Harry Potter is amazing..
..we all know that.
I was one of the people that grew up with Harry Potter. I read the books as they came out, I went to midnight releases, I saw the first Harry Potter film with my like 5th grade class at school (we went on a FIELD TRIP to see it as a class! awesome!). I have always adored the books and I feel like I got the full, childhood experience.
But that being said…
I can’t reread the first 3 books
I can (and have) reread the last four no problem! I love doing it, and I actually just very recently finished a reread. But I can’t touch the first three books. If you compare the first three to the last three, the first three are very… childish. It’s clear that they’re children’s books/middle grade. They’re young and innocent and the writing is simple. I’m sad to say that I can’t read those books and actually enjoy them.
If I’m being honest, the first three were never my favourite to begin with. The first time I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, I DNF’d it. That’s super embarrassing, but it’s true. I forget how old I was… maybe 11 or 12? I read it and thought it was boring and didn’t like it… Although, I never even got to the point where Harry found out he was a wizard (I DNF’d just before Hagrid arrived).
(I did eventually read it again and finish it, though!)
I can’t reread those books for the simple fact that they feel childish, and I don’t like reading children’s books, or even middle grade (Rick Riordan being an exception to that).
But I feel like once we get to book four, the tone of the books really change. They get darker, more intense, and Harry is growing up. As Harry gets older, the books start to feel more like young adult than middle grade. And THAT’S when I start to love them.
Well, I think you know my shame, right? I never read the Harry Potter Books. *Waits for the boos and hisses to stop* I know, I know, it’s horrible. However, the very reason you can’t read the first three books is the reason I can’t get myself to start this series. I can’t stand middle grade books. And I know these books have that feel. So I am just nervous I will be the only person to not like Harry Potter.
I (embarrassingly enough) haven’t read the whole series yet. >_< I WANT to, but I never was on the craze when they were coming out, and now I just haven't had time. I think, maybe part of that IS the fact that the first one is really "nice". It's sweet, almost. I liked it, but I guess I haven't experienced the massive pull to keep reading (though I will! Honest! One day… XD)
I was introduced to Harry Potter by my friend when I ran of reading materiel on a camping trip three or four years ago – meaning that I read the 5th book first and although I’ve read all the Harry Potter books, I read them in the wrong order! Although I enjoyed all the books, I definitely agree that the later ones are my favourite. I think it’s the same with the films and the first film in particular was quite young.
Same here! The first book is actually the last one I read among them. But I did re-read them recently and still… I agree with you! Those books are amazing, but the first three are a bit more childish.
OMG this is SUCH a coincidence! I just finished writing a post on how Harry Potter feels a bit childish to me! (I wrote it as part of a new feature I’m planning for the blog)
But this is so true! A few friends of mine and I realised that very recently when we participated in a Harry Potter quiz and had to reread all the book in preparation for it. So yeah, I know what you mean, but Harry Potter will ALWAYS hold a special place in my heart <3
Lol, I haven’t even read the series! I feel intimidated sometimes because HP is the series that every one around the globe seems to love. In fact, I’ve heard many people said that they first got into reading because of HP. But what if I do start it someday, and I don’t enjoy it? That would be like, me against the world. I feel the pressure to love it and it’s not fun. I guess that’s why I haven’t picked up this series *shrugs*
But I do notice the same thing when I read Riordan’s PJO. The first two books aren’t my favorite but starting on book 3, the series gets more and more excited 🙂
I feel the same way every time I start re-reading the first book! Especially with the simple writing and words and so on. But after a few chapters I kind of get used to it and then I don’t even notice it anymore!
I reread the entire series fairly often, but #2 and #3 are probably my least favorites. The difference in the way they are written, more innocent/kidlit-like, is a strength in some ways, IMO. I think in a lot of series where kids grow, the writing doesn’t really change.
