Sunday, April 16, 2006

Sporadic Gasbag vs. Excessive Windbag

The Sunday Trumpet

I'll probably hear it from Atilla The Mom on this one but I'm going to stray from the typical Gasbag protocol. You see we usually review a trashy romance novel, b-rated movie or some other sort of pop culture drivel. However I don't have much of a stomach for that sort of thing and, since I'm a slow reader, I can't justify spending time on a pointless book just to make fun of it. So at the risk of drawing the ire of nearly everyone on the planet, including FrankenKrsitin, I'm going to attack a sacred cow or more accurately, an excessive windbag (no, not Oprah).

The book I chose to discuss is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Now don't get me wrong, I like Harry Potter, I really do. And since I figured 50 bazillion people couldn't all be wrong, I dove in with a mix of excitement and anticipation. However, by the time I finished slogging my way though all 734 pages of the Goblet of Fire I found myself screaming at the top of my lungs, "GOOD LORD WOMAN, GET AN EDITOR!" I mean really, if you're going to write a book that long, and expect us to remain interested, you had better have damn good reason. Not so with this one.

Oh, I know, were all hooked on your little Harry Potter empire and we dutifully show our reverence by purchasing every last piece of snot from Harry Potter Inc. But let's be honest here, do you really think these prepubescent imps and their magical little friends warrant 734 pages? Were not talking Tolstoy here, it's friggin' Tolkien Lite!! Either Ms. Rowling is under the influence of an incredibly strong babbling charm or she has lost control of her Quick Quotes Quill. Either way this book is in desperate need of a once-over with the Reducio spell.

If I were an editor here is a partial list of the suggestions I would make:

*Sure we're all impressed by how you invented Quidditch and we understand that need to introduce Krum and set him up as a main character, but do we really need to devote a quarter of the book to the World Cup? I'm as much a sports fan as the next person but even I was hoping for a rainout so we could just move on already.

*Yes, Dobby was essential to The Chamber of Secrets and it is realistic that to assume that he and the rest of the elves would play some sort of minor role through the subsequent books, but what the hell is the nonsense with SPEW? First of all, it's just stupid and has absolutely nothing to do with the plot. If your trying to establish it as a subplot at least have the decency to wrap it up at the end of the book. SPEW is introduced as another of Hermione's little crusades (which, by the way, leaves her coming off as more histrionic than sympathetic) and then...nothing. It's as if that part of the story is completely forgotten. Make a decision, either in or out - I say out.

*Dispense with the Scooby Doo ending. If nothing else, J.K. Rowling has demonstrated an incredible imagination and has created a wonderfully fanciful world filled with some of the most creative people, places and creatures. So for all her creative genius are we really supposed to believe that the best she can come up with for and ending is to have them remove the villain's disguise and force him to spill his guts once he is finally captured? I almost thought I saw Shaggy, Scooby and the gang in reflected in Foe-Glass. The only thing was missing was to make Barty Crouch Jr.'s last words, "I would have made it too if it weren't for you meddling kids!" Surely you can do better than that.

*If your going to steal from your literally influences, at least don't make it so obvious. When it comes to the classics I'm not terribly well read but even I can spot Tolkien, Dickens and Shakespeare when I see it.

As I've said I do like Harry Potter and I'm committed to reading the rest. Plus FrankenKristin assures me that The Order of the Phoenix is better. But I'm still skeptical.


Think you've got what it takes to blow the Sunday Trumpet? Become an official Sporadic Gasbag here.


Rhonda said...

Very well done, Sven.

That's about all I can say because I am the only person on the planet who has neither read Harry Potter nor seen the movies.

St Jude said...

Ah, hem, could you make that three people who have not read any of the Harry Potter books. I just can't bring myself to pick up a book when it has received the kind of hype that these have. They are I feel guaranteed to be a let down.

Jay said...

I refuse to read the Harry Potter stuff. I don't like to flow with the masses, except when it involves amusing reviews, of course.

Attila The Mom said...

Bahahaha! Brilliant analysis! Why would I be mad? LOL

The Boy said...

Huh. A Harry Potter snarkfest.

Ahem, ahem. I agree with Sven 100%. The Harry Potter novels are indeed great, but this one is guilty of excess verbosity. It also left welts in my thin chest whilst snoozing through it in bed. I hate it when thick books do that to me.

This is a clever, well-written review, Sven. Perhaps the first really honest one I have read. There is nothing wrong with pointing out the flaws in something you like.

I know, because Martha does it constantly.

Kim Ayres said...

As the father of a son who has been obsessesed with Harry Potter for several years I have read them all to date, out loud and with an assortment of different voices (my Snape being a particularly good version of Alan Rickman's if I do say so myself).

However, I have to say that far worse than the book is the film. Rogan loved it because it's all action. I despaired because it's all action, very little plot and zero character or relationship development.

Sven said...

Kim: You're right about that. I think the film makers went too far in the other direction. The films are almost completely devoid of everything that has made the books great.

Rhonda said...

Speaking of gasbags . . .

Sven, I apologize for the disappearing logo. I flubbed uploading stuff to flicker yesterday and accidentally delete d it. It'll be fixed tomorrow and I'll post the new link. Sorry!

The Boy said...

The movies can never be compared to the books, and they have done the books a great disservice.

I have been writing lately about imagination, and this is where it applies. The movies SHOW imagination in 120 minutes; the books force the reader, big and small alike, to imagine it all in their MIND.

Kim, I believe, would make an ideal Hagrid. When I read book the last in the series, I will imagine Hagrid as looking like Kim.

Crap. More nightmares.

Nikki said...

As a Harry Potter lover, I still have to agree with you Sven. The book was really over the top verbally. I love the imagination behind the series and the fun ride it takes you on, but the author shouldn't have tried to fill in the blanks with useless subplots. That really annoyed me, but in true Ms. Pooper style - I paid good money for that book and I was going to get my money's worth.

frankengirl said...

Excellent review, Sven. You are a *brave* man - ;)

Mia said...

Can you imagine how many cocktail napkins she went through to write this? I wonder if she has to reimburse the coffee shop or if she just brings her own now? Either way it seems a waste of a perfectly good tree to me.

Anonymous said...

Nice review Sven.

When you start on an 'epic' adventure
(epic does not mean three) you had better make the storyline as intriguing and riviting as possible or else readers will not want to read the other 3-6 books. Take Robert Jordan for an example.

"When it comes to the classics I'm not terribly well read but even I can spot Tolkien, Dickens and Shakespeare when I see it."

I have yet to read Rowling, I have some on my shelf but collecting dust. But I have yet to hear those three words mention, together, in the same room, in a box, with a fox, with a restaining order, in a bunker together with Rowling.

"... literally influences."

Without a doubt she did, but to compare her?! I hear you though.

"I have been writing lately about imagination, and this is where it applies. The movies SHOW imagination in 120 minutes; the books force the reader, big and small alike, to imagine it all in their MIND." - Admiral Pooper

I've said it before and I'll say it again...

"Movies take away all your imagination, leaving you with little or nothing to do. A director makes the imagination for you. All you have to do is focus on the colors, moving images and spoken words to comprehend the story line. When reading, the world is created for you as well, but your mind brings it to life. "

I'm glad to see a book review, and not just chick lit or a two week best seller either. It's nice to tackle a juggernaut once in awhile. Just ask my ex...