Category Archives: Cassandra

Final Thoughts

New Harry Potter

Note from Ashley: My post about the Epilogue is still to come next week, which is why I’ve abstained from writing final notes, myself. I get an entire post to wax poetic about the end of this series and the end of this project, so it’s only fair everyone else gets a space, too.

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JENNIE

I’ve had so much fun with this, not only writing my own posts, but getting to read what everyone else thinks about Harry Potter (SPOILER ALERT: you all love it). I’ve enjoyed all the insights everyone has had that I’ve never, ever had in all of my rereads, and the discussions that followed, but my very most favorite thing was getting to see new GIFs I’d never seen before. You guys are good at GIFs, is what I’m saying.

Also, I can’t believe it’s over. Again. Sads. Don’t mind me, I’m just going to be over here in the corner, rereading all the books and pretending Harry Potter is never going to end ever ever. Continue reading

The Deathly Hallows, Chapters 28-29: Exposition and Emotions

I made the mistake of finishing the rest of Deathly Hallows before writing this, so bear with me if this is more of a reflection of the book and series as a whole instead of focusing on these two chapters exclusively.

Which isn’t to say that they’re not important, because they most definitely are; but it’s a lot of exposition and pieces falling into place instead of some more “iconic” chapters that follow them.  But no epic is complete without its sections of exposition, and I think it’s pretty well done anyway, so I honestly don’t mind too much, because the quality of your set-up and rising action is so important to the weight of your climax; you have to answer some questions brought up earlier on before pushing forward.

For all its controversy post-finale, these chapters—and honestly the book and series as a whole—remind me a lot of LOST.  Now, I know that’s a really loaded statement, and I don’t think I can really properly describe it, but there’s this scope to both stories that really strikes me as very similar in both set up and execution.  Especially here, in these chapters, it reminds me of how we really get some (but not all!) answers and a sort of excitable calm before the storm of the inevitable clash of forces in the finale.

(Which is a compliment in my mind, but your mileage may vary.)

Anyway.  Onward.

CHAPTER 28: THE MISSING MIRROR

Having only read this book once over the span of less than 24 hours on the day of its release, I’ve really enjoyed coming back to this one immensely.  Since I finished the series initially, I’ve said that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is my favorite of the seven, though I think upon this revisitation I’ve changed my mind.  I definitely think this is the best-written of the books, Rowling’s magnum-opus as it were, but I’m still super partial to Goblet of Fire, in all honesty.

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The Half-Blood Prince, Chapters 16-17: Love (and Manipulation?) is in the Air

It’s Valentine’s Day!  Let’s talk about Christmas and memories.

I’d like to preface this with my usual blather about overall impressions and background with this book, of course, before we properly begin.  I’ve only read Half-Blood Prince once, and I remember not really liking it all that much when I did.  To be fair, it kind of is a departure from the others in overall content, but now that I look back on it, not too much of a departure that makes sense for fifteen year old Cassandra to not enjoy it.

Or is it?  All this teen drama… well, as a teenager, though my social circle and high school experiences were not this intriguing, I can’t imagine being interested in wanting to read more about the feelings and emotions of other teenagers.  No; I distinctly read and wrote to escape from my reality of the time, and all this stuff about who’s-dating-who struck a little too close to home for me to enjoy it properly, I think.  I rarely dabbled in Young Adult Fiction, skipping directly from children’s novels to what was on my dad’s shelves—mainly David Eddings and other stories in similar high fantasy worlds, stories that dealt with mainly adults and their troubles, or at least, other coming of age stories that detailed teenagers in an extraordinary environment.  And while the Harry Potter series is precisely the latter, this installment is, one would argue, the most conventionally “Young Adult” of the seven.

I can’t remember who said it, it’s been too long, but somewhere along the way someone referred to Half-Blood Prince as “the Gossip Girl of Harry Potter” and since I agreed at the time, harboring such disdain for that series as I do, I’ve kinda carried this vague dislike of the book without entirely remembering why it was, exactly, I disliked it so much.

So it’s under these circumstances that I returned to these relatively unfamiliar pages, hoping to give it a second chance, or, at least, rediscover what it was that so decidedly turned me off to this book.

I feel a little like we’re stepping into a Pensieve after that last sentence, which I guess is appropriate, all things considered.

Shall we?

CHAPTER 16: A VERY FROSTY CHRISTMAS

Whenever I start one of these, I always feel like I’m not going to have much to talk about, and then it just turns into another surprisingly lengthy entry.  I’m hoping the same happens again with this one, but please bear with me if it just feels like I’m spinning my wheels.

