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The Quibbler

14 Sep 11 | Re: Nit-picking children’s fiction

Having seen Deathly Hallows Part II (quite good), I’ve been re-reading the popular “Harry Potter” series of children’s books. For the most part, I think they’re great. In fact, I think they are quite deserving of their success and will be children’s classics for generations. However, I have a very few complaints, which I am going to list here. Please do take them in the spirit in which they’re intended: the fact that there are so few is meant to show how much I like the books. But they still get on my nerves.

  1. Why so many rhetorical questions? All through all the books, JK Rowling in her capacity as narrator is asking the reader questions, questions, questions. Things like “Did anyone really want Harry dead?” or “Did Sirius mean what he thought he meant?” or even just ”What was going on?” As a reader, if I want to wonder something, I’ll wonder it without the author telling me to wonder it, thank you very much. All of these questions, without exception, could have been cut and the books would have been improved. (Actually I have mentioned this complaint before.)
  2. Dumbledore breaking the Aslan rule. In The Voyage of the Dawntreader, Lucy casts a spell to make hidden things visible, and to her surprise Aslan appears. He explains by saying “Do you expect me to break my own rules?” This is good: it’s all very well having an all-powerful guardian angel-type character looking after the goodies, but there have to be some limits on what they can do or else there’s no jeopardy. Yet Dumbledore blithely apparates in and out of Hogwarts, which no one can do, with no explanation at all. Rowling is great at avoiding ad hoc explanations or saying ‘it just does, OK?’, but she succumbs to that here.
  3. Ginny Weasley. How Harry gravitates towards that drip is beyond me. She goes from hero-worshipping him to being saved by him to just sort of being around, and then crash-bang-wallop they’re an item. He would have been far better off with Cho Chang or some Hufflepuff or battling it out with Ron for Hermione’s affections. I genuinely think there is more chemistry between Harry and Molly Weasley than him and Ginny. Some crackling tension there, but it comes to nothing, as it probably ought to. But still: Ginny! The very idea!

That’s all, though. I used to complain about quidditch being a silly sport until I realised that it acts as a microcosm of the whole series, since the outcome depends on a search for a small object that renders the success or failure of all the minor characters almost entirely futile, despite furious efforts. So it’s quite clever in that regard, though it still wouldn’t work as a sport.

Posted by JEFF SLADE at 08:08

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