I hope I don’t invoke the ire of my fellow book bloggers when I bring up
this sensitive topic: how much Harry is too much Harry?
Phew, just getting that question out in the open makes me feel a little better already. It’s been weighing on me.
First and foremost, I love Harry Potter. Always.
I was lucky enough to be the perfect age for the first book: I was 11 when I received Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on publishing day from my gramma. I grew up with the series. I read every book on the release day and I re-read the series every year. I am a Potterhead of the most dedicated sort. When I moved to Thailand my family bought me all 7 ebooks and I re-read them all within the first month, starting on the plane ride over. It was the comfort so needed during a massive shift in my life; going back to those books is like spending time with an old friend, or visiting your family home.
Have I convinced you I’m a fan?
But, all that being said, I do question how much the continual release of new Harry Potter “information” is too much. Am I the only one? What about the next generation? Are we going to buy our kids all seven books and then say “Oh! Here are the movies, watch them but you’re only a true fan if you know the books are better. And don’t forget to dig through Pottermore for the rest of the stories! OH! And make sure you read through every Rowling tweet ever sent because there are some nuggets there too!!”?
I’m not saying I don’t read the new information when it’s released because I do. Just not as urgently and excitedly as I did before. I think it’s starting to get to be too much; I read it, but I’m still questioning it. For a series and a world that I’ve spent so much time happily immersed in, it’s starting to stress me out. It’s too much. I’m overwhelmed.
I don’t know any reader who wouldn’t want to share their favorite books with anyone who will listen, but Harry Potter has just become such a massive entity, it’s almost intimidating to jump in now if you weren’t there from the beginning. Is there ever going to be a time we aren’t constantly revising the canon? Note: I’m considering canon only information released by Rowling, I don’t mess with fan fic or anything that didn’t flow from her pen (see Cursed Child review below). But even just considering Rowling-blessed information, I know I can’t get through every detail found in interviews, documentaries, articles, tweets, and Rowling-affiliated sites. I love that Jo has spent so much time in this world and is so passionate about this thing she created. But she’s said before she isn’t writing any more books and that Harry is ready to go about his life in peace, and I’m okay with that. I think a lot of us are ready for that to happen. Yet additions to the canon keep coming. I know they aren’t new Harry stories, but this new information does change his universe a little bit at a time.
I started thinking about all of this because I just finished reading three new “Pottermore Presents” eBooks written by JK Rowling – Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable History, Short Stories from Hogwarts: Of Heroism, Hardship, and Dangerous Hobbies, and Short Stories from Hogwarts: Of Power, Politics, and Pesky Poltergeists.
They are just short little books, containing a few bios of characters we may not have learned that much about in the books, as well as background information on other various things that come up regularly in the series (Polyjuice potion, talking portraits, past Ministers, etc). Rowling tells us the story of McGonagall’s childhood, how Umbridge became so evil, how Dumbledore’s portrait became the way that it is, what the Hufflepuff common room looks like, and all about the last time someone tried to rid Hogwarts of Peeves. Interesting as always, especially Rowling’s short notes on how she developed these components of the story. I enjoyed the reads, how could I not? I always love to read about my favorite fictional world and Rowling’s voice will always feel magical.
Actually, it was the fact that these things were released in ebook form that made me read them, because if I’m being honest, Pottermore is so overwhelming to me (see above, I didn’t read these things as soon as they were released on the site). I feel like to be considered “dedicated to the fandom” I need to know every little inch of information written, but it’s just too much to keep track of and there is always some new hidden gem that, of course, I’ve missed! I love Harry’s world, but I’m just not sure how I can ever keep track of it all. I might be in the minority with this opinion since the information published was available for free on Pottermore, but I liked having everything together in one place and was happy to purchase the ebooks.
Up until this point in time, I was of the mindset that anything related to Harry I will own eventually, and probably sooner rather than later. Realistically, I am a fan and how can I let a Harry story be published and not purchase it? We all know what that’s like. I might be questioning how much is too much, but it’s like a drug I just can’t give up.
But what about things not written by Rowling? And yes, I am talking about the Cursed Child (click the link for my review). I obviously read the script immediately upon release and on page one I was the happiest girl on the planet. But by the time I had finished it for the second time in two days I was just disappointed, and I almost felt a little cheated. Of course, Rowling gave the story her blessing, but it was a story sans any of the magic she holds in her pen. And really, it was weird. Voldemort has a child? That means Voldy had sex!? Ew, no. And if we are really getting nitty gritty, how did anyone allow that sorting hat scene to be published? Everyone knows McGonagall brings the sorting hat out with the stool and calls last names in alpha order, why is it that hard to follow a process we’ve seen for seven books and movies? The sorting hat doesn’t “walk”
through the students at random.
In “Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable History”, Rowling talks about how at first she regretted opening the door to the problem of time travel, but then say she was able to “undo” it by having Hermione smash all the time turners in the Department of Mysteries. This is a great fact and makes a ton of sense. Rowling is fantastic like that, every detail is carefully thought out and there are no loose ends, you thoroughly understand the magic she created. So why did she allow the play to reopen that door? What was the point of tying up the storyline just to bring it back again, and in such a weird way? I can’t be the only one that felt like the Cursed Child was messy. Rowling is so deliberate throughout the books and one of the best parts of the series is how well the story ended and how you understood how every relationship and piece of magic fit together. Then Cursed Child kind of tore that all apart.
Of course, all Harry fans were waiting in line for the Cursed Child, a new story is a joyous day, but this was not the new story we wanted and we would’ve been better off without it. And now I will say, since it is a script, maybe it plays better on stage, but even still. I think this might be hitting the threshold of too much. I don’t consider this story to accurately represent the Potter-verse as Rowling’s created it.
What do you think? Do I call myself a purist and ignore anything that isn’t one of the seven books? Do I keep trying to keep up with Rowling’s various additions to the Harry canon and ignore all the other stuff? Or do I quit my day job and scour the internet constantly for all the Harry information my brain can handle? I thought by spending some time writing about this I would come up with an answer for myself, but nope. I don’t have one. Someone tell me where the line is!
Oh, and just to prove my point, Pottermore may be overwhelming, but I can’t give it up.
Here’s my Patronus. I can’t say I wasn’t a tad disappointed. I don’t see myself as squirrelly, but at least it’s a cute red one and not a dingy gray one. Maybe this little guy would be helpful in sending secret messages to my friends around the castle quickly and undetected.