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Harry Potter - good or bad? (split from original HP thread)


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#41 poppy

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Posted 11 April 2014 - 10:19 PM

This writer had sour grapes about the whole Harry Potter phenomenon, but it rather back-fired on her.

 

http://www.huffingto...&comm_ref=false

 

http://www.theguardi...ng-stop-writing


Edited by poppy, 11 April 2014 - 10:21 PM.


#42 CuriousGeorgette

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Posted 12 April 2014 - 03:43 AM

Choosing to bow out of a thread does not mean it backfired on me. I would be quite happy to continue to have a proper discussion.



#43 poppy

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Posted 12 April 2014 - 04:34 AM

CuriousGeorgette, unless you are Lyn Shepherd, the author, or another well-known author who has very publically lambasted JK Rowling, I can in no way see the links I've shared as referring to you. Stating your opinions on a message board anonymously and to a relatively small audience is a very different thing altogether.



#44 CuriousGeorgette

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Posted 12 April 2014 - 06:17 AM

oops sorry I misread ... too early in the am, lack of sleep to blame - apologies, but my comment about being happy to have a proper debate on the subject still stands. 



#45 poppy

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Posted 12 April 2014 - 06:34 AM

oops sorry I misread ... too early in the am, lack of sleep to blame - apologies, but my comment about being happy to have a proper debate on the subject still stands. 

 

That's OK, just a misunderstanding :)



#46 CuriousGeorgette

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Posted 12 April 2014 - 07:48 AM

This writer had sour grapes about the whole Harry Potter phenomenon, but it rather back-fired on her.

 

http://www.huffingto...&comm_ref=false

 

http://www.theguardi...ng-stop-writing

 

Well I don't think it was sour grapes  - and I think her points are pertinent to the discussion -

 

 

 

this apparently well-written and well-received crime novel which seems to have sold no more than 1,500 copies under its own steam, suddenly went stratospheric. 

 

1500 copies indicates that the book was not that great, not that well received etc on its own merits. Put the 'name' behind it + the publicity = sales .... popular does mean good and good does not mean popular. A book can be really awful and still be popular (Mills and Boon and the ilk any one?). 

 

She is also right that it is very hard to get published. I was reading a blog written by an editors assistant who said she rejects 95% of the manuscripts that cross her desk ... NINETY FIVE PERCENT - now I would be inclined to accept that figure as being a slightly high assessment of the ratio of good publishable books to the drek if it were not for a few posts in which she wrote about why some had been rejected. Sadly it was not because the writing was bad or didn't fit into the genre of books the company published - no it was some arbitrary objection to phrasing, or a word, on the first or second page! So potentially publishable books (with the help of an editor which is expected) are rejected on some whim. 

 

I don't agree that the solution is for the big names to stop writing in order to allow others to have a chance - no I think that the industry needs a revolution, as well as readers who are more discerning and don't just go for the 'Top Sellers' in the bookstore. 

 

Fight the marketing - it isn't always right about the quality of the book - be more discerning ie read more and cultivate your personal tastes - demand quality over quantity. 


Edited by CuriousGeorgette, 12 April 2014 - 07:48 AM.


#47 frankie

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Posted 12 April 2014 - 08:05 AM

CuriousGeorgette: Just out of curiosity: How much have you read of the Harry Potter books? :)



#48 CuriousGeorgette

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Posted 12 April 2014 - 08:21 AM

CuriousGeorgette: Just out of curiosity: How much have you read of the Harry Potter books? :)

 

most of the first one - by which I mean I suffered through the first few pages, skimmed the rest to see if it got better - it didn't. Seen bits of one or two the movies - didn't grab me any more than the books did. 

 

I found the writing to be condescendingly simple, lacking in good construction, short on creativity - it is SOOOOOO derivative - uninspiring, and appallingly insulting prejudiced against 'muggles' <- ie the reader that I'm surprised it has not come under more criticism for inciting hatred against any one who is different. Any one who has read Enid Blyton will recognise the hankering after this ridiculously outdated and idealised concept of the private boarding school - only Enid Blyton could actually write (but I can't stand any of the school books she wrote either) - where we are all jolly hockey sticks what ho! (Puke!). Harry Potter himself came across as hugely disrespectful of authority and I thought the lines between right and wrong are entirely too blurred to be appropriate for kids - the end NEVER justifies the means! The adults in the books are either stupidly authoritative - do as I say without question and I won't listen to you - or the enemy. Again not something one wants to be promoting for kids. Whilst SOME adults are like this (sadly) - one also wants to create the impression that there are adults who will listen if you have a problem and who will be supportive etc. Too many issues kids have go unreported and unnoticed because kids do not see the adults in their world as being the solution to their problems.


Edited by CuriousGeorgette, 12 April 2014 - 08:25 AM.


