When I tell this to people, I am met with three reactions:
- WHAT? Oh my God, that’s insane. It’s so good! (Then they will proceed to say why they love it so much. Or, if in a group of people, they will discuss their favourite moments and characters, which goes right over my head.)
- Yeah, I hate Harry Potter too. So overrated. (When I remind them that I don’t hate it, since I haven’t read it, they will sheepishly change the subject.)
- FINALLY! God, I thought I was the only one.
It’s this last response that interests me the most. Because I feel it too.
When a hype train such as Harry Potter – a train which has officially been rolling for twenty years today – fails to pick you up, you can’t help but feel abandoned on the platform.
Don’t misunderstand: I admire Harry Potter for what it has done to a generation of readers. When I went into seminars at university, you couldn’t last a lesson without someone bringing it up as an example.
It is the one book franchise which gets everyone talking – the one which brings stars to people’s eyes, skulls and crossbones to others.
The story of J.K Rowling’s rise to success is one which tears apart my heart strings whenever I read it (and, if you haven’t, I really recommend Very Good Lives which is an illustrated print of her speech to Harvard students. A bloody brilliant read. )
But I’m sorry. The premise of Harry Potter just doesn’t interest me. Wizards and schools, dark magic, magic wands, three best friends on a magical adventure. Meh.
Not to mention that, thanks to the movies and tumblr, I already know how the whole series ends. I know who dies, who lives, who gets what girl and how. It’s like giving someone all the answers to the test, then expecting them to sweat when you hand them the paper. If I know what’s going to happen, in that much detail, it really turns me off.
I know I am oversimplifying – I know the story has much more depth and detail than I have been able to deduce, and I know that I am painting a red target on my head by saying I’m not into it.
But it’s true. I have never read Harry Potter. And, at this moment in my life, I don’t want to.
I’m sure the characters and story are fantastic – and if you like them, good for you! But as we celebrate this monumental franchise today, don’t forget to include those who might have missed the hype train.
Take their opinions of the movies seriously.
Try and ask them about books they enjoyed instead of Harry Potter, and watch their faces light up in glee.
If Harry Potter has done one thing these past twenty years, it’s bring readers together. Let’s not use it to tear readers apart.