Why I haven’t read the latest Harry Potter book

Like millions of people the world over, I loved the Harry Potter series. I thought it was magical and wonderful and unlike anything I’d ever read. I didn’t grow up with this series. In fact, I wasn’t too familiar with it until I saw the first movie. I was in college at the time. My mom wanted to see the film, so we went, and I remember sitting in the theater, watching the scene where Harry and all of the Hogwart’s students are in the Great Hall for their meal. Watching the changing scene on the ceiling, the food appearing out of nowhere, I remember thinking, if the books are half as good as this movie then they are going to be some amazing books. I’d underestimated just how much I would enjoy them. In discovering them much later than most, I was rather lucky because it meant less waiting. The first four books were already out, and I drove straight to the store and bought the boxed set. I loved the characters, the magic, the imagination that went into creating such a unique and magnificent world. I waited with anticipation for the fifth book, with trepidation for the sixth, and with severely bitten fingernails for the seventh, which I went to Midnight Madness to purchase on the release date, drove straight home, and stayed up all night and all the next day reading it. I was happy with the ending.

And that’s what book seven was supposed to be: The End.

But then the J.K. Rowling reveals began. First, the author told us that our beloved head master, Albus Dumbledore was gay. Okay, cool. Wasn’t that surprised by that revelation. I thought what she revealed next – what Dumbledore saw in the Mirror of Erised – was sadly sweet and very in character for Albus. Nice tidbit of information. Oh, but we’ve all been pronouncing Voldemort incorrectly for the last 18 years. Um, you couldn’t have told us that sooner or maybe cleared it up in the movies or something? Our trio of Hogwart’s heroes all went on to have appointments in the Ministry of Magic. Really? That’s a bit boring. I really thought Hermione might be a professor. I would have liked some variety for them. After that, Rowling started, on the anniversary of the Battle of Hogwart’s, apologizing for character deaths. OH HELL NO! This was a war between good and evil. People die in war. An author should never apologize for killing off a character. It looks weak or like you’re admitting to having made a mistake, and killing Fred was a huge mistake! How could you, Rowling? How could you? I will never ever forgive you for this terrible decision! Your apology is not accepted! You could have killed off anyone else, and I’d get over it, but Fred? It couldn’t have been Percy or Bill or someone else we never really cared about??? That is the worst thing you ever did to your fans! But to get back on track, with the exception of Fred, you should never ever apologize for offing a character. And then there was the revelation about how many schools of magic there are in the world and something about wizard segregation and Pottermore and more character death apologies, and I’d had enough!

Enough already! Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was supposed to be the end. I felt like I was being strung along by these bits and pieces of information. Few of them really added anything to a story that was already done, and I was tired of getting these little insubstantial teases.

And then there was the HUGE reveal: another Harry Potter book was on its way. Okay, a script really for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Was I ecstatic? Was I online pre-ordering my copy? Was I offering a kidney to anyone who would sell me their theatre ticket? Nope. I wasn’t filled with anticipation. I wasn’t counting down the days until the book’s release. I was…afraid. I was afraid that Rowling was going to ruin my beloved series and the characters that I cared so much about. I didn’t want to read about how Harry had become another cog in the Ministry’s wheel. I didn’t want any more secrets that made me question the world of Harry Potter that I knew and loved. Does that make me a coward? Probably. Do I care? Not really. As of this writing, I’m still not sure I want to read it. I haven’t heard good reviews about it, but I’ve also been trying to avoid learning too much about it. I don’t want spoilers to ruin it before I decide to read it.

So, I guess I am asking what you think? Have you read it? Do you recommend it or wish you hadn’t picked it up? I’m curious what other fans think. Tell me in the comments. Maybe you can persuade me to read it.

