Disclaimer: Only nerds who worship Harry Potter will fully get this post. I promise to have a grownup post – full of politics and religion and education – next time…. maybe….. OK I probably won’t. My next post is going to be about farts.
Because my novel is a quasi-fantasy geared toward young adults, I wanted to immerse myself in the worlds of other such books. I’m doing so to learn and also make sure my book feels comparable to current YA fiction.
Therefore, I’ve been reading the newer “hip” young adult books that are being made into movies. So far, I’ve finished the Hunger Games (HG) trilogy, Divergent (Div), and Maze Runner (MR).
In the midst of those books, I’m also re-reading the Harry Potter (HP) series.
Although HG, Div, and MR definitely keep my attention, I find myself constantly switching back to Harry Potter. For every 10 pages of another series, I read 20 of HP. For some reason, I’m much more drawn to it than the other books.
At first I thought it was just the nostalgia factor. I still remember zipping through book 4 in like 2 days. It’s exactly 3,874 pages, but I wished it was longer. Rowling could have written about every boring minute (Harry sneezed. Grabbing a tissue, he whisked away the phlegm and tossed it in the wastebasket.) and I would have devoured every word.
However, I realized I’ve been staying up later and later just to “finish one more page” of the HP series. It’s sucked me back in and I’m genuinely invested in it once more.
So what is it about Harry Potter that draws me in more than the other books? They all have lots of similarities. Each series features new worlds and adventures and character development and conflict. With the except of Maze Runner*, I feel they’re all fairly well-written.
The answer is simple:
HG, Div, and MR are almost universally bleak. The characters are taken from their already sucky lives and put into even suckier ones. Although funny things do happen, and the characters grow and accept their fates, the overall tone is depressing. Most of the characters thoughts revolve around plodding on and getting through one more day.
HP is the opposite. Harry is taken from his sucky life and placed into a better one. Sure there is drama and sadness (I soooo cried on book 7, I’m not gonna lie), but there are pages and pages of joy. That break from the drama is important to me. Even when the books get darker there are still chapters (like the awesome “Felix Felicis” in book 6) that lighten the tension.
I read The Road a few months ago….it’s seriously the most depressing book ever written. But there’s one scene (just one!) where the characters get a break. I will never forget that scene. Those moments just stick with me.
When it comes down to it, I prefer books where you’re not drowning the entire way. I like to come up for air. I want to liiiiiiive!
Why am I bringing all this up?
While reading (and rereading and rereading and rereading) my book, I realized I’ve gone down the same route. It wasn’t necessarily deliberate but, in writing what I like, I ended up with a book that has fun interspersed through the drama and action. I think it’s interesting that my subconscious dictated something without my fully realizing it.
Hopefully, when you get a copy of the book (you are getting one, right? Right? …… Don’t talk to me.) you’ll see what I mean. You just have to get through the few several chapters
*OK I’m going off on a tangent here. I singled out Maze Runner for a reason. It’s being made into a movie, so the author must have done something right. And I give it to him – the pace is soooo unbelievably fast… every single page is overflowing with action, which makes it readable. But, in my worthless opinion, the writing is pretty bad. The author takes a lot of cheap shortcuts. Maybe I’ll do another blog post about this soon.