Customer Reviews: Harry, a History: The True Story of a Boy Wizard, His Fans, and Life Inside the Harry Potter Phenomenon
Your Garage Up to 80 Percent Off Textbooks Amazon Fashion Learn more Discover it $5 Albums Fire TV Stick Happy Belly Coffee Totes Amazon Cash Back Offer PilotWave7B PilotWave7B PilotWave7B  Amazon Echo  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Amazon Echo Introducing new colors All-New Kindle Oasis DollyParton Shop Now

Your rating(Clear)Rate this item

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on November 17, 2008
This book really should have been called "Melissa, A History" because it is basically a biography of the author Melissa Anelli. I had expected more behind-the-scenes info on Harry Potter, the books, the movies, and JK Rowling. Although there is some of that in this book, there is much more Melissa than Harry.

The subtitle of this book is, "The True Story of a Boy Wizard, His Fans, and Life Inside the Harry Potter Phenomenon". The promise of the true story of a boy wizard and life inside the Harry Potter phenomenon were very lacking. "His Fans" (specifically Melissa and her friends) was the bulk of this book. Unfortunately, I was primarily interested in the other two.

The book jumps around so unforgivenly at times it gets very confusing. A chronological approach would have made more sense. Melissa was actually on the movie sets and presumably spoke with the actors, producers, etc., but there is far too little of that in the book. The author also seems to expect that you are a rabid fan of the Leaky Cauldron web site, which she runs. I say this because she glosses over some blogs and interviews that were apparently posted on the web site, mentioning some fact and then moving on. She actually lists several questions asked of Ms. Rowling that I would have liked to seen the answers for, but apparently the reader is already supposed to know the answers.

I don't blame Melissa for cashing in on her position - writing a book is the way to go these days. I'm disappointed, because this book could have been something much better: better organized, better information, and, frankly, better writing.
22 comments| 170 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 5, 2009
For all the fanfare this book has gotten, I'm not entirely sure all of it is deserved. It is a lovely look back at how the Harry Potter fandom evolved and got to where it is today, but there are some issues I do have with the book. One of the things I noticed was that Melissa told the book like it was a novel, a fictional piece, filled with flowery description that I feel has no place in what is essential a memoir of sorts. The intent of the book is to retell the HP fandom, from start to finish. Melissa pulls this off artfully, but if her intent was to reach the general public, it was not accomplished. From start to finish, this book is full of name-dropping and in-jokes that just another Harry Potter fan would never understand. In this book, the BNFs (Big Name Fans) rule supreme. The other side of the fandom is never shown. It took 90 pages for the first mention of MuggleNet, and all future mentions (of which there were very few and only when absolutely necessary) were cold and snobby. The HPANA is mentioned only once, in the acknowledgements, the Lexicon once, nothing about the humongous controversy, and no mention at all of Veritaserum and other sites out there. The truth is, Melissa fails to mention the side that truly appeals to the general fan. I did not feel, after reading this book, like I was part of the phenomenon, although I know I was, because I read the books, I posted in the communities, I had just as much fun theorizing, but nope, I didn't own a fansite or publish JKR's books, so I clearly don't matter. Probably about 90% of the Harry Potter fans would fall in my boat, not Melissa's. Where is our story? It was a good read, I will not say I disliked it, but I just wish Melissa had shown us the entirety of the HP world, instead of her secluded, high-and-mighty part of it.

Rating: 3.5/5
11 comment| 151 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon December 3, 2008
Since I have never heard a podcast discussing Harry Potter, or engaged in an Internet chat, or written fanfic using Rowling's characters and settings (which just seems wrong to do anyway), this book was a disappointment because it's about this one girl whose interest in the book led to working on the Leaky Cauldron website, dealing with fans, traveling the country doing podcasts, and visiting England for Potter events and interviews with J.K. Rowling. She got very close to the author, and I would have rather read a collection of her interviews with the Rowling than most of this. But for some reason she doesn't include them here, just alludes to them. That's my biggest complaint. I was hoping this was a compendium of interviews done for the website over the years.

