Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Weekly Geekly : A 28-Year-Old's Reaction to Readig Harry Potter For the First Time

This post has been a long time coming. I'm excited to be able to just dump everything out in one place and just have a whole Harry Potter crazy post. And I'm writing this as I sit and stream the live red carpet event from Diagon Alley in Universal Studios. So exciting!!
As I say in the title, I'm a 28-year-old who never read any of these books until this year. Honestly, I'm not even sure what made me want to read them. I came into 2014 wanting a new fandom and it was between Harry Potter and Doctor Who. Doctor Who is a lot to start with so I went with Harry Potter. I hadn't been reading as much as I wanted to so that solved that problem, plus so many of my friends were into it. I had gone up to Buffalo to visit my family over the Christmas holiday and my Aunt was telling me how good it was so decided that would be it. And I'm so glad that I did. I found my fandom home.
Overall, obviously I enjoyed the series. I thought the characters were well developed and the world was so clear cut. This was definitely one of those series that I come out of feeling so much less than ordinary. I now want to be a witch in the worst possible way! I enjoyed how as the characters grew up, the books became longer and more complicated. Not to say that any of these kids, especially Harry, is living a "normal" 11-year-old life but they aren't having as many thoughts, feelings or problems as they do in their 17-year-old lives.
I loved the idea of having a new Defense Against The Dark Arts professor in every book as you really got an interesting glimpse into how seriously different people took it, or how in denial about the severity of it. The professors definitely showed quite the range in that regard.
I also enjoyed and hated how true-to-life some of the situations with the ministry could be in them ignoring the problems or not listening to Harry because he's a child and apparently "crazy". The books, while certainly (and unfortunately) set in quite a fictional world, touched upon some very real world problems in policitics, education and general society faults. I think to have children reading these and understand these books would be a credit to our society and standing up to the outcasting of certain groups of people for whatever differences they may have, and to stand up to various injustices that are placed in front of them.
Overall, I also enjoy that every character in this book is strong. Whether strong in a good or bad way, they possess the strength to fight for themselves and to be loyal to the people they love. There was no damsel in distress, there was no boy that needed rescuing. Every character is a solid role model and each character, even as an adult, has something to teach.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I distinctly remember so much from this book and I remember having such a panic attack about Lupin. I would go into work and freak out to our receptionist Noelle, who had to endure my Harry Potter craziness, about how there was no way that Lupin wasn't going to end up being bad. I was so upset about it leading up to the end. And when he reached down and helped Sirius up and hugged him, I lost my mind. I vividly remember freaking out. And then as everything unfolded, I couldn't believe what I was reading. That twist was ridiculous. I mean, who would ever suspect Scabbers?! Ron's stupid rat was the villain all along. And then for Harry to have some hope that he would get to go live with Sirius and have a normal wizard life only to have it torn away. Heartbreaking. But what a great book. I was trying to tell either my mom or my boyfriend about it and words just couldn't describe the ending well enough. It was just such a crazy fun read.

As much as it tore me apart, I absolutely loved watching the final movie. I thought that the movies were weak at the beginning but got so good as the series went on. Given that I was reading the books and then watching the movie right after, I could easily point out everything that was wrong or missing, but since that final, epic battle had a whole movie, it was awesome. And it was amazing to see Neville get his due and be the awesome wizard that he is. I loved Mrs. Weasley even more than I already did and it really was just spectacular to see that whole battle play out in real life. The deaths were terrible to watch and I sobbed and ugly cried probably too hard but it was incredibly emotional. And Snape. Oh, Snape. Everything was just really well done in my opinion and I thoroughly enjoyed watching it.
Luna is so great, isn't she? From her first appearance in the books, I was just in love with her quirky, confident character. She doesn't care a lick about what anyone thinks of her or her family. She is the most comfortable in her skin of anyone and isn't afraid to talk to you about Nargles, even if you look at her like she has five heads. I thought she was brought to life so beautifully in the movies and the bond that formed between she and Harry was absolutely adorable. While I enjoyed the friendship he had with Hermione, I really thought that he and Luna had a special, different kind of friendship. Luna treated him like any other person and she rarely brought up the fact that he was "special". She was always just there to lend a hand or learn a little more or to just provide some support. I loved that she and Neville ended up together too. What a perfect couple!
