frayadjacent: Hermoine (circa movie 3) looking pointedly thoughtful (HP: Hermione thinking)
[personal profile] frayadjacent
Following [personal profile] coffeeandink's format

What I recently finished

I finally finished the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire audiobook, read by Stephen Fry. Looking through my previous posts, it looks like I started it 1.5-2 months ago. I kept getting stuck, what with Ron and the Triwizard Tournament and S.P.E.W. and the dread of Cedric Diggory's impending death. That one is still the hardest for me, even though he isn't my favorite character to die. I think it's because a lot of the deaths in book 7 are glossed over. And even though Dumbledore's death is awful, he still got to live a long life and die more or less on his terms. The death of a kind young man with his whole life ahead of him, and which is given a lot of build-up and narrative attention, is much harder.

A few weeks ago [personal profile] umadoshi posted a link to an essay called The Harry Potter series is actually one long story about PTSD. Now, I haven't read it, mostly because I'm finding there's a lot I don't remember about the series and I want to rediscover those things as I listen, rather than through analysis, fanworks, etc. (I am such a spoiler phobe. Sometimes I even do this if I'm rewatching Buffy, despite having watched and vidded and discussed the show over and over. Just in case! You never know when you'll be delighted to rediscover something you'd forgotten. Or something.) Anyway, despite having not yet read the argument I imagine that I'd largely agree with it. And that is related to why I adore -- or at least previously adored -- book 5, because of the way it deals with Cedric's death and all the other trauma Harry has undergone. More on that in the next section.

Shadow Gate, by Kate Elliott. This series continues to hold my interest, and Shadow Gate was a lot more compelling than Spirit Gate. It introduced a lot more POV characters, including several women. One of my least favorite characters underwent a transformation that was hard to read at times but incredibly well-written, and thus was propelled to a favorite (along with all of the POV women).

(CN: discussion of fictional sexual violence in this paragraph) There is a lot of sexual violence in these stories. I am not used to it. I think I can handle it better than I would have thought because it is a) generally not explicit, though there have been moments where small details were enough to be a little sickening. b) the surviovor's POV is prominent, and there has not been any sexual violence directly from the POV of the perpetrator, which is something I seriously can't handle. c) It presents sexual violence as a product of power relations, not sexual desire. d) It presents sexual violence as survivable. I keep recalling that, in Spirit Gate, one of the characters says to another that a woman can survive rape and go on to great power and accomplishments. And one of the characters who was indirectly referenced in that moment has done just that. Not in a "rape drove me to a vengeful rampage" -- which I actually thought it was going to do, briefly, but simply that this was one (significant) element of the character's life. It didn't define her, and it didn't ruin her.

What I'm reading now

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, audiobook read by Stephen Fry. As I mentioned, this used to be my favorite HP. I've learned in the last few years that it is many people's least favorite, and I think I read somewhere that even J.K. Rowling says she rushed it and it could have used another round of editing. I recall liking this book because it feels like the first book to take Harry's trauma seriously. I am not one to revel in the anger of a teenage boy, but at the same time I hate when people dismiss Harry's anger as just that. It is the anger of someone who's been through some serious trauma. Like Buffy Season 6, I like that, when Rowling decided to make the story more exciting by having worse things happen, she also followed though on the emotional consequences for the characters. (Or at least for Harry.)

That's not the only reason I loved this book though. It also finally gave some time and attention to Neville. I loved the way it subverted the idea of Harry as a Chosen One, through Neville's story. It introduces Luna! We get Dumbledore's Army! Etc.

Also, all sorts of things are happening that I thought were in later books: Harry discovering that Mrs. Figg is a member of the magical community, the introduction of Tonks (one of my faves!), and Harry's occlumency lessons with Snape (and what he learns about his father from that).

Traitors' Gate, by Kate Elliott. OMG, I've realised now that the Crossroads series and Black Wolves are much more closely linked than I'd previously thought. Knowing, in broad strokes, how things will end, has got me *dying* to see how they get there. I'm reading this as fast as I can, given that I don't have a ton of free time right now.

Free book-shaped space


I will probably read N.K. Jemisin's The Fifth Season next. I want to read as many likely Hugo nominees as possible because I finally signed up this year. That means I also plan to read Uprooted, even though a few of the things I heard about it turned me off it.

Speaking of Hugos, I got an email saying that I needed to enter my PIN in order to nominate, and that if I had signed up for electronic communication I'd have an email with my PIN. Well, apparently I didn't sign up for electronic communication, because I have no such email, and there is no other information about how to get the PIN. Assuming this PIN thing also applies to voting, I need to figure this out before...whenever it is that voting happens. Maybe they sent me a letter? I've been so disorganized lately, I could have missed it or forgotten it.

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