Yeah I do think it works for the story. In the first book Harry is 11..he’s an innocent child, and the writing reflects that. Then my book 7 he’s older, more mature, and has faced more hardships. And now the writing reflects that change.
I do think it works well, and it was brilliant for people who grew up with the series. But I’ve just gotten to a point where the first three are no longer enjoyable for me because I’ve kind of outgrown that writing style and I can’t enjoy it. 🙁
I read them all in the spring so won’t re-read them for a while anyway, but I can definitely see where you’re coming from. Saying that, I like that we get to see all the characters develop and grow up so it’s not something I would want to change about the books.
Interesting… I’ve been saying for the last two years I wanted to do a re-read, and I’ve always planned on re-reading the entire series BUT. I do wonder what I’d think of the first two or three. Originally the MG-feel to them didn’t bother me but it might now. Hmm. I really DO need to do a re-read and find out!
At least you’ve read them! I still haven’t 🙁
Although I admit I did pick up book 1 once and had the same problem. I started reading it, got maybe 10 or 20 pages, and just…never finished….
To be honest, I’m not crazy about any of them. Maybe that’s because the first time I read them I was…20 or 21. I did really enjoy them, but I never had that feeling of “wow, these are amazing! Now I know why everyone loves them!” I do agree that the first ones definitely feel young, but I did find that I enjoy them much more on audio. They seem to be more fun that way.
I read them when they were first published, I was about 11… I think. I just couldn’t go on after The Prisoner of Azkaban. It was just so bad, and I still think so after having picked up the series again a couple of years ago. But yeah, the rest are definitely better. The Goblet of Fire is my favorite. Thanks for this post! I have a Harry Potter post planned for the future. I could just talk/rant about them forever.
Yeah I definitely know what you mean! The first three books are the shortest and are kind of a set up for the last four books and Harry’s journey as he grows old enough to have interest in girls and handle the intense things JK Rowling had in mind. I feel like without the first three books, the last four would definitely not be the same, but they’re definitely in the middle grade genre and are much more lighthearted.
I somewhat feel the same way, in that if I’m going to reread just for fun I’ll probably pick book 4 or after. But if I really feel nostalgic, and have a lot of extra time, I start from book 1.
I think the childish feel is a part of the experience, because it contributes to the character arcs over the entire series and you can really see how they mature into the later books. Plus, I love learning about Hogwarts all over again. It’s just part of the magic for me 🙂
This post is nice for a change. I didn’t have any problems getting into HP the first time I read it since I love MG books and for me, the childish tone actually clicked with it. I think it would have felt weird if the book is so serious when its target audience are young readers.
And while I love all the HP books, my number 1 favorite would still be Prisoner of Azkaban. It’s not as dark as 4, 5, 6 and 7 but that business with the Marauder’s especially Sirius has mindblown me.
Oh well, to each our own.
I have only read the first 3 books 5…6…or 7 times. I don’t remember. I do read a lot of MG fantasy, so I suppose I’m used to the younger POV. Harry from book 1 is quite different than Harry from book 5, so I do understand your reasoning.
That’s definitely understandable. When I was younger I re-read the first 4 over and over again since the 5th wasn’t out yer, and the fourth was definitely my favourite. I liked how he grew up as each book went on, even though I technically still have to read the last book.
I hope to read the whole series again soon, but I think even though the first three are more MG I’ll still enjoy it, it might remind me of my childhood. 🙂
I always thought I was the only weird person who didn’t manage to get past the first few pages of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Turns out I’m not! Hah. But yeah, I was 9 when one of my friends had her nose stuck in that book and refused to talk to anybody. When she finally put it down, I grabbed it, read the beginning but couldn’t see the appeal. I only managed to start over and complete it three years later. In the end I read every book that followed; most shortly after they were released.
For me though, I’d say the series was fun while it lasted but I don’t see myself re-reading any of the books for at least another couple of years. There’re too many other books fighting for my attention right now.
