Fandom doesn't impress me. Usually, I dislike things for the mere fact that others like them. Which is, of course, not a very rational way to handle preferences, but I can't remember a time that this wasn't my modus operandi. Here on the threshold of my 24th birthday, I humbly admit my long-delayed and profound appreciation for Harry Potter.
I was attending camp in the summer of 1998 when Harry Potter's name entered my vocabulary. But it wasn't until a few years later, after the series was in full swing and gaining popularity, that I began vigorously resisting its attraction. Though I recant my former position, I'm glad I didn't read them in junior high. I'm glad I waited until I could appreciate the weight of what Rowling was trying to communicate.
Book one pushed an eyebrow up in moderate interest. But by book three, I was completely taken in. Days after finishing book seven, I'm still reliving the moment when love conquered evil.
Some redemptive highlights of the story include believable characters, a creative setting, surprising plot twists (I was back and forth on Snape almost every chapter...), and a beautiful return to Truth at the end. (Additionally, I was able to add a few British words to my repertoire: snogging, jumper, dodgy, and wotcher.) Whatever else can be said for Harry Potter, you can always count on the fact that he will choose to save others instead of himself. And in the end, that is his redemption as well The narrative points to the Biblical truth from Mark 8:35 and other passages referring to the kind of Life that conquers death.
With an artful use of major motifs and minor allusions, the classic themes of death, courage, and love find a home in the orphan boy whose opportunities to advance his own fame are conquered by his growing selflessness. How could I not be gripped by a story that ends with the hard-earned words "all was well?"
I am glad on this side of the books to join the many who applaud J.K. Rowling for her deeply human (and so consequently deeply complex) story. It is a signpost to many things greater than itself.