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All About Harry

I got my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows the day it was released and I settled down to read it that afternoon. I finished the next morning after forcing myself to put it down at 2AM. I’ve waited a week to write about it because I needed it to settle first. After all, it’s been a long time since I first picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on a whim after work one morning in 2000 or 2001. I can’t remember which.

I was afraid to read this book. Bad beginnings can be redeemed by a solid end but the same doesn’t work the other way around. I really didn’t want it to end on a bad note, but I had to see how it ended. Unlike a lot of other people, I at no time honestly thought Harry would die at the end. It would be a different kind of book altogether if he did, not the one I’d been reading for so long. But I did want to see how they did it, underage wizards with little experience against who’s been touted as a wizard whose expertise is only matched by his evil. And so I read it over an expanse of barely more than 12 hours (counting sleep).

It comes to a fitting close. It isn’t a letdown and actually this book is like a whole series of climaxes. It’s by far the most exciting and the most different since they’re not at Hogwarts and the framing story the school year provides.

I was right in my prediction when I said the remaining horcruxes would be items we’ve already seen before but haven’t realized were horcruxes. It’s not like it was an amazing prediction. I knew that’s how it would have to be if they were to find and destroy them all in the expanse of only 700+ pages without straining the story to the breaking point. It was cleverly done. The last catch of the final horcrux being Harry himself was also neat in how it fit in with everything already laid down. If he’s a horcrux, though, then he has to die to make Voldemort destroyable and that’s where it gets weird.

As I said before, I knew Harry wouldn’t die not least because if he did imagine the lawsuits from parents whose little darlings were upset their hero died. It doesn’t make business sense, but how Rowling squirmed out of that one was where the story got a little too metaphysical for me. It twists and turns over backwards just to create a loophole through which Harry Lives could squirm through. I’m not saying I know how to have made it better, but it seems strange to me that a killing curse could distinguish which soul to kill and if it could, it would have chosen Harry’s.

Something else that went on for a little too long and was a little too confusing in a clear attempt to make the “right” result possible was the whole rigmarole about the Elder Wand. Okay, so if a wand that’s more powerful than all others exists then some flunkie could take it and rub off a far better wizard. So… it negates any ability or knowledge someone may have. Furthermore, the whole discussion of wands choosing who to go to as if they were sentient creatures is a stretch. But that’s the problem with magic. Where does it end? The series’ greatest weakness has always been the wand-waving magic, not least because it doesn’t exist. It was also confusing when Harry tells Voldemort that the true master of the wand after Dumbledore was Draco Malfoy and it took some thinking before I remembered that Draco had disarmed Dumbledore at the end of the previous book. When I first read that passage, I thought Harry was bluffing.

One more negative and then I’ll go on to the positives. I hated how Ron spoke Parseltongue to get in the Chamber of Secrets. I thought Parseltongue was a gift, not just another language and it’s unlikely anyone, Ron included, would have been able to memorize some hissing gibberish they’d heard only once and been able to reproduce it to get results. I really hated that detail. It rang wrong like a missed note in a piece of music. It would have made far more sense if Hermione had figured out a way for them to get in.

And what would they do without Hermione? She’s such a smart girl when very few girls are encouraged to be like that. If it hadn’t been for her, Harry would have gotten stuck ages ago and she saves all their lives more than once just by being ready and having done all her homework. She is my favorite character.

Dobby’s death was oddly the saddest, maybe because of the way it’s written with all the references to the “little” body and the fact that it’s a fluke Bellatrix’s knife connects just as they’re almost escaped. The scene of Harry digging the grave himself was well-done. Some people are bent out of shape because of the high body count. Wouldn’t it be ridiculous, though, if only bad guys died and good guys didn’t? Not only would it be wrong, it would also negate the sense of peril. That’s what happens in war. It also makes clear Harry’s incentive to have done with Voldemort for good.

Snape. Or course he was playing double agent and while that’s been clear for a while, here finally we get the whole story and why there are so many references throughout the series to Lily’s green eyes. It’s possibly the most affecting line in all the books, Snape’s last words, “Look at me.” He bows out of the books as a complicated, tortured man which no one understood until the end. All good and all evil people do not exist and at the end of the series Harry Potter understands that much better than any other book aimed at young readers that I’ve ever read.

Some are no doubt all bent out of shape over Dumbledore but that never bothered me in the least. Dumbledore isn’t an oracle, he’s an old man who was once young. His backstory puts him in perspective, that’s all. It doesn’t take away his wisdom, his skill, his care for Harry. It really doesn’t change anything.

I hope when they film this movie, they send it off with a good treatment, a good 3 hours long. How else can they do it justice? The latest Order of the Phoenix suffers from cuts they had to make. I hope they allot the time needed for this one because there will be no other.

I hated the epilogue. It just shows everyone as boring soccer parents and only states the obvious. I wish the epilogue had been set some time after the events of the final chapter but not quite so far in the future that everyone is rendered so happy they’re dull. It should have been set in a time where the fallout has settled, but the events are still fresh and the rebuilding has begun. But that’s a minor quibble. Next time I read the book, I’ll just skip it.

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