Monday, August 06, 2007

Yes We've Moved In, But I'd Rather Do a Book Review

This will be a Harry Potter spoiler if you haven't read it, so you may want to just check back in a few days from now. But if you have read The Deathly Hallows, then keep reading. I really want to know what you think too!

First of all. I loved it. I loved it so much that despite drowning in boxes and nursing and a new neighborhood I've decided to reread all SEVEN of these incredible stories.

Quick revisit of the first six before launching into why I loved the 7th so much

1--She shows us that despite his horrible childhood, he is actually better for it. In one line she sums up why she was so wise to create a character who learns first hand (at home and primary school) what it is to be bullied. Malfoy tells him not to hang out with the Weasleys as they are the "wrong sort." Harry is casual but says, "I think I can figure out what the wrong sort is for myself." This makes him so much better than his father who was a bully himself.

2--Who knows if JK planned to use the Horcrux idea later or not, but the whole Tom Riddle coming out of the diary and the Basilisk fang is so incredibly cool. I actually like in the movie how they really lengthened this part out so there is quite a fight. Now, JK may have kept it snappy because she wasn't quite an international phenom yet at this point and NO editor would have let it go to three hundred pages; it was, after all, seen much as a book for kids at that point.

3--I love this plot and the timeturner bit is brilliant. I think Professor Lupin is such an exceptional mentor (I think his death in 7 hits me the hardest), but the climax in the Shrieking Shack is a little too wordy. Talk . . . talk . . talk. . . .to explain plot twists you could have NEVER seen coming. The whole Peter Pettigrew thing is the equivalent of "The Butler did it!" or "Zoiks Shaggy! It is the old caretaker. Yeah, it would have worked too if it wasn't for you meddling kids." Still, there are few things better than Harry facing his worst fear and yelling EXPECTO PATRONUM for the whole world to hear.

4--This one brings me to tears at the end. It is so heartwrenching and really dark when Voldemort comes back. I'd really liked Cedric the whole book and then BAM, in one second he is just dead without a second thought. It is shocking, but she really makes you know just how evil Voldy is. But Harry is so strong. It is the first glimpse you get of Harry really trying to get better at magic and FIGHT instead of just getting lucky. The whole wand thing is a bit hokey, but JK can't be killing off her golden boy in book four now can she?

5--This is my least favorite. Maybe because there are few things more difficult in the world than 15 year old boys. I think Harry would have been a hormonal bag of grouchiness with or without the whole Voldemort possession thing. Still, the last couple of chapters sure explain a lot and the reader sees that Harry will not be a little prat forever. It is just temporary madness. Not enough Dumbledore in #5, but Harry's taking on the DA is exceptionally cool.

6--Okay, after 5 years+ just reading about Hogwarts even I wasn't crazy enough to think Harry should be using the Half Blood Prince's chemistry book. I think one of the main purposes of book 6 is to set up book 7. Of all the volumes, this is the one with the least closure and really couldn't stand alone. Almost any of the others could.

7--I first of all want to say I CALLED IT! I've been saying for two years that Dumbledore told Snape to kill him and that Dumbledore wasn't coming back. I thought that Harry would finally realize just how valuable Snape had been to him. Too bad this information was too late to help Snape.

I really loved the way she brought back all the characters and has the last great battle at Hogwarts. I think Neville is almost my new favorite. He stayed at that school all alone, fighting against anybody who was disloyal to Harry despite horrible punishments. Through several volumes (maybe #5 excepted) Neville is just this clumsy, goofy, wishy washy kid. How did he get in Gryffindor? And then, in the end, he is maybe braver than anyone. And like Harry, he too pulls the sword from the sorting hat when it was most important to do so.

I liked how she was able to bring Dumbledore back without having a whole faked death thing. It was always his job to explain everything, and this time is no exception, although Harry finally figured out a little more on his own. The ultimate, powerful objects, were better off in the hands of someone a little less skilled because his common sense didn't overtake his power. In the end, love wins the day again. No doubt the anti-Potter Christian groups who've said all along there is some inherently dark magic lurking in Harry and that he would turn evil will now say the problem is that through his sacrfice, he becomes a Savior-type figure. However, this archetype is found throughout literature, particularly in such epic fantasy type stories. I think the take home lesson there is that sacrificing all we have for the ones we love is the greatest act of charity anyone can show. This is a valuable learning moment for any young person.

I was glad she didn't have Harry destroy all the Horcruxes on his own, but that each of his most important friends had a hand in helping him.

