I decided at the beginning of the year that I would try to "kill two birds with one stone" as the old saying goes. I knew I wanted to exercise/walk on the treadmill; I knew that I wanted to experiment with audio books (they are such a challenge for this visual learner); and I knew I wanted to read through the Harry Potter series. Hence my idea of listening to the HP books on audio while I walk the treadmill. I am pleased to report that I have recently completed the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and as a (belated) reward I watched the DVD of that same title last night.
Now please bear with me, as I do not think I can do an adequate review of audio books just yet. It truly takes all my powers of concentration to follow the storyline. BUT...I can say that as of January 31, 2010, I have walked 34 miles and thoroughly enjoyed the first book in the series. I had no idea that J. K. Rowling had such a sense of humor! And while I usually find it difficult to relate to fantasy genre, I must say that she creates a believable fantasy world for me. I loathed Snape and Malfoy; I adored Ron Weasley; I find Hermione pleasantly annoying; and I have a soft spot in my heart for Hagrid. While it took a while, I now understand the game of Quidditch, and I do believe that I wouldn't mind a magic wand of my own to do a few chores around the house. Yes, Harry Potter is growing on me and I am very anxious to continue with the second book.
Now I am really not adept at movie reviews. Truth be told, I tend to fall asleep after the first thirty minutes of any feature film. However, I did enjoy this film adaptation of the book. I found that all the characters were similar to my mental image except for Mr. Dursley. I did not picture him overweight at all (although I can understand the director's interpretation, given his son's in-depth description in the book.) Going by Jim Dale's humorous voice-over of the character, I pictured Vernon as a rather tall, lanky, long-nosed, dark-rimmed-glasses sort of fellow. The whiny voice seemed to indicate a pencil-thin, anal-retentive personality. I also pictured Professor Quirrell as an older gentleman - perhaps the title professor led me to that conclusion. Otherwise, I think the other characters, including Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall, Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville were depicted perfectly. I think the movie character that has me most intrigued in Snape - his long, black hair and constant sneer give me a rather uneasy feeling every time he appears on screen.
I think my favorite scenes in the movie include the excursion to Diagon Alley -- it is so reminiscent of the streets of Victorian England, my most favorite setting; the touching scene with Harry and the Mirror of - young Harry is truly taken with seeing his parents for the first time and realizing that he truly is loved; and the Quidditch game where Snape is uttering the counter-spell of Quirrell. I found this scene particularly difficult to follow in audio, but it all made perfect sense once I saw it played on the big screen.
As fun as the movie was to view, I must admit that I did enjoy the book to a greater degree. I loved Rowling's attention to detail. I think her in-depth descriptions lends credence to the development of the characters. And while her sense of humor comes through in the movie, it is even more evident in print.
I immediately started listening to the second book in the series, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and have really appreciated the way in which the author reviews key information from the first book, without going overboard with detail. I expect it will take me about a month to complete this book in the series, given my walking speed of 8 miles a week.
I want to thank C. B. James for hosting this fun meme, and I look forward to reviewing another book and movie combination sometime in the near future.