Yes, I'm lumping them together because one wouldn't be as good without the other. I absolutely adored these two to pieces and I thought they were brilliantly brought to life in the movies. Their little one-liners, their crazy schemes, their final act at Hogwarts before leaving and opening that joke shop that would never work out was a nice dose of levity in what turned out to be a pretty heavy series. They were just perfect. Plus I think they had to have some of my favorite lines in the movies. Their subtly was what made them hysterical. The "just trying to ease the tension" and "morning" lines in the first Deathly Hollows movie crack me up every time.
I loved Snape from the start. I was leery of him throughout, but I always liked him. For whatever reason, he just cracked me up every time he would get on Harry and Ron or just make some snide remark. I just thought he was such a great character. Then to really see what he's been holding onto throughout the entire series, waterfalls of tears. His story just broke my heart - nay - shattered it. And then Alan Rickman. Wow. He brought him to life the best out of absolutely every single character. He's absolute perfection. Now that I know about all of what he went through, I'm excited to go back to the movies and just see his little things that he does. I'm sure if you're a fan you know this, but Alan Rickman had a secret from J.K. Rawling that he knew and no one else did. I'd have to imagine that it was the whole backstory but it may not be. Regardless, Snape was an amazing character and just such a great emotional journey. I absolutely adore him.
For whatever reason, right off the bat I loved Ron. He's adorable and the most lovable little guy when the books start off and then grows up to be someone that you just knew. Everyone had or has a friend like Ron. He was awkward yet charming; funny while not always meaning to; he was the runt of the litter of a lot of boys and had a ton of big shoes to fill in various capacities. And when he was brought onto the big screen, he was perfection. The faces that Rupert made, the mannerisms, the boyishness of him, the absolute stupidness he had with Hermione (that kiss = epic) was all just exactly how Ron should be. He was the perfect balance between Harry and Hermione and, with the exception of those few times where he got a little resentful of Harry (he's a hormonal teenager, it's allowed) he was an amazing friend.
As I'm sure you can probably guess from my worries in my favorite book and the name of my new kitten, Lupin is hands down, leaps and bounds my favorite character. Right from the start, his perpetual kindness lured me in and I just fell in love with his character. He has every right to be bitter and resentful. He, much like Harry, lost his "family" the same night that Harry did. James and presumably Peter died and Sirius was put away for apparently being responsible for both of their deaths, whether directly or roundabout. He, also like Harry, has a condition that alienates him from people. People judge him based upon his being a werewolf before getting to know the wonderful person inside. In fact, of all of the characters, I really feel as though he's the one who has the most in common with Harry. I feel like the two of them share a lot of the same pains and difficulties. Until the absolute end, he was a loyal, kind friend and fought for what he believed in, no matter what the cost. His relationship with Harry and the Order was a special one. He is a character who you really can learn so much from. He is wonderful and I love everything that he stands for.
I wasn't the biggest fan of Draco initially. I truly don't think that I even liked the Malfoys until I met Lucious, who was just so deliciously evil and snide. I think I liked him for the same reason that I liked Snape initially. Once I got to know the family bit more, I just really enjoyed them, oddly enough since I just love the Weasleys so very much and they're a little at odds with one another throughout the series. The movies only made me love Lucious and his family even more. His drawl is perfection and his initial confidence is enviable. I also have to give a nod to my love of the hug between Draco and Voldemort, which is a hysterical moment in a sea of sadness.
This saucy minx. I loved every single ounce of her sass and Maggie Smith was the best to bring her to life. Her going toe-to-toe with Umbridge was so good and her battling at the end to save Hogwarts was the absolute best. I just love her and she is the best kind of teacher and mentor a kid can hope for. There's so much that got cut of her in the movies, especially in Order of the Phoenix, but I just loved her to pieces from the time that we did have with her. All hail McGonagall!
I have so much more to say but it's getting late and I have so much to do still! Perhaps I'll have a part two next week.
What was your favorite Harry Potter book? Movie? Character? Let me know in the comments below!