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Tale of a late entrant to the Harry Potter fan club

I am (or rather I have lately turned into) a voracious reader. Rarely am I discretionary about what I am reading, though I do have a slight prejudice for well researched books that have a thread of history, a figment of realism running in the background. Which is probably why I had avoided Harry Potter books – even at the height of Pottermania during release of the 5th book last year. That was till my sister did the unthinkable – she gifted me the first Harry Potter book (Sorcerer’s Stone) on my birthday last year. Very grudgingly I started reading it, and even though I approached it with great deal of skepticism, I found it enjoyable; but not exceptional enough to prod me to buy the next book (Chamber of Secrets). After about six months, my sister struck again and handed me the second book. Now I had watched Chamber of Secrets the movie by then, but still reading the book was a pleasing experience, in fact, this time my curiosity had been piqued to an extent that I rushed to the nearest book store and brought the third book (Prisoners of Azkaban).

Prisoners of Azkaban turned the tide for me – I was engrossed, charmed or to put simply in love with the Harry Potter genre. Never before had I finished reading over 1700 pages of pure fantasy within a span of 4 days (I had picked the fourth book - Goblet of Fire with in a day of finishing the third). Such is the pull of these books, thanks to brilliant fast-paced narrative, that you are constantly on tenterhooks; flipping to next page eager to find out where the story would move. I already had the fifth book – Order of Phoenix – lying with me before I was done with fourth, but I had promised myself to preserve it for reading in plane on way to Shanghai (I kept in office all along!). I even pulled out last year’s summer issue of Time, which had the Harry Potter phenomenon as its cover story, to relive moments of excitement that shrouded the release of Order of Phoenix. Though not as impressive as book 3 and 4, it still was a very worthy read; and yes I am eager for the next installment. But even before that the next Harry Potter movie, based on book 3, is due on June 4th and I’ll be one the die-hard fans in queue for last show on first day (if not first).

So what makes Harry Potter books such a hit… There is nothing new as far as the story goes – it is the same Good (Harry Potter et. al.) verses Bad (Voldemort et. al.) story and perhaps this is what gives these books an almost universal appeal. The characterization is vivid and very detailed. The characters grow older with each book. The story line is very coherent through out the five books (spells Harry Potter learned in book one, would make appearance in book three with remarkable consistency), giving the older books re-read value each time the next volume comes. The plot in all the books has been engrossing – no less than a Alan Frust spy thriller.

My only grudge is that sometimes those Quidditch matches become so long-drawn out that they assume dreary proportions. Book three onwards is certainly not kid-stuff. I find the analogies drawn by Rowling a little rude, a tad offending at times – no matter how bad a teacher is, I wouldn’t ever compare him/her to a Dragonfly (especially because now we have a pathetic rock band which shares the same name ;-)). Perhaps I am overreacting, or perhaps its our cultural sensitivities that deem such similies for your teachers unfit, or may be its just touchy me!

Anyways, I am now through with all the five books and would not hesitate in recommending them to anyone. (Pick book three right away if you are really cynical). You know you are suffering from Pottermania when you conjure Patronus (Harry’s Patronus takes the shape of a Stag) in stains left by liquid detergent in your washroom…

Rude Harry Potter statement of the day: Coming out of long meetings makes me feel as if I have been kissed by a Dementor. (go read the third book to figure how it feels ;-)).

Note to self: Pick up Lord of the Rings after a month of some serious reading.

posted: 20.2.04

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