Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (by J.K. Rowling)

In deference to my paranoia about spoilers, Ian went out and got me a copy at midnight. He came back with it at around one, and I began reading. I had the entire next day set aside for the Potter, so I figured I wouldn't try to skim the whole thing, I'd just read until I was exhausted, then sleep, then wake up and finish it in the morning. (I think this is what happened with Half-Blood Prince.) Yet somehow, I never felt even the smallest bit tired once I started reading, and I stayed up all night finishing it, which I haven't done in years and years. I finished it at seven in the morning.

I am so glad I was unspoiled. If you haven't read it, don't read on.

This might be the best book in the series. It's really dark and really unpredictable, up until the end when all the big reveals turn out to be exactly what most fans expected (Harry is a horcrux, Harry lives, Snape is good). However, by the time I got there, I had decided Snape must really be evil, and that Harry was going to die, so that was pretty amazing. I can't believe she got me with those. I also did not predict the "Dumbledore magical terminal illness" thing with the hand, so that was an added twist to the Snape/Dumbledore thing. I also loved how much payoff there was from the previous books. I'm sure I missed a lot of stuff, but there seemed to be a ton of references to the first book in particular, and a ton of clues that had been planted throughout the series.

The deaths. I was so sad when she killed Hedwig. I've been terrified of that since the first book. I also was afraid she'd kill a Weasley twin, and thought I was safe once George lost an ear because isn't that bad enough? But no. Oh god, poor George. I would have liked a sentence about George's reaction to Fred's death, even though I'm sure it would have gutted me. Remus and Tonks I thought got short shrift, dramatically. (Perhaps they were "the two I didn't expect to die" that Rowling was talking about.) They died but there's no real dramatic impact, except seeing Remus with Sirius and James in the Resurrection Stone sequence. And Harry didn't adopt the baby, which I thought was certain to happen. So who raised him, I wonder? I bet we'll find out eventually (in an interview or some such). [ETA: This was obviously Tonks's mom. Poor Andromeda: her husband, her daughter, and her son-in-law all died.] And killing little Colin Creevey—who I guess turned out to be the Gavroche of the series—was just cruel. My heart is going to break every time I read about him in the previous books. Way to twist the knife there.

Neville, McGonagall, and Molly Weasley all kicked ass. I loved Neville's standing up to Voldemort and being the one to kill Nagini. I had wanted him to kill Bellatrix, but this was better, because Molly Weasley got to kick some ass. (Incidentally, didn't you expect Ginny to do something a little more magically spectacular? I sure did, especially after the most recent movie.) And did you notice: Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville all destroyed Horcruxes. Pretty cool. And I loved Harry standing up for McGonagall when that guy spit at her. That was awesome.

Most emotional moments for me were when I thought Harry was going to his death; when Harry was standing at his parents graves talking about how they didn't know or care that their son was there, and he wished he were dead; when Dumbledore called Harry a "brave, brave man"; and oddly enough, when Dobby died. He was among my least favorite characters, but his last words, and Luna's speech, and Harry's epitaph really got to me.

Other minor things I liked: Dudley's change of heart, getting to see the Ravenclaw tower (and the Ravenclaw door knocker; Ravenclaw has always been my favorite house). The backstory of the Gray Lady and the Bloody Baron. I go back and forth on the applauding headmaster portraits, which I immediately envision set to a cheeseball musical cue by John Williams—but I think it was an earned moment. Also Harry calling Voldemort "Tom" at the end. I'm sure I'll think of more. (ETA: Harry recovering and burying Mad-Eye Moody's eye.)

Things I didn't like: the SPEW plotline kind of came to nothing (although I loved Kreacher leading the elves at the end). Grawp was totally extraneous. Although I adored Dumbledore's dark past (and Harry's frustration at Dumbledore never actually giving him the vital information he needed) and I loved that Grindenwald played a huge role, the whole Nazi parallel thing was a little weird. I guess the whole idea is Voldemort is really really evil, but the whole Muggle holocaust thing seemed a little heavy-handed to me. Like really, a pile of bodies? Muggle registries? But I have a feeling I'll come around to it; Voldemort is, after all, super evil. However, Umbridge should have painfully died. Boo to an alive Umbridge. Also, Mundungus being the traitor in the Order was really obvious. Like, he's been stealing Harry's shit, and is obviously shady, so why trust him at all?

The weakest bit, I thought, was the epilogue. It seemed like it came straight out of fanfic with the "Albus Severus" (puh-leeze) and the couples so neatly paired off. I didn't mind the pairs themselves—I wasn't super invested in Harry and Ginny, as it turned out, and I would have enjoyed the romantic twist of Harry ending up with Luna, just so I could be more surprised—but the writing seemed weak compared to the rest of the book. I don't know; maybe there were too many kids or something, or not enough from our principals, but I wanted to get more hints at how the wizarding world was doing, not just how many babies Ginny and Hermione had popped out. Knowing Neville was a professor was nice; more clues like that or subtle references to the other characters would have been better. Maybe a longer, meatier epilogue that focused on more than just the kids. But I did think the Ron and Hermione romance throughout the book was handled really well, and Ron's fears coming out of the horcrux were very cool. Ron and Hermione both kicked ass in this book in general, and their kiss in the Room of Requirement was awesome.

