Don't get me wrong, I am not doubting J.K Rowling's literary prowess. When I saw each of the movies, I was amazed at how much she has going on there - and how many aspects of the story all tie in together. It's a proper fantasy - she has witches, magic, dragons, mythical beasts etc. all woven together with a little bit of mystery that gets solved in the end. Yet, I can't help but think - it's all so COMMON. For example, when growing up, I used to read Bengali fairy tales (yes, it wasn't all Hans Christian Anderson for me). There's Moha Upponnash, Thakurmaar Jhuli to name a few. There there was the famous Arabian Nights.
All of them told stories of demons so strong, yet their life was contained in a blue bird hidden in some silver cage. There was the ponkhiraaj - or the horse with wings. There was the talking snake. What J.K. Rowling has done is take all these ancient legends and fables and somehow packaged them all in a nice mix, palatable to the common people, and has done it well. She deserves every bit of her success.
Yet, there is something in the not-so-literary-masterpieces that I read as a child which is far, far better than Harry Potter. I am referring to the mystery series by writers such as Enid Blyton. When you read Harry Potter, you cannot dream of having the same adventures as a boy wizard (or there's something seriously wrong with you). But you can dream of being a member of the Famous Five and solving mysteries, or being a Secret Seven and having a clubhouse. Harry Potter's school? Yuck - go read The Malory Towers or The St. Clare's series by Blyton. Far more adventure but far more realistic.
And then of course there's Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys. Yes, the authors were not real, and yes, it was very formulaic ("and the last thing Nancy heard was a sharp blow, and then it all went black. Next chapter."). But it was so much fun! Harry Potter - 700 pages - that's not a leisurely story book - that's a dictionary!
And the final reason why Nancy Drew and her compatriots would kick Harry Potter's ass. Harry's only power is magic - that he cannot use in the real world. Nancy - she has wits (everyone knows where Harry's wits are - Hermione Granger). So using her wits and her legendary karate skills - Nancy will kick Harry's ass every time. Beaten by a girl, Harry, how do you like that?
And now Nancy has her own movie too!