As it turns out there are quite a few people in need of these support groups judging from the many one star reviews that the Harry Potter books have accumulated at Amazon. Consider the numbers:
Sorcerer's Stone: 81
Chamber of Secrets: 33
Prisoner of Azkaban: 37
Goblet of Fire: 77
Order of the Phoenix: 161
Half-Blood Prince: 161
Deathly Hallows: 97
Of course these one star reviews are but a mere "blip" if you compare them to the combined thousands of 5 and 4 star reviews. But I was curious about why these people gave these great books one star reviews. The majority stated they didn't "like" the books for various reasons.
Now, all kidding aside, I can understand someone not "liking" a great book. I can respect that. I have not liked some great books. For example, although I liked the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit, I did not like Tolkien's "Silmarillion". For me it was very slow and boring, but I still recognize it's a great book in its plot and scope.
However, the one star reviews that puzzled me were those that claimed that the books are not great because they are poorly written. These people wrote that the Potter series suffered from mediocre, careless writing, poor editing, bad grammar (e.g. run on sentences and overuse of adverbs), dreadful prose, shallow characters, and bland descriptions. Someone wrote: "The adults who like these books are the ones who didn't pay attention in English class." And these comments from readers are no different from those I had read that came from certain literary critics.
So let me get to the crux of this post. Even if we assume the Harry Potter books are not well written, I want to ask: what is the function of good writing? Are people supposed to learn to write well to better communicate with their readers or are people supposed to write well just because they should blindly follow a set of rules? My opinion is that it is the former that is important. Let me put it this way:
Effect on the reader = story + how you tell it
In other words, the "effect" the story has on the reader is due to the combination of the actual tale itself and how well you tell it (grammar and writing technique). In the literary community it is accepted that a good story can be told so badly (lousy writing) that the effect on the reader will be poor. But what is seldom discussed is that the story can be so good that it can overcome non-optimal writing.
I want to venture that there is a sizeable group of persnickety people out there who have become so enamored with the formal rules of writing that they have lost the ability to appreciate a good story, and this is sad. If the price I have to pay to become an excellent writer is to not be able to appreciate books like the Harry Potter series, then I don't want to become an excellent writer, period, as simple as that.
Be that as it may, I do think that these books are awesome and I agree with Stephen King who predicted that Harry Potter is destined to join the likes of Alice, Frodo, Dorothy and Huck Finn in the pantheon of the great characters of all time. And if you don't agree with that, well, I can provide you with a list of support groups that can help you.
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