But it's not. It's a story about one young woman's unusual career path, and now she's getting a book out of it. She is a good writer, but since I don't know her friends or traveling companions (again, because I didn't follow the podcasts), a lot of this was of no interest to me.
55 comments| 52 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 5, 2010
I feel as though it was an autobiography of herself. I really didn't feel as though it was a history of Harry Potter. If she wasn't there or experienced it, it wasn't written about. Anyone knows about the long lines at the book releases and midnight showings, but there was nothing new in the book, there was nothing interesting, and there was nothing worth spending the money for. I thought it was basically her bragging that she knows JK Rowling and has met the actors. This book was nothing what the people made it out to be when it was first released. I only made it about half way through and had to stop. I was thoroughly disappointed in the book and expected so much more from the title. If it stuck true to the title and wasn't an "all about me" book, I would have loved it. Unfortunately I wasted my money.
0Comment| 17 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 15, 2010
This is not a story about Harry Potter. It's the biography of a webmistress of a Harry Potter website. It is entertaining to read and relive the HP experience, but I didn't like the way the book jumped back and forth in time. This is very much a "fan" book. The title is a little deceptive because it is not the story of a boy wizard at all. It's about how the Harry Potter website The Leaky Cauldron came into popularity, taking its webmistress with it. I bought it when it came out but this is a book I probably won't keep.
0Comment| 11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon October 23, 2008
Though there have been many dozens of books attempting to chronicle the particulars of Harry Potter fandom in all its dimensions -- the fan fiction, the Wizard Rock, the websites, the conventions, et al. -- all have fallen short because of the inherent difficulty in condensing its breadth and scope to manageable size; but this one admirably compacts ten, detailed years of Harry Potter history in its 356 pages, and covers the subject thoroughly.

It's a given that, if you know of Melissa's Leaky Cauldron website, you'll find this book to be an extension of the website, and delightfully so; but the real surprise for me was that it not only is for the die-hard fans but the rest of the world who are wondering, "What's all the excitement about?" This book answers that question.

In its pages, Melissa Anelli thoroughly covers Harry Potter fandom in a way that could only be done by an insider, by someone who has had access to virtually everyone of note in the Harry Potter community, fan and pro, and also what she calls "Team Potter" -- Rowling's publishers, agents, lawyers -- the professional team who rarely give access or interviews to their inner workings, and, most significantly, Rowling herself, a "first" for any book written about her. That "Team Potter" allowed Melissa access speaks volumes about their professional respect for her, which is why The Leaky Cauldron (a reference to a beloved inn and favorite watering hole in Rowling's wizarding world) is considered the best, most reliable source of news in Harry Potter fandom. (This year, especially, has been trying and divisive for fans, because of the trial between RDR Books and Rowling. During that regrettable and sordid episode, it was The Leaky Cauldron that was the voice of reason.)

In reading Melissa's first-hand account of what's happened in Harry Potter fandom and the book/movie worlds drawn from the seven Harry Potter novels, it's as if you're right there with her, being caught up in all the excitement: from public events to behind-the-scenes closed-door sessions, Melissa shares it all; and with its sense of immediacy, I found reading this book to be an intimate reading experience. The writing tone is in keeping with the infectious enthusiasm that characterizes most of Harry Potter fandom, and why fans are still, more than ever, pumped up about a boy named Harry. (And Severus Snape. And Professor Dumbledore. And the rest of the colorful characters in the wizarding world.)

