The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
Usually when it comes to a book and a film based on the same story, the book comes first and then the film. That must have been for most of you with Harry Potter. But my experiences are reversed – I watched most of the movies first and only afterwards I decided to read the books.
One of the biggest sins you should never commit in criticism is to say the book was better than the film. They are two different mediums: space and time is not the same. It is impossible to convey everything in a book on a movie screen – the film would be too long to watch.
But I was curious. I wanted to see if it would make any difference. I wanted to see whether I preferred the book to the film and/or vice versa. This is what I found out:
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone:
Back cover: Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy – until he is rescued by a beetle-eyed giant of a man, enrolls at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, learns to play Quidditch and does battle in a deadly duel. The Reason: Harry Potter is a Wizard!First published: 1997
Rating: 5/5 It is surprising in how normally the book starts. When you pick it up for the first time it could be any other ordinary book your reading. But the more you read, the more you get pulled into Harry’s world…
Book or film? I watched the film before I read the book. Which one did I prefer? Both. Both enchanting and thorough introduction to the story.
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets:
Back cover: Harry Potter is a wizard. He is in his second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Little does he know that this year will be just as eventful as the last…First published: 1998
Book or film? I watched the film before I read the book. Which one did I prefer? Both. Again very enchanting.
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban:
Backcover: Harry Potter, along with his best friends, Ron and Hermione, is about to start his third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry can’t wait to get back to school after the summer holidays. (Who wouldn’t if they lived with the horrible Dursleys?) But when Harry gets to Hogwarts, the atmosphere is tense. There’s an escaped mass murderer on the loose, and the sinister prison guards of Azkaban have been called in to guard the school…First Published: 1999
Book or film? I watched the film first. I preferred both. This is perhaps my favourite book and film of the whole series. It has everything: death eaters, mystery, Professor Lupin, the Marauders Map, time travel, etc.
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire:
Back cover: It is the summer holidays and soon Harry Potter will be starting his fourth year at Hogwarts School… Harry is counting the days: there are new spells to be learnt, more Quidditch to be played, and Hogwarts castle to continue exploring. But Harry needs to be careful – there are unexpected dangers lurking…First published: 2000
Book or film? Book! Like I mentioned before, it is impossible to convey everything in the book. The film felt lacking.
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Back cover: Dumbledore lowered his hands and surveyed Harry through his half-moon glasses, “It is time,” he said, “for me to tell you what I should have told you five years ago, Harry. Please sit down. I am going to tell you everything. Harry Potter is due to start his fifth year at Hogwarts. He is desperate to get back to school and find out why his friends Ron and Hermoine have been so secretive all summer. However, what Harry is about to discover in his new year at Hogwarts will turn his world upside down…First published: 2003
Book or film? Book! From this point on the story line gets more intense in both film and book. It’s no longer just fun and games. J.K. Rowling means business!
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Back cover: It is the middle of the summer, but there is an unseasonal mist pressing against the window panes. Harry Potter is waiting nervously in his bedroom at the Dursleys’ house in Privet Drive for a visit from Professor Dumbledore himself. One of the last times he saw the Headmaster was in a fierce one-to-one duel with Lord Voldemort, and Harry can’t quite believe that Professor Dumbledore will actually appear at the Dursleys’ of all places. Why is the Professor coming to visit him now? What is it that cannot wait until Harry returns to Hogwarts in a few weeks’ time? Harry’s sixth year at Hogwarts has already got off to an unusual start, as the worlds of Muggle and magic start to intertwine…First published:2005
Book or film? Both! I loved the way the Draco Malfoy character grows in this book. It was also very well portrayed in the film.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Back cover: Harry has been burdened with a dark, dangerous and seemingly impossible task: that of locating and destroying Voldemort’s remaining Horcruxes. Never has Harry felt so alone, or faced a future so full of shadows. But Harry must somehow find within himself the strength to complete the task he has been given. He must leave the warmth, safety and companionship of The Burrow and follow without fear or hesitation the inexorable path laid out for him.In this final, seventh installment of the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling unveils in spectacular fashion the answers to the many questions that have been so eagerly awaited. The spellbinding, richly woven narrative, which plunges, twists and turns at a breath-taking pace, confirms the author as a mistress of storytelling, whose books will be read, reread and read again.
First published: 2007
Book or film? I had trouble finishing this book. Not because it was badly written, but because I fell in love with the characters and the Harry Potter series and I simply didn’t want it to end. In the two months that passed I lived only in reading these books. If I could climb into the book and never come back I would. I also remember wondering how this will all end and that there must be another book following this one (maybe because they split the last book into two films).
What I did like of the book though: it explores every possibility of the plot and answered most of questions linking it with past experiences.
Film: Watching the two last films I had the same experience as when reading the book. It was painstakingly slow, too much to take in. The worst was that this time I knew what would happen and then to sit and wait until it actually happens. What I did like about the film was the built up of Ron and Hermoine’s relationship. And when all three of them go disguised to the Ministry of Magic: the disguised adult actors were very convincing.
What I liked about this series, is that there are so many complex characters. Take Snape for example. Why doesn’t he get the job of “Defense against the Dark Arts”? Why does he want the job so badly? What makes Dumbledore trust him no matter what? I also liked the characters of Luna Lovegood, Neville Longbottom and the young Tom Riddle. Compared to these characters Harry Potter seems almost bleak and boring.
What annoyed me of the series: The first few books always start almost the same – with a recap of what the previous books were about. It was almost as if J.K. Rowling thought her readers’ attention spans couldn’t last long. The other thing that bothered me is whenever something happened to Harry alone he always had to go share it with Hermoine and Ron first before the story could continue and J.K. Rowling painstakingly reminded you of this – it’s almost as annoying as the child actors’ horrible acting in the first few movies.
The ultimate ending: I didn’t like the “Nineteen years later” chapter: I didn’t want to see them grown up with kids of their own. That was just weird. Why did Rowling add this to the story? In the film it also feels unreal: they’re disguised as old people but they still look the same as when they were younger. What’s the point? What is the significance of “19 years later”??
I would recommend this to anyone that loves fantasy or someone who just want an escape.