1. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Is the 'Harry Potter' series overrated?

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Link the Writer, Jun 12, 2014.

    OK, so over in the Wayfarer's Tavern, there's a growing discussion on whether or not Harry Potter was overrated. Thinking it would be a good idea to not overrun the tavern with that discussion, I decided to multiquote most of the Harry Potter discussion and make its own personal thread here where we can discuss it to death. :D

    Here is what we've got thus far. Prepare yourself, this will be a long, long read. I would've put it in spoilers, but it cut off large chunks of the quotes. Skim over it, or read it. Up to you. :D

    You can read it if you like. ;) That said, do you, in your honest opinions, think the Harry Potter series is overrated (or not?) Feel free to leave your thoughts here!

    @Lemex - I originally was going to title this 'Why Lemex Doesn't Like Harry Potter', but decided a more subtle approach was necessary. :D
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2014
  2. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I should point out that one of those posts includes a step-by-step brake down of the first two chapters of the series.

    I feel honoured. :D
     
  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Harry Potter was fun, but... I think there's a generational aspect to this as well. Harry Potter wasn't happening when I was in my formative years. It's not stamped into that impressionable time in a person's life. It's a part of my already-done-been-an-adult life and memory, so it's ephemeral to me. I don't feel it as something "for all time". Also, it's YA and YA was also not happening when I was young. The Science Fiction and Fantasy that I was suckled on was written for an adult audience. It was meatier in content and expectation of the reader. Harry Potter and other like franchises feel vacant to me, lacking in any meaning other than the clear, grade-school messages of play nice, don't be a meanie, sometimes the baddies look like goodies and the goodies look like baddies, etc.
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I don't think it's overrated, at least from an academic point of view. Despite its popularity, it's rarely discussed (as literature) in academic settings. But then again, that could be because YA fiction isn't very popular in academia.
     
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  5. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    From what I understand, before Harry Potter came around, all kids got to read were just moral life-lesson stories, y'know those 'coming-of-age' stories where an innocent kid becomes an adult at the end via something big and life-changing (usually a death.) Harry Potter offered a chance for kids to just be kids for once and not have to worry about reading yet another book that blatantly shoves morals down their throats. Yes, there were a lot of deaths and moral lessons within, but they were subtle and not quite so in-your-face like, say, Bridge to Terabithea or Where the Red Fern Grows.

    That said, I still think there were things Mrs. Rowling could've done to make the books better.
     
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  6. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Both are classics in my opinion.
     
  7. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I certainly think it is overrated by it's fans, I mean jesus fucking christ. It's not really talked about in academia, even though I actually think there is enough there to merit study, at least in some limited capacity. Like a creative writing seminar or something. And there is plenty of Christian allegory, and Christian symbolism (and Classical symbolism) that does merit some kind of serious investigation.

    I'm willing to bet that most people who got into reading by Harry Potter didn't read much other than Harry Potter, but it really is impossible to say. It's the same with 50 Shades of Grey, or The DaVinci Code. Sure, people might read them as their first novel, but do they read much beyond them afterward?

    For such a long series Harry Potter hasn't many very well characterized characters in my opinion. Aside from Neville Longbottom, who is my favourite. Bless his cotton socks, he had such a good character arch! Everything that happened to him changed him as a person, he grew and adapted and matured into a hero who plays a major part in saving Hogwarts and defeating 'he who shall not be named' (which is a phrase taken directly from H.P. Lovecraft, by the way). He's a good kid, and his trials and defeats and losses only made him stronger, and more resilient. And he did that without having everything handed to him on a golden plate like the titular character.
     
  8. Mike Hill
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    Mike Hill Natural born citizen of republic of Finland.

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    Discussion is really worth reading. Some interesting points. I think that HP books are much better than for example Twilight, especially if you notice that first Harry Potter book is her book. At least according to Wikipedia.
    HP books were the first that I read and really my first touch on fantasy genre. That's why I loved them then but now days, not so much.
    As a kid I was already interested in history and quickly saw the Hitler-Voldemort connection. I founded whole Voldemort character too simple. He is bad I get that. Then we get to know Tom Marvolo Riddle and maybe he becomes more humane character? That didn't really happen. Rowling should have gone deeper on that subject.
    I think it is not overrated because still most grade the series under Narnia.
    And don't get me started on the whole "Potter does it Jesus style" ending.
     
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  9. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    I actually hated the second book of Narnia, but loved the rest.
     