 

Kinsella is all out of fresh ideas

What happened to Sophie Kinsella? My first Kinsella experience was reading Can You Keep a Secret? and absolutely loving it. Even now, it is one of my favorites and a book I generally re-read once a year. I’ve cast and re-cast the movie version of it in my head. It was just a funny and endearing story that I enjoyed. I tried Undomestic Goddess next and found that enjoyable as well even though Samantha wasn’t quite as much fun as Emma. Then I discovered the Shopaholic series. In books one and two, I thought Becky was entertaining if a bit financially irresponsible. I mean, who hasn’t done a little tight-budget splurging? Who hasn’t bought that fabulous pair of shoes that were just a teeny tiny bit expensive? Though far from a shopaholic myself, I could relate to her. Then the Manhattan book came along where Becky is engaged and ends up planning two weddings all because she can’t pluck up the nerve to tell her mother and mother-in-law that the other has each offered to host a wedding for her and Luke. What started off as humorous quickly deteriorated into a fiasco of Becky’s own making. It became irritating by the time the book finally wrapped up, and I had trouble believing that smart, successful Luke was too stupid to realize what was really happening. And this was the last time I would give a decent rating to a Shopaholic book.

Shopaholic and Sister completely derailed the series, which ran off the track to “Decent Read” and crashed into “Awful Mess.” First of all, the sister out of nowhere created a plot out of nowhere, and Jess was just as unlikable as Becky was becoming, albeit for entirely different reasons. By the end, with Becky becoming lost on a mountain and then rescued by a rich friend in a helicopter, it was all just too ridiculous to accept. But I am nothing if not stubborn so I somehow persevered through books five and six, and that was it for me. I couldn’t take another Shopaholic repeat.

So what I had learned or concluded by the end of book 6?

  1. Becky will always be a liar, but will no longer be endearing at the same time.
  2. Becky is a terrible mother incapable of disciplining a child and will probably raise a spoiled brat.
  3. There is no way Luke loves a person who is so self-absorbed and financially irresponsible.
  4. Kinsella should have quit while she was ahead; she has run out of ideas, and this series has become wash, rinse, repeat.
  5. This series will never improve, and Kinsella has ruined her own character.
  6. I am probably still willing to read non-Shopaholic Kinsella books.

And I was and I did. Remember Me was okay. It was no Secret or Goddess, but I didn’t want to throw it across the room mid-read. Twenties Girl was interesting and certainly a different plotline for a Kinsella read. I think I even gave it a 3-star review, then came I’ve Got Your Number, and I was done. What a half-assed attempt at churning out the same old shit. I predicted the ending just by reading the blurb on the back. The characters were dull and lacked any chemistry. The whole book felt like a cog in a money making machine, and I was just so done with Kinsella and her repetitive plots and ditzy characters. Get a fresh idea already!

That was four years ago, and a new Kinsella book hadn’t touched my hands since…until last Saturday when I went to a book sale at a local church. It was “Fill a Bag for $5 Day,” and my bag wasn’t full, and there was a hardback copy of Wedding Night just sitting there, and there was space in my bag. I mean, what kind of book lover could walk out of a book sale with a partially-empty bag??? Not this one. In the bag it went. I had just finished an intense biography and thought a fluff piece would be a quick, no-fuss read. And the eternally optimistic (read: stupid) part of my brain was all, Hey, maybe Kinsella has improved in the last four years.

Hahahahahahaha!

Nope. She may have actually gotten worse! Lottie is the stupidest character Kinsella has ever written. If you combined the airheadedness of every previous Kinsella character, they still wouldn’t be a match for the idiocy of Lottie. She makes Becky look like a Type A CEO or the Prime Minister or someone who actually uses her brain. And Fliss isn’t much better except instead of being stupid, she’s the queen of temporarily suppressed rage, and she flies off the handle so often, one wonders how she hasn’t had a stress-induced heart attack yet.  I am about a third of the way through the book, and I can’t decide whether to persevere or give up. No matter what I decide to do about this one, I think I have already decided that this will be my last Kinsella attempt. I think I’ll stick to re-reading Can You Keep a Secret every year and stop hoping for something fresh from a former favorite author of mine.