A journalist with real-world credentials (she was a reporter for a New York newspaper), Melissa properly starts, and ends, the book with a discussion about the last Harry Potter novel, HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS. In coming full circle, there's a sense of closure, of course, and rightly so; but as 2008 has shown, Rowling has not retired, so there's more, much more, that is grist for the mill for a future edition: the publication of BEEDLE THE BARD, for one, and its eye-popping, record-setting price realized at auction for one of seven hand-written copies; and, of course, the Rowling/Warner Bros. vs. RDR Books trial, which was the subject of some of the looniest mainstream reportage I've ever read. (Like many others, I relied on The Leaky Cauldron for fair and balanced coverage. And it ain't over yet: RDR Books has filed an appeal.)

A bonus: There's also an eight-page photo insert (black-and-white photos), with some fascinating pictures: candid shots at Harry Potter fan events, photos of Rowling, and some photos of the author with some guy named Daniel Radcliffe, and Rowling herself + her PI (personal assistant), Fiddy Henderson.

At $16, the retail price, the book is a good buy, but at the discounted price on Amazon, it's a GREAT buy, and deserves a place in the library of anyone who has enjoyed the Harry Potter novels and wants a book that accurately puts the Harry Potter phenomenon in context.

Bottom line: This book is WELL worth your time and money, especially if you are too young to have been there when all of this went down, or if you're new to the Harry Potter world and want to know what all the fuss is about.
55 comments| 77 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on July 22, 2013
A majority of the reviews of this book are harsh, scathing, and a bit unfair. I agree; if you pick up this book expecting to read about an in-depth analysis of the who, what, when, where, and why of the Harry Potter phenomenon, you may be sadly disappointed. This book really should be labeled as more of an autobiography of a religiously dedicated Harry Potter fan, and how it affected her life as she explored the culture surrounding the phenomenon.

I have read through this book four times, and each time I have found different moments to connect or sympathize with. As a post grad, this book serves as one person's story of how they took their passion and channelled it into something that they could use to support their life.

Now there is definitely some interesting content on how Harry Potter became the juggernaut that he is today, including the story of how Rowling became a published author, how the Internet enabled fans to connect like never before, and many other such tidbits. I agree with those who say that the ratio of Melissa/Harry content is a bit skewed for a book titled "Harry, A History." I truly think that if the title were a little less misleading as to the content, this novel would be getting much stronger reviews.

In the end, no: this book is not so much about Harry Potter and how he grew to fame in our world so much as it is Melissa's realizing who she is with the help of Harry. But that does not mean that you should not read this book. On the contrary, reading this book has shown me just how much the series means to so many people who have shared a similar experience with Melissa. It has given me the courage to go forth into the world and accomplish what I want. So while you may be disappointed with the lack of Harry-centric content in this book, you may be pleasantly surprised with the story of Melissa's life during the rise of Harry Potter.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 26, 2013
A must read for fans of Harry Potter! It has GREAT insight, not only into Harry and its characters, but great info on Ms Rowlings. As always, Great job Melissa and don't forget to listen in to her great FREE podcasts.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on July 28, 2012
This book is largely misrepresented - It is not an accurate review of the Harry Potter fandom. Instead, it examines author Melissa Anelli and a select group of others on their experiences with loving Harry Potter. The book reads more like the biography of an overzealous college student than a study in history.

Much of the writing undoubtedly had personal and highly emotional ties for Anelli, but it falls completely flat on paper. It's ludicrous to try following the conversations that many of these people share and the sheer excitement they exhibited over such things as shipping wars and minuscule book spoilers. The entire HP fandom is not represented here, just a hyperactive few who believed themselves to be of the utmost importance and fame.

With all of that said, this still remained a pleasant read. It passed the time and was easy to breeze through. Harry Potter fans may find some of the information interesting and enlightening, such as the origins of the website The Leaky Cauldron and the state of the British children's publishing market in 1996. Just don't take the book's cover to heart when you first start in.
0Comment| 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 13, 2015
This is a FUN book. Any Harry Potter fan would love to spend some time with it. My nephew tries to steal it from me three times! and he is not a great reader of books but he glommed onto it and wouldn't put it down. Highly Recommend for presents.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse