Shannon (Giraffe Days)'s Reviews > Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
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Jan 01, 12

it was amazing
bookshelves: fantasy, ya, 2007, 2011, childrens
Read in August, 2007, read count: 2

This review contains spoilers.

2011 REVIEW - 2ND READING


I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't read my review from 2007, when the book first came out, until after I'd published this one. I want to see how they compare - what thoughts/reactions etc. had changed, if any, and any additional insights - but it does make me nervous, because I reckon my first review will prove to be much better written - and what if I seem dumber this time around? I find I get a bit muddled from watching the films, too, in that after watching them I can't remember if bits were in the book or the film and vice versa. Oh well. Really must stop over-thinking things!

[Scroll down for my first review, from 2007.]

The final Harry Potter book always looks too short to me, like, how could everything possibly be wrapped up in a book that's not as long as The Order of the Phoenix, when there's still so much to do?! I felt that the first time, and I felt that again. But once again I admire Rowling's skill in crafting a tremendous story and a powerful ending for what is to me one of the best fantasy series out there.

There's a lot going on in this novel, but it's nicely balanced with quieter, slower parts and you really get that last chance to really know Harry, Ron and Hermione. Rowling never lets plot overpower her characters or her story, and she won't be rushed: the pacing is steady and consistent throughout, which only adds to the tension-filled scenes where you start biting your nails.

This is a book that makes me cry, and I'll tell you why - in a bit. I wondered how I could share all the things I love about this particular book, and figured listing them was probably the best option.


Hedwig dying. I had completely forgotten, and it's so, so sad. I like how they did it for the movie, giving her a role and using her as a visual means of identifying Harry, since in the book it's more complicated.

Hermione erasing her existence - removing knowledge and memory of herself from her parents' minds and sending them off to Australia under new identities so that they aren't a target. There is something incredibly tragic about this, though it doesn't get much attention. I can't imagine the kind of strength and resolve it would take to do that, though the realities of the world would probably help give you the resolve.


Kreacher becoming an ally. And all for an act of genuine kindness (Harry gives him "Master Regulus'" locket after hearing his story). And what he was made to do for Voldemort. Nothing, not even Kreacher, is black and white, and that's an important lesson to learn. He betrayed Sirius at the end of The Order of the Phoenix, but when you learn more about him, you realise it's not a simple matter at all.


Dobby's death. He was such a brave, selfless elf, and as characters, he and Kreacher really brought into sharp relief the whole issue of house elves and their mistreatment.


The mortality of the Weasley's. Until this book, they always struck me as one of those solid features who come close to utter tragedy but always manage to avoid it, like with Arthur getting attacked by the snake. Here, though, George loses an ear and, at the end, Fred is killed. Fred's death is one of the saddest things for me.


Likewise, Lupin and Tonks' deaths at the final battle - I remember reading that the first time and feeling that sense of utter disbelief. I felt it again here, like someone had surely made a mistake, especially when Harry sees their bodies next to Fred and their described as sleeping. But with a newborn left behind, and the fact that Lupin only recently found the first real happiness he's ever known - to have that cut short, it makes me want to cry just typing this. The deaths of these characters had a much bigger impact on me than the death of Dumbledore - as big a surprise as that was on first reading - at the end of The Half-Blood Prince. In a way, Dumbledore had to go so that Harry could come into his own. But these characters, their deaths are so needless, and they were too young and left too much behind.


Snape's love for Lily. I knew there was a good reason why we forgave Snape at the end, but I was glad I couldn't remember exactly what it was. Snape is another complex character, who shows that it's not a simple matter of right or wrong, good or evil. He's not someone to be judged at face value or first impressions, though obviously that's what everyone has been doing all his life. It's not even pity that I felt for him, but empathy at losing the woman he loved and sacrificing everything in memory of her. He never stopped loving her. Timeless love. No wonder Dumbledore trusted him implicitly: he understood the power of such emotions and never dismissed them as insignificant.


The truth about Dumbledore's past, and his sister Ariana. So sad. I haven't seen the second half of the movie version yet but I hope they include these details.


Harry walking to his impending death, supported by the ghosts of his parents, Sirius and Lupin. I cried when James and Lily and Cedric appeared at the end of The Goblet of Fire, and they had no less power here, bolstering their son and being there so he wasn't alone as he went to Voldemort, knowing he was going to be killed - and not knowing that he would survive it.


