Monday, July 23, 2007

Harry Potter - a bone to pick

No, I haven't read Book 7 of Harry Potter yet. And yes, I definitely plan to do so. But first I have to re-read books 1 - 6 and refresh my memory (given the abysmal retention rate of what I read)
But that's not my bone to pick. I was reading the Newark Star-Ledger this weekend and they were talking about the Harry Potter books and how they've started a resurgence in the popularity of fantasy fiction for kids and teens. I'm not arguing with that statement, but THEN they said something about how there are all sorts of Harry Potter "knock-offs," including the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman (the first one of which, The Golden Compass, will be coming out as a movie later this year.)
All right, first of all -- the first Harry Potter and the first one in this series by Pullman came out in THE SAME YEAR -- 1997 -- so one can hardly accuse Pullman of riding on Rowling's coat-tails. (Not only that, but Pullman was a well-respected published children's/teen author well before then, with his Ruby in the Smoke trilogy.)
Second, I would argue that the word "knock-off" sounds derogatory, like the Pullman books are second-rate to Harry Potter, which they are not -- I think they are just as good.
Come on, Star-Ledger -- do your homework. It's great that Harry Potter opened the door for more great fantasy being read by kids and teens, but let's call HP what it is -- a "gateway book" to all the other great fantasy books that were published before and after it -- and not give it credit for what it's not. It wasn't the fantasy book upon which all other fantasy books are based.
I will now get off my soapbox.

No comments: