I’ll admit it: I’m a Harry Potter fan. I think the books are well-written and entertaining. And I think the movies are extremely well done, faithful to the books in such a way to satisfactorily bring the author’s scenes to life.
I’ll admit this, too: I ordered the final Harry Potter book three months ago. I ordered it from Amazon.com with another item, chose free shipping, and waited. I wasn’t in a rush. I just wanted my collection complete. Amazon shipped the other item immediately and put my HP order on hold until it was time to ship it.
Last week, Amazon sent me an e-mail suggesting that I upgrade shipping so I’d get the book on its publication date. I wasn’t in a hurry to get the book so I ignored the e-mail.
Meanwhile, I was listening to the Slate Political Gabfast podcast. One of the staff mentioned that the audio books for Harry Potter were excellent. Since I didn’t remember much of the sixth Harry Potter book, I figured I’d try it as an audio book. I ordered it from Amazon.com. They gave me a free trial to Amazon Prime. Free 2-day shipping for a month (when I’ll cancel to avoid the outrageous $79 annual fee). I figured the audio book would arrive before the printed book. I could listen to book 6 and read book 7.
I got an e-mail from Amazon.com on Thursday to let me know that my HP book had shipped. I could expect it by July 26. Fine. I was in no hurry.
So imagine my surprise when I opened my mailbox yesterday — two days after being told the book had shipped — and the book was in there. On the publication date. With free shipping. And the darn thing had cost me less than $20 — about half the retail price. Not bad.
So now I faced a dilemma.: read the book right away or wait until after listening to the Book 6 audio, which still hadn’t arrived.
Yesterday afternoon, after a pleasant day Jeeping on dirt roads and an even more pleasant shower, I cracked open the 700+ page final book of the Harry Potter series. The reason I didn’t wait: I was afraid that someone would spoil it for me by telling me the end.
I was 1/3 finished when I went to bed at about 10 PM last night. This morning, I got right back into it with my breakfast. By 12:30 PM, I was finished.
I won’t tell the ending. In my opinion, anyone who does is a major-league asshole. That includes the people who ripped off copies before they were released and published them on the Web. It also includes the reviewers for the New York Times who released plot points in a review the day before the book was released.
I will say that the ending works. That’s it.
I think J.K. Rowling has done a fine job on this series. Although a lot of the books were a bit longer than they needed to be, I think that gave readers — especially those who can’t crank through a 700+ page book in 8 hours — more for their money. It helped them stay in the fantasy world of Harry Potter and his friends for just a little bit longer.
Is the whole Harry Potter thing worth the ridiculous hype? In my opinion, no.
But then again, in today’s world, people seem anxious to grab on to any hype they can. It’s better to latch on to Harry Potter’s struggle against evil than Paris Hilton’s short prison stay — or to stand in line for an iPhone.
As for that Book 6 Audio…I look forward to hearing it. If it’s half as good as the Slate podcaster claims, I’ll enjoy it immensely.