#49 Kylie

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Posted 12 April 2014 - 08:27 AM

But bestsellers are bestsellers for a reason, CG. Whether or not they're the most well-written books is actually beside the point. Some people  read to learn and be educated, some people simply read to be entertained (it is crucial that you understand this!) and some people read for both reasons (and countless others, no doubt). I enjoy a mix of books myself. 'High-brow' is great, but sometimes I just want a light, fun read. Ultimately, authors who write fiction books are telling a story. Why does it matter how it's written as long as it's a good story? And the HP books fit the bill perfectly for a 'good story' (nay, they are brilliant stories—and I could rattle off a list of books that I love equally that would be much more 'acceptable' to you, but I have no need to justify what I read to you or anyone else).

 

No, many books don't get as much marketing, but they can still sell well through word of mouth. I can't think of a book example off the top of my head, but I can think of a movie. The Shawshenk Redemption didn't do well when it was initially released at the movies, but over time, through word of mouth, it has become one of the highest-rated movies around And, you know, I don't believe the first HP book did that well when it was first published. I believe it also became well known through word of mouth, and then the publishing company started printing more copies and marketing it more.

 

If you're so annoyed by marketing tactics, maybe you should expend your energies in a more positive direction—by writing book reviews here and elsewhere online to recommend books that you love to others. For example, if you use social media, you could reach friends who might not read as much and therefore might welcome guidance. And there are the more usual suspects—Amazon, Goodreads, LibraryThing etc. I have absolutely no idea what you enjoy reading, CG—so far I only know what you hate and/or refuse to read.

 

You suggest that we cultivate our personal tastes, but that's exactly what we are doing when we choose what we read (note which words I've emphasised!) It sounds more like you want us to change our reading tastes to suit your personal tastes.



#50 frankie

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Posted 12 April 2014 - 08:36 AM

most of the first one - by which I mean I suffered through the first few pages, skimmed the rest to see if it got better - it didn't. Seen bits of one or two the movies - didn't grab me any more than the books did.

 

So you read the first few pages, that's, say, 2-3 pages. I think it's a pretty big jump to read as little of a novel in a book series and then say "that's because they are appallingly badly written - like unreadably, and espouse questionable values, maybe as you read more good writing you will come to see this. I think we may well see these books as the nadir of children's literature, or at least I hope so, because please don't let there be worse."



#51 Kylie

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Posted 12 April 2014 - 08:38 AM

most of the first one - by which I mean I suffered through the first few pages, skimmed the rest to see if it got better - it didn't. Seen bits of one or two the movies - didn't grab me any more than the books did. 

 

I found the writing to be condescendingly simple, lacking in good construction, short on creativity - it is SOOOOOO derivative - uninspiring, and appallingly insulting prejudiced against 'muggles' <- ie the reader that I'm surprised it has not come under more criticism for inciting hatred against any one who is different. Any one who has read Enid Blyton will recognise the hankering after this ridiculously outdated and idealised concept of the private boarding school - only Enid Blyton could actually write (but I can't stand any of the school books she wrote either) - where we are all jolly hockey sticks what ho! (Puke!). Harry Potter himself came across as hugely disrespectful of authority and I thought the lines between right and wrong are entirely too blurred to be appropriate for kids - the end NEVER justifies the means! The adults in the books are either stupidly authoritative - do as I say without question and I won't listen to you - or the enemy. Again not something one wants to be promoting for kids. Whilst SOME adults are like this (sadly) - one also wants to create the impression that there are adults who will listen if you have a problem and who will be supportive etc. Too many issues kids have go unreported and unnoticed because kids do not see the adults in their world as being the solution to their problems.

 

Well, there you have it. You cannot possibly be an authority on how good/bad the books are when you haven't even read them! And no, the 'first few pages' and 'skimming' doesn't count as reading (and therefore understanding) all seven books. And if you think you have read enough to be able to tell how bad they are, then let me assure you that you're wrong, because nearly everything you have implied about the books is wrong. If you had read more you would know that. The writing is simple, yes...because they are aimed at children! Did you expect to find something written by Nabokov? Do you mean that the story or the writing lacks good construction? I am a qualified, full-time editor and can assure you that the sentences, while simple, are constructed just fine. However, the later books could have been edited better (as most HP fans will attest), but by then there was so much secrecy surrounding the publication of the books that no single editor was allowed to edit the entire book.

 

I came to the series after the first four books had been published (yes, I was 'had' by those cunning marketers because I'm too stupid to think for myself or realise when a product is being pushed at me). I thought the first three books were good, not brilliant. But they were good enough to keep me going, and around book four I got hooked, and the whole thing started coming together for me.



