Monday, July 30, 2007

It was a very Harry Potter weekend at my house this weekend. My girlfriend was away on a river rafting trip so I spent a good chunk of the weekend re-reading Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince and starting on the latest one. Then after she got home, we decided to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

I remembered liking the penultimate book quite a lot when I read it two years ago and re-reading it was also a pleasant experience. The previous book, Order of the Phoenix, is the weakest of the set and I was happy at the time to see that Rowling had recovered from it nicely. In particular, it seemed that she had recovered from one syndrome that many very successful authors fall into - excessive length. Half-blood Prince is a much tighter edited book than Order of the Phoenix, coming in at around two thirds the word count.

I think that Order of the Phoenix also suffered due to Harry spending a good portion of the book out of the loop of what is really going on, simply an outsider trying to figure out what is happening and going through internal turmoil at the same time. Page after page of Harry struggling with his anger and angst while being treated as a pariah made for some hard reading. One of the few bright parts were the sections about Dumbledore's Army where Harry gets to take an active role again.

Some of these problems are minimized in the new movie version, since Harry's internal struggles don't take up as much screen time they don't seem so burdensome. The new movie is quite good but like the movie version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, it does struggle with trying to pack the action of a huge book (nearly 260 thousand words) into a reasonable length movie. And since a lot of the later books/movies build on earlier events, very little can be cut out whole sale. The result is that many of the beats in the new movie feel under-developed or short changed and the overall film feels quite jumpy.

I'm about 100 pages from finishing the latest book so a post about it should appear here tomorrow.

Amazon Links:

Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - DVD

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