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Harry Potter Box Set (Books 1-7) by J. K.…

Harry Potter Box Set (Books 1-7)

by J. K. Rowling

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I thought about reviewing each book separately, but didn't believe I could do each book any justice by that approach. This is a series that needs to be enjoyed in its entirety. Starting at the beginning is always a very good place to start, so we get an introduction to the main characters in the Sorcerer's Stone. We go to Hogwarts with Harry and company, meet the villain Voldemort. Then we experience the growth of each of the characters over the years, through the thrilling conclusion in book 7. We accompany them to their first day of class, their first dance, first competition... all while learning about their extraordinary world of magic. What an amazing adventure! If you are one of the few people on Earth who has still not read these books, correct a grievous error on your part and get started... today! ( )
1 vote bearlyr | Sep 15, 2015 |
Love them all. ( )
  DianaSaco | Jul 8, 2015 |
Loved this series as a kid and I love it now as an adult. I am hoping that the movies haven't done away with the richness of the books, especially with younger readers that may have grown up watching the movies first and possibly never even reading the books. Read as you grow may be harder to achieve now, as all the books are released, but I would encourage readers to wait a year between each book, so they can grow along side Harry.
  Climbing-books | Dec 18, 2014 |
It's difficult to rate the Harry Potter series because they were more than just books, they were events and discussion topics and a whole lot more, since their release coincided with most of my childhood. I even have a signed copy of the third volume on my shelf, having waited hours in line to see Rowling sign it. Thus the Harry Potter books mean something more to me than the material itself might merit based on quality. For the purpose of this review, though, I'll be focusing on the quality of the books alone.

The Harry Potter series has several virtues, its greatest being that the series is very readable. You can go through hundreds of pages of Harry Potter in a day with ease, and the constant forward momentum of the plot makes every volume a page turner. There are few times when the books slow down, but in the overall scheme of things they are quickly forgotten. This makes the series ideal for anyone looking for an entertaining read, or for people who haven't read much before. Another of the major virtues is the concept that Rowling explores with these books resonates universally- we'd all like to be whisked away from mundanity into a world that's more magical, we'd all like to think that there's a wonderland hidden behind back alleys and thick forests that someday we'll uncover. We'd all like to somehow be special. Rowling gives this to the reader (indeed, with the titular character Rowling gives us a character who's not only special, he's The Chosen One special, another rank of special above all the other special people), but she couches this magical world filled with special people in a relatable format: grade school. We've all been through it, and so even though the classes are potions and charms we can still relate to the experiences. Combined, the readability and strong central concept, as well as giving readers a battle between good and evil, makes for a very fun book series that well deserves its popularity.

On the other hand, there are also many flaws in this series that detract from its greatness, and which make me doubt whether I will still enjoy the books as much when a few more decades of my life has passed. First, the characters and their relationships. Harry Potter, at first a sympathetic reader surrogate, goes through long stretches of the series spewing teenage angst at everyone around him. Perhaps this was Rowling trying to communicate that teenagers can be unpleasant, self-centered jerks, but she went a bit overboard with this lesson for my taste. Harry’s friend Ron shares this trait, going through a significant portion of the fourth book being a jerk to Harry more for the sake of dramatic tension than any reason that makes real sense. Hermione is defined merely as “the smart one who follows rules” far beyond the point where she should have a more nuanced character. All of these are relatively minor complaints, though, compared to my main one: Rowling rarely makes these characters actually feel like friends. Over 90% of their interactions with each other are aimed at solving the mystery of that year, or preparing for the next big challenge presented by Voldemort or the school, and very rarely do we see them actually enjoying each other’s company. We’re left to assume that such things happen between the lines, but often it seems more like we’re reading about Detective Harry and his two assistants rather than about three teenage friends.