#52 Eleonora

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Posted 12 April 2014 - 10:25 AM

I don't think we can talk of  "badly writing" in a series like HP, because the style evolves with the maturity of the character himself. I mean, in the first book Harry is an 11 years old boy, but he's 17 at the end of the serie. And the style in writing slightly changes as he grows up. What is more, if it was only a bluff I reckon the popularity was meant to decrease through years: The Fifty Shade is now completely ignored now, in spite of the marketing behind the book. But young boys and girls still read and love Harry Potter, they have some paragraph on their school books (with dozens of estracts from other books) but they look for Harry when they go to the library. Why? Because Harry speaks like them, thinks like them, has the same reactions they have in sinilar situations. Harry Potter is somehow real to them. Harry takes the wrong decision sometimes and then he pays his faults. Children don't want to be taught through literature, they want to be heard. And Harry still speaks for them. I'm surely wrong, but I don't take decision or make opinions on a glimpse of a thing. I usually give everything a chance before deciding the quality of everything.



#53 dtrpath27

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Posted 12 April 2014 - 11:37 AM

Eleonora, I think that's a great point about popularity diminishing over time.  I suppose we can argue until we're blue in the face, but time will really tell, won't it?

 

I think of all the great paintings, books, music, etcetera that were considered absolute rubbish by the experts of their time, but have proven themselves to be some of the most influential, enduring, inspiring works of modern history. Those are rather subjective things, aren't they?  There will always be detractors, and they may or may not be justified in their objections, but when it comes to any form of artistic expression, what really matters is how the work speaks to the individual.  That's what allows a work to endure.

 

The "wizarding" craze has faded, because it was simply a fad generated by a marketing machine.  The countless spinoffs and copycats, including books written as addendums to the Potter series, have already gone quietly into the night.  As for the books themselves, only time will tell.   It has been nearly two decades since the original publication, though, and the books do seem to be holding up just fine.  Whether a new generation will find them just as appealing without a slew of toys, movies and t-shirts being released on a seemingly daily basis will be interesting to see.  


Edited by dtrpath27, 12 April 2014 - 11:39 AM.


#54 CuriousGeorgette

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Posted 12 April 2014 - 12:33 PM

 

Why does it matter how it's written as long as it's a good story? 

 

Because it does matter. Junk does not stimulate the imagination, or encourage young readers to appreciate books, or teach them the good use of language or new words. Junk does not stimulate a life long passion for reading, for language, for books, for the world of the imagination. Lets not forget we are talking about CHILDREN'S books here, not escapist literature for adults. What adults choose to read in order to escape the daily drudge is their choice - but children's books are another matter entirely. 

 

 

I don't think we can talk of "badly writing" 

 

Yes we can. It is a matter of opinion, but quite a widely held one. I'm not the first person to think it and a great many other people with far more qualification than I (if you discount a lifetime of reading) have agreed - these books are badly written. Some even on this forum, in this thread to boot.

 

 

Children don't want to be taught through literature, they want to be heard. 

 

Children ARE taught through literature, and they want to be heard in real life, not so much in books, and it is the responsibility of children's authors to ensure some level of social responsibility in their writing. Particularly in todays' complex world that children have to navigate. This does not mean 'lecture', or speak down to, but the values espoused need to be clear moral choices. Children do not live in the grey world of adults - their moral world is far more black and white, right and wrong, good and bad. Confusing these things for them does not educate, does not help, does not give them a good grounding - it confuses them and loosens the soil beneath their feet. They need to know that right is right and wrong is wrong, and that the good guys win. Moral ambiguity comes later, but first it needs a solid grounding in what is clearly right and what is clearly wrong. 

 

 

You cannot possibly be an authority on how good/bad the books are when you haven't even read them! 

 

Aah yes the you-can't-know-what-you-like if you haven't read every word ... well when you look at the cover of a porn magazine do you have to examine every photo inside to know whether or not it is porn? If you pick up a book with a lurid cover with some demonic thing from some one's worst nightmare standing over a disemboweled corpse with blood on its fangs on the cover do you need to read every word to know what it is about and whether or not you will like it?

 

Can you read a large number of opinion pieces, quotes, extracts, reviews on a book, to get a feel what it is about and the values it has? Yes/No/maybe?

 

I don't like the books, and the way they are written, but they have sparked a huge amount of controversy for various different reasons and I have followed a great many of the saner debates on the books. (emphasis on saner as some are just totally froth-at-the-mouth ridiculous).


Edited by CuriousGeorgette, 12 April 2014 - 12:47 PM.


#55 Eleonora

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Posted 12 April 2014 - 12:41 PM

So there you are: I know dozen of ex-children whose imagination was highly stimulated by Harry Potter. One became a published writer of children books. One of my ex teenagers writes and draws fantasy comics, and so on. If they all were son influenced by a book and they still read many other different books now they are grown up, it means Harry Potter is not junk for them. And that's the only thing that matters to me: they read a lot, they use thei imagination. Maybe they saw in that story something you didn't and that's why you can't understand.