The dragon kept imprisoned in Gringott's Bank. I felt so bad for the poor tortured beast, and so happy when they freed it.


Xenophilius Lovegood. The position he was in, having his daughter taken away and used as a threat against him, to betray his beliefs (i.e., in Harry as the Chosen One).

Petunia Dursley, Harry's aunt, is a sad figure in her own right. It becomes clear in this book why she was so anti-magic: she was jealous of her sister Lily's ability. The scene where Lily mentions that Petunia wrote to Dumbledore, asking to be let into Hogwarts, and Petunia's feelings of embarrassment and shame and longing, of feeling excluded - you can't help but feel for the little girl who grew into a resentful woman in denial.



There's lots of happy things here too, like Fleur and Bill Weasley's wedding and Ron and Hermione finally getting together, as well as great mini-adventures that all lead up to the final show-down. The plan to get into the Ministry of Magic, and later the Gringott's Bank break-in, for example, were really fun and exciting and scary. And one of my favourite scenes is the Neville Longbottom snake-killing scene - really, I just love all the Neville scenes but that one in particular really stuck in my head all the intervening years since first reading it.

And underlying it all is this Hitler-like race and class war that Voldemort is enacting. Muggles and Mud-bloods become demonised and terrorised and everyone has to prove their "purity". The film captured this really well in the set design, especially inside the Ministry.

I loved that there was so much I couldn't remember when I started this book - I couldn't remember what the Hallows were, or what was inside the Snitch, or how they found the other Horcruxes. I had forgotten Dobby died until I watched the film a few months ago. It was wonderful to read it almost like it was the first time.

And then there's the epilogue - I'll mention it because I remember how much fans railed against it when the book first came out. I'm still not sure why, except maybe it wasn't up to the standards of the rest of the series. I read somewhere that Rowling wrote it at the beginning, which is kinda cool, and shows just how well she planned it all out. The line that I love is this one, where Harry tells his son: "Albus Severus, [...] you were named for two headmasters of Hogwarts. One of them was a Slytherin and he was probably the bravest man I ever knew." [p.607] It gets me every time.


2007 REVIEW - 1ST READING

So, there were huge expectations - and quite a few bets, debates and demands - for this last book, and personally I thought it was a great ending to the series. One of the things that I love about these books, that has always impressed me, is how tightly plotted they are, how detailed. Others have complained about the plotholes in Deathly Hallows, but I didn't see any. Granted, I wasn't looking for them, and I didn't succeed in my intention to re-read the previous books before this one (managed Philosopher's Stone but left it too late for the others) so I had forgotten some details.

Deathly Hallows made me laugh, made me cry (seriously, I bawled - and there were no tissues at the cottage so had to mop my face with paper towel...), had me pressing my knuckles to my mouth (the closest I come to biting my nails), and kept me on the edge of my seat. What more could you ask for?

Quite a few characters die in this book, but everyone knew there would be some deaths because Rowling said there would be. She's also said, apparently, that the books are about death, though, having read the last book, I understand now that she doesn't mean they're about death, but about death. The whole idea behind The Boy Who Lived was that his mother's sacrifice protected him from the killing curse, and when Harry in turn sacrifices himself, he protects everyone at Hogwarts (where all the characters assemble for the big show-down) from Lord Voldemort.

I also liked how the death of Dumbledore (in the previous book) and Snape's betrayal are resolved; I liked that Snape did it all for love of Lily, Harry's mother. It worked, brought out the humanity that has always lurked deep beneath Snape's corrosive veneer. The saddest deaths were of Fred, one of the Weasley twins, and Lupin and Tonks, only weeks after the birth of their baby. Is it any wonder that I cried? And even though there was always the hope that Harry would survive, still the section leading up to his sacrifice was written so convincingly, so non-melodrammatically, that I actually had to put the book down for a minute and do a quick turn about the house to calm myself down a bit.

The only bit that looked like a glaring plothole at first was when Neville pulls the sword of Gryffindor out of the Sorting Hat to lop Voldemort's snake's head off with. That confused me - last we saw of the sword, the goblin had taken it and disappeared into the depths of Gringotts with it. Then I remembered: Harry had pulled the sword out of the Sorting Hat in the Chamber of Secrets, too. The last lingering doubt is why the hat was on fire and why exactly Voldemort wanted to non-sort them then and there. Ah well, it works for dramatic effect!

