It’s no secret that I love Harry Potter, I write about it pretty much on a constant basis… and I will defend it to the death.
So you can imagine how interesting it was to go through some old one-star reviews on Amazon of the book series.
The reviews compiled below go through the gamut of readers from 14-year-old students, kids, and older readers, and you’d be surprised how vitriolic they can get. I blame the anonymity factor.
In our day and age, anonymity on the Internet is seen as one of the world wide web’s curses rather than one of its main features. In the late 90s and early 2000s it was pretty much a shit show with websites that never required you to put in real information about yourself in order to sign up, sign in, or attack people verbally online.
Today we still get people, even with their personal information available online, commenting on posts that you put your everything into only to have one person come along to put you down and then you end up dreaming about the comment late into the night thinking about how it made you feel so completely inadequate and unable to find a way to make all of your readers completely happy when you only have their reader experience in mind when writing, and then you think to yourself, “Maybe it would be better if I deleted everything and went into hiding in the Himalayas”… sorry.
And to get more of taste of the forget world of online anonymity, I like to use websites like the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, but Amazon and other older e-commerce websites can be a treasure troves of interesting Internet craziness.
You know what they say, hindsight is 20/20, and these reviewers certainly didn’t like the Harry Potter books.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
10 of 77 people found the following review helpful
By A customer on April 17, 2000
I really do not like this book. It is full of …”magical” things and I really was not interested in the bookor characters at all. This book is definitly not worth all the hype it got. It was hard to follow, hard to understand, and definitly not a good book! END
Now that’s how you put your angry stamp of approval on a negative, poorly-worded book review. Aside from the typos made in the review, I get how the early hype around the Harry Potter series left some disappointed. The first book in the series still felt like a kid’s book and it was fairly short; however, as the series continued we started to see the intricate narrative that J.K. Rowling was crafting through her books.
It’s a great example of how hindsight absolutely destroys reviews like this of people who quit the series right at the start simply because they didn’t get it. Also “magical”? C’mon dude this is a story about wizards, so of course there are going to be magical things!
11 of 79 people found the following review helpful
By spencer on December 1, 1999
It was very unrealistic, and some of the scenes came out of nowhere, and there were chapter cuts where there should not have been chapter cuts, and that’s all I have to say.
Now I don’t know if this reviewer got a bad copy of the book or simply doesn’t understand how magic works, but I think the books require just a little suspension of disbelief. This means you allow the book to take you into its fantasy world rather than questioning everything about it from the get go.
And maybe parts of the first book could have used a little more breathing room, but I can’t think of any examples where a scene just cropped up out of nowhere or when the chapter ended before it seemingly was meant to end.
3 of 34 people found the following review helpful
By A customer on October 9, 2000
This was a really really great book, except for one thing. Why did the wizards always have to make sure the muggles didn’t know they existed? The only thing the book had to say on the subject was, that the muggles would always be asking them for things! That was a pretty lame excuse. However, I did think it was a very fun read, and, I am anxiously waiting the next book.
The first book doesn’t say a lot about The International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy or the consequences for witches and wizards who break the rules, but if you wanted to a pretty damn good reason why wizards hide from muggles look no further than at Harry’s aunt and uncle.
Vernon and Petunia hate Harry because he’s different. Just because he might have a sliver of magic in him they lock him into a closet, send him to a shitty school, and make him into their household slave. People who are different aren’t liked by people who are “normal”, so that’s a pretty good excuse for why witches and wizards like their society secret.
130 of 348 people found the following review helpful
By A customer on April 5, 2000
I am a fifteen-year-old girl whose friends adore Harry Potter. I read this book in an attempt to see whether this book would live up to all the hype surrounding it. I thought that I would perhaps enjoy this book, as I am normally a big fan of “different world” stories. Boy, was I disappointed.
I do not think that this book will induce others to practice witchcraft, etc. The reason why I don’t like Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone is because IT ISN’T A GOOD BOOK. This story moves like a television series, each storyline acting as an episode. But there is one difference: television shows do a much better job at depicting characters and storylines. J.K. Rowling’s use of description is bland and amateurish. I realize that this book was written for children, but couldn’t Rowling have at least attempted to use a higher sense of vocabulary? Roald Dahl uses very simplistic vocabulary in his stories, too, but he comes off as charming – Rowling just seems to be somebody who CAN’T use a nice vocab word every now and then.
Let’s move on to the actual story. This is where the “unoriginal” trait comes in. Can we say “Cinderella”? The story of Harry Potter is too contrived. We’ve all seen the main storyline before: kind orphan boy/girl who just so happens to be whisked away to someplace “magical” for them; is great at everything and wins the admiration of practically everybody, with the exception of a few jealous enemies here and there. This storyline has been DONE TO DEATH, and Harry Potter doesn’t make it any better.
This book is definitely not a classic. The Chronicles of Narnia – that’s a classic. A Wrinkle in Time – that’s a classic. Harry Potter doesn’t come even close to those or many others. My literature teacher once put books into two different categories: thinking books and non-thinking books. Harry Potter belongs in the latter. This is a book that will go in one ear and out the other, not something that will stay with you for years on end. If this book ever becomes as “classic” as Cinderella or Snow White, the world will have had lost its mind.
This book definitely does not live up to the hype.
As a fifteen-year-old who is reading the book to see if it would live up to the “hype”, I don’t think you have much of an open mind. It’s interesting to note that you bought the Audio CD version of the book, so maybe you didn’t get the full experience of actually reading the story. Maybe if you did then you would see it does have a “higher sense of vocabulary”, or however you put it.
Anyway, I can’t be too hard on this reviewer. As I wrote above there was a lot of excitement over this new series and excitement isn’t always the best thing for people new to a series. They go in thinking, “Oh this can’t be as good as everyone days” and they go out of their way to make sure they have the worst experience with it as possible. And it is a Cinderella story in some ways. Harry is impoverished and sad until he’s whisked away by a magical force i.e. Hagrid; however, Harry doesn’t simple win all of his friends and just makes a few enemies here or there.
