Friday, July 22, 2005
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Print
Pirated copies of the latest Harry Potter are all over the city. Funny thing is, I haven't seen anyone carrying one around. Except for the boys selling them at signals.
Now surely at 300 bucks (less than half the price at bookstores - even after 'discount') there must be enough takers. Only, they're quietly reading the cheapie copies at home, while those with the original hardbound version are busy flaunting it.
Yes, despite the fact that the 600 + page book is hardly 'portable' I've seen folks hanging onto it in the bus and train. A fan in my office lugs it to and fro everyday. And last night at the local mall I spotted one with the salesgirl manning the juice counter... Jai Harry Potter!
As for me, well, I did devour it on the first day itself. But I didn't feel like writing about it. I mean, whether it's a 'good' book or not is really a technical point. If you've read the first five books you ARE going to read the sixth one - no matter what.
In a nutshell, Book no 6 is much more interesting than no 5 - which was way too long, dark and in parts dull.
Plot-shot chhodo, what I have always liked about Harry Potter are the small touches - the names of the potions and spells, the creatures and teachers. And all the parallels between the magical world and the real one.
In book no 6, for example, I thought the "Apparition" test was cool. A neat spin on the driving test we muggles take as we 'come of age'.
And J K R has got the whole teenager-in-love bit just right. Ron and Lavender's mouth-to-mouth marathons are unlikely to be seen in India. But we've all known our share of 'chipko' andolan couples :)
The thing I really admire is that Rowling does not talk down to her audience. Using terms like 'Pensieve' for example - you might think it will go over the aam young readers head. But what it does is build a multi-layered experience.
Maybe the readers age 9 and 10 don't 'get it' but that doesn't stop them from enjoying the story. Whereas for the older kids and adults it raises the level far beyond a 'children's book'.
It's a strategy which Walt Disney uses in its animation films. The genie in Aladdin is a perfect example. His wisecracks were for the parents, antics for the kids.
May magic continue to enter our lives - in the form of books - long after Harry Potter. Amen.