A word of caution, however, I felt like it started slow. Until Ron came back and they got the sword from the bottom of the pool, I didn't think anything really happened. That was almost a third of the way through. It picked up immediately after that though, and it was a really smooth, fast read after the deathly hallows revelation.

And the last thing I really liked is the epilogue of 19 years later. I wanted to know there was some kind of a happily ever after for these folks I've come to love so much. I'm glad Harry and Ginny got married and sent their kids to Hogwarts. I'm glad that Ron and Hermione did the same. I'm gratified to know they could stand next to Draco Malfoy on the train and send their kids to the same school and get past all the pettiness of their childhood. What a great thing for Neville to be teaching Herbology at Hogwarts. Mostly, how wonderful that Harry gave his youngest son the middle name of Severus. A person can learn to finally see the truth and forgive and be stronger than they were before because of it. That single act is maybe as important as defeating the darkest wizard of all time.

Well, if you actually made it through this horrifically long post, let me know what you thought about Book 7. ;)


Five Froggies said...

I haven't gotten it yet. I am actually #9 on the library hold list. But the week of release, I had a friend tell me what happened. I pleaded with her for a spoiler. I just needed to know. I'll still read it and love it, but I needed to know if she killed off Harry, if Snape was good, who died...and I guess I wanted it to be spoiled on my terms.

And I'm not one to read the last pages first on books...

I loved your spoilers. I can't wait to read it. I am thinking about reading all 7 again as well. Maybe I'll wait a few years and share them with the older kids.


Girly Momma said...

i can't read all of this post because i haven't read the books and still plan too once i'm done with eclipse. so i'll have to check back to the book review later:)

Kimberly Bluestocking: said...

I loved #7, and thought it did an excellent job of tying up the story. Possibly my favorite detail in the entire series is the name "Albus Severus." And I always suspected Neville would impress us by the end, but I must say he exceeded my expectations.

As for the slow start, I think it was kind of necessary. We couldn't relate to Ron's exasperation if we didn't feel a bit frustrated and lost ourselves for a few chapters. Doesn't make it pleasant, though. :)

And I agree - #5 was my least favorite, partly because it was a realistic portrayal of teenage boys (which are frustrating in any context), but also because it seemed like a lot of repetition with little progress. Plus, Umbridge is my absolute least favorite character in the whole series.

Regarding #3, I actually liked the long, talky chapter. I was impressed by Rowling's ability to use a conversation to transform Sirius from a character I despised and feared to one I trusted and wanted to hug. She doesn't come out and say "Sirius is good and here's why;" she gives you little hints and details, and lets you reach the conclusion for yourself.

I could go on and on, but this comment is long enough already.

Anonymous said...

I've never read any Harry Potter, but I do have a favorite fuzzy toilet seat cover. I nicknamed my toilet, Harry Pot, because of it. I love the warmth and comfort when I sit down, and I imagine that's what it must feel like for the entire cast of The Muppets when they get to plop on the pot with their magnificently hairy/furry behinds.

Christie said...

While my kids and husband were reading #7, I re-read #6. I'm glad I did. Like you said, it did lay the groundwork for book 7.

I thought "Hallows" was a great finisher for the series, but this is coming from a true-blue-through and through Harry Potter fan. I thought everyone I know was a fan until I went to lunch with my friends. One said she didn't even complete #1 because it was too scarry.

emma jo said...

I haven't read any of them...I recently decided to find them all in paperback (besides #7 of course) and begin reading from beginning to end...I just had to wait until there was closure within my grasp...but I have to admit, though I am against this kind of thing I picked up #7 at a friend's house and read the last 2 pages...I just had to know.

Kimberly Bluestocking: said...

You didn't really think Rowlings would let Harry and his two best friends die, did you? :)

Actually, I wouldn't put it past her. She's surprised me before, but somehow things always panned out in a way I was satisfied with.

Come to think of it, I thought Harry WOULD die for a couple chapters in #7, and I was OK with that. One of the things I loved most about the final book is the emphasis that death isn't really a terrible thing. Yes, it's a scary unknown, but if you've lived a good life the adventure continues and there are loved ones waiting to embrace you.

scienceteachermommy said...

I actually wondered if she might bump off one of them just to protect her intellectual property and all. You know, to prevent knock-offs of her books when her patents expire. Because there is no Harry Potter without Ron and Hermione.

Kimberly Bluestocking: said...

I suspect she cared more about her characters than her bottom line. Besides, when you're already one of the richest women in England, what's another million, more or less? :)

amyjane said...

Loved it--excellent post to sum things up! Glad to hear your move went relatively well. Good luck!