Did Jabari Asim like or dislike the latest Harry Potter book [Book World, July 18]? His review read like a grade-school book report written the night before it is due. Most of the review was a recitation of the book's plot, and the few pronouncements on the book's quality did not make much sense.
Asim's chief complaint seemed to be that the book is "predictable." Though at first I thought he was referring to the plot, it turns out that he meant only "the major characters have been established," and that there is "certain knowledge" that Harry will live on to sell out at bookstores for a seventh time. In writing this, he essentially faults the sixth Harry Potter book for being the sixth Harry Potter book in a seven-book series. Of course the main characters are already established. Of course the hero will survive for the last book of his eponymous series.
Asim also failed to relate anything in his review to any larger, outside themes (the far superior New York Times review, for instance, mentions Shakespeare, "Spider-Man," "Lord of the Rings," Greek myths, Charles Dickens and "Star Wars," to name a few). Reading the last paragraph in Asim's review, I felt like I was a kid in a classroom, listening uncomfortably as a kid presents a book report he has obviously concocted from little besides the book jacket. "The momentum picks up considerably in my favorite chapter . . . and seldom subsides until the end. Yes, another major character dies, but this time Harry is hardened by the loss. . . . Harry is no longer a child. He is not yet 17 when the book ends. But there's no denying he's come of age."
-- Carolyn Saunders