Throughout the first book, he’s plagued with doubts about his life at Hogwarts and is constantly reminded by his teachers that he’s completely inadequate as a wizard. Snape, in particular, makes a point of giving Harry the roughest time possible during his Potions lessons because he hates what he represents. Of course, people back then only knew Snape was just a dick with long, greasy hair, but oh man wait until the last book.
Cinderella also gets her happy ending in the Disney movie, but Harry isn’t a prince or a princess. He’s an orphan whose parents died and he lost his entire childhood to being abused by the Dursleys. Now he has a second chance to live, but he’s walking into a world where everyone knows his name and half of them want him dead.
I also want to grab you and your teacher, and then throttle you for a good ten minutes for saying Harry Potter belongs in the “non-thinking books” category, but not because I think Harry Potter is a good book series. I want to throttle you because you believe that any book can be cast away for having no merit whatsoever just because your teacher thinks so.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
19 of 53 people found the following review helpful
By A customer on September 12, 1999
I was reading some of the reviews when I noticed one that said that, people over ten that read this book should be ashamed. You need to learn that just because a book is meant for a younger audience doesn’t mean that no one else will enjoy it. I happen to be 14 and I love this book. I enjoy the fantasy, that Rowling so carefully weaves into our imagination. I like the idea of a school like Hogwarts, especially compared to the school that I attend now. I do like the Redwall books and Tolkiien’s books are right up there but that doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy the Harry Potter books. I honestly think that the Harry Potter books are good for any age, and no one should be ashamed of reading these great books. I think this book deserves a 5 star but I put a one star to get your attention, since no one including me reads the 5 stars.
Not a negative comment per se and it brings up a big sticking point for some readers of the Harry Potter series. Is Harry Potter a kids book, young adult fiction, or an all ages experience? For slightly older readers, like this reviewer here, they can’t help but feel a little off put having other reviewers tell them that this is just a kids book.
In my experience as a kid during the height of Harry Potter, I actually didn’t like reading the books. I found them too long and too complicated for me, so maybe I even believed the book was meant for older kids. This reviewer has the right idea though. Your age doesn’t control what kinds of fiction you can enjoy. Also good strategy on getting the comment seen.
8 of 35 people found the following review helpful
By A customer on July 27, 2000
In this book, we read about Harry’s second year atHogwarts. But this time, some strange things are happening: petrifiedpeople, odd voices, and strange writing on the wall. It’s up to Ron and Harry to save Hogwarts and find out the mystery.
I like Harry Potter, but this book was a let down to me. Most of you or few of you may be disagreeing with me, but in my opinion, this is a disappointment. Why am I thinking this? I’ll tell you why. First, the plot of this story is similar to the first book … Second, who cares about the chamber of secrets? Why does Slytherin have his own chamber of secrets? Why don’t Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw have their own chambers too? Also, what’s with this basilisk talking with Harry and paralyzing people? I think an idea of a basilisk seems unreasonable. Rowling could have replaced the basilisk with some made-up, more creative creature. Finally, why is Gilderoy Lockhart in the book? If he is such a bad teacher at Hogwarts, why did Dumbledore hire him in the first place? I find his character useless. He doesn’t know any magic except for a memory charm. Dumbledore would have fired him if he knew what a stupid person Lockhart was. He just ruined another part of the story for me and was another let down.
In my opinion, this book is the worst of all four Harry Potter books in the series. I recommend the other three books to any Harry Potter fan or any reader. I found this book to be a waste of money and paper.
The review’s title is actually pretty hilarious and its first point is kind of apt. Harry Potter books all seem to follow the same kind of plot. There’s a mystery, Harry and his friends have to solve it, something big happens, and then they’re sent home for the summer. It’s a formula Rowling used to give her book structure, but later entries in the series flip the formula upside down.
To the other points, I saw booooooooooooooooo! Slytherin created the Chamber of Secrets because he hated the other three house leaders. The chamber’s basilisk was meant to purify the school of muggle-born witches and wizards whenever Slytherin, or his heir, saw fit. Also the basilisk is a snake who can speak to Harry because he’s a Parselmouth who can talk to snakes. It fits into the whole Slytherin image.They explain it in the book!
As for Gilderoy Lockhart, I’m still sure why Dumbledore hired him on as a teacher.
I believe he was hired on to expose him as a fraud. At some point the older students in the school would start reporting that he sucked as a teacher and would have to be fired for his incompetence. It would put a stop to him stealing stories from other witches and wizards, and leave him disgraced. He’s also an interesting example of a wizard who uses his fame to get what he wants. Maybe even his advice to Harry, to remain humble even in the spotlight, is a helpful hint for things to come as the Chosen One.
3 of 22 people found the following review helpful
By A customer on July 7, 1999
I did not think Rowling could write a worse book than the first Harry Potter. I was wrong. This book, written as though Rowling did not care whether every word was spelled wrong had very bad grammar and word usage worthy of a four year old.
20 of 70 people found the following review helpful
I think this is probably an example of an older reader poo pooing on the book series because they think it’s for kids. From what I can remember, Harry Potter’s use of vocabulary was pretty intermediate with some descriptive language and Rowling’s ever perfect dialogue.
This complaint is an example of someone not actually having any problems they can think of other than not liking the book, so they just say the grammar and word usage in the story was bad. You just have to get off your high horse, “A customer”.
