While traveling recently, my wife brought along the final installment of the Harry Potter series. Having read all of the books (entirely as audio books) and watched the movies, I finally am ready to write a little bit about them. For a long time, I have heard Christians rail on the stories as being anti-God, demonic etc…. I have heard Christians proclaim that the books can be used to teach people about God (like others have done with the Lord of the Rings and Star Wars). I say they are both wrong.
Before I make comments on the series generally, I’d like to give a few observations about this specific book. For starters, Rowling did an excellent job of wrapping up the series and pulling together threads from the last few books. It would appear that the last half of the series had a much more coherent plot structure than the first couple of books. The ending was satisfying and conclusive. There were no loose ends hanging around that opened the door for a sequel.
On the flip side, there was more profanity in this book than the rest of the series combined. Rowling is no longer writing for children (her original audience is either in college or graduated now). This book has plenty of death and violence but that would fit with the nature of war. Overall, I enjoyed the conclusion to this series.
Some Christians have argued against the use of magic. I hope they also boycott the Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia for the sake of consistency. I don’t really understand that point of view and I probably only have one objection on that front. The Harry Potter books present magic in the hands of normal real-life children unlike other fantasy that sets the magical powers in a far flung world. There is a definite blurring of the edges between reality and fantasy in these books. I have been in the rooms of children and seen the Harry Potter craze; the materials encourage the children to practice “good” magic. Whatever. If children are believing this to be real, then there are other issues.
If I were to object to these books, it is because they encourage children to disobey, use profanity, and encourage general behaviors inconsistent with Christian character (think: revenge, anger, hate, theft, lying etc…). I will probably use them as training tools some day to teach my children about handling objectionable elements. But that’s me and I’ve got time before that becomes an issue so who knows? I could change my mind by then. 🙂 And those who try to use this to teach Christian values? Get your head screwed on straight. There is nothing Christian about these books. As there is nothing Christian about The Lord of the Rings.
One other negative. Rowling can’t write. Sorry. No offense meant, but she can’t. She has created excellent characters, a great plot line and an enjoyable “universe,” but that doesn’t mean she can write. Her books tend to drag along for large sections. In this book, Harry, Hermione, and Ron all sit around in a tent for months. Literally. Then occasionally, dumb luck would wander in and hand them clues to follow. After that, it was back to sitting around for weeks on end. (This goes on for chapters.) Her plots drag as if she were filling in words to make a bigger book that sells for a higher price. My wife and I were talking about Rowling and we’re not certain if she can transition to anything else. It will be interesting to see if she is successful at any new writing ventures.
Overall, I enjoyed the plot lines and would certainly recommend them to teenagers and adults. The creativeness of the stories make them worth reading. Rowling is certainly creative if she is anything. Still, there are plenty of reasons to object to the material included in these books. A parent should read them alongside their children if they choose to allow their kids to read them at all.
Your thoughts? Care to write a dissenting review?