Fifteen hours to plough through a conclusion ten/seventeen years in the making.
I don't think I recall another book during which I was exclaiming "Fuck!" or "Oh fuck!" or "Jesus fuck!" or some derivation thereof on such a regular basis. The first few chapters are really intense, and then all throughout the book there are revelations that spell more doom and danger for our intrepid heroes, and the last few chapters, of course, are one big clusterfuck of aaaaaaaah.
I can't believe she killed Hedwig. That's just MEAN! What did Hedwig ever do to anyone??
I am finding it hard to write a post about a 700-page book. I really liked it, I think as much as I've really liked one since Book 4. Though Book 6 and Book 7 sort of form a two-part behemoth of a story. Book 3 is still my favorite, however.
This was really the trio's book, and it was nice to watch their dynamics (and chuckle at the canonization of Ron/Hermione and anti-canonizaton of Harry/Hermione (sister!)). I loved loved loved Ron saving Harry's life, and Harry's response that he'd been telling him all those years that all his adventures only sounded cool, and he'd never had any reason to be jealous of him at all (subtext). I awwwwwed out loud, similar to my reaction when Dudley (Dudley!) was oh-so-sad that Harry was leaving them.
I really missed Hogwarts and all the students; it feels like HBP was the last "real" Harry Potter book, as this one had a completely different structure. That being said, I am sure the ficcers are going wild right now writing about Hogwarts under Snape's rule. Our favorite kids got the crap beat out of them a lot, it seems.
I am very curious as to what the movie will be like, not only because I can't figure out how they'll stuff all the necessary plot into a three-hour movie (the inevitable streamlining will be irritating, since there are many great set-pieces) but also because I find it amusing that Harry, Ron, and Hermione spend half the book Polyjuiced and the other half invisible. (She could have called this book Harry Potter and the Polyjuice Potion Solves Everything, eh? Although the repetitive use got a little irritating, I had to admit it was always a good option, especially since they were on the run.)
Hermione is awesome. Truly. She's incredibly quick-witted, always ready with the appropriate spell or charm at a moment's notice, and she's also full of bright ideas. You never really get a sense of how awesome Hermione and Ron are in the movies. In the books, they really shine.
The history of Dumbledore was interesting, despite the fact that it shot down my beloved Ron=Dumbledore theory (he's going to be marooned in time, you guys!) in Chapter Two. Dumbledore's presence permeated the book even after his death, and I like that he wasn't really the superawesome goodie-goodie that he's been presented at. He had a secret past! And he may have killed his sister! Also, he was friends with a dark wizard, but, hey, he thought Tom Riddle was pretty swell too. In a manner of speaking. I'm glad that Harry got to be sort of pissed at Dumbledore for never telling him anything, because, seriously. That guy had issues.
R.A.B. was Regulus Black. Huh, no one guessed that. (I'm glad it was. It made sense, and there was no need to further complicate things.) And, aw, Kreacher. Making them sandwiches! Rallying the troops at the end!! Adorable.
Voldemort is Senator Kelly! I wonder if children grasp all the political and social subtext in these books. Because for us, it's all really obvious and blatant, and I'm sure there will be some nice dystopian fic about the world under Death Eaters. Wait, will there be? Would the HP fandom actually bother to write that? Because it's there waiting to be written, folks. Quit with the Harry/squid shit.
So, the Deathly Hallows. I liked the idea of wizard fairy tales ("Wait, they met Death?"), and, of course, the idea that the fairy tales could be real, as that all hits my storytelling kink, but at the same time, my initial reaction was, "You're adding another scavenger hunt in the middle of a scavenger hunt??" I also wasn't particularly fond of random magical items just introduced in this book magically saving the day, even though I did love that the Cloak and the Stone, at least, had turned up already. I had always wondered about the Invisibility Cloak and how fucking awesome it was because you'd think something like that, well, you'd think more people would have it. It seemed really, really special, and now we know why.
And then Harry became Sloane, obsessed with Rambaldi to an unhealthy degree, but as Griphook said, Harry is one of those guys who is not after cool shit for personal gain.
I was really sad when Harry's wand got broken. It's funny how we get attached to objects as much as people, sometimes. But, whew, he fixed it at the end!
Let me just take a moment to say, oh, Harry. That kid has really grown up, hasn't he? I mean, think back to the first book. He was such a little kid! And how he's been in the shit, and he's actually become pretty smart and clever along the way. It's not always luck that saves his ass; sometimes he even knows what he's doing.
Speaking of knowing what he's doing, oh my God, I could never for the life of me figure out why they couldn't fucking tell anyone about the fucking Horcruxes. Like, I know Dumbledore said to tell only Ron and Hermione, but what the hell? The Order can't know? Did he just not trust anyone? You'd think other people might be of some help in this quest. It bugged me that Harry and Co. couldn't just say, "We're off to stop Voldemort," because, what the hell, of course that's what they were doing. And then McGonagall, all, "You're acting on Dumbledore's orders?" No, Minerva, they learned about Horcruxes all on their own. Also, if they had, you wouldn't have helped them? (Although "Potter, aren't you supposed to be looking for something?" was awesome.)
Was anyone else totally unnerved and creeped out by Harry using the Imperius Curse? I mean, that was freaky.
Voldemort was an interesting character in this book, as we saw him not only admit to making mistakes but also being totally fallible, right there in front of us. I loved that he inadvertently turned a Hallow into a Horcrux because he can't be bothered with magic outside his own domain. I also laughed when he made fun of Dumbledore's THE POWER OF LOOOOOVE stuff...even though, well, the love magic was real (and Harry's sacrifice protecting everyone else was pretty clever), for better or worse.
