The shortest explanation I can give is a quote from one of my favourite books, which someone added pretty spot-on gifs to, so it would be a shame not to share it ^^ (*I take no credit)
"It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo.
The ones that really mattered.
Full of darkness and danger they were.
And sometimes you didn't want to know the end.
Because how could the end be happy?
How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened?
But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow.
Even darkness must pass.
A new day will come.
And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer.
Those were the stories that stayed with you.
That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why.
But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now.
Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back,
only they didn't.
they kept going
Because they were holding on to something...
There's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo.
And it's worth fighting for."
How can I review it? SO. MANY. FEELS. *sobs* I'm not going to get over those deaths. WHY? Why would J.K. Rowling kill my absolute favourite characters?! That's just evil.
First we lose Hedwig
the most underrated owl ever. Harry doesn't treat her well and yet this amazing ball of fluff is so fateful! So loving! Harry, you bastard, how could you lose her! I knew it can't bode well for the rest of the book. I didn't mind Dumbledore dying, didn't love the guy, but Hedwig? That's different. Shit got real.
And we also lose Lupin and Tonks, which is very sad. Why not McGonagall? Or Hagrid? Or Hermione? Or Ron? Or Harry? I would be fine with Harry dying... Not that I dislike those characters, I love them (McGonagall is my hero) but their death wouldn't hurt as much.
But that was nothing, because we lose... Fred. FRED?! WHYYYYYYYY! F&G were the only characters I was certain I can't bare to lose. I just can't . I'm not getting over it. Ever. I'm totally not ok with this one and intend to boycott it in my imagination. Those are my favourite characters, the best thing about HP books.
What did they say about exams? That they're nightmare. But only if you care about results, so they've managed just fine without a nervous breakdown XD
And let's not forget that 'everything is possible if you've got enough nerve'. I love the way they deal with situations ^^
Why is HP that popular? My quick guide to understanding the hype:
- people grew up with those characters. There are many series for children, but usually we don't see the characters grow up, not to mention doing it at the same rate as we do ;) The series changed with every book, and we changed with it. That is an unforgettable experience.
- magic - who doesn't love it. Rowling created a captivating, well thought out world that's intermingled with our reality. THAT is epic.
- amazing worldbuilding
- the writing - no info-dumping; a whole lot of showing, very little telling. It's what people do that tells us who they are.
- characters aren't black and white, people are far more complex than that
- characters change - I love this fact. I love that when Harry's a kid he gets trough things thanks to luck and courage, not some amazing abilities. I love that he's not perfect, that he turns into a total pain in the ass when he's 15. I like all this growing and changing of characters that aren't perfect at any point.
- characters are very distinct and varied. There are many kinds of good and bad people.
- Harry isn't s special snowflake. Moreover, he doesn't become a special snowflake at any point. Even at the end he's not the smartest, not the strongest, doesn't have amazing self control... He just got into this mess and has to deal with it - no special, unique powers included. I can't tell you how much I value it.
- the gravitas of what life and death truly mean (killing is hard and that it should be, we're talking about people here!)
- equality - it wasn't Samuel Colt that made man and woman equal, it was J. K. Rowling. It truly doesn't matter whether you're a man or a woman, in this magical world all limitations of the sexes are irrelevant. Isn't that an attractive prospect?
- humour (no additional comment needed, those books make me smile)
- mixture of different elements in each book without focusing too much on one thing. Some introspection, some action, a few jokes, danger, tragedy, success, triumph over evil... Mixture of an adventure story/ coming of age/ slice of life. So. freaking. perfect.
- how amazingly gradual a shift between those 7 books is. It's a masterpiece. I don't even know how it was possible.
- Slytherin isn't pure evil. Even though some of them are bad, mostly they're cunning and practical. They're redeemed by the person of Snape and Slughorn, who stays to fight Voldemort.
- what comes out of people in times of great need. Trelowny fights. Centaurs fight. Who stays, who does what, it's amazing.
Are there no faults to it? Of course there are! Especially the first books have many severe plot holes! We all know that, we admit it. It's not perfection of each book that captivated us, it's this amazing world we grew up with, that we escaped to in our thoughts whenever needed, it's the 7 year long ride that, when it all ended, kind of broke our hearts a bit. It's those ever changing characters that we learn to view on more and more levels. It's this wonderful school full of mystery and mischief. It's the gradual worldbuilding that has us crave more and more. And, first and foremost, it's the pure fun of the idea, that magic could be just around the corner ;)
Characters that are vivid and real, so a few more words about them for the patient ones:
Dumbledore wasn't a typical wise sage; he was truly human (with his misjudgements, secretiveness and difficult past). Hundreds book later I can much more appreciate how unique this is. He's not a failure, not a liar, not a splitting image of perfection. He's just... a person. And it makes me all warm and fuzzy.
McGonagall is scary, severe, but has this compassionate side that makes you melt. She's emotional, truly devotes herself to whatever she deems worth (her students, the Order, Griffindor... Didn't you smile hearing how proud she was from the achievements of her house?) And at the same time she's fair.
Snape? Do I even have to tell you? He isn't a good guy - he's an asshole with serious anger management problems.