I must admit something I’m still ashamed about. I never wanted to read Harry Potter when I was younger. I thought it sounded stupid *hides* Until I got a book for my birthday and that was when I was hooked. I still owe my fandom to my aunt, haha. That begin said, whenever I re-read the books I also start with book 4. I did a re-read two years ago starting with book 1 and I just didn’t enjoy them as much as the others. Perhaps I’ve read them too much or they are a bit too childish like you said.. The story just seems to really pick up in book 4. And that way I’m also closer to my favourite book (5)
I agree, the first three books are childish compared with book 4 and beyond. But, I’m okay with that. Book 3 was always one of my favorites, which makes it an instant re-read. And Book 1 is what started it all. It may not be as sophisticated like the later books, but I like to revisit the book that turned me into a fan. Book 2–eh, I rarely re-read this one. I understand it plays an important role in the series, but for reasons unknown, it doesn’t excite me as much as the other books.
I actually love that the books start out childish and then become more sophisticated later on. I think it really captures how Harry and crew, his world even, are changed/forced to grow up quickly by the return of Lord Voldemort. The evolution of tone really interested me.
I agree with what you said. I think the first two books are more childish then the rest of the series though, the 3rd and 5th books continue to be my favourites so I can re-read the 3rd book with ease! I’ve reread the full series loads of times but it’s always the hardest to get through the first and second books, they feel too childish. It’s like I’m waiting for all the action to begin!
I’ve read the entire series many times. I only started reading the series when I was in my late-20s. I did not grow up with this series. With that said, I knew going in that the first book or 2 were geared towards kids/middle grade. Knowing that, I more easily accepted the writing as childish. However, as I have reread the series (at least 6 or 7 times, perhaps more), I can now pick out various foreshadowing/clues/hints/etc for things to come in the later books. Of course, the later books are my favorite (Deathly Hallows being my absolute favorite), but reading the series as a whole, I see Ms. Rowling’s genius. It amazes me every time I read the series.
I’m exactly the same! When I first started reading the series, I was surprised at how ‘meh’ the first three books were. But I carried on because I wanted the whole Harry Potter experience! Definitely get what you mean about the last four books, they’re so much better. Great post, Ashley!
I’m actually the complete opposite. I still fondly remember reading the first book and falling in love with the series. I adored books one and three and would probably pick book three if I had to choose a favorite. The latter books are a bit darker and I read them when I was a bit older. As a result, I’m just not as a emotionally attached to them.
This is going to sound awful, but I can’t re-read ANY of the HP books. I originally read them in order, as they were released, and LOVED them! Any time I try re-reading any of them though, I notice that a little bit of their magic is missing for me. Maybe someday I’ll be able to do it, but for now I’m happy having them as treasured memories.
The first three books definitely have a different feel to them. I like to think of Harry Potter has a two part series. You have the less serious, more kiddish side of Howarts. Then you have the real adventure everything was building up to. You love the characters, you understand the world, you’ve been introduced to the villains. The fourth book is actually my least favorite in the series. But it is a great bridge for the first and last three books.
I actually have the complete opposite problem. I’ve never, physically read the last four books. I’ve listened to the audiobooks a thousand times, but I just can’t sit down and read them. I love the first three books for the exact reason you don’t really. I love the childish whimsy and imagination. It takes me back to my childhood. They are simpler, and maybe not quite as well written (though I still think Rowling’s writing is absolutely exceptional), but I love them all anyway. Book four was the most recent book out when I first got into the series, so I think to me those first four books will always be extra special to me.
When I first read Sorcerer’s Stone I DNF’d it too! I was 11-12. When I finally gave it another go a few months later, I had to skip the first couple chapters. I love the Harry Potter books. I call them my all-time favorite series, because they are the books that brought-upon my obsessive reading habits. But, they aren’t as easy for me to re-read like any other book would be.
