Yeah, yeah I can hear the eyeballs rolling now. Of course this is a no-brainer. Of course Harry Potter is on a recommended titles list. Almost all of you out there have probably read at least one book in the series by now. It’s a favorite for good reason. I’m just going to state a few of those reasons here, and tell you why I recommend it.
The Harry Potter series predates the Twilight series by eight or nine years (depending on the UK or US publishing date). I mention Twilight only because it largely owes it’s success to the Harry Potter franchise. And that’s by no means an insult to Harry Potter. It opened the doors wide open, letting many authors through who otherwise would have had a more difficult time getting their work published. (Sometimes you can’t separate the wheat from the chaff. I’m grateful for all the good books it gave us.)
Before Harry Potter, many publishers were reluctant to take a chance on YA fiction. It was considered a niche market. I said in my first chapter review of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea that Twilight was the pioneer in YA paranormal romance. I want to make a distinction between that, and what Harry Potter accomplished. Rowling was the pioneer for YA in general. Before that most of the options were mostly, aim lower (at children) or figure out a way to make it more adult.
Harry Potter’s premise is relatively simple. The “chosen one” storyline is not really all that original, but it is what Rowling does with it that really makes this series great. Harry Potter is not a deconstruction per se, but unlike many magical boy narratives, it does make being the chosen one sound like it can really suck.
The story is well thought-out and it’s world-building is excellent. Its world-building is so good in fact that Rowling has been able to make a profit on selling school books that appeared in the text. Her world is that detailed and interesting.
The pacing is really good for the most part, and the story rarely drags. Overall her craft is good.
And the characters? Great as well. Our main leads are very believable, and its a lot of fun to see them grow and mature over the course of the series. More importantly, they have very real and human flaws which make appearances in the book regularly. It goes a long way in making them characters the reader can sympathize with. Even our secondary characters are great.
If I had one criticism of the series, it would have been the fact that she had the opportunity to flesh out Slytherins as a whole, and didn’t. With the exception of Slughorn, most of the Slytherin characters are thuggish, selfish, cowardly, or untrustworthy. Ambition doesn’t equal evil.
Overall though? I can’t complain. Harry Potter is a good read, and I highly recommend it. Ten out of ten.