  10. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, it is. Like Wrey, I was already an adult when they were released, so for many years it was not in my consciousness almost at all. A couple years ago I got them for my son (who is 10 on Saturday). I read the first 2 1/2 aloud to him, and wow -- especially reading them aloud, you realize just how very poorly written they are, overall. (I was stunned by the overuse of adverbs, and to a lesser degree, adjectives.)

    From what I've seen of the story itself -- the plot and even most of the characters seem pretty run of the mill. My son, though, did enjoy the stories, and has seen all the movies.
     
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  11. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I think people forget the fact the initial audience for this series was children. My son began reading HP when it was first published in the US in 1998. He was ~9 yrs old. I assure you he's grown into an avid reader of books you would approve of.

    I resisted reading them when my son kept telling me how good the books were, telling him I wasn't interested in kids' books. But one day I bought one of the books on tape to listen to on one of our 8 hour drives to my parents house in Oregon. We stopped at a bookstore on the way and I bought the volumes that had preceded the one we were listening to and started from the beginning.

    I find them incredibly creative. They're warm, like the scene when Harry first meets the Weasley family and they have a big family dinner. I didn't like the last couple books as much as the first. Perhaps Rowling didn't write a perfect series. But every time I hear the criticism, "it's not classic literature," I find it annoying. That seems like criticism from the adult literary POV. I admit I don't understand that complaint. But I also find it defining 'good literature' much too narrowly.

    Twilight and 50 Shades are popular and not good from a literary standard. Harry Potter is nowhere near either of those two books. Whatever it is you see that I don't time will tell who is right. I think the books are classic. Maybe because the last 2 or 3 books don't keep to the same standard as the first ones, that will deduct some points. But lumping the series in with shoddy books that were still best sellers is undeserved.
     
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  12. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Familiar story. ;)

    The plot is only run of the mill if you strip it down. But as has been said in the forum often, a lot of plots are run of the mill but it's what the author does with them that makes the difference.

    Edited to add, fortunately for us, the movies didn't come out until we'd finished the series.
     
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  13. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's very true, Ginger. I guess for me, there just wasn't enough added. But I shouldn't read YA. I always find it lacking and usually find the characters underdeveloped.
    And yeah, I wish the movies hadn't come out until after my son read the books -- I think that having seen the movies kind of sapped any real impetus to read the rest of the books to see what happened. So, I bought all the books for him, but I don't think the odds are good that they'll all get read. (I buy him tons of books, and he reads only a small fraction of them.)
     
  14. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    For those of you who think Harry Potter was poorly written, are there any YA books you think are written well?

    Maybe this is a topic for another thread, but it looks like a lot of people look at YA fiction as a restrictive genre. In a way, I understand where these people are coming from; there are no Joyces or Nabokovs to be found in YA literature. So should we then judge YA books differently than we do adult or more "literary" books?
     
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  15. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Probably yes. I haven't read enough YA to be able to point to any that I thought were exceptionally well written. I read The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor and Park and found them both to be okay. Also, The Hunger Games. I had similar issues with all of them. But teens/tweens aren't ready to deal with or in a position to understand some of the complexities of human relationships or deeper life considerations. So, I can't say that it's necessarily a bad thing that most of the YA books don't delve as deeply into characters or the human condition as I'd like. There's also the issue of simply the speed with which most young people read -- they simply don't have the same number of years of practice as older folks, and it would be a pretty big task for many of them to read something that's 150K words or more, or with very dense prose.

    I've encountered similar problems with novels for adults, but I judge them more harshly. I've read a couple that I thought would be more accurately categorized as YA, and I'd forgive their deficiencies had they been so categorized.
     
  16. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Good to hear of someone reading Potter, and it inspired them to read beyond it. :)

    Don't get the wrong idea. I don't hate Potter because it 'isn't classic literature' that is a stupid argument really. What I hate is that it isn't good literature, which is a totally different criticism, and worrying when Potter fans claim it is. Or, which I find weird, when they find it charming escapism - that I do not understand.

    50 Shades and Twilight are awful, but to me they are on the same level as Potter. To be honest, I have more kind things to say about Twilight ... or at least, less things to criticize about it.

    @thirdwind - The Fault in our Stars by John Green. It is very well written, good YA fiction. I also find The Hunger Games to be pretty decent, sure it is Battle Royale for teenagers, but I am willing to overlook that.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2014
  17. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    :confused:o_O:wtf::unsure::meh:

    :write:?
     
  18. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    It is likely because that series didn't go on as long to be honest. Stephanie Mayer can't write for toffee, and she also makes some baffling decisions with her writing too.
     
  19. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I read The Fault in Our Stars, it is actually a very well-written piece. :D That said, even that presents some logical issues that I don't fully understand. I guess not all books are free from logic flaws and jumps. Other than a few bumps, I actually liked it.

