Why has JK Rowling’s fabulously successful Harry Potter book series sparked the imagination and interest of an entire generation of readers? The Harry Potter series has crossed cultural and even generational borders in a way that other popular book series simply haven’t. Why? What is it about the Harry Potter series that makes it so special?
The appeal of Harry Potter is both easy to explain and difficult to pare down. Clearly, at least one of the reasons that the Harry Potter series has proven so popular is JK Rowling’s storytelling abilities. Rowling has been lauded by many critics and readers alike for her ability to write an engrossing, surprising story. She is well known for her ability to weave a deliciously magical storyline that always keeps her readers guessing. Rowling has a strong knack for introducing menace and mystery into her stories without frightening younger readers. Rowling’s use of plot elements is nearly masterful. The dramatic action in her stories nearly always feels natural and she has a way of pulling all the disparate plot elements together in a way that feels natural yet surprising. Many critics have pointed to Rowling’s ability to use foreshadowing to give readers a hint as to what will happen. But she never gives away too much information. This ability to give the reader just enough information too keep them engrossed, but not too much information so that they won’t be surprised, is a difficult thing to pull off as a writer.
The Harry Potter book series has been published in dozens of language, and Harry Potter fever has proven a worldwide epidemic. Whether the books are read in English or Japanese, the Harry Potter series has proven a hit around the world. The ability of the Harry Potter series to transcend language and cultural borders speaks volumes about Rowling’s ability to tell an engrossing yarn. Although it is well known that the Harry Potter book series is a hit around the world, many critics have also pointed out that the series has also managed to cut across generational borders. One of the reasons that the book has become as successful (perhaps even more?) with adult readers is that Rowling has loaded the Harry Potter series with mythology, symbols and history that make the series an entertaining yet also thoughtful read. Adult readers can read into the different levels of the Harry Potter books. Rowling masterfully weaves bits of history, mythology and magical lore into her novels in ways that intrigue youngsters and speak to older readers.
Finally, most readers and critics alike will agree that a large part of the universal appeal of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter book series is her use of characterization. Rowling is writing about young adults, but manages to convey their experiences at school and with family. Even though the starts of the Harry Potter books are non-muggles who study at a faraway wizard’s school, readers can still relate to the characters on a basic level. Sure, most of us do not find ourselves in a magical boarding school where we must fight evil, but the characters are drawn so realistically that we are still able to relate to them. Even muggles like us understand the feelings of insecurity, competition, and downright fear that Rowling’s characters experience as they grapple with their special powers, the expectations of their teachers and families, and the basic challenges of growing older and entering adulthood.
In short, it is no wonder that the Harry Potter series has proven such a universal appeal. With Rowling’s masterful use of storytelling techniques, her realistic characterization, and her use of mythology and history, it is no wonder that her books have garnered such universal appeal.
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