Sunday, August 12, 2007

Book Reviews: Harry Potter 7 & The Book of Lost Things

Book Reviews: HP7 and The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly.

First off, let me say that I loved the whole Harry Potter series, although there were some books that were better than others, as any book series would be. The seventh book is not my absolute favorite (that would be 4 and 6), but it is not the worst, either (5). The last book, is, however, the spring to complete the philosophical nature of the books, and bring together a mythos that rivals the best of English Literature or American Movies. I will defer the actual review to Orson Scott Card, who I mostly agree with. The interesting thing about his review is that he starts off by describing how and where he read it. I think this important, because there are very few books that can universally be described in this fashion. I can recall where I was reading Sorrows of Young Werther, but that's just because it was an epiphany of Romantic thought inside my conscious mind. Or Lord of the Rings, and that is probably one of the few book(s) that can be talked about universally in this fashion. Nor can any book be compared to movie premieres like Rowling's works have been with the decorations, the fanfare that comes with the release of each one. My Leaky Cauldron sign has gone home with me, one that I used for three release parties, as well as my grandmothers 1850's rice kettle and my big blue stuffed snake. Rarely does a book have a significant effect on the countries' economy as HP has done. The movie industry was hurt because everyone spent money and time on the book rather than going out to see a movie. It is significant to see the way that a book effects everyone's lives outside of the book itself to realize just how important and amazing it is.

As for the book itself, the seventh volume, the philosophical, moral, literary arguments have already been made. I find it ironic that the themes of the last book are almost Christian in nature, which would surprise a lot of people that are trying to keep the books from school libraries. Of course, the ironic thing is that the movie that's coming out this December, the Golden Compass, was written by Philip Pullman, a well known atheist, whose last book is spent making God the bad guy. .But most of those arguments are spelled out more clearly on OSC's website, which I gave the addresses for in the last blog entry.


I want to go more in depth in reviewing John Connolly's The Book of Lost Things.Think of Hemingway writing a fairy tale, and add the bluntness of Koontz or King. Sparsity of description, vagueness of color in the land of Faerie, which, by necessity must be vague. The novel is an amazing addition to Ende's Neverending Story or King's Eyes of the Dragon. Perhaps the most intriguing parts of the book are the stories in which Connolly takes the original Grimm or Andersen fairy tales, or tales from mythology, and twists them into horrible, although strangely realistic, tales that, for some reason, fascinate David, the protagonist. The coming of age tale, the Bildungsroman, also blends into this novel, recalling Tolkien's Hobbit or many of Orson Scott Card's works. You feel sympathetic or repulsed by each character in the tale, and this is significant, because Connolly uses little description or dialogue by which to establish reader emotions. You identify with the characters because of a priori knowledge, or in other words, the characters are real because we have encountered them many times before, in stories and in our own real lives. The Crooked Man could be Mephistopheles, or Satan, or Rumpelstiltskin, or the villain of King's The Stand. There are characters representing the stepmother, the oppressed worker, the hopeless Romantic, the societal outcast, etc... amazing story-writing, and I agree with him in one the interviews he gave on his web site that this should be a stand alone book, without sequels, because it is one story among many in the land of Faerie, and that David's story is told to the fullest, and needs no follow up. I read this book right after HP7, and it was the perfect "rebound" book, as it were, with no "series commitment" to be made, but a deep and thought-provoking novel that kept it from falling flat after J.K. Rowling's tome.

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