathe on the page and display more traits like those you find in our own world, and its beginning to lose its predictability.
I look forward to the fifth book. And the sixth, the seventh, and more, if she decides to continue on.
Now that the books are out of the way… lets talk about the fans. I’m reading the UK versions of the books. One, because those are the ones my fiancee owns. And two, because reading the book with the authentic English (or Brittish) vernacular just appeals to me more than having them all sound like a bunch of Americans despite the fact that they are in England. As such, the books I read have covers that most of the people I pass on the street have never seen. Constantly, I am berated by people yelling at me or even grabbing me or my book forcibly, demanding to know how I got ahold of the as of yet unreleased sixth book. Once I explain to them that its an old book, most of them just stomp away, not even apologizing for my sprained wrist or nearly tackling me. Few ask why the book is different, and to those that do, when I try to explain that its the original UK versions, their eyes glaze over like I’ve just tried to explain in depth quantum mechanical theory to them, and they stumble away, dumbfounded by the knowledge that Brittish English and American English aren’t the same, and that people actually write in languages other than American English. Only one person so far has actually carried on a conversation of intelligence and cared about the differences in the books (simple things like that people in the UK call a ‘flashlight’ a ‘torch’ and so on).
I’ve met numerous people who are going to go out Friday night and stay up at book release parties until 12:01am Saturday to buy their copy of the book. Because, obviously, the books bought at that time will be better than the ones the store will be selling all day the next day, at reasonable hours, like after the sun comes up, or even after a lazy brunch.
As it is, my fiancee, a huge Potter fan, but not an insane Potter fan, is actually going to wait until sometime the following week to read it. Her UK copy is being shipped overseas, and while most who order through Amazon will get their books on Saturday if they specified the next day shipping, next day from England means Monday or Tuesday.
Anyway, back to work, or something… Harry and Cedric have just… nah, not going to tell you. Read it yourself. I do recommend the Potter books… but I do not recommend becoming a Potter fanatic.