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Infinite Country by Patricia Engel | Thoughts

   Published : 2021   ||    Format : print   ||    Location : Colombia ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆   What was it about the country that kept everyone hostage to its fantasy? The previous month, on its own soil, an American man went to his job at a plant and gunned down fourteen coworkers, and last spring alone there were four different school shootings. A nation at war with itself, yet people still spoke of it as some kind of paradise.. Thoughts : Infinite Country follows two characters - young Talia, who at the beginning of this book, escapes a girl’s reform school in North Colombia so that she can make her previously booked flight to the US. Before she can do that, she needs to travel many miles to reach her father and get her ticket to the rest of her family. As we follow Talia’s treacherous journey south, we learn about how she ended up in the reform school in the first place and why half her family resides in the US. Infinite Country tells the story of her family through the other protagonist, El

Revisiting Hogwarts: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

(If you have never read this book, please drop all your other books, head to the nearest library/bookstore, and grab the set. Please, please, please! I beg you! You are missing an amazing treat!)
Ever had a book that you would go to when your brain's all fried and tensions are high? No matter what you set your mind to, you can't concentrate, and then you pick that one book. Much like having a glass of wine. Or going shopping. All those tensions just ooze out of your self. The Harry Potter series does that to me. Ever since I first read a Harry Potter book, I have always returned back to them once a year. Or at least to most of the books of the series, if not all.

The first book of this series that I read is actually the fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. That happened after I caught the first raving waves about this series in the newspaper. I ignored the series. The news persisted. Every day, I would hear some gossip or the other about this series. I still ignored the series. After all, the idea of me @ 16 years of age reading this book that I branded "children's book" is indeed laughable! (You can see how obnoxious I was then!) And then, as things usually go, in to this picture comes the proverbial cousin with a copy of the book, literally. He wouldn't take "no" for an answer. So to appease him, I decided to bore myself for a few days with the book. The rest, as they say, is history.

So now, I am re-reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone after more than two years. Believe it or not, I think I became an adult only recently. The last time I read this book, I lapped it happily. This time though, I got bugged by small nuances that a teenager wouldn't complain about.

  • Such as, for the first time, I realized that this book is not written for an audience like me, but for those more than half my age. Which is to be expected, seeing as the protagonists are 11 years old! It's amazing though comparing the first and last books of this series - both in writing quality and in their darkness. The dangers surrounding Harry are only felt tangentially in this book.
  • J.K. Rowling's writing is nowhere near as captivating as it is in her later books. That's to be expected, of course, but I had never noticed that before. The ever-prevalent humor still makes me laugh! This series has some very unforgettable humorous quotes. Fred and George are as funny as ever!
  • The story rushes through certain parts while strolls lazily through others. Previously, I thought the supporting characters had a great depth! I couldn't feel that now though. That could be because each time I re-read, I was going into the book, already knowing the supporting cast well. Moreover, my first time with this series was with the fourth book, which is the first coming-of-age book in my opinion. When I was reading this time, I made sure I wasn't biased by any of my earlier knowledge. So I can't really blame Chris Columbus for not giving much character to the supporting cast!
  • For the first time, I gave it only 4 stars. I had never given it less than 5. I wonder how my ratings of the remaining series will be affected!
So here are my favorite quotes from this book:

"They stuff people's heads down the toilet the first day at Stonewall," he told Harry. "Want to come upstairs and practice?"
"No, thanks," said Harry. "The poor toilet's never had anything as horrible as your head down it -- it might be sick." Then he ran, before Dudley could work out what he'd said.

"Fred, you next," the plump woman said.
"I'm not Fred, I'm George," said the boy. "Honestly, woman, you call yourself our mother? Can't you tell I'm George?"

"Oh, are you a prefect, Percy?" said one of the twins, with an air of great surprise. "You should have said something, we had no idea."
"Hang on, I think I remember him saying something about it," said the other twin. "Once --"
"Or twice --"
"A minute --"
"All summer --"
"Oh, shut up," said Percy the Prefect.

"Welcome," he said. "Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts! Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!"

Everybody finished the song at different times. At last, only the Weasley twins were left singing along to a very slow funeral march. Dumbledore conducted their last few lines with his wand and when they had finished, he was one of those who clapped loudest.

He thought of Hagrid, expelled but allowed to stay on as gamekeeper. Perhaps he could be Hagrid's assistant. His stomach twisted as he imagined it, watching Ron and the others becoming wizards, while he stumped around the grounds carrying Hagrid's bag.

"Potter's been sent a broomstick, Professor," said Malfoy quickly.
"Yes, yes, that's right," said Professor Flitwick, beaming at Harry. "Professor McGonagall told me all about the special circumstances, Potter. And what model is it?"
"A Nimbus Two Thousand, sir," said Harry, fighting not to laugh at the look of horror on Malfoy's face. "And it's really thanks to Malfoy here that I've got it," he added.

Lee Jordan was finding it difficult not to take sides.
"So -- after that obvious and disgusting bit of cheating --"
"Jordan!" growled Professor McGonagall.
"I mean, after that open and revolting foul --"
"Jordan, I'm warning you --"
"All right, all right. Flint nearly kills the Gryffindor Seeker, which could happen to anyone, I'm sure, so a penalty to Gryffindor, taken by Spinnet, who puts it away, no trouble, and we continue play, Gryffindor
still in possession."

