Friday, January 11, 2013

HP and the Sorceror's Readalong 1: Sorceror's Stone-Induced Braincation

I'm trying really hard to have thoughts about THEMES and CHARACTERS and OWLS . . . but I'm drawing a total blank. And it's not because I'm not loving Harry Potter. It's because opening this book is like tying my brain to a fence post and letting it float in the warm breeze.

So we read Chapters 1 through 9. I think I remember them.

I know everyone is talking about the Dursleys and how they are terrible humans. It's true. They totally are. I was talking to Alice about this earlier today and thinking this seems to be a theme in children's lit, in particular. The first example that came to mind was Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events, where there is, in fact, a child-bride situation. WHAT is our fascination with torturing fictional children?

But as bad as everything about Harry's life at the Dursleys was, my heart of stone didn't melt until this:
Harry got slowly out of bed and started looking for socks. He found a pair under his bed and, after pulling a spider off one of them, put them on. Harry was used to spiders, because the cupboard under the stairs was full of them, and that was where he slept. (p. 19)
NO ONE should be accustomed to spiders. This is a travesty.

And later in that chapter, when Harry has that conversation with the snake, I decided that I prefer Book Snake to Movie Snake. Book Snake is cheekier.

Is it generally acknowledged that the characters in this first book are a little . . . one-dimensional? I mean, I know because of the movies that even the worst characters have some pretty interesting back stories to explain their naughties. And the good ones sometimes turn out not to be quite 100% good. But for now, it's very black and white. Lady Rowling probably did that on purpose didn't she? Fine. Whatever. We'll revisit this later.

NOTE OF SOME IMPORTANCE: When Tika heard that I was borrowing the series for this readalong, she stood on her dining room table and declared, THIS SHALL NOT STAND. And then she immediately mailed me her spare set. I love you, Tikaaaaa! *hugs all seven books*


  1. I am SO GLAD you are loving thiiiiis! And that Batman GIF is well-placed, madam.

  2. Maybe they always torture kids because young teens are always so grumpy and complainy and this emphasises how happy their lives are. Or perhaps writing for kids attracts sadists.

  3. I keep forgetting you have not read the books and YAY for loving them so far. But yeah the characters are very one-dimensional now which is probably because it's a kids book and kids books aren't big on nuance? I assume anyway.

  4. WELL Megs, they may APPEAR one dimensional, but actually....... I shan't tell you. But yeaaaaah, they are a bit like 'I'M BAD *smacks you in the face*' Apart from Hermione, who only SEEMS like a bit of an annoying annoyer.

    I do believe it's JK's first attempt at writing a book ever though, so... We'll let it slide.

    1. Agreed. The writing and characterization both improve substantially as the series progresses. We lose a bit of the whimsical narration though, so I guess it evens out. :[ I want it ALL.

  5. I'm so nuts about these books that I can't imagine there being a writing failure. And with the Developments that happen Later, it feels like the characters were never truly one dimensional. But they sure as heck read that way in this book.

    I'm so glad you're liking the books! And hey, woah, Tika is awesome.

  6. Awww, you now have your own set of books from Tikka? That's the best story ever.

    My moment with Harry/Dursleys came when Hagrid's already there and looking at Harry "with warmth and admiration" or something like that, and Harry feels ashamed because he thinks he doesn't deserve Hagrid's admiration, and that's when it hit me: in the ten years since his parents died, nobody has looked at Harry with love. Nobody.

    The characters get more interesting and complicated once we know more backstory for all of them: arguably it's the slytherins + dumbledore who have the most interesting stories of all.

  7. As IF there was ever any doubt. (There was a little doubt.)

  8. *I* keep forgetting it too! Especially with this first one, because I just went through the Pottermore chapters that they make you go through to get to the Sorting Hat. And once I started actually reading the book, it was like, "Hrm...this seems awfully familiar AND WHERE IS MY OWL?"

  9. I know, I know...revelations AWAIT. *sits on edge of seat*

    I was reading Chapter 10 out loud to Angel last night, and it struck me how very kid's-bookish it is when you hear it out loud. It's adorable.

  10. Well the first book in a series usually doesn't delve too much into the meat of the story I and world-building and all that. REGARDLESS, I'm thoroughly enjoying every moment.

  11. It was the BEST surprise mail I've gotten in a long time. Hurray for Internet friends...who happen to know where you live. *looks around nervously*

    THAT is a horrible moment. It really is a miracle Harry turned out as well as he did. He is...kind of like a hobbit. He has the perfect mix of personality traits to make him worthy of the burden he has to carry. BOOM. Lord of the Rings comparison.

  12. Ah I love Hagrid too! I mean, he was thoughtful enough to think of bringing Harry a birthday cake! And then he bought him an owl. And he gave Harry hope for the first time in his life that there was a whole other world waiting for him outside of his cupboard. I really hope my feelings towards Hagrid don't change as the books go on.

  13. When my husband was reading this series, he would get VISIBLY (and audibly) annoyed with Hagrid. But I can't foresee ever feeling anything but love for him. Because even when he's doing something stupid, he's doing it sort of adorably? And he ALWAYS means well. And he's so very beardy.

  14. This comment is really late but....

    Aww, I love that GIF of Ron. And I'm so glad you're enjoying HP so far!

    But still WTF at Sirius's mustache.

  15. I still haven't commented on half the posts, because I have to do it in SHIFTS or I don't get any work done.

    But seriously...Sirius's mustache.

  16. Definitely a children's lit theme. What makes this even terrible was that at least Dahl gave poor Matilda hope through her teacher and books early on. Poor Harry had to slum it out with eek!Spiders for TEN YEARS, ahhhh!

    I agree that all the characters are black and white, good children or nasty children, kind groundskeepers or evil teachers. But I do appreciate that the children grow up and struggle with gray areas as Rowling's writing matures as well.