By A customer on July 23, 2000
Hmmmmm…let’s see…it’s okay to break rules if you’re the “good guy”, but not okay if you’re the “bad guy”? It’s okay for the Head of the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts to bewitch a muggle car as long as he’s the father of one of the “good guys”, but at the same time it’s not okay for a governor on the school board to keep illegal items because he’s the father of one of the “bad guys”–but the “good guy” can get away with it as long as he’s got “the scoop” on what’s under the “bad guy’s” drawing-room floor (let’s just completely ignore what’s in the “good guy’s” garage)? The “bad guy” looses his job for doing something illegal, but the “good guy” (who also did something illegal) doesn’t? So, it’s okay to “turn the tables” and use the same tactics on the “bad guys” as they used on you as long as you’re the “good guy”? …the ends justify the means? …how Machiavellian. Is this REALLY what we want to teach our kids? Of course kids like these books…now they’ve got a hero that can break as many rules as he wants and get away with it. I would hope that anyone with a decent set of moral values wouldn’t buy into the hype and buy this book.
If you’re a parent or a teacher, I would STRONGLY suggest that you read these books before allowing your children to read them and really think about whether or not you want your children influenced by the behavior in these books.
Are you sympathizing with Lucius Malfoy?
However, I think you bring up a pretty good comparison between these two characters who are meant to be compared. Is it ok for Arthur Weasley to bewitch a flying car? No, it’s not. Did he get punished for owning it. Yes, he did.
The point of the example is that if Lucius was in the same position, he wouldn’t get into trouble. He’d simply buy his freedom or threaten officials until everyone magically forgot about the incident. Arthur Weasley being “good” and Lucius Malfoy being “bad” all depends on your perspective, but from a cursory glance it’s not too difficult to see Malfoy is just a dick.
He’s probably one of the most evil characters in the series. He’s abusive to Dobby, he threatens people into silence, and he tried to murder all of the muggle-born wizards in Hogwarts by corrupting Ginny Weasley and getting her to open the Chamber of Secrets.
However, is it right for the good guys to use the same tactics to catch the bad guys? It’s definitely not and characters in the books go into detail about some bad things witches and wizards can do to get an upper hand on their enemies. However, they also talk about why the good wizards don’t use things like the unforgivable curses.
Azkaban exists as a reminder for all witches and wizards what happens when they go against the law, but Lucius would never be imprisoned there. He’d find a way to squirm his way out.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
4 of 63 people found the following review helpful
By A customer on October 21, 1999
I cannot believe that Amazon would sell Mr. Potter’s books. All his books are about witch craft and pull children into this cult deeper and deeper with each book. If you don’t believe me, take these books to your pastor or priest or rabbi and ask them what they think!
I bet a priest, pastor, or rabbi would probably be super hyped to see that you were reading the books and would test your knowledge of the lore. I think by this point in the reviews, we’re starting to see more and more religiously-inspired crap like this. “The book have demonic origins” and “It’s telling kids that witchcraft is cool” was all the rage for people who simply didn’t read the books, and now I doubt you could find any priest, pastor, or rabbi who would have an issue with the series unless they would like Harry to get with Hermione.
12 of 75 people found the following review helpful
By A customer on July 1, 2000
Look at the symbol on Harry Potter’s forehead.
It’s the Satanic “S” – It represents a lightning bolt that means “Destroyer”. In mythology, It was the weapon of Zeus. Worn to have power over others.
Also was worn by the feared SS of Nazi Germany who killed the Jews after an area was conquered.
Here are some quotes:
Professor Snape who taught Potions: “I don’t expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses….”
A Centaur’s views on astrology – “We have sworn not to set ourselves against the heaven. Have we not read what is to come in the movements of the planets? ….Or have the planets not let you in on that secret?”
“He is with me wherever I go,” said Quirrell quietly, referring to Voldmort. “I met him when I traveled around the world. A foolish young man I was then, full of ridiculous ideas about good and evil. Lord Voldemort showed me how wrong I was. There is no good and evil , there is only power, and those too weak to seek it…. Since then, I have served him faithfully.”
Headmaster Dumbledore: “To the well organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”
Hagrid, the grounds-keeper at Hogwarts, telling Harry about the strange power that saved his life, “Happened when a powerful, evil curse touches you – didn’t work on you, and that’s why yer famous, Harry. No one ever lived after he [Voldemort] decided ter kill `em, no one except you…”
Are you saying that Harry Potter is the anti-christ? Or that Zeus hit him with a lightening bolt? Or that Snape is an awful Potions master? Either way, the typo in the title of your review kind of takes the crazy winds out of your crazy sails.
As we all know, the word “typo” is a 19th century abbreviation of the term typographical error, and in the 19th century 9/11 happened. Is J.K. Rowling promoting terrorism through making you put a typo in your review? This kind of reasoning just doesn’t work.
2 of 34 people found the following review helpful
A Kid’s Reviewon March 24, 2001
tHIS BOOK DIDNT FLOW, IT DIDNT MAKE ME FEEL BETTER ABOUT MYSELF, IT DIDNT INSPIRE ME TO GROW FLOWERS IN MY GARDEN….iT MADE ME SICK, PLAIN AND SIMPLE, THE CRAP HARRY SOMES UP WITH IS PATHETIC IT DOESNT EVEN MAKE U WANT TO READ THE NEXT BOOK, I HATED HOW ROWLING JUST ASSUMES HOW HARRY THINKS, SHES A WOMEN HARRYS A GUY, WHEN A GUY IS 13 HE ISNT OBSSESSED WITH MAGIC HE IS OBSSESSED WITH GIRLS ( OR GUYS IF YA KNOW WHAT I MEAN), THIS BOOK ALMOST DELIVERS A REAL DOWNER, A CHEAP DEPRESSENT IF U WILL AND PUT ME ON THE VERGE OF SUICIDE, I HAVE NOT IN ALL MY LIFE DWELLED ON TAKIN MY LIFE BUT AFTER READING THIS MOCKERY OF MAGIC AND ADOLESENCE I HAVE DISCOVERED THAT THERE ARE MANY THINGS BETTER TO DO THEN WAIST MY TIME AND MONEY ON A BOOK ABOUT A KID WHO WHERES A TOP HAT AND FLYS A BROOM…SOME HOW HARRY MANAGES TO SURVIVE EVERYTHING WITHOUT GETTING RECIEVING A SINGLE SCRATCH, IF U WANT TO USE THE TIME GOD GAVE U IN A GOOD WAY THEN GO OUTSIDE AND ENJOY THE SUN AND EARTH THAT GOD HAS PROVIDED FOR US ALL… HAVE A GOOD DAY AMAZON BUT PLEASE DONT WAIST YOU TIME READING ABOUT A SILLY CHILD WITH A SILLY NAME AND IF YOU READ BETWEEN THE LINES U CAN TELL ROWLINGS IS TRYING TO ESCAPE THE LITTLE 13 YEAR OLD BOY THAT SHE CREATED IN HARRY POTTER…..THINK ABOUT THAT NEXT TIME U READ ONE OF THE HARRY POTTER BOOKS…..