So overall, I am extremely satisfied; it is an excellent ending to the series. Ian is racing through the book right now, and he has been just as caught up in it as me. I have a feeling our house is going to give it two thumbs up.


Blogger pam said...

i just finished it myself - i too am v happy with the ending. i just love epilogues, too. :)

9:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just finished the book (after pulling an all-nighter) and have to say that I am happy with the way the series wrapped up too. I wondered how Rowling would be able to wrap everything up and actually end the series. Her choices worked and I am happy to say that I was not disappointed. Good ending to a great series.

6:00 AM  
Blogger toolprincess said...

I wanted more from the epilogue also what happened to George?? I was personally devastated by Fred's death but everyone else i talked to doesn't seem that affected by it. I really wish we had found out what happened to Luna and it bugged me that we have no idea who adopted Teddy and brought him up.

10:48 AM  
Blogger mo pie said...

Fred's death is the one that really kills me. If I could undo any death it would be Fred's. No, anyone but Fred! How about Percy? Percy was a git!

We do know who adopted Teddy: Tonks's mom. He was left with her at the end of the book, and then Tonks and Lupin bit it. So there you go. Mystery solved!

3:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also was very torn up by Fred's death. The twin thing, I guess--George is, in our minds, left behind, but halved in the process. Also Dobby, and yeah, I always hated him. I was touched by how Kreacher came around, though, so it's not just a house elf hatred.

I totally agree about the epilogue. I've been thinking about this since I finished it. It bothers me that I don't know enough about the wizarding world that they are living in other than it being "well." Thanks JK---smooth. I keep wanting to know if Harry became an auror. Did he graduate from Hogwarts? I mean, I imagine he could get an honorary for KILLING THE DARK LORD AND ALL but still, three words could have been appropriated. And the only thing that keeps me calm about all the kid stuff is when I remember how much the entire series was about a boy who didn't have a family---and at the end, he really and truly does. A wife, a few kids, his kids' cousins are the kids of his two best friends. It's not a bad way to end it. I just wish there had been a little bit more.

I totally predicted the Dudley turnaround, by the way, so I am patting myself on the back as I type this one-handed.

5:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read somewhere (I think on the Slate site) that J.K. Rowling had written the epilogue years ago -- which would explain if anyone feels that it didn't quite match up with the rest of the book. I didn't mind it too much, except that if she was going to do that I, too, wanted more information.

10:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The book was great, loved it and the ending was well done! But I had a few concerns like the;

hermione/ron kiss. I dont know, their sexual tension has been building up since book 3 and i thought that it was prolonged for a reason. I wish their love was put in more detail rather then a spur of the moment kiss which was cut off by Harry.

And also I wished there was an explanation of George after fred's death, i mean it's his brother. I honestly loved the twins! But George's emotions needed to be displayed.

BTW who's victoir's parent's?

And I wished that petunia did say something to Harry before she left. There was much needed closure.

yea; thats all I can say.
I loved how the Harry/Snape conflict ended. WOW!

7:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your opinions on it are pretty similar to mine. I liked that there were some things I was pretty sure about that ended up right (ie Snape being good), some things I was VERY surprised that I was right about (the tiara being a horcrux! I can't believe I guessed that one!), and some things I was oh so very wrong about (I thought Hogwarts itself might tur out to be a horcrux.)

Snape's death and memories were the most emotional part for me. The "After all this time?" "Always." made me cry like a baby. I ended up mourning Snape almost as if a real person had died.

Hedwig made me so very sad, too! I used to have a car named after her. I can see that it was easiest for JKR to kill her, since she wouldn't have been able to go with Harry on the horcrux hunt, but I wish she hadn't died!

I didn't care for the epilogue much at all. I love that Neville ended up teaching herbology (I loved Neville in general in this book- so brave!), but I was just hoping for more. I know JKR said that she wrote most of it quite a long time ago, and it really shows in the writing style. I wish we'd found out what the trio ended up doing after Hogwarts, other than poppin' out babies.

I think that the one thing that could have REALLY improved the book is a chapter in between the final battle and the epilogue. We needed a chance to mourn, like with the Dumbledore funeral chapter in HBP. It would have been a chance to tie things up a bit better, give Harry & Ginny a moment, find out if they were going to return to Hogwarts to finish school the next year, etc.

11:49 PM  
Blogger toolprincess said...

Oh! thanks! for some reason I thought that Tonks parents were killed. I guess the body count was getting pretty high at one point and i lost track.

YES! Let's undo Fred's death! Rowling made them such a dynamic duo - I just can't imagine George going on without his other half.

7:37 AM  
Blogger mo pie said...

Anonymous: Victoire's parents are Fleur and Bill.

And I loved the Ron/Hermione relationship in this book. Not a lot of kissage but we got him freaking out over her torture and volunteering to be tortured, and them falling asleep holding hands. So sweet.

And Laurie, Tonks's dad (Ted Tonks) died, I think. Wow, poor Andromeda! Her husband, daughter, and son-in-law all died. I think after George, I feel next sorriest for her now.

10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am in complete agreement. The book DESPERATELY needed an additional chapter before the epilogue.

12:08 PM  
Blogger wife2abadge said...

I LOVED it -- thought it was the best book in the series!!!!!!!

9:25 AM  

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