When I decided to review all books in the top 100 of best Teen Fiction, most of the books were new to me. But obviously there are also a few on this list that I have read and the Harry Potter series is one of them. It’s kind of weird to review this series after everyone who wants to read them has done so already and everyone who hasn’t, has no intention of ever doing so. But The Harry Potter series is actually number 1 on that list, making it the best teen fiction ever, and that is not without reason.
The biggest issue for Christians with Harry Potter Series is of course the magic. There have been so many discussions on this, that it seems of little use to restart all these. Let me just say that I can completely understand why people have an issue with books like these (though in order to be consistent, they would also have to have an issue with for example The Lord of the Rings then), but for me it’s not a problem.
Personally, I loved these books. I though the plot (which I’m not going to describe here, I assume everyone is familiar with it by now) was brilliant and well executed, I love it when small things in the first book turn out to have great importance in the end. Harry, Hermione and Ron are great characters that you love to read about, even in their struggles. The secondary characters are colorful and quirky, like the whole Weasel family, Luna Lovegood and Professor Snape.
As a writer, I am in awe of how J.K. Rowling managed to create a whole world that is completely new, yet believable at the same time. She has invented sports (Quidditch), traditions (Wizard Tournament), schools (Hogwarts) and much more, yet all of it feels real. To me, that shows great creativity.
I also liked the ending very much. Of course, you can draw parallels between Harry’s ‘death’ and subsequent ‘resurrection’ and the Gospel, but I wouldn’t go that far. To me, his sacrifice and his willingness to pay the ultimate price are already enough to warrant great discussions with teens.
What also makes these books special is that even though they are not Christian in character or content, there is no objectionable language whatsoever and no sexual references. That alone makes them an exception in teen fiction.
That being said, I would not recommend these books to students, use them of the movies made of them in a ministry setting. I respect other people’s opinions too much for that and besides, I think it’s a Biblical given to not offend or cause people to stumble. So if students ask me if I’ve read them or if I have seen the movies, I’m honest, but I also make very clear that opinions differ on this and that they should respect their parents’ opinions in this.
P.S.: if you do want to read them, please be advised that the UK English version is different than the American one, some words have been changed (example: ‘the philosopher’s stone’ is called ‘the sorcerer’s stone’). Personally, I’d recommend the UK version since that’s how J.K. Rowling wrote it.