Putting on Caps Lock doesn’t make me take you seriously; however, if you wrote this by holding Shift the whole time then my opinion of you might be a little better.
Also when did Harry start wearing a top hat? Anyway, this rambling and incoherent review’s main point is that J.K. Rowling can’t understand Harry’s character because she’s a women and he’s a 13-year-old boy. He believes that Harry should probably be focusing more on liking girls than studying magic or freeing his god father from imminent death.
And good article here from Christian Today about the religious scare Harry Potter created and how most people from back then redact their views of the stories.
7 of 30 people found the following review helpful
A Kid’s Review on April 1, 2001
I did not like it, it was to evil and gave me bad dreams, its very scary i liked the coloring book more…..
That’s ok Chase, books can be scary sometimes.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
15 of 45 people found the following review helpful
By A customer on May 18, 2001
The first three books were fun and charming. I can see why there was so much hype in anticipation for the fourth book. What happened? Putting aside the horrible editing job which resulted in pointless overused dialogue, dangling sub-plots etc… – the tone of the Harry Potter series has left the realm of children’s books. I am in my 30s and I found “the death” to be one of the cruelest things I’ve ever read – not even taking into account that this book is aimed for people 9-12! I don’t see how the author can recapture the tone set in the first three books after the very dark turn the story has taken. It’s like all along we’ve been sucking on this delicious lollipop only to find that the center is not very tasty at all. A very disturbing book.
Cedric Diggory’s death is one of the most important events in the entire Harry Potter series. It is the catalyst for the return to power of Voldemort and ultimately makes the entire wizarding world realize that he’s back.
And guess what, death isn’t something that you can anticipate and yes sometimes it is pointless and cruel. Cedric isn’t Bambi’s mother or Mr. Badger, he’s just a kid who got in over his head and was killed. His death is about as realistic to real death as the series gets and it’s an important lesson for kids 9-12 years old.
We get to see how the entire school comes together in the wake of his death and how it solidifies Harry’s resolve to stop Voldemort. No book series that evolves over time is going to be happy throughout its entirety. And if you think life should appear that way to kids you aren’t preparing them for reality.
10 of 34 people found the following review helpful
By evilir on March 28, 2002
rowling has poor insights into things, and his harry potter is no more than an ordinary child story. nothing in the book is of rowling’s own creation– everything she just borrow it from somewhere else. for instance, the idea of a wizard, nor goblin is new. about the story and the plot, obviously rowling has adopted such a recipe (start introducing characters> something unexpected happens > band of children miraculous solve the the mystery and become heroes) more than thousands have used in making children stories.
every book of jk rowling is dull, and is repetitive, as they all start with harry having his summer holidays with the whatever it is ( i don’t care) , and then goes back to school and something happens, and bah bah bah…
talking about child entertainment, i could find lots of japanese animations thats better than this…
no offence, just expressing my opinions about this book, which i think does not deserve all the popularity.
Did you know that The Hero’s Journey, originally identified by Joseph Campbell, is a commonly used narrative structure that can be found in a slew of popular culture examples? Star Wars, Harry Potter, Pokemon, and Zelda are just a few that can be used as examples.
So if you’re saying that you didn’t like this book, or Audio CD that you listened to, because it had goblins and followed a very complex version of The Hero’s Journey then bah bah bah is what I have to say to you, good sir.
I find your stupidity offensive.
10 of 34 people found the following review helpful
By“selyara”on June 30, 2001
Sure, the books are an OK read, but they lack both the intelligence, and the basic literary foundations to become anything more than brain candy. The books are both filled with cliches, one dimensional characters, (hermione, Ron, and Harry, to name a few) and laughable, inane villains, who are both stupid, and the ‘diet pepsi’ of evil.
This book does not deserve the recognition that it has recieved. It is a waste of time to read, and does not impart the reader with anything worthwhile. …. (oh, and BTW, I am in the target age range for the ‘harry potter’ books.)
6 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Harry Potter certainly isn’t a one-dimensional character.
If anything, I would consider him a multifaceted character. He has to face a destiny where he knows he’s going to die and he slowly loses all of the parental figures who can protect him from that reality, and he has to deal with all this while still being a teenager. Most of don’t have to deal with losing our loved ones until later in life, but Harry doesn’t get that luxury.
It’s also interesting to note that Ron and Hermione are also, perhaps, even deeper characters than Harry with their blood statuses playing a large role in how they interact with the world around them. Ron’s family are considered blood-traitors by the pure-blooded wizarding elitists while Hermione could face execution for being a muggle-born witch. This struggle for equality and identity is the backbone of their characters along with their relationships.
These are characters with depth and it’s why so many readers are able to empathize with them. Also, I wouldn’t consider Voldemort your typical villain considering his past. There’s also some interesting parallels to be made between Voldemort and Harry with them both being orphaned, gifted wizards who are tied to the same fate. What’s interesting is seeing how they deal with the hand that life has dealt them.