Potter Potter Snaaaaaape. For most of the book, I was sort of boggling, all, "Dude, it's really hard to think you're good, and if you're evil, that's STUPID." So thank God for the Pensieve infodump. At first, I was sort of annoyed, like, dude, didn't we already know Snape loved Lily? Or was that just a fanon idea implied in canon but never confirmed? But as we got more of the story, something really awesome hit me. All this time, I thought Snape hated Harry because of James. Because James made fun of him and married Lily. But that's not it (well, not all of it). Snape hated Harry because he blames him for Lily's death. Lily would not have died had it not been for Harry Potter. (Interestingly, she wasn't supposed to have died in the first place. Voldemort was going to spare her, according to the flashback. Did we know that?) So the very existence of Harry must be torture, as he looks at him with Lily's eyes.
I'm not sure how I feel about the fact that Dumbledore was dying anyway, and Snape's murder was almost a mercy killing in addition to the other measures it served. It's kind of cool, but it seems to take some of the gravity away from his death and Snape's act.
So, Harry's death. Er. I don't even know. Dumbledore is nuts, man. Way to raise the kid to die; you might as well have killed him at age eleven, you know? Then go capture your precious Horcruxes. I'm sure many people will call it a big cop-out, and maybe it is, but I think it vaguely follows. Vaguely. If only because it's Harry and Voldemort, and they're so intertwined, you can make up any shit you want for them that doesn't hold for regular wizards. Sure, Harry's blood is in Voldemort, so he can't die! Sure! You have to suspend more disbelief than you've ever had to suspend in one of these books, really, but bully for Rowling. She managed to make the statement "Harry dies" both a spoiler and untrue.
There was a moment in the book when I exclaimed, "Yes yes yes yes yes!" It was when I realized Neville was going to kill Nagini and fulfill his ambiguous role in The Prophecy. And he did. With the Sorting Hat giving him the sword of Gryffindor. OMG AWESOME. (Griphook's gonna be pissed, though.)
Now, the other reaction I had when learning about the Deathly Hallows was that I hoped Harry didn't get a fucking unbeatable wand and thus defeat Voldemort, because that would be lame, so I was both frightened and relieved when Voldemort purportedly got a hold of it. But as it turned out, he had it the whole time, and I totally do not understand how it worked. I feel like the Elder Wand is a wooden plot hole. Isn't it kind of bullshit that Ollivander didn't recognize it? How did the wand "choose" Draco? Because he was going to kill Dumbledore? The hell? How did he get Dumbledore's wand? What wand was Dumbledore buried with? Did it really require murder to transfer true ownership, since Dumbledore didn't kill Grindelwald and Harry didn't kill Draco (did he even beat Draco? he just sort of snatched his wand, didn't he?)? The whole thing is full of brilliantly/insanely convoluted wand magic logic that only Rowling would understand and really wouldn't be intuitive to a reader, although Harry somehow figured it out. And made Voldemort look like kind of an idiot. Hubris was his downfall!
It's funny that Harry killed Voldemort with Expelliarmus, his signature spell.
Luna is awesome.
All right, let's talk deaths.
Mad-Eye Moody was a good one to off early because he has enough of a name to have an impact on the characters, but the reader doesn't have a real attachment to him, since we never got to know the real Moody, so much.
George's ear! Ooooowww.
I thought Hagrid was going to die three times, and he never did.
Wormtail's...silver hand strangled him? For not killing Harry Potter because he owed him his life? That, that was entirely lame. Yes, Harry, you're so lucky he didn't kill you because you had saved his life...despite the fact that if he had been dead, he would not have been trying to kill you in the first place. Shut up, Dumbledore. Oh my God, if Harry had just let Lupin and Sirius kill Pettigrew, Voldemort would never have risen to power in the first place. This is quite possibly the lamest thing ever.
The first death that really hit me was Dobby. God, he used to irritate me, but now I just want to snuggle the poor dead house elf. He always was trying to save Harry, wasn't he.
I think the death that will affect most people the most is, of course, Fred. Dude. I just had to stop reading for a bit because I didn't want to turn the page. I was afraid of what else was in store, if she was just going to off Fred like that for no reason. I don't even know why the wall exploded. It was very reminiscent of another Unexpectedly Brutal Death of a Comic Relief Character. You know who I'm talking about.
Snape's death was no surprise, but I never expected him to go like that. That was cold. Damn.
Lupin!! What the hell?? Don't do that! And Tonks?! Who ended up serving no purpose at all, ever? Whose being a Metamorphmagus was completely and utterly pointless? Gah.
Colin Creevey! Crabbe! FIFTY OTHER STUDENTS?!
And Molly kicked Bellatrix's ass. Very nice.
The epilogue was sort of vomit-inducing in a bad-fanfic kind of way. I don't want to read about thirty-six-year-old Harry and his gaggle of children named after people! Gah! "All was well"? That's how it ends? Happily ever after? I hope she doesn't think we want a whole series about the next generation or something like that. I think that epilogue was pretty unnecessary, even though the one thing I liked is that it did show a happy future for Hogwarts post-Voldemort. It's still running, and such. And, aw, Neville teaches Herbology. His Gran must be so proud.
Man, I can't believe it's over, after all this time. All the adventures we had with these characters. Oh, awesomeness. I will miss you.
Finally, no review can be complete without the following observation: J.K. Rowling has discovered the colon. I hope you really enjoyed it, Jo: one day, I hope you learn how to use it properly.