Does he love Lily? Yes and no, he's kind of obsessed, but she always represented something good in his life. It's not empty. Is he, as a young man, compassionate at all? Pff, nope. Does he change completely? NO! He hates Harry! To the very end! He's not angry abut the boy dying, but about feeling cheated out of his purpose in life! Something he was holding on to. Or is he? We never truly know! This is one of the most wonderfully complex characters I've ever encountered. You kind of hate him, but also admire his determination and dedication. Not to mention - you feel sorry for him, sorry for a boy that grew emotionally far, far too late. But in his twisted way he cared, he cared about the Order of the Phoenix, he cared about Dumbledore, he cared about the difference between right and wrong (after years of growing and changing, but still, he got there). What he did... It's beyond comprehension. Harry was ready to die, but before that he had lived. People knew him, loved him. Snape gave up EVERYTHING, ended up alone and despised, carrying great responsibility on his shoulders. I hope the extent of Snape's sacrifice was appreciated in the end. I really do.
Lupin? That one has serious self esteem problems! But he's kind, carrying, ashamed about his past, when he failed Dumbledore's trust, when he didn't stop James and Sirius from crossing the boundaries between a joke and cruelty. It matters. It matters he's afraid of what's coming, of having family, of responsibility. It matters he had his own faults as a young man - because in HP nobody is, or ever was, perfect. Those books are about learning to accept that, about never ceasing to grow. We all have our faults, they may vary in nature, but are unavoidable.
Weasleys - my favourite family ^^ Even though Molly and Artur aren't around much the family seems real and worm. No cardboard copies here. Dynamics of this family are fascinating. I could write an entire post about how amazing they all are. The love and respect for their parents. Fear of mother's rage ;) Love for kids, that you don't want to let go of... *sigh*
Luna - this one is interesting. So different, so weird. Because weird she most definitely is. And sometimes it's awkward. But she's also loyal and has a unique air about herself. I think she's the one most independent from what others think; she's in tune with death and takes life calmly, knows how to keep things in perspective.
Neville? That one is beyond words. I think there's a bit of Neville living in each one of us. He's a true underdog of the story. He's scared, full of doubts, doesn't believe in himself, tries to meet the expectations of family and teachers, but always falls short. He can never quite measure up. Always insecure, always struggling. And yet he knows the difference between right and wrong and is willing to fight for it. He knows who he is, who he wants to be. He finds his strength, he finds passion, he finds what he's good at and makes friends. The way he wasn't willing to compromise and stood up to his friends (after risking first a lot to warn them) is commendable. That is something Lupin didn't know how to do. He's got what young Dumbledor was missing. Ron, George, Harry... they all lose the sight of their goal upon witnessing death and tragedy. What does Neville do? What Harry asked him to. He stands up to Voldemort and in this precarious situation, with a burning hat on his head, when he's about to die, he kills the snake. He decides to do what Harry asked him to do even if it's the last thing he'll do in his life, even though he has no idea why was it important at all. Harry wanted to know, needed to know 'why'? He felt entitled to this knowledge.The more I think about Neville the more I love and admire him.
Ron - I'll try not to say much. This one is easy to miss. His a definition of not being special, not the funniest, not the smartest, not the most talented, not the sportsmen, not the handsome one... He's got nothing that could let him outshine his brothers or Harry and Hermione. That is hard. That is a very difficult situation to be in. He's pure and has a heart in a right place, but struggles with managing his emotions. That's hard. You can't change the way you feel, even if you don't like it. I always feel sorry for him and admire the way he perseveres. I think Rowling planned him this way. I think so because of how he reacts to the horcrux. The thing that makes him special is that he's not. He's not, and in the light of that he makes the choices he makes.
Hermione - I love the fact that those books clearly show a popular bias: boys prefer to be friends with other boys. She's not as close to Ron and Harry as they're to each other. I like the fact they weren't friends from day one. I like that Hermione lectures them, threatenst to tell the teacher, tells McGonagall when Harry got a broom... She's not co-dependent on them. Ron is much more clingy, she tries to stand on her own. Not in a courageous way, like Neveille, but she has a strong sense of morality and isn't afraid to voice it. Some may say she's annoying, she's not much fun, but they wouldn't have survived without her. In a strange way she fits with the boys. Their differences make it work in a long-run, probably because they don't require her to change. She'd never quite fit in with the girls with that kind of attitude.
Harry - can we skip him? I really don't feel like talking about it... Too much pressure. Too much to say. He's as far away from being special or perfect as can be; he was a good main character.
Hagrid, Sirius and other characters deserve a mentioning too, but then I'd have to punish myself for making anyone read so much of my bullshit ;) All I'll say is that this time around I grew to love Dobby.
I also planned to bitch about the ending of the book... But let's live it alone. I'm still not happy with it (even though it's a nice parallel, you know, Harry's journey began on this platform and now the circle closes...). In a book it may somehow work, but the movie fucked it up completely. They had it, they had Harry break the wand (which doesn't happen in the book) and that was a PERFECT ending! Lovely camera shot, emotional moment... And then they did this horrible scene...
Which is a pity, because that's one of the few things the last movie got right. Would it hurt if Harry said Neville to kill the snake? You know, as he was leaving, after talking to Ron and Herione? And than Neville would kill it like in a book? That was pretty much perfect, why change it? Seriously, I have a love-hate relationship with the movies. I love them, but at the same time hate some things about them (like Lupin, gee, who designed that character?)
I want more books about Harry and his friends. I don't care about trifling with a sensitive balance in the universe of the series. I don't. I want more. A lot. More. And no logical arguments will persuade me 'it's a bad idea'.
It's over. And I feel empty. Hogwarts it truly my home. This story is a precious part of me, as real as any other experience that shaped me.