[First post as Teen Editor!]
I was lucky enough to be one of the one million beta users to get into the site in August when J.K. Rowling issued her Magic Quill Challenge (of which, several adults also participated in). Each day on this magical week, a question was posted on the Pottermore website about one of the seven Harry Potter books. If you answered the question correctly and quickly enough (the question was posted for only a few minutes before all the slots for that day were filled), you would be redirected to a site where you had to find the Magic Quill. Once you found it, you would be directed to the sign-up page. Having had this exclusive access into the Pottermore site made my experience all the more fulfilling.
There was such a clamor when J.K. Rowling announced her plans for Pottermore, a virtual interactive reading experience where dedicated fans can follow Harry through his cupboard, the sorting, and his adventures at Hogwarts. There are about 18,000 words worth of background information, including how Petunia and Vernon met, Minerva McGonagall’s love story, and why the Hogwarts Express was created. Not to mention that fans get to (finally) receive their Hogwarts acceptance letter, have their wand chosen, and get sorted (every loyal fan’s dream come true).The whole experience is completely and utterly magical, no pun intended.
Once admitted into the site, users can browse through the chapters of the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (the others will be added to the site as time moves along), pick up things like chocolate frog cards and galleons to put in our ‘trunks,’ and read background information. The only problem is that once you get into the site, you rush ahead until you get your wand and then get sorted, leaving behind all the interesting background information to read later.
One of the best things about Pottermore is that in order to get your wand and to get sorted, you must answer questions created by J.K. Rowling herself, which only serves to show how accurate it is. My wand is 10 and ¾ inch Sycamore with a Unicorn core that is ‘Slightly Springy’ and I got sorted into Gryffindor (take that, Hufflepuff!). Once sorted, you can win house points, brew surprisingly-accurate potions, and challenge your friends to duels.
All of this is every fan’s fantasy.
It’s nice to finally be able to experience everything Harry Potter has to offer that we couldn’t before. The only drawback is that no matter how cool it seems, it isn’t real. While it is interesting to browse through the chapters and the brilliantly done graphics, the magic lasts only a short while. Because once we log out, the magic is gone and we must return to reality. It is too early to see where Pottermore will be in the eyes of fans but it is no replacement for the books.
The same feeling can be seen when you visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. I went there last December during my winter break. Although the Hogwarts Castle is an architectural masterpiece, the butterbeer tastes like heaven, and the Gryffindor merchandise makes you feel like a true wizard, I was still overcome with the depressing truth: it wasn’t real. I wasn’t really in Hogwarts, I wasn’t really walking through Hogsmeade drinking my butterbeer, and I wasn’t really magical.
The magic of Pottermore will never be able to fulfill that gaping hole that was was left in our hearts after the books and the movies ended. A virtual wand isn’t the same as a real wand. We can’t swish and flick our wands at our siblings to turn them into toads or use a Quick-Quotes Quill to finish our homework before the big game starts. This is why fans won’t be satisfied with Pottermore. We don’t want the virtual world, we want the real thing.
The truth is that Harry Potter has been finished. It’s likely there will never be another book that will be so captivating. It pains me to say it. The magic is gone, folks. It was never really there.