I Read the Harry Potter Series for the First Time at 26!

I must be one of the only people from Gen Y to have not read the Harry Potter series as a child. The story just didn’t appeal to me as a kid. I wasn’t much of a fan of the movies either as a kid. I enjoyed them much more as an adult. Yet I now find myself as a grown 26-year-old finally reading the series for the first time. 

My husband challenged me to read all the Harry Potter novels. Here I am at the start of 2021 having just read the entire series over an 8-week period. And man, do I regret not having read these sooner. Of course, I can see evidential flaws in Rowling’s writing in terms of plot holes and character progression/regression in some books, but all-round these are great books.

The Philosophers Stone

This is where it all began- with the boy wizard Harry Potter beginning his Hogwarts journey. Now, I have seen the film adaptation multiple times so I was aware of the storyline. I felt that of all the books, this has the least amount of content omitted from the film, probably because it is the shortest book.

I can quickly tell that this book was intended for children of around the same age to read. The language is simple, and the themes are nowhere near as dark or scary as they are the more the series progresses.

Rowling provides us with character descriptions in great lengths. Having seen the movies before reading the books, it is harder to imagine the characters being anyone other than who plays them onscreen.

One advantage of books is that storylines can often be fleshed out a lot more than onscreen, due to time constraints. This becomes a lot more noticeable further along in the series with books such as ‘Order of the Phoenix’.

It was actually nice being drawn into a child’s world once again from the understanding and perspective of an adult.

The Chamber of Secrets

I had also seen this movie multiple times and enjoyed it for the most part. Like with the previous novel, a lot of the content within the story is covered in the movie which is a big bonus.

The slightly darker themes within this book are definitely not suited to those who have a spider or snake phobia. Thankfully, I have neither.

If I hadn’t already seen the movie and knew the outcome (which I won’t spoil), then I think I would have really loved the mystery surrounding the Chamber of Secrets. So the fact that I already knew the plot kind of made me lose interest a little.

The Prisoner of Azkaban

Out of the movie series, this would rank in one of my favourites. I love the storyline and how it has delved a little darker into the wizarding world.

Rowling has often showed that she can be comedic with her writing when needed, more so in this book. The drivers of the night bus are the comic relief as is the scene where Harry accidentally blows up his Aunt Marge. Being Rowling’s third published novel, and no doubt having a far bigger publishing team now; the book I feel is far more polished and the writing more fluid.

The Goblet of Fire

So, the movie absolutely broke my heart, although I have only seen it twice. Because I wasn’t as familiar with the storyline of this as I was with the previous three, the book was a little more thrilling for me.

Voldemort is described exactly how I imagined he would be even if I hadn’t seen the film, and I really enjoyed reading about the battle between he and Harry. I think it transferred well to the movie. This was also probably the book I enjoyed the most. The storyline kept me interested the whole way.

The Order of the Phoenix

As with the subsequent films, I’ve only seen this movie once. At over 800 pages, this book was a long slog and it was the longest to get through. Having said that, I thoroughly enjoyed it. With a book this long, it would be easy to lose interest, but I didn’t.

Rowling made me want to hate Umbridge from the get-go, which is obviously how she wanted us to feel about the character. I’ve really enjoyed seeing how the main characters (Harry, Ron and Hermione) have developed and grown as the books have progressed. This is another testament to how Rowling’s writing skill has developed with the series.

The Half-Blood Prince

Having only seen the movie once, I had forgotten a majority of the plot, so it was enjoyable rediscovering this. I also temporarily forgot about the death of one of the key characters, so naturally I was devastated reading it.

I discovered how much has been missed out of the movie, although none of the key plot points have been omitted. It allowed me to see characters in a new light such as Snape and the book full of notes he left behind for Harry. I understand more why he has the feelings toward Harry that he does, given how things were between Snape and Harry’s parents.

The Deathly Hallows

This book is aptly titled. Within the first five chapters, we had already seen the loss or injury of several key characters. Once again, I had forgotten some of these details so my reaction wasn’t great.  

Reading the book, I understand why the book was split into two movies. I don’t think it would have done the books justice to have just one two-and-a-half movie to tell the whole story. There would have been far too much omitted.

Of all the books, this one left me feeling the most emotional. It was a roller coaster. This is a spoiler free story so I won’t detail too much but there is a lot of death and bloodshed. There’s also a lot of dark but brilliant magic.

This book was a perfect end to an enjoyable series of both books and films. I felt that the stories of the lead characters were wrapped up well but were also left open for possible sequels- a clever move from Rowling.

Overall, I enjoyed the ‘Harry Potter’ series and wished I had read them earlier. Of course, reading them as an adult is probably just as enjoyable and allows for a different perspective.  If I had read these as a young kid, I guarantee some scenes would have scared the hell out of me because as an adult they still did.

But Rowling has an excellent skill of capturing the audience’s attention when needed and keeping them engaged. The pace of the books is relatively fast which works in her favour as we get a whole year out of each book, meaning that they are action-packed with little boring or unnecessary bits.

It just goes to show that you are never too old to read and enjoy some children’s series!