Other aspects of the characters are also noticeably weak. The villains are pure evil, with almost no nuance, to the point where Slytherin is exclusively populated by assholes, and the adult villains are basically magical Nazis. There’s room for nuance here, but besides the character of Snape (whose death renders his allegiance a largely moot point, as he would have been killed regardless of what side he was fighting for) Rowling mostly blows past the possibility of differing perspectives to tell a simple good vs. bad story. Toward the end of the series characters start to pair off in romantic couples as well, an aspect of characterization Rowling seems particularly weak at writing. Harry and Ginny just felt shoehorned together at the last moment, as Ginny had appeared very rarely for the books before Harry suddenly decides he is in love with her. Recently Rowling has revealed that Ron and Hermione would have made a bad couple, and it stuns me that she’s just realizing this now. To anyone who was paying attention it was blatantly obvious that the guy with major self-confidence issues, a bitterness streak against those with wealth or fame, and probably with an inferiority complex probably wasn’t a good match for the brilliant overachiever who everyone constantly praises. Nevertheless, Rowling had planted the seeds, and she was either incapable of analyzing whether the two characters made sense together or wasn’t willing to deviate from the planned course even though she knew it wouldn’t make sense.

Beyond the characters, the world of Harry Potter, though fascinating and richly depicted, often felt as though Rowling was making things up as she went. This was epitomized in the sixth book when Rowling reveals that there is a spell that can be performed that makes a person keep a promise, and if the person breaks that promise that person dies. Well, that spell apparently solves everything, right? Don’t want people using the unforgivable curses? Make everyone promise not to, and they never will again! Don’t want people killing muggles? Make everyone promise not to, and all the muggles will be safe! Don’t want death eaters trying to oust the government? Have everyone promise not to be a death eater, or an evil wizard, and problem solved! This spell, much like with the truth serum that makes an occasional appearance before disappearing for books at a time, would seem to completely change the world of Harry Potter, but it’s never clear that Rowling has bothered to think of all the implications of the new aspects of the world that she is introducing. As such, it feels like a patchwork universe as often as it feels like a living, breathing realm.

Finally, there are a couple structural problems to the series. The fifth book was flat out bad. Overlong and completely forgettable, when reading the sixth and seventh books years later I would be able to remember all the characters and occurrences except those introduced in book five. Whatever, 6 out of 7 isn’t too shabby. I’m saying that prematurely however, because the single worst segment of the series is located at the very end, in the form of the epilogue. Wow is that thing poorly written. I expect it’s the case that long ago Rowling wrote out the epilogue, and after the series became successful this epilogue became a sacred cow to her that no editor could touch. She certainly had the juice to keep it any way she wanted it at that point, but the series would have been better off if she had had someone to give her some constructive criticism.

So yeah, the Harry Potter series has some issues. I’m not prepared to say, however, that they outweigh the virtues of the books, despite the fact that I talked about the flaws for so much longer. I’m sure that when I have kids I’ll be buying them the Harry Potter series, perhaps rationing them out so that they don’t reach the darker volumes too soon. The key is that after they read them, though, I’m going to buy them books where readability isn’t the chief virtue.
( )
1 vote BayardUS | Dec 10, 2014 |
My favorite series. The story of orphaned boy who discovers he is wizard and his adventures in the wizarding world. After picking up The Sorcerer's Stone I was hooked and this entire series inspired me to become engaged in reading after years of assigned reading in school. This series is appropriate for many age groups, however it does become dark(er) as the story progresses and I think adults reading these books may get something out of them that children do not and vise-versa. I highly recommend this series and would encourage anyone to read the books first prior to viewing the films. ( )
  lolhscybrarian | Dec 1, 2014 |
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On the descriptions page for this set, several of the descriptions are for other boxed sets than this. Some apply to the earlier boxed set which contains only the first four volumes, some are for audio books. Only the description which applies to the full seven volume set should be there. The other descriptions belong on other pages.
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Book description
Brilliance and delightful exploration into the child within me, the man. My imagination breaths and every character, creature and creation is seen with clarity and in colour, magically, intuition and insightfulness is formed with each book and myself. Well crafted, well read and well remembered.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0545162076, Paperback)

Now for the first time ever, J.K. Rowling’s seven bestselling Harry Potter books are available in a stunning paperback boxed set! The Harry Potter series has been hailed as “one for the ages” by Stephen King and “a spellbinding saga’ by USA Today. And most recently, The New York Times called Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows the “fastest selling book in history.” This is the ultimate Harry Potter collection for Harry Potter fans of all ages!

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:31 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Rescued from the outrageous neglect of his aunt and uncle, a young boy with a great destiny proves his worth while attending Hogwarts School for Wizards and Witches.

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