I was introduced to this wonderful series by my paternal uncle, who bought a copy of the Chamber of Secrets and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Skeptical though at first, a fictional universe where muggles co-existed with wizards surprised and delighted me. And predictably I was hooked on and bought the first 3 books while eagerly awaiting the release of subsequent books.
The Philosopher’s Stone is my top favorite of this Septology followed by The Deathly Hallows. While Hermione Granger became my favorite character initially owning to her wit, intelligence and practical sense, a re-read of the entire series in 2015 revised my opinion a bit. I found that I liked Harry Potter over Hermione as I noted the flaws in her character – overtly eager gestures to impress the teachers, the staunch obstinacy which she maintains when faced with unpleasant truth, and finally the patronizing tone she often employs while arguing with Harry and Ron. I felt these qualities overshadowed her cleverness, resourcefulness and quick-thinking.
I admired Harry Potter for his immense courage in the face of dangers which constantly shadow him, his ability to spring back when faced with setbacks and personal tragedies, his unwavering loyalty to Dumbledore who left him with a quest to unite the 3 hallows and most of all his ability to overcome the dark side. I felt Rowling’s magic of transitioning Harry (also the protagonist) from a scrawny, uncertain kid who is constantly bullied to a confident, wise and quick-witted character who finds the courage within to face a formidable and feared dark wizard such as Voldemort, quite keenly. Although the books give off an impression of being pure fiction, certain lessons such as choosing what is right vs the easy path, facing death and coming to terms with the loss of loved ones were recurrent throughout the storyline.
I loved The Philosopher’s Stone for the way the key characters were introduced to the readers along with the delights of the magical world, enjoyed The Chamber of Secrets due to Harry’s adventure with the mythical Basilisk not to mention his clues to unlocking the identity of Tom Riddle, liked The Prisoner of Azkaban and the Goblet of Fire for Harry’s friendship with Lupin and Sirius Black, and discovering the mystery behind his parents deaths not to mention Harry becoming a reluctant participant in the Tri-wizard Tournament. I didn’t enjoy The Order of Phoenix but then again enjoyed the Half-Blood Prince due to Professor Slughorn although I felt saddened by Dumbledore’s death. Finally, I loved reading The Deathly Hallows for all the delightful nuggets of information that help Harry defeat Voldemort.
Whether intentional or not, this series has left me with the thought that perhaps “Death is but the next big adventure”, reinforced through Dumbledore’s calm demeanor and certainty in the face of death in The Half-Blood Prince. A couple of family members including my paternal grand-mother and one of my maternal uncles passed away last year. Though saddened by their deaths, the thought that they might hopefully move on their next big adventure kept me strong.