The second and third ones aren’t really that light or childish considering the ages of the main characters. The second one is pretty much a murder mystery, both Ginny and Harry almost die at the end. The third one features the Dementors, which are probably the creepiest creature of the entire series. Harry almost gets his soul sucked out at the end. Pretty intense for a 13 year old.
The first four books feature a huge plot twist at the end of each book, the later books don’t really do this to the same level. There is no twist in 5, Sirius just dies. The closest to a twist that we get in 6 and 7 is Snape’s betrayal and redemption, although I don’t know if those really qualify as twists compared to the early book’s endings. Basically in the later books someone dies or we find out new information, but there isn’t really a big plot twist anymore. Those excellent twists at the end of the first four books are examples of excellent storytelling. They really make those books hold up despite the characters being young. Actually think the first four are stronger as stand alone books. The later ones only hold up in the context of the series.
The later books are a bit bloated and could use tighter editing. They’re longer, but there isn’t really more meat to them. Being darker or having characters die has little to do with quality of writing or storytelling. In fact I thought Sirius had one of the worst written death scenes of the entire series. So anticlimactic, falling through the veil. I couldn’t even tell he was dead and it really didn’t do the character justice. Besides, as far as cheese factor goes I thought the epilogue was probably the cheesiest part of the entire series, far more so than the first books. Also we also have to deal with the terribly written romance that is in the later ones.
This is EXACTLY how I feel! I’ve always felt a little bit bad about it and it stopped me from re-reading the series because I hate skipping books. I’ve never actually skipped books in a series but I’ve really wanted to skip the first three Harry Potters. I’ve tried to read the entire series again but I always stop during those books because I just can’t make it through them anymore without feeling like they’re too juvenile.
Hmmm. Personally, I don’t understand how this is a complaint. First thing to keep in mind is this IS a children’s series, so as you age, the writing will become less appropriate for you, plain and simple. But what Rowling did with this children’s series it is amazing. See, she wrote a series for children to GROW with her characters. Yes, the first few books are appropriate for a maybe 9-12 year old. I was 10 when I read the first book. Similarly, Harry was 10-turning-11 in that book. I, like so many others, waited for each book to come out, and each one was perfectly written for a person my age, up through last book, which came out when I was 18.
I think every single book matures slightly. There’s a marked difference between the first book and the third. There’s an even bigger difference between the third and fourth – but this is also the book in which Harry sees and has to learn to cope with death – a major moment of maturity. It’s a learning moment for the 14 or 15-year-old reader, too.
I can re-read every Potter book. I’m now 25 and, sure, it takes me maybe five hours to read the first book. I fly on through it. But I STILL appreciate the skillful way Rowling ensured her readers, of any age, would relate to Harry.
Oh yes, I loved being able to grow up with these books. That was fantastic!
It’s just a bit disappointing that I can’t go back and reread where it all began.
I am not sure the whole ‘growing with the characters’ thing was such a good idea in retrospect. I’m sure it worked great for those of us who were there when it was written, who actually were growing up between each book, but that’s history now. Today, if you’re 10, you can read the whole series in a few weeks. The characters grow, but you don’t. And it means we are left with a rather confused series that doesn’t seem to know which age group it is written for. The later books may be too heavy for younger kids, while the earlier books are too childish for older kids, so what to do? Make today’s kids wait for a year between each book?
I think the whole idea was just a backwards justification for Rowling getting too ambitious for the constraints she had set on herself with the tone of the first book.
Well, I guess I’m the opposite of you, because I lost interest in the series around book 5. In my opinion, the first 3 are by far the best, and the later books are rather bloated and half-baked. The thing is, when Harry Potter started out as a series of whimsical boarding school mysteries for kids, it was very good at what it did. But around book 4-5, it transitioned into trying to be an epic fantasy for adults, and it simply fails to hold up to other works in that genre, largely because it was still set in the same whimsical, overly twee world that those original children’s books had been set in, and that world was simply not up to the task of supporting such a story.