Chris's Reviews > Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
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Feb 09, 08

bookshelves: harry-potter, fantasy
Read in July, 2007

** spoiler alert ** I liked it. I really did. I laughed, I cheered, I said "Holy SHIT!" at least twice.... I even got a little choked up at some points. All in all, I'd say it was a successful end to the series. Ms. Rowling deserves to take a little time off and enjoy basking in the glow of the knowledge that she has not only written seven successful books in ten years, but created an entire world that is big enough to fit hundreds more.

Anyway, about this actual book. It felt a lot longer than the rest of them did, probably because of the format change - no more Hogwarts, no more Quidditch, points gained, points lost, detentions with Snape and all that. Our Heroes were kept on the run for pretty much the entire book, so that by the time you get to the climax you think, "Wow, did they do all that in just 500 pages? A wedding, a break-in at the Ministry, a break-in at Gringotts, a major battle in the Malfoy mansion, a brush with death at Godrick's Hollow and all that in just 500 pages? Hot damn...."

Speaking of Gringotts, that's one of the many reasons I liked this book. Rowling told us in book one that you'd have to be a fool to break into Gringotts, and most authors would require you to take it on their word. But she went and showed us, and came up with a hell of a scenario.

As much fun as it was finding out that Dumbledore was just as obnoxious in his youth as most of us are was cool, it did feel a bit forced. The entire scene where Aunt Muriel lectured Doge on Dumbledore's youthful indiscretions and mysterious family goings-on should have just WARNING: EXPOSITION stamped on it in red. I'm not sure what the purpose of it was, other than to humanize Dumbledore and to give us a lead-in to the Deathly Hallows. Which I'm still of two minds about anyway. As cool as the idea was, I don't think we should have had to wait until this late in the series to find out about them. At the end of Half-Blood Prince, Harry's path is straight and sure - Horicruxes all the way - and now we have this distraction in the Hallows. Also deserving of the EXPOSITION stamp: Snape's final memories in the Pensieve and Harry's last conversation with Dumbledore.

I don't know, maybe it was to give him the choice between destroying Voldemort and defeating Voldemort or something. I haven't really processed it all yet, since I did read the book at approximately Mach 4, which is not the recommended reading speed. Perhaps I'll be more comfortable with the Hallows in the re-read.

And then there was the camping sequence. I get it - they're lost in more ways than one. I suspect this may have been an artifact of the one book = one year format. It was probably also meant to keep us in a sense of heightened danger, but that's pretty much where I felt the book drag.

Okay, now that I'm done nit-picking...

DEATH!

Ms. Rowling said in an interview that this book "isn't a bloodbath."

Oh really?

1. Hedwig - This was Rowling saying, "I'm not fucking around. I've just killed Harry's most faithful companion, his tether to the world in which he belongs. Imagine what else I'm planning."

2. Mad-Eye Mooney - A fallen warrior, just like the chapter title says. I think Mad-Eye would have been surprised to survive this battle - of all the Order of the Phoenix he seemed most in tune with the reality that they faced.

3. Dobby - This was where I got choked up, I don't mind telling you. Dobby didn't deserve a knife in the heart. Hell, he didn't deserve to die at all. Having said that, he died very well, and his death was handled with dignity. It was also another reminder from Rowling - "See? I killed off another completely innocent character. You people have no idea what you're in for...."

4. Wormtail - Devious bastard. Good riddance. I would have liked to have seen more of his super-hand in action, though. What was it truly capable of?

5. Crabbe - We finally hear him speak! And we find out he's been hiding his light under a bushel. Too bad it then proceeded to burn up the bushel, and the room it was in.

6. Fred - I hate being right. Dammit.

7. Snape - Ah yes, Snape. This was done well. She kept us wondering right up to the end, and it paid off. I seriously thought he was on the dark side, but that's probably because I have no faith in real human beings, much less fictional ones. Now since I'm not a fan-fictioner, or a 'shipper, I never caught on to the idea that Snape and Lily might have had any relationship prior to Hogwarts. I thought her reaction to James' hazing was simply out of compassion for her fellow human being. I had no idea. Anyway, it's good to be wrong. Knowing everything will certainly make re-reads a little more interesting....

8. Remus and

9. Tonks - There seems to be a lot of anger out there about the way they died - off-screen and without much impact. A lot of people appear to have a lot invested in their relationship, which surprised me. I thought they were an interesting couple, and the idea of their child was very fertile ground for future storytelling, but their relationship was never a central storyline to begin with. Every step of it was happing without the reader's knowledge. It was just revealed to us through Harry. Their courtship, their wedding, their child and their death, none of it was meant to be - and I know I'm going to get snapped at for this - important. They were a nice couple, but as we've already seen, "nice" doesn't exempt you from dying in this book.

If you want to get analytical about it, it is probable that the orphaning of young Ted Lupin was meant to provide a positive mirror to Harry's own experience: here is another child of a wizarding family whose parents were taken from him before he even knew who they were. Unlike Harry, though, Ted will have a loving, supportive extended family to look after him and see that he's brought up right. For his part, Harry will be able to redeem Sirius in that he can be the godfather that Sirius never was. So while the deaths of Remus and Tonks was regrettable, it was not wrong.