#56 CuriousGeorgette

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Posted 12 April 2014 - 12:45 PM

So there you are: I know dozen of ex-children whose imagination was highly stimulated by Harry Potter. One became a published writer of children books. One of my ex teenagers writes and draws fantasy comics, and so on. If they all were son influenced by a book and they still read many other different books now they are grown up, it means Harry Potter is not junk for them. And that's the only thing that matters to me: they read a lot, they use thei imagination. Maybe they saw in that story something you didn't and that's why you can't understand.

 

I think that you should refrain from making statements like 'you can't understand' - you have no idea beyond the opinion I have stated here as to what I can and can't understand.



#57 Raven

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Posted 12 April 2014 - 01:51 PM

This writer had sour grapes about the whole Harry Potter phenomenon, but it rather back-fired on her.
 
http://www.huffingto...&comm_ref=false

 
Looks like I was right about other authors being pissed!
 
I saw that the other day, and some of the follow up articles on other sites.  It all seems a little pointless and bitter really, having a pop at a popular author in public just because they are popular.  Still, she's got some attention out of it herself.

I wonder if, down the road, she will think it was worth it.

 

ETA:

 

By the way, does anyone else think it's odd that in the Shepherd article above, she claims never to have read or seen a minute of Harry Potter, yet she then goes on to mention Harry's invisibility cloak?   Has that entered popular culture to such an extent?  Or is she more familiar with the franchise than she claims?


Edited by Raven, 12 April 2014 - 02:02 PM.


#58 Eleonora

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Posted 12 April 2014 - 02:23 PM

I think that you should refrain from making statements like 'you can't understand' - you have no idea beyond the opinion I have stated here as to what I can and can't understand.

I'm sorry but I can't refrain: you are not in their mind so you can't understand what's inspiration for other people or what is junk for other people. You can accept, as I do, but you can't fully understand because you come from a different path and you've seen different things. So you can't understand as I don't understand most of the things other people do or think. I accept. For instance, I don't know why you value your opinion so much, what makes you so sure of what you say. I can't understand it, but I accept it and I accept your point of view even if I don't understand it.


Edited by Eleonora, 12 April 2014 - 02:25 PM.


#59 nursenblack

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Posted 12 April 2014 - 02:32 PM

I read the Harry Potter series as an adult, not a child, and I love them .  When I read them I was there, a sidekick right along with Ron and Hermione, sharing in their adventures, terrors, and victories.  That is what gives them value.  Not the style, or grammar, but the authenticity of the experience for the reader.  When readers can live vicariously through the characters, then the author has earned distinction.  

 

Harry Potter might not be everyone's cup of tea, and that's okay.  However, I do agree with the others that said a reader should actually read an entire book and/or series before they are able to review it.  Otherwise it is bogus.  

 

I'll close my thoughts with my analogy:  A person might stare at a plate of broccoli for hours (yes, that is definitely broccoli), observe the color, feel the texture, and smell it, but until they take a bite and swallow, they cannot say with absolute certainty that they hate it.

 

 

 

Don't judge a book by it's cover ~ George Eliot

 



#60 frankie

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Posted 12 April 2014 - 02:59 PM

Aah yes the you-can't-know-what-you-like if you haven't read every word ... well when you look at the cover of a porn magazine do you have to examine every photo inside to know whether or not it is porn? If you pick up a book with a lurid cover with some demonic thing from some one's worst nightmare standing over a disemboweled corpse with blood on its fangs on the cover do you need to read every word to know what it is about and whether or not you will like it?


I will humour you and go with your odd porn analogy: yes, you can determine something is porn just by leafing through the pages and seeing nudey pics. Porn is a genre, though, not an estimate of its own qualities: good or bad. Same as if you pick up a book which you then leaf through and notice to be a fantasy book. Knowing it's a fantasy book doesn't tell if if it's good or bad! You have to read a whole lot more than the first few pages to decide whether it's any good or not. And rather incredibly (!), the things you don't like are sometimes liked by others.

 

 

Edit: Just because you are willing to judge a whole book (and a book series) just by the first few pages, doesn't mean we have to do the same. And it's quite odd that you don't seem to be willing to listen to those members' opinions who've actually read the whole book (and the series) and therefore know about the books a whole lot more than you do. It's quite okay that you make up your mind so quickly about the books you pick up, but it's really not okay to expect other people to do the same. Personally, I don't even take your opinion on the matter very seriously because you simply haven't read the books. You don't know enough about them to really discuss the books.


Edited by frankie, 12 April 2014 - 03:10 PM.





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