Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling


I'VE CLEARLY LISTED WHERE SPOILERS ARE IN THE REVIEW...THE REST IS SAFE!

I can vividly remember reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone for the first time in 1999. I remember a wave of excitement washing over me at what promised to be quite a great series of books. However, I don't think I ever expected the scope of how grand these books were to become and I certainly didn't know how much of an emotional ride I was in for. In 1999, the series was just starting for me, I had a "whole 6 more books to look forward to!" And now, eight years later, the series has come to a close and while it seems silly, it's quite an emotional experience.

Harry Potter was more than just a series of books. It was an entire world created by Rowling. It reinvigorated the genre of young adult fiction and brought millions of young readers back to books. In just under 10 years, Rowling has published an entire series of classics...characters who will no doubt live on as long as books live on. Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, Snape, Hagrid, Voldemort...that's the tip of the iceberg...She's created something that brought readers around the world together. We all shared the magic of Hogwarts...the times spent around the fireplace in the Gryffindor common room, adventures in the forbidden forest, battles with magical creatures and dark wizards, trips to Diagon Alley, dinner at the Weasley's, plotting and planning, touching moments, heart breaking moments, and heart pounding moments.

J.K. Rowling has done a wonderful job of bringing this beloved series to a close with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I wasn't disappointed in the least bit. Everything that I needed answered was answered. At least I think so. As the days go by, questions may pop up, but I'm extremely satisfied with it right now. Rowling has grown so much as a writer. As a piece of literature, this book was amazing. Gripping story, wonderful plot and twists, beautiful characters as always.

This is by far the darkest book of the series. Characters drop like flies and you may want to prepare with a box of tissue because it gets very emotional at times. I think that part of the emotional response comes from the build up of this being "the end." It's a very emotional book all together. I must say that a few moments really caught me in this book and many of them were some of the more comfortable aspects of the book. By comfortable, I mean the character qualities and aspects of the books that have become familiar. Much of that has been stolen from us in this book as it has been stole from Harry, Ron, and Hermione. As the reader, we are as estranged from the familiar as the characters are.

*****SPOILER****

one example of the familiar being emotional is when Ron returns after rescuing Harry and recovering the sword of Gryffindor. When he first sees Hermione and she explodes, I was so overwhelmed with emotions. It just caught me. Another example of humor as an emotional release was Mrs. Weasley's "NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!" Ha! That was just great and I was so tense that I really needed that.

******END SPOILERS******

The characters have grown up a lot in this book as they have been forced to. They are on their own for the most part and are fighting evil at it's purest form. The severity of the situation becomes more and more real to the characters as the book progresses which begins to eat away at the characters. Tempers become short and we see even the "good guys" being revealed as having hidden secrets. Rowling juggles this theme throughout the book and does it well. Can a person really be defined as good or evil? Certainly there is a difference between Voldemort and Harry Potter....dark wizards and everyday wizards, but good and evil is not so easily defined. Rowling visits this mostly with Dumbledore and Snape's stories and I really enjoyed both.

I was satisfied with Snape's outcome though at the same time, I was so disappointed.

ok ****SPOILERS*****

Of course I was happy that Snape was a good guy as I always knew he was :) I just felt so bad for the poor guy. Sure, he always treated Harry like shit, but come on...he got such a bad rap and then got killed. I'm glad that Harry explained in front of everyone what Snape had done for him and thought that it was wonderful that little Al's middle name is Severus, but I wish that Snape could've had the recognition for the brave man that he actually was while he was still alive. I thought that his death was one of the more tragic ones.

******END SPOILERS****

I don't even know what else to write about the book right now as I feel just drained from it. But I'm sure more discussion will pop up in the comments section. Absolutely wonderful book, by far my favorite in the series. I'm very happy with the ending of the book and Rowling has amazed me with what she's done with this series. It is a very bittersweet farewell to the boy who lived. It was hard to turn that last page. I'm looking forward to what Rowling does with her career and hope that she continues to write young adult novels, though I'd enjoy seeing her work outside of that genre as well. She's made a reader for life out of me.

15 comments:

Darla D said...

Wonderful review, Chris - you echoed all my thoughts as I was reading the book! I agree especially about the comic relief - Rowling was expert at that all throughout that novel. I can't think of any other book where I was so on the brink of laughing or crying, all at the same time.

I was just writing a comment over at Nymeth's blog about how I will miss the sense of community that these books have created. So many people are walking around with the book - it's really fun to chat with them about how far along they are, what they think about it so far, etc. It's rare to immediately have something in common with total strangers - it's like having mutual friends!

Chris said...

Darla, it's funny that you mention the sense of community. The day the book came out, me and my girlfriend's room mate went to eat at my girlfriend's restaurant and read our Harry Potter books. Well the two guys sitting next to us bought our dinner on the way out the door just because we were reading the books! I really will miss that sense of community it's brought forth (and the free meals ;)

I loved the humor that she brought in at times. It was well needed in this one. I would've cracked without it!

Kim said...

One of the "familiar moments" that caught me was when Ron and Hermione were discussing their contingency plans for leaving Hogwarts. The way they each approached it, Ron with the in-your-face gross-out method, and Hermione with the calculated brainy way was so telling of their personality.

I'll miss the community too, but I'm almost always tempted to go talk to someone if I see them reading a book I've read or been interested in. Perhaps having shared Harry Potter will open the door for more random book encounters in the future!

Stormfilled said...