Another part of the book which has received a lot of flak: the epilogue. Saccharine, it's been described. I have to agree, and it's the only bit of saccharine in the entire series. Apparently it was written way back in the 90s, but I don't think that excuses it. It was like icing on the cake - sickly sweet, not at all filling or satisfying, hiding the cake beneath which is what you really want to eat, as long as you can have the icing too. So we learn how they paired up and what their kids' names are, that Neville is a Herbology professor and, well, very little else.

Noticeably, Harry's conversation with Dumbledore in King's Cross Station shows how much Harry has grown and matured. He's moved through his teenage angst and become reliable, responsible, thoughtful, more patient. By not going after the Deathly Hallows, his first impulse is tempered by a new, cooler head. Aside from the humour, reminiscent of Roald Dahl, and the plotting, the character development of Harry is another reason why the books are so enjoyable, and long-lasting.
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Comments (showing 1-35 of 35) (35 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Did you read this version, or the American version?

Because "Philosopher's Stone" is definitely not the American version... "Sorcerer's Stone" is more like it.

Crying? I'll even admit that there were moments of heart-tugging, but they probably weren't the same as yours: when Luna and Neville both, separately, show exactly how much of a friend they are. Neville especially.

The epilogue was pretty nasty... I refuse to read it anymore. I read it the first time, and since then, never again. If it had been longer and in more detail, maybe it would have been at least decent... but it wasn't.

You missed one of the big controversies... alot of people hate the "oh look we're in a forest!" part. What'd you think about it? I'll even tell you what I think after you go first.

--Kyle


Shannon (Giraffe Days) Well... I wrote this review about a year ago or whenever the book came out, so I don't really remember the details too clearly. What's the controversy about the forest? Which scene do you mean exactly? Just need to jog my memory.

All of mine are the British editions. I hate that US publishers insist on changing not just titles but words and even some whole sentences (some sentences were changed between the UK and US editions). I find it really insulting to everyone, and it makes me mad. I refuse to call it "the Sorceror's Stone". What, do the publishers think that the American public are so stupid they won't be able to understand what a philosopher's stone is, even when it's explained in the book?? They don't give readers any credit.

I agree, the epilogue was nasty. It was like fairy floss: sickly sweet and vacuous.


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

The forest scene was the looking-for-stuff-but-lost deal that was 30% or so of the book, and largely action-free. Alot of people felt it was the exact opposite of what most of the Harry Potter series was about, and was kind of like a oh-let's-be-emo ploy (not literally, but... you know).

I don't mind the changes, really. Because, let's face it, to Americans the phrase "philosopher's stone" makes absolutely no sense. Even though I know what it's intended to mean, "sorcerer" is a much more appropriate word. And the same goes for dialogue... I love the oddities of British English as much as every other American (which we find highly amusing, by the way), but to have to read a book written entirely in it would be difficult.

I know someone who's read all the books in both original and American format, and she loves them both, but admits that the British takes some Googling if you're not familiar with all the terms and awkward phrases (like your "take a turn around the house" in the review - I knew what it meant, but to some people that might be just confusing enough to make them drop out of the suspended reality).

Not to mention the terrible spelling and random nonsense like "colour" or "treacle tart"! ;-)

Know what I mean?

That being said, I have every intention of reading them in original form.


message 4: by Shannon (Giraffe Days) (last edited Jul 29, 2008 08:31AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Shannon (Giraffe Days) Ah, now I know you're just taking the piss! (try looking that one up!)

I honestly can't recall what forest scene you're talking about! Finding stuff that's lost? "let's be emo"? What's "emo"? Emotional?

But, I like the quiet moments in books like this: I loved The Order of the Phoenix for just this reason, while I know many people found it boring.

Oh, and before I forget: seeing "color" etc. in American books disrupts my reading experience something shocking, I get completely distracted by that and things like it.


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Bob's your uncle! Take the mickey!

Maybe "emo" is an American thing? It's those goth kids who cry alot but don't stay away from "the man" and like to hang out at Starbucks. They always have weird haircuts (like the "I can see you!" halfcut)...

