August 24, 2007

Time Keeps On Slipping

It has been one hectic month. I really haven't been online much; maybe 30 minutes a day, and most of that spent on my other blog. The rest has been spent on utilitarian usage, like paying bills or googling a celebrity's name with the word "nude". A word of advice - don't do that with Keifer Sutherland. I needed to take a cheese grater to my brain to get rid of that image...

Seriously, this month has been spent in reading. More specifically three books. And yes, one of those was Harry Potter. I will admit, I think the series is a good read. The first two were formulaic, and virtually identical plot-wise. My favorite was the third. She broke out of the rut and really added several layers. Sirius Black was a character with great potential. I really thought she would have used him more. I hated the fifth book. It is the longest as well as most useless in moving the story along. If you haven't read it, I won't spoil it. To me, the plot was more about building Harry's strength of character and leadership, but was mired in several sub-plots. And the denouement was completely unsatisfying.
The sixth and seventh books should have come out as one, HUUGE volume. I started Deathly Hallows, but after about 100 pages I stopped and re-read Half-Blood Prince. In truth I had only read the sixth book once, and that was two years ago. Together they are a seamless read.
Deathly Hallows is really irritating. You know where the story is ultimately supposed to go. But, and this is a problem I have with any book that uses time as a factor in how the story is told, she has forced herself to tell the tale over the course of Harry's "Year 7". Too often in the first two-thirds of the story, the plot goes something like this: they try to figure out a course of action, argue about it and fight about it for a while, finally act on the plan, mayhem ensues, regroup and discuss/argue about the action, then try to figure out a new course of action. This happens at least three times. The problem with it is the time factor. They argue and discuss and fight for days or weeks at a time.
The last third is the opposite of what goes on before. Literally 500 pages and several months later, the pace picks up. The next 250 pages detail the events of one night. And a lot of stuff happens. Most are predictable if you have read the first six and follow the style of the writer. Too often a character is not what they appear to be, or not as they are portrayed to be. You know that there will be deaths, so you brace yourself for those to occur. You also know the overriding theme to the book, so you really should know what the outcome will be. I am not spoiling the ending. There are still a few twists as the story winds down that tie up some loose threads nicely. Even a few things that go back several books.

I know I'm rambling. But this is a unique accomplishment. The writer in me that longs for the one good story idea is blown away. Seven novels about a kid growing up with all the pressures a kid has to face, plus he can do magic. O, and the most evil wizard ever was not able to kill him, and will probably come back to finish the deed. And written so that the first couple seem purposely simple, just like a ten year old should be. Style-wise, she tells the tales from Harry's point of view. Very restrictive. You are only in Harry's head. You only experience the world as Harry sees it and thinks about it. (True, the beginnings of the later books start from outside of this perspective, but barely a hundred pages of several thousand fall into that.) And only one major theme to the whole story. Simple story telling, fleshed out characters, built on a solid "history". Brilliant.

1 comment:

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