Originally Posted by NatCh
That's the thing that struck me so much about the series. My least favorite of them are Goblet of Fire
and Order of the Phoenix
, not because I find the stories uninteresting, but because Harry is so very angry
throughout most of them. I found myself thinking that he and Ron were being stupid at so many points in the story, then I realized that this was exactly
in line with the way kids that age behave. It was totally appropriate to the characters, even if it was uncomfortable to "watch" as the reader.
In that case I felt like the characterization was so good
that it made it difficult to enjoy the book -- not that I could put either of them down! I particularly found the long awaited explanation of Snape's motivations to be very satisfying. I felt like I finally understood
him as I had wanted to do for so very long.
Agreed on all points -- GoF was a little too close to reality for my comfort. OotP was actually easier to take -- though the business with Cho was nearly as squirmy as the whole Yule Ball debacle. I can handle anger more easily than Harry's ineptness in social situations. (And I don't handle anger at all well in real life, so that's saying something.)
I think Snape is the real hook to the series, personally, and I felt quite vindicated after reading the final book. (I remember telling a friend I was only going to watch the movies to see how Alan Rickman portrayed Snape, essentially, because I knew Rowling had favored his casting for the part and was probably feeding him extra info.) Rowling didn't invent the Byronic character, but she may be credited with having introduced him to a much younger group of readers than usual, at least in contemporary times. Usually characters in Western "children's" literature are very black and white. Snape stayed complex to the end. Even after the publication of the final book, people were still asking Rowling if Snape was a hero or not. And her answers were still not simple. I respect Rowling for that.
And whether reading HP books leads kids to read other "literature" (and I'm still waiting for a good definition of that word), they are
reading longer, more complicated fantasy books by Garth Nix, Jonathan Stroud, Tamora Pierce, etc. (And yes, probably Tolkien too.) I think there's evidence for a lasting effect on reading a wider variety and longer formats. That's good news.