When Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was first released in theaters I’m betting the books got some new fans because I didn’t become one until I saw that movie. It came on TV one day and I figured I’d give it a chance. I’ve loved it ever since. It was a few movies before I actually started reading the books, I’ll admit, but ultimately I did start reading and found that the books were the superior version of the story.
With the last book already released and the final movie coming out it seems we might have seen the last of the Harry Potter stories (I’m not ready to count Pottermore yet, whatever that is). It seems a fitting time to take a look at these stories, which have been some of the most enduring books in recent years. It’s a shame to see them go, but all good things must come to an end, I suppose. Even so, let’s remember the good things, shall we?
I remember the first book did an excellent job of giving you a mystery to solve. You didn’t know why strange things happened around young Mister Potter, you were just rooting for Harry to find out. The book did give some details away too quickly, which was understandable for J.K. Rowling’s first book. You learned that Harry is a wizard and that he defeated Voldemort as a child all at once. It was a little too much too fast, but other than that it managed to have a mystery for Harry to solve wrapped up in dark conspiracy set in a unique fantasy world and all during Harry’s school days. In short, it was brilliant! I was ready for more.
The Chamber of Secrets did much the same thing, but it also gave people around Harry reason to believe that he was up to something. It raised the stakes considerably. The Prisoner of Azkaban was a little different. Instead of producing an obvious mystery, it made you think you knew what was going on. You still had Harry’s struggle with school life and problems with his past that carried the story, but the mystery was in the background, and ultimately it worked.
The Goblet of Fire, however, marked a serious departure. It had much more action, and much more intense moments. Harry, in the tournament, had to fight for his life. It was also darker, with more sinister events, which was fitting. In addition, it brought back the mystery in a big way. Order of the Phoenix scaled back the action, relying on a more immediate problem. Harry had to face trouble in his own school, at first. By the end, though, the action had ramped up to dizzying heights. We actually got to see magic fights and one on one duels. Admittedly the book could have been a little more descriptive during certain fights, but otherwise they were great, and the fight between Voldemort and Dumbledore was fantastic! Truly epic!
The Half Blood Prince, on the other hand, was more of a throwback to previous Potter stories. There was a mystery involved, but the difference was that this mystery, involving school nemesis Draco Malfoy, just seemed childish to his friends, Ron and Hermione. Friends who, in previous books, helped him solve mysteries with as much determination. It was an old formula, but with it came a new twist. Then of course, there was The Deathly Hallows. That book brought Harry out of school for the first time, fighting for his life in the real world. It really brought the action to the forefront, while still taking time to develop characters. There wasn’t much in the way of mystery, aside from the heroes figuring out what they needed to do next. Instead it was a fight and a battle against the villain, and a fitting end for the series.
Each Harry Potter volume managed to do something different with the series, which helps explain why it lasted so long. It’s a shame that the books are over, and with Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows – Part 2 coming to theaters soon, it seems that Harry will soon be gone forever. Still, we can always pick up a book and slip back to Hogwarts whenever we want. It will be a familiar journey, but one well worth taking. So long Harry Potter, we’ll miss you.