books

The Potter Problem

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Or, why you won’t find a review for Harry Potter on my blog…
Here’s the issue. There are books that are so close to being a part of yourself that even in your wildest dreams you couldn’t possibly be objective. Harry Potter is one of those series. On my twelfth birthday I waited by my letterbox waiting for my letter from Hogwarts. When Harry turned twelve, so did I. I grew with him from the first time he stepped on to Platform 9¾ to his final, emotional farewell to the school that had always felt more like home to him than anywhere else.
As a slightly odd and introverted child, Hogwarts represented an escape that I wished I could make. I’ve always lived slightly inside my own head. I’m a daydreamer. I would build up wild imaginary worlds and explore them with my imaginary friends. Sometimes books like Potter come along and they speak to a very special, almost instinctive, part of your brain.
So I can objectively look at Potter and admit that they’re not, technically, the best written books in the world. I can say that there are more than a few plot holes, that the prose can be basic and occasionally clumsy. I can acknowledge that the characters are sometimes too obviously tropes and perhaps cliché and that the mythology is derivative. But the thing is, critics everywhere, I don’t care.
I don’t want the hindsight of age and literary education to cloud my adoration for everything that Potter meant to that little girl staring out of her bedroom window lost somewhere in her own imagination. I don’t want to tarnish the joy felt by that girl who queued up outside bookshops, whispered spells under her breath, who laughed and cried and breathed that world. Because it doesn’t matter if they’re not intellectual or scholarly. What matters is that every time I open the cover I get that little tingle in the pit of my stomach and suddenly I’m twelve again, standing on the platform with Harry.
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