I just finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I am not a bandwagon type of person but I seriously LOVED IT!! This book was definitely different from the others. The formula is slightly altered and it is definitely the darkest and most violent of all the books (although one could argue that Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blooded Prince foreshadowed this pretty strongly). My son Sam is just over half-way through the Prisoner of Azkaban and he is loving it.
One of the things that I am exceedingly grateful for with the last book is that Sam is now very motivated to get through the series. He is a little daunted by the size of the remaining books but he is SO curious as to what happens in Deathly Hallows that I think he will overcome that. He has been peppering me with questions all week. When I finished it last night, I have to admit, I was a bit weepy - not because of the content of the book but because I knew that there weren't any more coming...at least not any time soon.
This actually led me to thinking about other prolific authors and the merits of getting out while you are still on top. I have mentioned in previous posts that I have a tendency to latch on to writers that I like and read everything they write. This goes back to high school when I discovered Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Hardy, etc. What really hit me this week is how disappointing it is when an author that you love loses his/her touch.
Take Anne Rice for example. She has been an extremely prolific author but is best known for her Vampire Chronicles series of books. The first two books Interview with a Vampire and The Vampire Lestat are outstanding in my opinion but the following books are diluted and boring. I thought she struck gold again when she started a series on a family of witches. The Witching Hour is fantastic and original. Lasher, the second book is okay but you can see this series starting to head south as well. I have been reading just about everything she has written over the years, despite my continuing disappointment, with the hopes that there will be some return to previous form. It hasn't panned out and I think it's time to quit this habit.
Although he doesn't write series another spotty writer for me is John Irving . It seems that he hits gold every two or three books with the ones in between being pretty mediocre. World According to Garp is probably one of the best modern fiction novels in American lit. Similarly, I thought that Cider House Rules and A Widow for One Year were absolutely wonderful. But A Prayer for Owen Meany, The Fourth Hand and Until I Find You were very average. I actually couldn't stand Owen Meany and struggled to finish it, but I know loads of people loved it (which is the beauty of literature really). It seems that he is due for a really good one now so I am willing to stick it out with him for a bit. Plus he lives in Toronto and has been featuring it in his books lately so he scores points with me there too.
In the end although I am now very sad that there are no more Harry Potters (supposedly), I am grateful that the series is not going to suffer from dilution in order to keep the franchise alive. If Rowlings is going to write again, her biggest challenge is going to be to prove that she can write something other than Potter with just as much skill. In the meantime, I'll have to sit tight and wait for the movie.