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'Harry Potter' Fans react to the beginning of end

By APRILL BRANDON
Nov. 18, 2010 at 5:18 a.m.


Just like millions of other young people around the world, Hilary Hayes has grown up with Harry Potter. Quite literally, actually. She was 11 when she first started reading "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," the same age Harry Potter was in the book. She was close to finishing high school at the same time the last book "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" was released, where Harry and his friends were finishing up their journey through the wizarding education system. And as the movie "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1" gets ready to hit theaters, the 20-year-old Hayes is planning on watching the 21-year-old Daniel Radcliffe play Harry Potter.

"I've never realized it before, but I've been an avid Harry Potter fan for half my life. Throughout the books and movies, I've been about the same age as the characters," Hayes, of Victoria, said. "A good comparison to how it feels now that we're approaching the end is that it's like graduating from high school. You're excited to be moving on, but sentimental about leaving behind all your friends. Growing up with the series, I loved the whole experience, but that chapter of my life is coming to an end."

With the seventh Harry Potter movie being released this week and the eighth slated for a summer 2011 release, many other young Potter fans that grew up with the series are having to come to terms with the beginning of the end as well.

"It is a little sad. Even though I've read all the books and know how it ends, there's always so much excitement surrounding the premiere of the movies," Ashley Perry, 18, of Victoria said. "When I finished reading the last book, I remember being a little depressed because this epic journey I was on was over. And I have a feeling I'll feel the same way after the last movie comes out."

It's not just Generation Y dealing with the end of the hugely popular series, however. The power of Potter reaches across all age lines. Take 36-year-old British transplant Kyle Chambers, for instance. Now living in Edna working as an organizational development consultant, he has long been a fan of the series.

"I first discovered Harry Potter by having the books thrust in my face every day on the London Subway as fellow commuters seemed to turn into a single-hive mind for anything J.K. Rowling. I could not fathom why so many adults in their right minds would be reading children's books with such fervor," Chambers said. "It was when my mother started her obsession and would call me up every week to talk at me about this little brat and his minions that I finally relented and read the first book. The rest, as they say, is history."

For Chambers, however, the approaching end of the movie series isn't as big a deal as it was when he turned the last page of the book series.

"To be honest, it's a little underwhelming. I already experienced the beginning of the end after a marathon session of reading the last book when it came out. As much as I enjoy the movie adaptations and am curious to see how these last two films will capture all that transpired in 'Deathly Hallows,' there are no surprises left," he added.

Regardless of how fans feel about the end, there's no denying that Harry Potter has captured the hearts and minds of many people. So just what is it about the teenage wizard and his friends that has enamored people the world over?

"I think the series has successfully managed to utilize all the emotional themes that are common to our collective human experience in such a way that it's like stepping on a moving sidewalk at the airport - one timid step at the beginning, with one fast-paced journey to the end," Chambers said.

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