I don't think I'm the only one who fell into a slight funk at a few minutes past 2 a.m. last Friday morning. Along with the 4,800 other people who'd crammed into a sold-out multiplex, I'd just experienced Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.
The last Harry Potter movie represents the end of an era for the now-adults who grew up with Harry, Ron and Hermione. Countless newspaper articles have addressed these Harry Potter twins, like this recent piece in the New York Times, which tells the story of a girl whose self-imposed deadline to get a job after graduating from college was July 15, 2011--the day of the movie release.
As far as a critique of the film, I'll just say that I loved it--of course. The Battle of Hogwarts was just as thrilling as I'd imagined it would be; in my theater, Mrs. Weasley's revenge on Bellatrix Lestrange got the applause it deserved. The pace of the story was so fast that my hands were sore from being clenched by the end of it all. There were audible (and multiple) gasps--and tears--in the audience.
Since Harry Potter is on the mind of so many book lovers this week, I thought it might be fun for readers to share their Harry Potter stories. When did you discover the series? What is your favorite book? Favorite movie?
Or are you one of those people (who-shall-not-be-named) who don't get what the fuss is about?
I'll go first. My mother saw J.K. Rowling appear on a talk show (Rosie O'Donnell, I believe) sometime after Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone came out, and before I went off to summer camp in July 1999, she bought me the first two books in the series.
I was 12, and I knew it was love from the beginning (after devouring the books, I started thinking in a British accent and I wanted to be Hermione so bad). From that moment on, I went to every midnight book release party--with the exception of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which came out while I was a camp counselor. Everyone had the novel delivered--the most mail camp had gotten in a single day. The entire camp nearly shut down as countless girls skipped activities to read about Harry, and counselors and campers alike sneaked out of their cabins at night to have secret book meetings. We made t-shirts that said, "I solemnly swear I am up to no good."
I could go on, but instead I'll let you share: Why do you love Harry Potter?
This morning, J.K. Rowling announced some details about her new Pottermore website.
You can watch the announcement below, in which Rowling states that Pottermore will provide a digital reading experience for fans of all ages. It will also be the "exclusive place to purchase digital audiobooks and, for the first time, e-books of the Harry Potter series." (Rowling also said that she will share additional information about the Potter world that she's been "hoarding for years." Yes, please!)
The site will officially launch in October, but right now there's a message on the homepage that says readers can come back on July 31* for a chance to enter Pottermore early.
Self-publishing expert J.A. Konrath has already written a blog post about Rowling's decision to release her books through her own e-bookstore. He writes: "Naturally, I think she's brilliant for making this self-pubbing move. She'll be the first superstar to do so, and others will no doubt follow suit."
It's unclear how high Rowling's profit margin will be, or even if this can technically be called self-publishing—Scholastic is a "key partner in the Pottermore project."
Still, readers have waited a long time to read the Harry Potter series on their e-reading devices, and I'm excited to see the extra features on the site. There are some cool screen shots in the Pottermore press room, like this one:
*Harry Potter's birthday, naturally.
I'm a veteran of HP midnight screenings, and last night's activities did not disappoint. Wand-carrying, cape-wearing, lightning-bolt-sporting fans were out in large numbers to pack the several theaters showing the movie after midnight.
As usual, the crowd cheered the second John Williams' iconic theme started playing . . . and then the action kicked off and didn't slow down for two and a half hours.
If you're going to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I, you probably know where the plot is heading—although I won't write any spoilers. Suffice it to say that Harry, Ron and Hermione's quest seems bleaker and lonelier than ever as they search for the mysterious horcruxes, away from Hogwarts for the duration of the movie, constantly on the run from Death Eaters. I saw the movie with BookPage Web Editor Trisha along with contributors Stephenie Harrison and Tony Kuehn, and everyone agreed that the suspense in this movie was constant and effective. In this final (well, final—part I) chapter of the Harry Potter saga, Harry and his friends are almost completely self-reliant as they seek to destroy Voldemort. Although there's very little of the charming, happy scenes of wizarding life that I loved from the previous books and movies (scenes at the Burrow or in the classroom, for example), there are moments of humor, if not lightness—although I can't imagine a young child watching this scary adaptation.
I was always skeptical of how the two-part movie would split, but director David Yates (also the director of Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince) chose a natural spot. It's a cliff-hanger, but I don't think viewers will walk away unsatisfied.
Part II of the finale will not be released until July, which gives everyone plenty of time to re-read the entire series before the on-screen farewell. Did anyone brave the midnight showing? What'd you think?
Also on The Book Case: Watch a trailer for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Scholastic • $34.99 • Originally published July 21, 2007
It feels like yesterday that I was waiting in line at a bookstore in New York City—at midnight—about to explode with excitement over the publication of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. (It seems like I can track my childhood in terms of where I was when I bought the Harry Potter books. Like, the time when I had one overnighted to rural Tennessee so I could read it at summer camp. Or the time I made my parents pull over to a Books-a-Million in Hattiesburg, MS, so I could read the latest Harry Potter en route to Florida on a family vacation.)
If you don't know what Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is about, then you probably have no interest in the series at all, because there's no way you could read earlier books and not make it to #7, in which Harry continues on his quest to find the final horcruxes and destroy Lord Voldemort once and for all.
I'm always shocked when I meet people who didn't read Harry Potter when it was coming out (especially people who are now in their '20s or '30s—wasn't everybody you knew reading it?). The Harry Potter series is fantastic. Even if you have never liked fantasy or children's/YA books, I'd encourage any person of any age to start the series. Forget about reading them because they're popular, or because the movie is coming out this week (woo-hoo!). Read them because J.K. Rowling's world building and character development is so detailed and alive that these stories will truly stick with you forever.
Here's a short excerpt from Deathly Hallows:
I had proven, as a very young man, that power was my weakness and my temptation. It is a curious thing, Harry, but perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. Those who, like you, have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, and find to their own surprise that they wear it well.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at the Universal Orlando resort officially opens tomorrow. And though I've never been to Disneyland or Walt Disney World in my life—and I've never even been tempted to visit Universal Studios (the lines! the pricey souvenirs!) . . . after reading New York Times reporter Neil Genzlinger's report on the Potter-themed amusement park, all I want to do is apparate down to Florida.
The art director for the park is Alan Gilmore, who also worked as Art Director for the Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire films. And if Genzlinger's article (and accompanying video) is any indication, the park's effect is quite magical. Ollivanders, the Three Broomsticks, the Hog's Head, even Dervish & Banges . . . it's all there.
I don't know about you Potterheads, but as far as I'm concerned November 19 cannot come soon enough (the release date of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1).
Will anyone be checking out the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando?
By now, many of you probably know that on Monday, at the White House Easter Egg Roll, J.K. Rowling did a reading from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The big news from the event is that, when asked if she plans to publish another book any time soon, Rowling responded, "I'm quite sure in the not-too-distant future, I will bring out another book". According to CNN, she did not rule out the possibility of "another 'Potter'-themed novel somewhere down the line."
Potter fans: What is your preference—would you rather Rowling write another Potter book, or is the series wonderful enough as is? Would you like to see something completely different from the beloved author?