The scene is where they're poking around England thinking about looking for Horcux's, but they can't find any, and Ron goes off and cries because the necklace-Horcux gets to him. People just said it took forever and was kind of pointless, while I disagree.

Words: hm I guess it goes both ways. Our countries should fight about it and decide for the entire world what is the official way. I've got $100 Euros on America... ;-)

--Kyle


Shannon (Giraffe Days) *laughs*

Not too shabby ;)

Oh I remember! Hmm, it was certainly a departure from how the other books were plotted but I didn't mind it in the least. Since I'm such a big critique of stories (books and movies) that lack character development, I'm very happy with the scope of it in HP. I think you also have to remember that they are teenagers and hormonally charged and also trying to save the world on their own, pretty much. I can give lots of allowances for silly behaviour :)




message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

[delayed thanks to a non-digital vacation]

Fair enough. Maybe we should wait and see how the movie interprets it... ;-)

--Kyle


Fred D You wrote an excellent review. I enjoyed reading it. My reactions to certain parts of the book were similar to yours. It was terribly suspenseful, kept me on the edge of the my seat. I couldn't put the book down. I was constantly stressing out about what would happen next. The story definitely kept my anxiety levels very high. In other words, the book was awesome! The best in the series.


Shannon (Giraffe Days) And a very fitting climax/ending to the series I thought, Fred - my one worry going into this book would be that it would just sag.

I think, though - after many months' reflection - she should have re-written the epilogue. It was obviously a great starting-off point for Rowling but in the interim her writing became much much better and her grasp of the characters, obviously, more solid. I think that's where the cheesy quality comes from. Sometimes you have to let go of scenes that you loved because, by the end, they no longer work/fit. I think maybe she needed a firm editor to recommend that to her. (She may have rewritten it, but I'd be surprised if she did, because it doesn't have the same quality of prose as the books.)


Fred D Uh yeah I agree that the epilogue was cheesy, but it was really short and it didn't ruin the book for me or anything. Certainly a longer, better epilogue would have been nice. To me, at least it was comforting to know that Harry & Ginny, and Ron & Hermione ended up together.


Shannon (Giraffe Days) Yes I liked that too - it was nice to have something that showed they were happy and all.


Fred D BTW, in your review you talked about all the deaths and how they affected you. Probably the death that affected me the most was Dobby. That was a real tough one. And then the scene where Harry buried him...that was hard. I got really emotional. What loyalty! What devotion! What a sacrifice.


Shannon (Giraffe Days) I cried so much reading these books - I agree, Dobby was a tough one, it was so sacrificial (is that the right word?), so selfless. So sad.


message 14: by Danielle (last edited Sep 30, 2009 11:01AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Danielle Great review of a great book. I thought each book was a little better than the last in this series, which is a real departure from the norm. I am not holding my breath for the movies since the latest one just deeply disappointed me. I hope they do a better job with the next ones.


Shannon (Giraffe Days) There's only one more movie to go isn't there? I have my favourites - Chamber of Secrets is perhaps my least favourite, with Half-Blood Prince coming second least. But I need to re-read the whole series again!

I didn't like the first two movies much - they kept too close to the books and crammed them too full; yet the more recent ones have been hard to follow unless you've read them. I guess they're hard books to adapt to the big screen.


Danielle Shannon wrote: "There's only one more movie to go isn't there?..."

I heard there will be two movies made from the last book. I hope this is true, because they definitely need to slow down. The last movie left far too much out, and tried to replace it with teeny bop romance stuff. :( Soooo not what that series was about.



Maria Elmvang Yup, two movies :) Part I premieres in November 2010, Part II in July 2011 - at least according to IMDB.com


Shannon (Giraffe Days) Oh I didn't know that, but that's definitely good news. There've already left out a lot of details that I guess they decided weren't necessary to the story they're telling.

The bits with Ron and Lavender were a bit much weren't they? Kinda made me cringe a bit.


Fred D The movie HBP had it's good parts, but overall I was disappointed too. The book was incredible, my second-favorite in the series (after Deathly Hallows), so I had high hopes. The movie could have been really awesome if it had been done right. Too bad.


Shannon (Giraffe Days) I really can't remember the book much Fred, but I found that to be the case with most of the movies. Generally I really like them, but they do remind you of all that's been missed out.


