Monday, July 18, 2005

read the new HARRY POTTER

Okay, so the latest volume of the highly repetitive boy wizard's exploits came out at a highly fortuitous time: while I'm stuck in flight school in GTA: SAN ANDREAS. As usual, Rowling's less-than-stellar prose style makes for a quick and easy read, and I had time to work a full shift on Saturday, go to a family barbecue on Sunday, and still have it finished for Monday morning. This is a good thing: it sets me in good stead to talk about the book at work with kids and MILFs alike. The book follows the exact formula of the others: a highly competent, twisty old school whodunnit in the Agatha Christie style, with a healthy dose of Mallory Towers style school drama, draped in the cloak of Joseph Campbell's The Hero's Journey.

After the genuinely great THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN, Rowling's next three have all promised much, but delivered considerably less than the hype and the expectation would demand. Her characters remain lovable, but GOBLET, ORDER and now THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE have all been a couple of great set-pieces floating in a miasma of place holding and exposition. Unlike most of the other novels this one really only adds one new concept to Potter lore, that of the horcruxes. I'll make a prediction for the seventh book: Harry himself is one of these items (I won't spoil tardy readers with too much explanation of this rather chilling concept). After the conclusions of all three of these later novels (always their most thrilling aspects), you're left with a feeling of escalation, that it's all going to kick off, that the many plot threads are going to have to start weaving together into an almighty war between the forces of good and evil. Instead, Rowling has put it off again, giving us another term of homework trauma, will-they-won't-they teen romance, and inter-house quidditch cups. This may have left the last in the series with too much to adequately contain. Here's hoping she foregoes the formula next time, and lets her cast finally cut loose. She's ran away from the logical conclusions her writings have suggested for too long.