"I hate maroon," Ron moaned halfheartedly as he pulled it over his head.
"You haven't got a letter on yours," George observed. "I suppose she thinks you don't forget your name. But we're not stupid -- we know we're called Gred and Forge."

"It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that."

"It bit me!" he said, showing them his hand, which was wrapped in a bloody handkerchief. "I'm not going to be able to hold a quill for a week. I tell you, that dragon's the most horrible animal I've ever met, but the way Hagrid goes on about it, you'd think it was a fluffy little bunny rabbit. When it bit me he told me off for frightening it. And when I left, he was singing it a lullaby."

"Peeves," he said, in a hoarse whisper, "the Bloody Baron has his own reasons for being invisible."

"Devil's Snare, Devil's Snare... what did Professor Sprout say? -- it likes the dark and the damp
"So light a fire!" Harry choked.
"Yes -- of course -- but there's no wood!" Hermione cried, wringing her hands.

Ah! Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans! I was unfortunate enough in my youth to come across a vomit-flavored one, and since then I'm afraid I've rather lost my liking for them -- but I think I'll be safe with a nice toffee, don't you?"
He smiled and popped the golden-brown bean into his mouth. Then he choked and said, "Alas! Ear wax!"

What do you think? Ever been bugged by this series at any point?

If you haven't read this series yet, what keeps you away from it?


Unknown said…
Awesome. Infact, I started with the same Goblet of fire and then went back :). Loved the pieces of excerpts from the book. Harry Potter is one thing which I could not resist. I have read a couple of later harry potter series in one sitting. Crazy!!!!
bermudaonion said…
Interesting. I haven't read this since it first came out - of course I was an adult then, but the book was so different that I really enjoyed it. I wonder how it would hold up to a re-read for me.
LOVE this series (and the movies)! Look how young they look...amazing!
Tales of Whimsy said…
Great series. I feel you though. I kind of liked how the writing progressed and became more mature as the characters did. Like the kids and readers are all aging together.
sumthinblue said…
I grew up on Harry Potter and I haven't been the same since! It's been such a big part of my life, I can't imagine reliving my life and not reading it!
Alyce said…
I could see how reading the fourth one first would change how you view the writing. I've always loved the first book (read it many times) but I always go into it with the expectation that it's written for a younger audience, so I think I adjust my expectations. The tone and the writing in the books definitely changes as they progress. I enjoyed reading about your experiences with the HP books.
Athira said…
Ramya, I know... this series is so amazing right? I have to read the later books in a sitting too!

Kathy, so true, the first time you read it you just get so caught up in all that magic! I'd love to hear your thoughts if you ever decide to re-read! *hint, hint* :)

Helen, I got a kick out of looking at the pictures of the three of them in the movies! :)

Juju, I know! That feels so in sync, right? It will especially ring so well with the younger readers, the ones who were the same age approx as the characters!

Alyce, I think it is because I blanked out all my knowledge of this series that I saw for the first time the true audience of this book. Not that it is bad, because it sure isn't! But it made me observe better!
i always jump into this series when i'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with life and need an escape into a world where the lines between good and evil are clear! i find it hard to believe there are any book lovers on this planet who haven't read it yet!
Marieke said…
I came to the series as an adult but I loved reading them and would like to go back and read them all again. The last book is the only book that's ever made me motion-sick while on a train! (That's how engrossed in it I was.)
Gina said…
Oh I love this series. I didn't catch on to it until the 4th book was about 2 months from its release, but once I started I couldn't stop. Was at the local bookstore each time for the midnight release, though I never actually started reading it at midnight until the final book (what can I say, I love to savor it, but the last one I was afraid people would start talking about it and ruin it for me.). Sorry to see some of the magic was lost on your reread but at least a good portion is still there...happy reading!
Athira said…
mummazappa, honestly! They are an awesome treat to any troubled mind, and otherwise! I am hoping all book lovers have read this!

Marieke, LOL! I take it the motion sickness was totally acceptable, compared to the awesome treat of reading this series! :)

GMR, Looks like a lot of us started with the popularity surrounding the fourth book! I couldn't resist when the fourth book came out. I HAD to read it right away too!!
Christina T said…
I love this series but I really do prefer the later books because they seem to have more depth. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is one of my favorite books.

Great quotes. I'd forgotten about some of them. Guess I should reread these again from the beginning.
Athira said…
Christina, Deathly Hallows is my favorite too! Wow, the twists and turns in that book. I love these quotes too, most make me laugh every time I read them!
Dana said…
Haha, Fred and George are definitely one of my favorite parts of this series. The third book in my series is my favorite; I think because that's when the darkness and overall plot really starts to develop. great review!
Athira said…
Dana, Fred and George are so adorable! I agree with the third book being where the darkness actually starts!
Nadia Santos said…
This is a wonderful book for your children. The hero has character. I would also recommend the book An Encounter with A Prophet to mom and dad if you are inclined to go on a spiritual not religious adventure.

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