10. Colin Creevey
- The grace note. One last reminder from Rowling that she plays no favorites with the supporting cast, and a reminder that being innocent and nice and likable won't be enough to save you. See Remus and Tonks.
11. Voldemort
- Definitely dead, if the epilogue is to be believed. So there.

That's a pretty impressive body count, not including all the nameless characters who died and the people who only got seriously maimed. And it was this willingness to be brutal to her characters that made me love Rowling all the more....

Let's see, what else.... Yes, Mrs. Weasley is my hero, and hopefully we can get Sigourney Weaver to play her in the movie. And Neville finally lived up to his promise. He could have been in Harry 's place, and he finally proved that he could have been every bit the hero that Harry was. Bravo for him. And his grandmother kicks ass in every way, shape and form....

I loved the callback to Sorcerer's Stone. In that book, Harry, Ron and Hermione were trying to get past Devil's Snare, which can be repelled by fire. Hermione laments that they don't have any wood, to which Ron replies, "have you gone mad? Are you a witch or not?" In this book, while trying to get past the Whomping Willow, Ron moans that if they only had Crookshanks with them, they could hit the secret knot and freeze the limbs. To which Hermione replies, "Crookshanks? Are you a wizard or what?" Bless Rowling's heart for trusting us to be paying enough attention to get that joke.

I really wish we could have seen Dolores Umbridge get her comeuppance. Imagine this scene from chapter 31, The Battle of Hogwarts....

Umbridge dashed as quickly as her legs would take her through the carnage. She was nearly hit by blast after blast of green light coming from wands carelessly aimed. Her thoughts ran on one track - I have to get out of here. She turned the corner and ran into a resilient, pinkish wall. She barely had time to register what it was before Grawp clenched his fist around her. "Release me!" she screamed. "I am the senior assistant to the Minister of -"

And then Grawp ate her.

Ahh, the poetry. She was an evil word-that-rhymes-with-runt and deserved to be punished.

Oh, also, Pansy Parkinson: "But he's right there!" Winner of Hogwarts' first Slowest on the Uptake Award. That was a great moment. I would have liked to have seen a few of her fellow Slytherins stand up as well, but I guess it's tough to go against your own House.

The epilogue was a good idea, if rushed. There was a flood of information that needed to be processed in only a few pages, and I see no reason why she couldn't have let it out for a few more pages. It's not like we were going to get to "Nineteen Years Later...." and just give up because the epilogue was too long. But it serves its purpose - it lets us know that after all that we'd seen, everything eventually works out. Not right away, and not perfectly - note that after all the talk about not allowing themselves to be divided, there are still houses at Hogwarts and Slytherin is still the "evil" one - but all in all everything's okay.

Which brings us to my final thought, at least for now: I said at the beginning that Rowling has earned herself a nice break. She's put in a lot of work and reaped massive rewards, both tangible and intangible. But I suspect that she won't be able to rest for long. There is so much Story there, just waiting to be told. The fans will certainly take a stab at it, and I wouldn't be surprised if someone's already written a threesome between Albus Potter, Scorpius Malfoy and Teddy Lupin.

Anyway, that's a whole lot more than I was planning to write, and I'm pretty sure I left things out. But there it is, my thoughts on Deathly Hallows. A good end to a good series.
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message 1: by Piya (new) - added it

Piya good


message 2: by Alessia (last edited Dec 11, 2009 04:32PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Alessia I liked you review a lot, I pretty much agree with everything. I too found the camping part a little dragging along and the bloodbath was a bit too much!! Anyway you say
"I'm not sure what the purpose of it was, other than to humanize Dumbledore and to give us a lead-in to the Deathly Hallows"
and I have an explanation (just my opinion, of course): I think that the entire part of Dumbledore's youth and Harry's reactions to it was quite autobiographical. When a person you really love and consider as a guide dies, the first instinct is to idolize that person and you feel like you missed a lot and want to know everything you didn't have the time to ask, you even feel guilty about it. Then comes the phase when you start discovering little bits of his/her life you didn't know and all his/her little (or big) faults become too clear, and you feel angry and betrayed. In the end you have to cope with the fact that he/she was only human after all and reconcile yourself with that idea and at the same time you have to "get used" (for lack of a better word)to the loss. Maybe I'm biased by the fact that I underwent a similar situation a couple of years ago, but I know JK Rowling suffered the death of her mother at a young age and I think this adds a lot to the series. The theme of loss and how to get over it is actually one of the reasons why I loved these books.

P.S. I loved your other HP reviews, they're crazy but in an irresistibly funny way. Can't make up my mind on which one I like best, but probably it's the Freudian one. So mad!




Chris Alessia wrote: "I liked you review a lot, I pretty much agree with everything. I too found the camping part a little dragging along and the bloodbath was a it too much!! ....

Glad you liked the reviews! There were a few people who didn't quite get the sarcasm and I was beginning to have my doubts about the Internet. *grin*

I think you have a good point regarding the purpose of the Dumbledore scenes. Having not gone through such an experience myself yet, I suppose I wasn't able to connect quite as immediately as other readers might. I suspect those scenes will gain a lot for me in the future....

Thanks again!


message 4: by Choco (new) - added it

Choco And then Grawp ate her.

Ahaha!
You are amazing. Loved the Harry Potter reviews.


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