Saturday, May 2, 2015
Christian Review: The Harry Potter Series
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When young Harry Potter finds out that he was born with magical powers, he is thrilled to leave his horrible home with his aunt and uncle and enter the marvelous world of wizards. But while Harry finds a new home and new friends at Hogwarts, the school for magical children, he soon discovers that not all is well and good. A powerful evil is rising, and Harry is destined to stop it.
For a long time, I held off reading the Harry Potter Series because of its heavy magical themes. However, I decided to read it because A) I am old enough to distinguish between good and bad literature, and B) I heard that it was really, really good.
So I went ahead and gave it a try. To my surprise, I ended up really enjoying it. It's a fun, adventurous read that can appeal to all ages- child, or adult. But before I start this review in earnest, I must first explain my policy on Magic in Fiction.
My Policy: Magic is a real phenomenon that exists in this world- but not in the way people would believe. I believe that people who claim to practice magic are utilizing demonic powers, whether they know it or not. Satan grants power to those who will follow him in order to draw them away from God. To tamper with such 'magic', or any of its symbols, is a dangerous and destructive path which should be avoided at all costs.
When the magic in a fictional world comes too close to what I know to be reality (such as drawing power from the Earth, and worshiping false gods etc), then I do not think the story is worth reading. That sort of fictional magic always feels dark and tainted. EXAMPLE: A Curse as Dark as Gold,
When the magic in a fictional world is nothing like reality, and is more like a fairy tale, then I don't have a problem with it. EXAMPLE: Howl's Moving Castle
That being said, those are the screens with which I read the Harry Potter Series. As I tell my family, I was reading on "High Alert Mode".
For the most part, I found the series to be innocent. The magic is quite unrealistic and feels completely fantastical. There was one exception in the third book, The Prisoner of Azkaban, in which there was a character who claimed to divine the future. The methods she uses I recognize as being methods that people have tried to use in our world. However, I did not mind this in the story because that character was shown to be a phony- her methods didn't work at all. It was made very clear that you cannot divine the future by doing those things. (That book also happens to be my favorite out of the series- so that should tell you that it wasn't so bad. :)
Now, to prevent myself from rambling through this entire blog post, let me organize my thoughts in my old format- pros and cons.
Some swearing, particularly by Ron Weasely, who's favorite sayings when things go bad is "Bloody H....". This is barely present in the first few books, but picks up in the last few.
Some of the books can be a bit scary, especially for younger readers. It's not too bad though. If you're a parent, you may wish to preview the later books before allowing your young ones to read.
If you or your family is offended by magic in fiction, then I would suggest that this is not the series for you. There is lots of magic used throughout. While I happen to think that the use of magic in this series is inconsequential, I know that some people are far more tempted by the idea of power than I. If you or your family know that you are inclined to be fascinated by Dark Arts or power, then don't read these books. Or if you do, keep in mind that you should never toy with things beyond your control. Rest in God's power instead.
I highly recommend the books rather than the movies, since the movies are significantly darker. . Books are always better. ;)
This series is very well written. I love the characters and the writing style, J.K. Rowling knows how to draw her readers in and keep their attention. The books range from being humorous, to heartrending, to infuriating (in a good way), to completely warm and fuzzy.
I liked it that Rowling did not favor her heroes over her villains. She gives all the characters, whether good or bad, proper attention. They're not flat, but very three dimensional, and that becomes evident as the books go on. You don't see that very often in children's stories- but here it is done very well.
My favorite part of the books, of course, was the characters. The heroes have their moments of being equally great, and stupid. And the antagonists have their moments of being completely despicable, and lovable. My particular favorite characters were Sirius Black and Severus Snape. I also liked Harry, though I wished I could slap him in the face from time to time. ;) Of course, I'd have done the same to Severus and Sirius, had I been there with them.
Would I recommend this series? Yes, though as with all magical books I recommend that they be read with caution. Like I said above, if you find yourself tempted by the idea of power and you think these books will be a stumbling block- then don't read it. You know your limitations. I will say that I have heard of people having the same struggles with The Chronicles of Narnia, so it really depends on the person.
I personally really enjoyed the series, and I shall shelve it as one of the great reads for teens. I would recommend it for ages 14 and up, though thirteen-year-olds could conceivably handle it as well.
Kudos to J.K. Rowling for writing such an enjoyable series! I tip my hat to you.
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