My very first copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was a tattered, torn, and suspiciously stained book that my older cousin had nabbed for me at a garage sale. I remember being simultaneously awed that a book could evoke so much enjoyment, and anger that I hadn’t started reading the series sooner. I quickly devoured the next three books in the series, then joined the hoards of other fans impatiently awaiting the release of the fifth, sixth, and seventh books.
I’ve never considered myself a die-hard fan (ie. you wouldn’t see me in line for any of the midnight releases, and I still don’t even really know what Pottermore is), but I absolutely loved the series, and still do. A few months ago, I decided to reread the series as an adult and see if my perspective has changed at all. Read on to hear about my thoughts and experience.
The first three books were a complete joy to reread. I blew through them in a couple weeks. The stories were as captivating as ever, and the action of each book moved swiftly. It’s clear that these are children’s books, but the stories are complex and enjoyable even for adults. No matter how dark Harry’s past is, and despite the spooky subject matter of these books, the wizarding world is magical and tempting. I felt the return of that familiar feeling of “why isn’t this real.” Of course, the fourth book is the turning point. Voldemort returns, a student’s life is taken, and things begin to get very, very scary.
I lost my momentum while reading the final three books in the series, and I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that suddenly things just aren’t as happy anymore. Dark magic finds its way into the best areas of the wizarding world, and everyone is impacted. We come across some awful, awful witches and wizards (Umbridge, Skeeter). I found myself relieved that Hogwarts is a fictional place and that all the lives that are so negatively impacted in the books aren’t “real.”
I found myself surprised at a couple things during my reread. Somehow I had forgotten how cocky Harry turns out to be in the sixth book (am I the only one who feels this way?). Throughout the entire series up to this point, Harry was shy, modest, and wanted nothing more than to be a regular wizard with regular problems. He hated all the attention he received (good and bad), and would have loved to sink into the shadows along with Ron (who would have preferred popularity and fame!). But in the sixth book, Harry suddenly begins to enjoy all the attention he’s getting, and I can’t help but think it’s gone to his head. Girls (probably the same girls who refused to talk to him the year before) begin planting mistletoe in his path and attempt to put him under the spell of various love potions. He seems to love the attention, even if it is mildly annoying. Once he becomes Quidditch captain, he continually reminds the team that he’s the leader. Don’t get me wrong, Harry has had an incredibly tragic and difficult childhood, and much of the attention that has been put on him in the past has been surrounded by negativity. I should be proud of him for coming out his shell and enjoying the attention for once. But really, I find that it just irritates me. Sorry Harry.
One thing that I found mildly irritating about the series overall was the overbearingly negative portrayal of the Slytherin house. I understand that more dark wizards come from that house than any other, and that it was you-know-who’s house, and that several children in the house are the sons and daughters of various death eaters. It deserves its evil reputation, but I wish Rowling would have shown us a few good-hearted Slytherins here and there, and pointed out a few dark wizards from other houses. It was especially telling to me that not a single Slytherin student stayed behind to fight against the Death Eaters in the war at the end of the series, when there was representation from Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff. Are there no good Slytherins in the entire school? I no that can’t be the case, but it was hard to believe otherwise.
Overall, I found my reread of Harry Potter to be incredibly enjoyable. These books may have been written for a much younger audience, but they are a wonderfully imaginative selection for adult readers, too.
Here’s some further reading I found interesting:
Rereading Harry Potter: Books 4-6 via BookRiot
Have you read Harry Potter recently? What are your thoughts?