    There are things about Harry Potter that I'm willing to overlook purely because it's a YA fantasy series. Like the fact that Harry doesn't seem to know the basic ways of the magical world four books into the series (you'd think Hermione would sit him down and present him with a stack of books to read.) Or the fact that Harry is so good at his sport, there are actually people out there who are just so awesome at their skills, and Harry is no exception. I can get that.

    Though can I discuss Snape for a bit? Was his character really all that well developed? All I know is that he never stopped crushing over Lily and despised Harry because he reminded him of the love he could never have. Doesn't this kinda make him immature? I had a crush once, back in high school, and when I found out she was with another man, I somehow moved on and decided that maybe I just wasn't ready yet. Snape never did this. And what's more, he apparently didn't even bother to raise a finger to help his supposed crush when she was being attacked by Voldemort. I just don't really get this guy, to be honest.
     
  20. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    Oh, OK.
     
  21. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    It was revealed that Harry's dad bullied and humiliated Snape, so it was more than just not getting the girl. Harry experienced distress to learn his father wasn't perfect and had been a bully. Also, disliking Harry or not, Snape turns out to be working against Voldemort in the end. You don't know if he is a good guy or a bad guy until the end. He was a cleverly presented character, IMO.
     
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  22. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    What I never understood is how Voldemort, a powerful wizard, could be defeated by love. It's like he was allergic to that stuff.
     
  23. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Yeah, but - isn't Snape just a tad bit creepy? I actually didn't mind him, I liked the fact he got some depth in the end, but I just wanted to say to him 'Dude, get over it'. Snape has apparently not dated anyone since being rejected by Lilly Potter, a woman who when the series starts proper has been dead for around a decade.

    I mean, god man! Go to a bar! Meet some girls!
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2014
  24. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I know, it's almost insulting. If love were so powerful, it could kill a powerful villain, then why did they not do that the first time Voldemort started his crap? Just glomp onto the guy and sing 'I Love You' over and over until he's dead. This, of course, ignores the nasty implication that none of the other victims Voldemort claimed loved each other, or their love was just that strong. No, it was only the love of Lily to her son. What, Neville's parents didn't love him enough?

    It's also a slap to Voldemort as a character. He's supposed to be this nigh-unstoppable, demonstrably strong wizard, yet he's killed by love? In such a cheesy way? Yes, we've seen love defeat villains before, such as when Vader defeated Palpatine. But guess what? He had to actually kill Palpatine with his own hands! It wasn't like Palpatine shot Luke with his lightening bolts, and suddenly Luke's love deflects it so it bounces harmlessly off of him and fries Palpatine to a smoldering pile. Vader had to actually deice his love for Luke was stronger than his own hatred for himself, then move his burnt butt over to defeat Palpatine.

    I wager more than that. I don't know how old he is, but it's fairly certain he was crushing on Lily ever since their Hogwarts years. Think about it. He never had another girlfriend in that time, nursed that grudge against James for that same length of time, even bullying his son just for the abhorrent crime of being James' kid, and even in his dying moments, he wanted to look at Harry's eyes so he could likely see Lily again.

    Let me look into that bit. Hogwarts is effectively a warzone, Snape is slowly dying due to Nagini's poison (deliciously ironic, considering he was a potion's master and would have known how to produce an antidote for the poison.) He meets Harry and rather than tell the boy something, anything, that would help him put an end to this, he wants Harry to look at him so Snape could stare at his eyes. No death-speech you'd expect. Just "Let me look at your eyes." I'm sorry, but that is just creepy. He's staring into the eyes of a seventeen-year-old boy as if that boy were his long-lost crush. As if Harry were his mother.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2014
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  25. J.P.Clyde
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    J.P.Clyde Prince of Melancholy Contributor

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    When I was in elementary even before Harry Potter. I was reading my dad's old books. The Choose your Own Adventures, Goosebumps as well, I even read a couple of Conan the Barbarians. I was even reading Homer and Edgar Allan Poe, no joke. So I feel like this is a bit of a generalization.

    Thing is I probably have fond memories of Harry Potter because it was the only book that made me feel connected to my family. It was the only book that my sibling unit and female parental unit read too, and I had something to talk to them about for the first time in my life. Personally, as far as the books are concerned, they aren't that interesting. To be fair I like the movies a lot more and I have read the books about a bajillion times.

    Which goes back to my original statement. Harry Potter is just one of those its so bad its good. Which safe to say isn't Twilight, that's for another thread and that's just bad to be bad.
     

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