It took a little longer than I intended, but as you might have read below, I wrapped up reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on Saturday afternoon. It took two weeks, but it was a very satisfying two weeks, and I think I’m glad I didn’t try to stuff the reading into a shorter period of time. It was nice taking it at a slower pace, almost savoring the experience. The book was a perfect wrap up to the series too. Most everything had closure (at least everything I could think of that I was looking for closure on).
Spoilers follow… The amount of carnage was impressive. Three deaths really affected me deeply: Hedwig, Dobby and Fred Weasley. I honestly thought Hedwig wasn’t dead. I expected him to turn up at some apprporiate moment. Dobby’s death was so valiant, and Harry’s care for his burial was quite moving (I imagine he took his kids there in the years that followed and told them the story of Dobby). And Fred… over the course of the series, the Weasley’s were Harry’s family and you really felt their pain over this loss. Mrs. Weasley, in the aftermath of Fred’s death, was quite impressive taking out Bellatrix in what was my favorite part of the battle sequences.
Dumbledore’s appearance was not surprising, and happened a lot like I thought it would. After his death in Half Blood Prince, I expected nothing less than a Luke Skywalker/Obi-Wan Kenobi scene and sure enough it was there. It explained a lot of the backstory, and helped clarify even more what Harry learned while watching Snape’s memories in the pensive. Dumbledore uttered what became my favorite line of the book (especially since it was so odd coming from him): “My dear boy, I have no idea. This is, as they say, your party.” That in response to Harry’s question about where they are during their conversation.
Harry’s journey in this book was impressive. He always had the conviction that what he was doing had to be done and he kept at it, even in the most difficult times. The way he took charge of the situation after Dobby’s death is, I think, a good message for the young readers of the book that while things aren’t always easy, you have to not run away from doing what’s right. Further driving that message home is that he stuck with it even when he found out that vanquishing Voldemort would result in his own death since he was the final Horcruxe.
Of course, Harry didn’t die and that was good. While I was braced for the possibility of his death, it still would have been difficult to see it end that way. I was surprised, however, that neither Ron or Hermione died (although Hermione came desperately close in the Malfoy house)… but I’m glad they survived too. The prologue that took us 19 years into the future was wonderful. Sure, the book could’ve stopped at “I’ve had enough trouble for a lifetime.” But making the jump forward let’s us know how everyone turned out and that a new generation of kids is off to Hogwarts.
Brian passed on a link from The Today Show that I finally read this morning since I was safely done with the book. It takes the prologue a step further, check out what J.K. Rowling told Meredith Vieira. I love how she left the book, but I’m glad she put this additional detail out there too.
I must agree with Tina Jordan, who reviewed the book for Entertainment Weekly. She wrote of talking about the books with her two children after they’d finished book seven: “Think about the kids who’ll come to Harry Potter already knowing the ending, I said. It won’t make the books any less great, but it will change the whole experience. You were the lucky ones.”