by Gina Sestak
I usually blog about the many jobs I've held but today I happen to be between jobs, so I've decided to do something different.
When I say that I'm between jobs, I mean that literally. My last day of work on my old job was August 10. I'm due to start another on September 5. If I were a rational person, I would be using this free time to plan for my future. I would reassess my life and get my finances in order. I would clean my filthy house and trim the wild things growing in my yard. I would write.
Instead, I've spent the last few weeks reading and re-reading the Harry Potter series. I'd read the first six books before, but I read them again before reading the final book, just to make certain that I had the characters, locations, etc. straight. Then I read them all again. Now I'm going through and comparing scenes from the various books.
People who know me well know that I sometimes get mesmerized by a movie or book. I view or read it over and over again, trying to recognize and understand the techniques that went into its construction. This is my first obsession with a series.
Why Harry Potter? Well, for one thing, J.K. Rowling is a very good writer. There is an immediacy to her scenes that pulls the reader in, and whether Harry is eating unfamiliar candy on a train or walking into the forest to face almost certain death, you feel like you are with him.
J.K. Rowling is an imaginative writer. For sheer weirdness, I love the whomping willow. But as a writer, I adore the pensieve, a wonderful device that permits one character to enter into another's memory, showing what happened in the past. It sure beats any other flashback technique that I'm aware of, and it can be plugged into the storyline wherever discovering the remembered information will be most useful. It's brilliant! I wish I'd thought of it.
J.K. Rowling is a skillful writer. This is important, because the Harry Potter series is really a mystery. Think about it. An amateur sleuth (Harry) investigates a series of crimes that are tied in with the murder of his parents. With every book, he learns a little more about who was responsible and how things came to pass. Clues are planted so seamlessly that a reader sometimes doesn't realize their significance until several books later -- at least, I didn't. Think of Snape. [Don't worry. I'm not going to give away too much of the plot to those of you who haven't read the books yet.] Severus Snape is one of Harry's teachers and, almost from the beginning, Harry suspects that he's up to no good although other characters keep telling him that Snape is trustworthy. It isn't until the sixth and seventh books that we find out what Snape is really up to. And it's wonderful to realize, when the revelations come at last, that all the groundwork has been laid. It's just been hidden in plain sight.
Finally, I'm in awe of J.K. Rowling's skill in constructing seven long books that tell one cohesive story and contain so much real wisdom. This isn't one of those good guys vs. bad guys stories in which cardboard cut-outs get together for a battle. The characters are complex, with realistic motivations. And, in the end, the series tricks you into believing that maybe, just maybe, love can be stronger than evil.
So, OK, I'm now a J.K. Rowlings fan. What do you think of the Harry Potter books?