I haven't even got a copy yet - I'm awaiting a loan from about three people who haven't bloomin' finished it yet!

Much as Rowling's writing has been critisied over the years, I remain at wonder at the way she breathes out these characters and the lack of doubt I have ever felt towards the more fantasy elements. I don't shy away from spoilers, but have not had any of the surprises in the books ruined, because of the way she builds them. Impressive.

jean pierre said...

cool review. one thing i've picked up from all the reviews i've read is how attached everyone has become to all the characters. that is really cool.

i'm glad you enjoyed this one so much. what a way to go out - ending with the best one in the series!

Bellezza said...

Okay, here's the question I've been puzzling over and over: Where do you think Harry was when he was talking with Dumbledore? I refuse to believe it's "just his imagination" has some suggest. I'm curious to know your opinion.

Nymeth said...

I also started reading the series in 1999 - I was given the first book for my 16th birthday. Like you, I could never have imagined the emotional journey I was in for. I liked the first two books well enough, but it was only after the third that I completely fell in love with the series.

What she did is remarkable. She made adults unashamed of reading children's books. She made thousands of children start reading. She created this wonderful sense of community, of a shared experience. And of course, she wrote great books that I think will keep on being read and loved by future generations.

I also agree about the comic relief - she has a wonderful sense of humour, and she always uses it at the exact right moment. I was surprised and delighted to still find heart-warming and comforting moments in this book. The isolation from familiar surroundings and characters allowed the reader to experience the desolation the main characters must have been feeling, but at the same time there were little moments to counterbalance that.

What a wonderful book.

cj said...

Snape truly did get the short end of the stick, didn't he?

That and the fact that we never did learn a whole lot about him are turning into my only disappointments. I know we learned a little more about Snape, but I'd love to know his background.

cjh

Chris said...

Kim, I'm the same way...I tend to just shove my nose into other people's business when I see them reading a book I've read, lol. I think that a lot of that comes from working at a coffee shop for so long and meeting so many readers there.

Stormfilled, You'll love it! It was such a great closing to the series. I feel somewhat the same about spoilers. Someone could've told me everything that happened in the book and I still would've been holding my breath the whole way through. She writes such a fantastic story and her plot lines are wonderful. I'm sad it's over :(

Jean Pierre, It's impossible not to get attached to these characters. After the third book, the story and her writing really pick up. She's improved along the way and I feel that all of her readers have taken that journey with her. Great ending!

Bellezza, I don't think it was "just his imagination" either. I think he was in a sort of limbo. In the "white light" so to say. Not really dead, but not alive. Dumbledore told him that he had the option to walk on (into the light I assume) or to go back and defeat Voldemort. So I think he was in that in between stage. An out of body experience in between death and life. That's the closest I can come to an answer to that question I'm afraid. That whole thing was sort of ambiguous, but I think it was meant to be as the place he was in was very ambiguous. So did you like it?!

Nymeth, I find that I'm still amazed at the enormity of this series. It's amazing how successful she was with these books and how much of a uniting force they've become. I really hope she realizes the scope of what she's accomplished. So now, what the hell are we supposed to do now that it's over?! We have to find another series. I have plenty of other series that I'm reading but none that are so warm and comforting as this one has been...oh well...

CJ, Boy did he! Poor old guy. I was happy with what Rowling told us about him, but of course I wanted more. I just wanted him to have some respect and in a way he did. I loved that Harry gave his son "Severus" as his middle name. I guess that life is tragic at times, but that was just too tragic :(

Rhinoa said...

Great review Chris. I am interested to see what she will write about next...

***SPOILER***

You said about Snape treating Harry like shit, but I am still sticking by my initial reaction that Dumbledore treated Snape like shit. I know a lot of people think he's a hero and did the right thing by Harry which was revealed at the end, but I still am not sure about him to be honest.

***END SPOILER***

I only got into Harry Potter just before book 5 came out. I was trying to resist the hype and still prefer His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman. I did enjoy the books though and I plan on re-reading the whole series at some point without taking year long gaps inbetween books!

Chris said...

Rhinoa, I agree to an extent. I think that Snape was treated like shit all around. I wish that Rowling would just write a whole Snape book. Poor guy. He deserved so much better than he got from everyone.

I've never read any of His Dark Materials, but I keep hearing more and more about them...I'm starting to think that maybe I should check them out!

Court said...

Yay Harry Potter. :) Happy to hear you weren't disappointed with the book.

I'm glad that Harry explained in front of everyone what Snape had done for him and thought that it was wonderful that little Al's middle name is Severus, but I wish that Snape could've had the recognition for the brave man that he actually was while he was still alive.

I can't see Snape enjoying that. ;) He'd probably get a little bitter, but yes, I wish he had got the recognition as well. He was always so misunderstood about everything, poor guy. Definitely one of my favourite characters in the whole series so I was happy to see he was as good as I always thought him to be.

Chris said...

Court, definitely not disappointed...Snape DEFINITELY wouldn't have enjoyed Harry giving his son Snape's name, lol...but it was sweet. I'm glad he turned out to be a good guy too. I thought he would.

Stephanie said...

Awesome review. I hope you don't mind, but I just linked to this post from my blog. Why should I write a review when you have already written the perfect one?
Stephanie
thewrittenword.wordpress.com

Chris said...

Haha! Don't mind at all Stephanie. Hope you enjoyed it, I'm heading over to your blog now to find out!