But then came Doctor Who. Sherlock. Loki. The Hunger Games. Fanfiction. Tumblr. Facebook.
And I figured that these things were just as good (if not better) than Harry Potter.
Yesterday, I re-watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire for the first time in many moons.
Guys, I was wrong.
Okay, Doctor Who, Sherlock, the Hunger Games, and Loki's movies have their goods and their bads, their strengths and their weaknesses. I'm sure there are places where they're all stronger than Harry Potter.
Eh, I can discuss that later. It'd take too long.
Anyway, besides the pure nostalgia that attacked me in waves of bittersweet beauty, I loved the movie because I've learned a lot about writing since I watched Harry Potter last. Or maybe it's that stepping back for a while has cleared my mind. But the thing that I was just gushing over for the length of the movie was the characterisation. I hadn't noticed it before, but -
JK Rowling, you blow my mind.
Well, I can't give out awards for the way the movie handled it, but the film woke up my memory of the book, and that floored me. Harry Potter is what it is not because of fascinatingly detailed setting. Not because of its brilliant school atmosphere.
Harry Potter is a series about characters.
The characters in Harry Potter are so human. All of them have unglamorous moments. They go to the ball with complete strangers because it is awkward to go alone. They get crushes that don't go anywhere, and disastrous dates to end those crushes. The best of friends fight. And all their flaws could be found in an everyday shopper at your local supermarket. It's so simple - and yet so effective. I sobbed at the end of a chapter in HP4 when Harry and Ron fight and don't talk to each other. So simple but so real.
JK Rowling, I think, treats the ones in her story as people, and not as characters, because they're real. Their flaws aren't cut and dried, or black and white. They're grey and blurred and everyone as insecure as we are. They could walk off the page, because they have as many bumps, bruises, embarrassing moments, disappointments, and zits as we do, as any teen does. They make rude jokes as they get older. They angst. No character's above this, too - Dumbledore is really brought down in the last book, with some shady past. Even the most trusted are mistrusted sometimes, and there's often just cause.
The bad guys have motivation, too. Snape isn't just this bat lurking around, because we find out that his acidity has a source. People get old. People die. Families yell at each other while guests stand by awkwardly. None of it feels misplaced, because no one is a Mary Sue, and everyone has things that don't work out for them.
And yet these people are called upon to do the extraordinary, and by their humanness, they show us that we can do it, too.
I wish to God - and that is by no means taking His name in vain - that I could write characters like JK Rowling can. 'Cause I haven't explained well enough, here, how well she does what she does.