Christine Schulze Fred D wrote: "BTW, in your review you talked about all the deaths and how they affected you. Probably the death that affected me the most was Dobby. That was a real tough one. And then the scene where Harry buri..."

I concur. Dobby his me hard. The others...everything was happening so fast with the war, I didn't feel like I had time to grieve for them.

I too thought the ending cheesy and awful at first. But now, looking back on it, it's not so bad. It's sort of like all this epic stuff happened, but now they are finally just living normal lives. At first, I thought it took away from the epic-ness, but it's sort of just like when Sam goes home to his wife and kids at the end of Lord of the Rings. You get that sense that the evil is past, and now things can just be what they are.


Christine Schulze Fred D wrote: "The movie HBP had it's good parts, but overall I was disappointed too. The book was incredible, my second-favorite in the series (after Deathly Hallows), so I had high hopes. The movie could have b..."

I really liked HBP. It felt less rushed than some of the others, and I liked the emotion, music, and visual effects and how they all combined. However, I will say it had been a little while since I'd read the book, so though it was one of my faves--along with Order of the Phoenix--perhaps without comparing it so much to the book, that helped. I remember not liking Order when it came out because I was already biased towards the book being better (I really loathed the 3rd movie and never quite forgave Hollywood for it). But I've watched it sense and do quite like it. I think as movies they are mostly really good; only when one has just read the books and everything is fresh in one's mind does one really tend to judge.

I do hope splitting the last movie in half will help though. There's a lot going on there.


message 23: by KB (new) - rated it 5 stars

KB Love is our weapon I liked the epilogue (Lily Luna Potter for Halloween) teddy Is my favorite character. Does anyone know what the 'creature' Harry saw was? It confused me.


Spider the Doof Warrior This book made me get weepy at the end.
I love that scene with ghosts following him. I stopped the movies after movie 5.


Tracy Reilly Hermione erasing her existence - removing knowledge and memory of herself from her parents' minds and sending them off to Australia under new identities so that they aren't a target. There is something incredibly tragic about this, though it doesn't get much attention. I can't imagine the kind of strength and resolve it would take to do that, though the realities of the world would probably help give you the resolve.

You're right..that is a sort of sad little detail that is overlooked.


Becca I cried so hard about the whole Tonks Lupin thing. It was like Harry all over again. I cried just reading this review.


Shannon (Giraffe Days) Becca wrote: "I cried so hard about the whole Tonks Lupin thing. It was like Harry all over again. I cried just reading this review."

I know, it's so awful. I don't even like to think about it - my mind shies away from it. It makes me understand how those characters feel, who talk about waking up and finding that it didn't happen. It makes it hard to re-read the series, too, knowing what's coming.


Hannah I think it's funny that everyone thought the epilogue was cheesy, cause it was one of my favorite parts! I thought it was a really nice ending.


message 29: by Sydney (new)

Sydney now that harry potter is over and there done making the movies I think the percy jackson series by rick riodran is going to be the new harry potter


Hannah Sydney wrote: "now that harry potter is over and there done making the movies I think the percy jackson series by rick riodran is going to be the new harry potter"
Haha! Yeah, I agree. My friend said the other day that she liked it better than Harry Potter! I wanted to smack her, but I still need to read Percy Jackson. So I guess we'll see!


Kiran Really, you think Percy Jackson is going to be the next Harry potter ?
Never. I read them all, but i don't think there's ever going to be another Harry potter. There can never be anything that created as many fantasies in adults and children as Harry potter. Well, even though you may say that the stories are somewhat similar, nothing can be compared to Harry potter. I mean, I'm not saying that Percy Jackson is bad ! It was nice too, but it got too long. He's been writing too many books together now. Three series is something great, and he is indeed a great writer. But Harry potter will always be Harry potter, and i don't think anything can change that.


ShadowOwl Fandoms Possibly the best series I've read beside DIVERGENT which is my all time favorite


message 33: by Mary (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mary K I love this book so much it's one of my favorites wish the series continued


WitherMisteri Lupin was one of my favorites. Just by the mention of his name, a smile widened on my face. I bet you can imagine how I took "the news"




; - ;!


Spider the Doof Warrior DO NOT GET ME STARTED


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