A Kid’s Review on June 15, 2001
I bought this book the day it came out, thinking it would be as good as the last 3 were. But I was disappointed, the book rambled on about nothing for its 700 plus page length. It was so cheesy too. For example, in the triwizard tournament only three are chosen, and after a Hogwarts representative was chosen harry was chosen also to represent Hogwarts for some odd reason. And the love interest part, Harry has shown no interest before in girls. Now he is swooning over a fat french girl who talks like an idiot. I think this book is not woth 20+ dollars and advise anyone not to buy it.
Was the difference in page numbers really this big of a deal? Throughout the old reviews of this book, so many have commented on the page count and that it made the book feel like it rambled on. I think most people were happy to see the books expand over time and giving us more subplots to experience. I guess to some people less is more.
Also, Harry was chosen because Alastor Moody, or his impersonator, put Harry’s name into the Goblet of Fire. Also Fleur is very svelte.
Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix
17 of 26 people found the following review helpful
By pigletpuu on August 11, 2003
Sorry folks: it’s too long, the characters are wooden, and worst of all, the plot doesn’t make any sense. The only fun left are the Weasley twins.
1. I don’t mind the length of the book, but I mind the fact that during the first 400 pages or so, nothing slightly exciting happens.
2. Some figures, like Umbridge and Fudge, are behaving like caricatures without credibility. Why should they call the wizard High Court just to expel a student from a school? On the other hand, the opportunity to make Snape’s character appear a little more complex was hardly used. Even the attempt to endow Harry with teenager emotions is hardly convincing.
3. Not much of what happens in the book really makes sense. More than 50% is dedicated to the Umbridge story which turns out to be only a byplay unrelated to the main plot. And the “main plot” consists of preventing Voldemort from obtaining an information that – here comes the surprise – is neither new nor dangerous at all. It’s just not conceivable what’s all the fuss about, and especially, why Dumbledore didn’t simply tell Harry at the beginning (had he told him, nobody would have died).
What I really liked about the first four books was the suspense. There was a mystery that was solved in the end in a really surprising way. It couldn’t have been guessed yet was credible and satisfying (thanks to the fact, of course, that in the magical world everything is possible). This time, the only surprise is that the story is uninteresting, and the mystery is why so many people still like, or pretend to like, the book.
I think the suspense in the book comes in three forms.
Harry Potter is suddenly living in a world without Dumbledore to guide him. Imagine that, the second closest thing to a father figure he’s ever is completely ignoring him. What’s worse if that Sirius, his actual father figure, isn’t able to contact Harry on a regular basis. Harry’s told that he’s on his own to figure out what to do about Dolores Umbridge and discover why he’s getting visions from Voldemort.
And then there’s the future of Hogwarts. Harry’s home is being transformed by an evil witch being controlled by the Ministry of Magic, the same group of people who are calling him a liar in the wake of Cedric Diggory’s death. He witnessed his friend die, but they call him a liar.
Even Harry’s friends are having doubts about him. His mood swings enhanced by his connection to Voldemort makes him edgy and tense. He isn’t able to sleep, he barely studies, and has to deal with a form of post-traumatic stress caused by Cedric’s death.
How is Harry supposed to survive this year at Hogwarts in the face of so much adversity? That’s the suspense! Harry’s sudden change in mood and connection to Voldemort also becomes the book’s mystery. From the prophecy, we learn that there is an inexorable connection between him and the Dark Lord. It’s a huge moment in the series and leads into the latter part of the series biggest mystery, the Horcruxes.
7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
By “bballchik43” on August 11, 2003
Well, what can I say? I used to be a tremendous fan of Harry Potter. I have read the first four books so many times it’s ridiculous, I loved them. However, after reading this book I can’t stand to read any of them any more. I thought it was truly awful. Harry, who has always been entertaining and relatively upbeat, was depressing. Sure, he has reason to be but he wasn’t it the first four books, which is why they were so good. His life had hardship but Rowling didn’t make you feel so bad about it that it ruined the book. In the fifth book, however, all you read about is bad things. He is bitter in the beginning about being left out and from that, things only get worse: he has a horrible teacher, he is kicked off the Quidditch team, and, as a horrible finale, his godfather is killed. His parents were previously killed and now his godfather is gone. At one point, she even has him believing he’ll come back as a ghost. But he doesn’t, making it almost as though he loses him not once, but twice. Also, the twins drop out and Cho is completely disappointing. Before there was very little romance related issues. I understand that now he is getting older but if he’s going to like someone couldn’t Rowling have at least made it someone that treated him better or someone that her reading audience could have liked? It was as though nothing went right in this book. It ruined the other ones for me because it’s sad to think how depressed he gets (for good reason). I just couldn’t like this book. It was truly disappointing to me. I finished within 15 hours after buying it and it was a waste of time. I shouldn’t have even read it, much less wasted time standing in line to get it the minute it was released. Rowling, why did you feel the need to take away one of the only people Harry has to look up to? This book took forever to come out, however, I wish it never had.
Sirius Black’s death is probably one of the most heart-breaking moments in the series. Sure, the first books are happy and filled with fun as Harry learns about his magical world and the surprises that are in store for him, but as I stated far above things aren’t always happy.
Authors also aren’t required to make readers like their protagonist. Oftentimes, the hero of the story can be a book’s most flawed character, but these flaws are what make them human. Harry is up against so much with his school suddenly becoming a hostile zone, his government calling him a liar, and his friends looking at him as if he’s the villain. Plus Dumbledore is nowhere to be seen and Snape is on the warpath making sure Harry knows he hates every molecule of him.
Would you be able to stay happy under those circumstances?
I’d find it extremely distracting if he was simply able to shrug off all his problems with a smile and a bit of magic. And it’s through these problematic times that Harry learns his friends will ultimately help him through to the end.
