Every now and then, a book comes along that seems destined to become a classic until it gets completely ruined by focusing on the boy wizard Harry Potter. Here are four books that would be much better if they weren’t about Harry Potter.

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1. Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone

This debut novel from British author J.K. Rowling is almost perfect, introducing readers to a rich magical world as well as a cast of instantly lovable characters like Professor Dumbledore the wise headmaster, Mrs. Norris the adorable cat, and Dudley Dursley, the most special little boy in the world. Unfortunately, Rowling’s otherwise excellent book is completely ruined by the inclusion of Harry Potter. For some reason, Rowling chooses to spend a significant portion of the novel following Harry around Hogwarts instead of telling us more about Dudley, even though it was just his birthday. Even when Dudley suffers the horrible setback of not getting enough presents for his birthday, Rowling is compelled to dwell on Harry even though Harry is a weirdo and it’s not even his birthday. We also find out almost immediately that Harry is extremely rich and famous for basically no reason, and then we are expected to root for him to succeed the whole rest of the book. Ultimately, this book comes close, but it what would have made it absolutely perfect was if Rowling had killed off the distracting Harry Potter character in the first few pages so the story could give Dudley Dursley the attention he deserved.

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2. Harry Potter And The Chamber of Secrets

This book, written by British author J.K. Rowling, has a lot of the elements that make up a compelling story, but it takes a wrong turn somewhere in the beginning with the decision to focus on the character of Harry Potter. For instance, the central mystery of finding out who opened the Chamber of Secrets is thrilling, and there are a lot of great characters to keep readers entertained like the clever and charismatic Hermione Granger, the heavyset wunderkind Dudley Dursley, and Mrs. Norris the cat. Unfortunately, Harry Potter gets in the way so badly that within a few chapters, he becomes the primary focus of the book, even though he is literally 12 years old and knows maybe four spells maximum. What could have been an incredible book instead devolves into complete drivel and ends with Harry using a sword that doesn’t even belong to him to murder an amazing snake that can turn children into stone. All in all, this book is a real missed opportunity for Rowling.

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3. Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix

This book is a great example of how much potential British author J.K. Rowling really has as a writer, but it also showcases her unfortunate tendency to write books that are about Harry Potter. For instance, this book begins with cherubic hero Dudley Dursley’s thrilling run-in with a monstrous Dementor. However, instead of following this plot thread and finding out how Dudley copes with this shocking event, the book goes completely off the rails and dwells for literally hundreds of pages on Harry Potter. Throughout the novel, we see Harry get detention, do homework, and generally bore readers to tears. There some stellar passages involving Mrs. Norris the incredible cat, but ultimately, everything takes a back seat to Harry Potter and his tedious existence at school. To be fair, Harry Potter does try to start his own secret society later in the book called Dumbledore’s Army, but we don’t get to learn very much about those cool wizards either because Harry Potter is always standing in front of them waving his wand and talking about himself. Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix is not a completely bad book, but it’s definitely a swing and a miss thanks to the “Harry Potter” character.

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4. Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows

At first, this book from British author J.K. Rowling seems to have it all: Mrs. Norris the cat, Hermione Granger, and even an appearance from Dudley Dursley, a resilient and lovable character who overcomes the trauma of not getting enough presents on his 11th birthday to become a fully functioning member of society. However, all of the book’s wonderful qualities are completely eclipsed by its obsession with Harry Potter, a choice which makes it basically unreadable. Toward the end of the book, there’s one amazing moment where Harry Potter is killed and it seems like the book is finally going to get good and maybe we’ll get a couple of chapters about the epic Battle of Hogwarts that aren’t completely bogged down with descriptions of Harry Potter, but in an inexplicable and completely infuriating move, Rowling chooses to bring Harry Potter back from the dead after basically one chapter, and the rest of the novel is entirely insufferable. It’s fascinating to imagine how good this book might’ve been if J.K. Rowling had just bit the bullet and dropped the whole “Harry Potter” thing entirely, but sadly the fatal error to focus on Harry Potter turns her otherwise brilliant book about wizards and the Dursley family into complete horse shit. What a waste.