I was in Class 8 when my father bought home 2 books which he told were the bestselling novels at that time. By then, I had slowly graduated from reading Amar Chitra Katha comics, Tinkle and Champak to reading small novels. But I had definitely not heard of this sensation called Harry Potter. So I started with Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (he had bought this along with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban). Incidentally he was not aware of the fact that there was one more book before the Chamber of Secrets. While reading it, I realized there was a disconnect somewhere. But anyways I enjoyed it and within some time I was done with the Prisoner of Azkaban as well. But maybe because of the now apparent disconnect or because of the annual exams, I never moved on to either the next books or even the first one in the series (Sorcerer’s stone). Life moved on.
I always wanted to start the Harry Potter series all over again. But then higher education and post that professional life got me so busy that it never happened. Come year 2015. As I was setting out my Goodreads reading challenge for this year, I decided that I will complete the series this year, at any cost. And last week I did. It took me around 2 months though I believe it would have taken me much less if not for the hectic schedule. Anyways, now that I have completed it, thought I should write something about it. It is the least I can do for such an awesome and mind-blowing series.
<<Spoilers for those who have not read the books or seen the movies>>
Well, Harry Potter might have started as a series for children. But I can assure you that it definitely did not end like that. By the time the first 2 or 3 books had come out, the adults were as hooked to it as the children were. The books were magical (pun intended). With each book, JK Rowling kept on expanding the world she created by introducing us to more characters, more magic and more fun along with revealing the plot mystery slowly and steadily. Though in the end, it may seem like it was essentially a battle between the good versus evil, but it was so much more than that. JK Rowling touches up on so many themes in the books – friendship (Harry-Ron-Hermione), leadership (group of young wizards ganging up against the darkest wizard), courage (from the timid Neville to the snake slayer), oppression (pureblood wizards’ hatred of Muggles or half-bloods), slavery (house elves) and undying love (Snape loving Lily). There are many side tracks as well in all the books which add more flavor. Like the magical game, Quidditch. Rowling has invented a game for wizards that is no less exhilarating or adrenaline pumping as a game of soccer or rugby. The Harry-Cho, Ron-Hermione, Harry-Ginny love stories shows the human side of the wizards.
Two questions that are always asked to someone who has completed the books are – 1) Which is your favorite book and 2) Who is your favorite character? For the first question, I think it was a close call between the fourth and sixth book. But I would go with the Half-blood prince. Why? First and foremost it threw light on to one of the characters whom we knew only as the Dark Wizard or the greatest evil the wizarding world has ever seen. This book takes us back into time and shows Tom Riddle’s troubled childhood, his family, his aspirations, his fetishes and more importantly the circumstances that led him to become Lord Voldermort. This book also reveals many secrets that have been kept under wraps all this time including why Voldermort wanted to kill Harry Potter in the first place. More importantly this book ends at a juncture where the reader is shocked and devastated as one of the main character dies at the hand of other.
The second question is tougher. By the end of 7 books, there are so many characters that become close to your heart. But still if I have to pick one, it would be Albus Dumbeldore. Because Dumbeldore was enigmatic, magnificent and grand. Probably just like magic. We know only so much of him as we don’t know. The seventh book does offer a window into his past but I still believe there were more dimensions to his personality. Snape comes a close second. His is the most complex character in the entire series. He stands between the fine line of good and evil. Hermione would be my third favorite. If not for her, both Harry and Ron would be dead long ago.
The Harry Potter books define life and the following quotes just illustrate that
“It is our choices that show who we truly are, far more than our abilities.” – Albus Dumbledore
“If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” – Sirius Black
“Perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it.” – Albus Dumbledore
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry. But why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” – Albus Dumbledore
I have already started missing the series. The non-magical world seems so boring now.