3 of 18 people found the following review helpful
By A customer on June 23, 2003
I believe that J.K. Rowling succumbed to the pressure of writing a fabulous 5th book by adding more violence, more anger, and unnecessary vulgarities and foul language. In the first couple of chapters the word `damn’ is used repeatedly as well as the word `effing.’ There is a discussion of someone’s buttocks and I am sure the list goes on. I love the Harry Potter books but I don’t think I would, in good conscience, let my children read this book. If Rowling wanted to start making the books where Harry is older darker and more like the 14 year old boy he is, then she should make her readers aware of it and let her younger readers know not to read it, which at this point, is like telling a child not to breathe.
22 of 55 people found the following review helpful
“Damn” and “‘effing” are considered vulgarities to you? How would you propose J.K. Rowling tell readers about the vulgarities they are about to experience? Tell them that there will be reference to buttocks in the first few chapters? Give them a forward explaining that Harry is now officially a teenager and that they should put down the book if they aren’t one? C’mon kids even in 2003 were constantly in contact with vulgarities far more extreme than what you put up as examples.
I also like how you say that telling her younger readers not to read the books is like depriving them of air, and you say that you’re not going to let your kids read the books.
A Kid’s Review on July 31, 2003
I’m ten years old. My mother and my grandma have read them to me. I wanted to have this one so much but now we have it I think it’s boring. Nothing is funny in this one. Nothing happens for a long time. There is too much talking. Harry just sits and sits and doesn’t get to be with Ron or Hermione very much. They keep talking about stuff that happened in the other books that I can’t really remember very much and my grandma can’t too. I wish it was shorter. I keep going to sleep when she reads it to me and I hate to go to sleep.
…(typed by his grandmother)
Tell your parents to stop reading you the books and do something you do enjoy instead. Maybe one day you’ll come back to the stories and read them for yourself like I did. Yep, my parents read me Harry Potter too until I decided to pick them up on my own and didn’t need them to read the books to me. I still really enjoyed listening to them read the books to me.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
10 of 65 people found the following review helpful
A Kid’s Review on July 16, 2005
WHY IS JK ROWLING KILLING OFF MORE PEOPLE IN HBP? I MEAN, WE’VE LOST CEDRIC AND SIRIUS. DON’T YOU THINK THAT’S TOO MUCH?! I MEAN ENOUGH ALREADY!!! DON’T BUY THIS, BUY BARNEY AND THE AMAZING HULA-HOOP FACTORY INSTEAD!!!!!!!!!!
33 of 89 people found the following review helpful
Your tears are so delicious, but yes there are a lot of deaths in the final books of the series. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore dies. Sorry if that’s a spoiler for anyone, but the book came out almost a decade ago.
That being said, this review is written a little tongue-in-cheek, but there are some who would have preferred it if Cedric, Sirius, Albus, and Snape didn’t die in the series. However, their deaths all serve a purpose. There are rarely deaths in Harry Potter that are pointless save Lavender Brown who was killed by Fenrir Greyback in the last book of the series.
Anyway, characters dying isn’t a reason to stop reading. Just ask Game of Thrones fans.
By Nancy M. Kolenc on July 17, 2005
I loved the other five, but this one was so bad I hardly know where to begin. It’s packed with cliches, the characters (both new and old) are poorly written and didn’t feel authentic, and the plot’s solution was obscure and disappointing. Anti-climatic.
Oh yeah and JKR decided to rip off of Lord of the Rings with this one too.
People often write about cliches and poorly written characters in Harry Potter. I’ll give them that Harry’s hormonal beast can be a little tiresome at times and some of the romance stuff in the books can be boring, but what cliches are we talking about?
Far as I can tell from reading the books and looking online, the only real cliches in the series are the ones created by fan fiction writers who make Harry Potter a billionaire to give him the ability to do whatever he wants. There’s also a strain of fan fiction that makes Harry pregnant for some reason…
Also an interesting set of similarities between Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter here, but I don’t know exactly what this reviewer is talking about in this particular book.
7 of 31 people found the following review helpful
By ChickenLover “bubbles_button” on February 11, 2006
You know what I always used to think was the worst thing in the world. Mosquito Season. It’s infested with millions of biting, potentially deadly, nuisances that leave terrible itchy bumps all over you that you can’t stop scratching. Eventually you scratch the top off and it gets infected or you die because, if it wasn’t bad enough that the little pest bite, the mosquito gave you some dread disease. But then I read the latest installment of Harry Potter. Oh, how I wish I had a mosquito to give me malaria. Not only has the dreadfull sell-out JK Rowling completely stopped trying to write anything remotely decent, but has managed to make herself room for many more than seven books, when she should have stopped at three. Now, there’s nothing wrong with a healthy appetite for money, in fact I’d look at you sideways if you decided to pass up a couple million dollars. But the least the woman could do is try. It’s not as though she has anything else to do. Not only was this the worst book yet plotwise (everyone hooked up with someone, what’s up with that? I appreciate a little romance, but were they serving oysters at Hogwarts that year or what?)but what kind of example is this lady trying to set for the millions of kids worldwide who read this drivel by making all of them drop out of high school? I understand wanting to milk this gig for all it’s worth by opening up room for more books , but seriously what’s the point of writing books if everyone is too dumb to read them? (Don’t tell me I’m overreacting either. Look at all those idiots who dress up in wizard gear and go to get the book at midnight, if you don’t think people aren’t influenced by a disfigured boy wizard.) So let’s review.. The Reasons not read this book.
1. JK Rowling is a smelly sell-out who isn’t even trying to give people quality anymore
2. Harry Potter is a moody little rube who dropped out of high school
3. There are plenty of mosquitoes out there perfectly willing to give you malaria for free
What? I’m sorry, what?