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The Order of the Phoenix, Chapters 22-23: In Which I Cry A Lot

As I’m sure you’ve come to expect by now, I can’t just launch myself into a straight up summary/discussion of the couple chapters assigned to me without some sort of preamble.  I’m not entirely sure why (probably the English major in me rearing its head, for what is an essay without a solid introduction? Where is this going to take me? Where is my metaphorical roadmap? …Where are we? What? HELP), but whatever, suck it.

(This is what happens when I’ve had two hours of sleep, for all of you wondering.)

Anyway.  As far as personal rereading impressions go, I honestly don’t remember this book being so goddamned depressing.  I mean, really.  Holy crap.  How dare you.

And I’m not even referring to That One Thing that generally everybody who talks about this book inevitably ends up crying about, myself included.  (WHYYYYYYY???????????????)  No.  This whole novel is just littered with sadness, and anger, and regret, and uncertainty—in Harry, in the world around him.  Which, yes, of course it would be, and I think it’s wonderfully appropriate and well-done on Rowling’s part, but it’s just so… difficult, sometimes.  Reading it feels like a weight in my chest, like a burden; it’s heavy, and I’m not just talking about how massive this hard cover is, either.

There’s SO MUCH here, and I honestly don’t remember having this much difficulty with it the first few times I read it when I was younger, but the themes and the subject matter explored in Order of the Phoenix just resonate with me now in a way that is both powerful, yet uncomfortably familiar.  It hits hard, and close to home.  Too close.  I don’t like it.  I feel exhausted after reading; it’s not a thrill and a rush anymore like I remember it.  Which is not to say that I don’t love this book to bits—because I definitely do, 100 percent, I think it’s magnificent.  But reading through it this time around is, in my mind, akin to watching an episode of Breaking Bad: there’s so much awful, yet you can’t look away.  It’s riveting.  You revel in it.  And I just feel dirty and depressed about it.

Which, speaking of depressing…

CHAPTER 22: ST. MUNGO’S HOSPITAL FOR MAGICAL MALADIES AND INJURIES

I fucking hate hospitals.

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Goblet of Fire, Chapters 20-21: I Will Take What is Mine with Firebolts and Angst

Growing up, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was easily my favorite book of the series (until the release of the seventh), and for a while, quite possibly my favorite book of all time.  I must have read and reread the thing at least ten times so far, not including this read-through, so it most definitely has a very, very special place in my heart.

But, honestly, I couldn’t begin to tell you why I liked it so much then, and continue to prefer it over most of the others to this day.  What was it about this book in particular that struck such a chord with my young imagination?  Hell if I know.  Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that my best friend at the time gave me a copy of it for Christmas the year it came out (2000; we were in sixth grade and completely obsessed to the point where we had Harry Potter code names for all our friends and our classes), or perhaps it’s something altogether different.  But most of my memories of middle school involve me sitting off in some corner reading Goblet of Fire if I wasn’t supposed to be reading something else for school.

It’s interesting picking it up now, especially since I haven’t touched it in several years, but considering I easily managed to polish off over 300 pages in one sitting last night, it’s clear to me that my attachment to this book hasn’t really waned over time.  Reading this book right now is akin to sitting down to lunch with an old friend you haven’t seen in years, and picking up right where you left off.  I’m a little amazed at how comforting it is; in contrast to the first three, which felt like I was rediscovering them, sometimes even reading them through for the first time, Goblet of Fire truly feels like coming home.  Which is so cheesy, I know, but I just moved across the country and have been feeling a little homesick, so this has honestly been a great help.

Ahem.  Anyway.

CHAPTER 20: THE FIRST TASK

First of all, poor Harry.  Poor kid.

Throughout this read-through I’ve been trying really hard to remember just how old these guys are, regardless of how much older they tend to act in certain situations.  And Harry and his friends are fourteen. Fourteen!  Holy shit!  Thinking back to when I was fourteen, probably the most difficult thing I had to deal with was an emotionally abusive homelife, and my crush being horribly confusing so I wasn’t ever sure if he liked me because we were too busy being snarky at each other before class.  You know, standard fourteen year old stuff.  (Though now that I think about it, he was probably kinda into me.  Whatever.)

Harry’s got a lot of that, sure, only he’s got to get past a fucking dragon as well, and half of his support system’s completely ditched him.

I love the way Rowling writes teenagers.  Harry’s growing up, he’s dealing with a lot, he’s got hormones and emotions and drama and school and a madman trying to murder him besides.  And a lot of that comes out in the way Rowling writes him, in the way he thinks, how he reacts to things.  Kid’s got a temper on him, he’s a little bit spiteful, he’s confused, he’s stubborn.  He’s noticing girls more.  It’s glorious, really, because all of these little things really speak to the fact that, yeah, he’s really only fourteen and just starting to figure stuff out.  He really feels less like a character out of a book and more like my little brother, which isn’t really much of a help to my homesickness issue, but I digress.

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