Yesterday afternoon, after reading for about five months approximately, I did it: I finished the entire Harry Potter series. Seven books, one hundred ninety-nine chapters, three thousand seven hundred and thirty-three pages. As I ploughed through the books, a certain someone kept asking me why I’d spent so much time reading children’s books. Surely that’s time wasted? Well, frankly, it isn’t, and I’ll tell you why.
It’s not as much the story that drew me to read the books initially – I was well aware that they were children’s books, and that consequently the storyline was going to be pretty simple. Nor was it some (a) specific friends (friend) enthusiastically babbling about it every time it was even remotely mentioned. What did draw me to it, was the way that J. K. Rowling somehow managed to write seven books in such a way that it immersed the readers into an entirely different universe, and did not let them go for twenty, yes, twenty years. It is still to this day one of the most-read and most-translated books in the world. (The entire series was translated into 68 languages, to be precise.) So naturally, I was curious – surely this could not all have to do with the storylines, given it, in the end, really just was a children’s book?
Turns out I was, per usual (hehe), correct: Rowling managed to write the books in such a way that it is so extremely easy to lose yourself in them. In only a matter of seconds you are at Hogwarts with Harry, Ron and Hermione, and anything around you ceases to exist for a while. As Harry gets older, so the writing style matures – whereas in the Philosopher’s Stone and the Chamber of Secrets the books (and the content, for that matter) are written in a way that is easily understood by 11-year-olds, the Half-Blood Prince and the Deathly Hallows completely let go of this, well, sense of lightness in the writing, with some scenes written in such a way that the words are likely to linger in your mind for more than a few days after you’ve finished the books.
As any author, though, I feel like Rowling has a weakness too – the way she writes deaths, for example, hardly touched me at all. They usually happened very fast and suddenly, without many words spent on them, and it’s over before the reader (or, at least, me) really realises what just happened. One could argue, however, that this was done purposefully: most deaths, if not all (can’t instantly recall one that wasn’t, right now), happen in the midst of a fight, in chaos, when the characters really don’t have that much time to stop and think about the one they just lost and have to keep moving in order to survive themselves. Looking at the deaths from this point of view, it does make sense how they were written, yet still this is something I cannot seem to get past.
Overall though, I regret people refusing to read any books because they are deemed children’s literature: there’s so much more to a story than its content, and writing style is only one of many aspects that can be discussed. As they say, don’t judge a book by its cover – but definitely don’t judge it by the age-group it is aimed at either.
- L. Parole