I’ve read a lot of weird reviews over the course of writing this, but I don’t get what the heck this one is talking about. Anyway, this review goes off the rails by attacking J.K. Rowling for being a millionaire woman instead of focusing on criticisms of the book.
The mosquitoes metaphor is probably the only interesting part of the review unless the writer is talking about actual mosquitoes then it’s just the ramblings of a mad person who probably shouldn’t own a computer.
15 of 39 people found the following review helpful
By Salvatore R. Mangano on August 24, 2005
I must say I empathize with Rowling. When your the wealthiest person in England what motivation could there be to sitting down and actually writing a half way decent book. Apparently very little because this is the worst of a series and book 5 was only modestly better.
Don’t waste your time. Read Eragon and Eldest instead.
Eragon wasn’t all that great… but that’s beside the point.
At this point in the series, J.K. Rowling is pretty well known as an author. These reviews seem to coincide with articles like this that started creating this rags to riches story about J.K. Rowling. Once a struggling author, now she’s a millionaire who has lost her way.
Where the hell did this idea come from?
Seriously, I really doubt there is a single rational person who thinks that way who isn’t a fedora-wearing douchebag. The quality of the series isn’t compromised by her success as an author and since the end of the series she’s shown her ability to write in other genres quite successfully too. I think it’s just a lot of people who can’t accept that a female author can be successful.
Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows
1 of 33 people found the following review helpful
By Goodbye “Mr P” on May 7, 2009
That’s the only way you would get me to read the whole of this book.
There was a man – a real grown up adult man reading this book on the tube this morning. As brazen as you like – no shame whatsoever. As bold as brass – reading his little heart out. He believed that what he was doing was acceptable and normal.
Has the whole world gone mad?
For Gawd’s sake ! This is a baby book – a tale of wizards with beards, black macs and dodgy 1960 winkle picker boots.
Wake up – snap my fingers and you will awake from the heavy hypnotic state that has ensnared you. One – Two – Three – and awake.
Awaken from your stupor and realise that
IT’S ALL GUFF
Not a good book to read at all. The third time I read it just made me mad.
Dont bother – get hold of Enid Blyton quick (her books I mean – she has passed away.)
So you read the book three times and you have a problem with a grown man reading the book in public? I can swim through your hypocrisy, and this reviews shows that even toward the end of the series in 2007 people were still of the mind that this was a series meant for kids.
Also, what are Black Macs and what does a brand of shoes available in the UK have to do with Harry Potter?
Anyway, I’ve read Harry Potter books on the bus and subway here in Toronto. I’ve never had anyone say anything to me about them, but maybe where you live things are different. Best idea would be to pick up the book, get on the tube, and be as bold as brass to see if anyone says anything to you about reading the book. If they do, you can tell them that you read it three times.
80 of 262 people found the following review helpful
By Cassandra of Troy on July 21, 2007
Rowling is good at action/adventure and the world she created is still brilliant. And that is as far as it goes. Her romances sucked the air off the moon. The plot was completely regurgitated and predictatble. The continuity had holes the size of a uncovered sewer in it. The sexual innuendo was well over the top for a children’s book. All of the characters, except for Neville, deserved to die. The message of “choosing what’s right over what’s easy” got partly lost somewhere. It read like a bad fanfic and that she really didn’t give a damn about her growth as a writer.
I could go on and on, but I will stop there. I only hope future literary critics will rip this series to pieces. My dream is that she revisits this tale and rewrite it from the very first book if that is the ending she wanted.
36 of 64 people found the following review helpful
Again with the children’s book thing.
People who read the book in 1998 would have been 9 years older by this point and the writing has matured with them.
Also “All of the characters, except for Neville, deserved to die”? Sure, Neville managed to be a bit more of a hero then before, but why does everyone else deserve to die? Is it because they had to make tough decisions in the wake of being attacked with Death Eaters or that they were helpless against the forces of evil?
I’d say that choosing what’s right is what gets a tonne of characters killed like Remus Lupin and Tonks. They could have defected and joined the bad guys, but they were killed for protecting their world. I’m looking back at your review from 2015 and I can tell you that no literary critics have ripped apart the book series yet, and I don’t expect that anyone will.
By MiaPia7 on October 25, 2007
It’s so so sad. As a huge Potter fan from the beginning and waiting 10 years with anticipation of the climatic series final, I can’t help but feel betrayed, let down and honestly somewhat nauseated.
It’s such a shame she either got tired of writing, or just plan greedy, but to destroy such a brilliantly gifted story, it’s deplorable. Clearly, this last book was not well planned and is a complete antithesis of the other six books. Each character is nearly a shell of it’s former self, taking on characteristics that are disturbingly erroneous.
Where was Fawkes?
And now with the latest revelation about Dumbledore, she seriously needs to shut her mouth now that the series is complete and let people’s imagination take hold. Leave it alone!
I for once am speechless, all I can do is shake my head.
11 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Fawkes left Hogwarts after Dumbledore died.
Reviews like this really piss me off. How are the characters shells of their former selves? Explain to me how you know the characters better than the author or how you would have drawn them out. Don’t just make baseless accusations that she did it wrong and she has to shut her mouth, give me some details.
It’s the reason why you had about 20 commenters telling you that you were an idiot on your review. You can feel betrayed, you can feel let down, and you can feel nauseated, but give us reasons.
By anoymous on May 13, 2011
Oh, let me count the ways:
2. Ohmigosh, they’re going to get caught!!! And they barely get away. How many times did that happen? At the wedding, at the cafe, in the woods, at the Malfoys, at Gringotts, at the Ministry, at Godric’s Hallow … … … at Luna’s dad’s house … … did I miss any??? I mean, after one such incident, there’s a line that says something like, How they managed to escape from such a situation was beyond him … yeah, that’s because it’s a freakin’ novel.
