Well, I finished the latest Harry Potter book several days ago, and I thoroughly enjoyed it (as if I wasn’t expecting to). Rowling’s prose has improved dramatically (not as many annoying adverbs), and I think the only thing that still kinda annoys me about the whole series is the names Rowling uses. I’m probably going to get some hate mail on this, but I’ve never liked the name Dumbledore. It just sounds stupid to me and I don’t think that it fits the character. And yes I’m aware that Gandalf was already taken. There are several other examples of annoyingly trite names (Snape, Slughorn, Fudge), but that’s a small complaint for an otherwise overwhemlingly enjoyable read.
Frankly I don’t know why these books are placed in the children’s section of the bookstore anymore. The series ceased to be for kids at the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and the preceding books have gotten darker and darker. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying they are inappropriate for kids. It’s just that I’m reasonably sure adults are more likely to fully understand, appreciate and internalize the narrative and how it is unfolding than children are.
Retailers also market The Chronicles of Narnia as a children’s series, but just as in the Potter case, I feel quite comfortable in saying that Lewis probably wrote the chronicles more for adults than for children. Sure, kids will love the adventure aspect of the chronicles, but will they understand the allegory that it presents? Probably not. Does that mean it is inappropriate for children? Not at all.
Getting off my soapbox, over at Gaiman’s blog, Neil has an interesting entry on some “contentious” comments made by Terry Pratchett concerning J.K. Rowling and the state of SF/Fantasy. It’s really too much to summarize here. Just go and read it here for yourself.