3. What was up with that chapter with Dumbledore? It’s like JK Rowling was trying too hard to make this book more than the good story it should have been.
4. Draco was ignored, explained away as a just a contrived plot point.
5. Ron leaving and then coming back to save Harry – contrived plot point.
6. Ron and Hermione finally kissing … in the middle of a war … in the middle of a hallway that’s about to fall apart … … sure, that’s going to happen.
7. Who cares about the characters that did die? I mean, only the Weasely twin was someone important.
8. And of course Hedwig died. Harry couldn’t have a way to communicate with the Wizarding world now could he.
9. Lord Voldemort has been foiled by Harry how many times now? And when he “kills” Harry, don’t you think that a wizard mastermind who’s been foiled by this stupid boy as many times as he had, would go make sure the little prat is dead himself? Like he’d go poke him with his wand or something?
10. Hermione, in every other book, has had some sort of thing that only she can figure out, but in this book she suddenly becomes this little wussy girl that lets Harry walk all over her.
It took me FOUR days to read this book. FOUR!!! I – little miss read the HP books in ten hours straight – put this book down volutarily for three nights in a row. It took all my self-discipline not to throw it across the room.
There were two redeeming parts of this book. Just two.
1. At the Malfoy’s when Ron is screaming for Hermione.
2. The chapter about Snape.
And the Epilogue sucked.
Now at least we have an example where the review goes into detail about everything they thought was a mistake in the series. Most of them are semi-credible criticisms like how Harry continually gets chased in the book only to miraculously escape over and over. He does get captured, eventually, so it’s not like this happens every time, but it does get a little repetitive.
The reviewer also makes the point of Voldemort not making sure that Harry was dead himself. You’d think with how he loves to gloat, the Dark Lord would at least give Harry a kick or something, not just ask someone else to see if he’d passed on.
And I’m someone who believes the epilogue to the book wasn’t really necessary, but some of the other points made are kind of stupid. In point 7, the reviewer complains that the book tells us who dies in the course of the book. Wouldn’t you want to know that? Remus and Tonks dying… wouldn’t you want to know that something like that happened?
Also the reviewer complains about J.K. Rowling expanding upon Dumbledore’s story while believing the additions about Snape were one of the book’s good points. At least they have specific complaints.
49 of 117 people found the following review helpful
By Karen E “karene73” on July 25, 2007
This book was a complete let-down. Is it the worst book I’ve ever read? Close, but no. But it certainly isn’t the crowning glory of the Harry Potter series that I expected. Sadly, I think Rowling hit her peak with Order of the Phoenix and just finished out her series in an apathetic haze (why waste time writing a GOOD story when there’s all that money to count?).
As stated in several other reviews, this book is riddled with spelling errors, inconsistencies galore, profanity and sexual innuendo (hello? I thought this was a CHILDREN’S STORY?!), and glossed over plot points that aren’t fully explained or are given overly simplistic explanations. Most of the deaths were pointless.
Furthermore, the romances that end the series (see: Epilogue) are just downright laughable and utterly anti-climatic. Harry ends up with the Mary Sue of the series (Ginny)? *Yawn* Now, having Harry finally fall for his brainy, beautiful, and steadfastly loyal help-mate Hermione…heck, THAT would have been a spectacualr twist and would have gone a long way to bringing Rowling closer to the status of truly great authors such as Jane Austen (of whom Rowling is supposedly a fan). Unfortunately, JK missed the boat on that one, big time! The hero ends up with a non-consequential character and his brilliant best friend, who was unquestionably dedicated and loyal to him *throughout the entire series* and utterly compatible with him, ends up with the lazy class clown, who for 6 (or 7) books berates her, laughs at her ideals, and generally is a humungous git where she is concerned. That’s not cute, kids, that’s disturbing!
In overall literary standards, it seems as though Rowling was writing to a certain literary formula through Book 5 (OotP) and then realized that path was leading characters down a path that rankled too many fans, so she jumped tracks and slapped together two final books using a skewed version of her original plan. One can only hope that the movies will rectify this and give us all a more satisfying ending.
You know what, Karen E. from Dayton, OH, Go fuck yourself.
Seriously, I’ve been reading comments for a good several hours and yours is perhaps the worst I’ve read. I just imagine you slapping your hands on the keyboard just hoping your keystrokes will align into some kind of coherent thought while chugging down Breakfast Essentials and Capri Sun, which are on your public wishlist.
This review combines every single negative aspect that all of the reviewers above have complained about. It insults the author directly due to the money she’s made, it speaks of errors without any evidence to back it up the claims, it expects the book to censor itself for the sake of the children, and it smacks of fan entitlement complaining about character relationships.
I’m pinching the bridge of my nose writing this because I can’t start insulting Karen as it puts me on the same level as her, but how entitled do you have to be to write a review like this? She believes that everything should be done her way without any consideration for looking at the series as whole. She doesn’t provide any examples of the problems she’d had and she even expects the movies to change the ending of the books.
Karen is the kind of reviewer who thinks literary criticism is an exercise in complaining rather than making an argument why something should be looked at a different way. These books are tomes that can be dissected for hours upon hours as I’ve done on this website, not summed up in a pissy comment that took you about 20 minutes to write.
Of all the reviews I’ve read this one is probably the worst.
Whew, I’m glad we’re out of there.
It’s been a few days since I started writing this piece and looking back on it I can safely say that the amount of butt-hurtness in here exceeds anything I’ve ever seen. Even I’m a bit butt hurt having to defend the Harry Potter series as if it was a precious child in need of protection from cyber bullies.
Some of the reviews here do have some valid criticisms when it comes to inconsistencies and some of the issues they have with character motivation. However, the manner these reviewers chose to craft their criticisms left them open to all kinds of hypocritical foibles.
In any event, I hope you enjoyed this little jaunt through the Internet’s past and got a good chuckle out of some of these reviews.