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Book review: <i>Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows</i> by J. K. Rowling



Y’know how Bridget writes intelligent, insightful book reviews? Well, I don’t. I’m barely literate.

(Flattery will get you everywhere—Bridget)

Disclaimer

(or: I’m protective of Harry so don’t mess with me—I know karate)

Ever since I finished reading this, the final book in the series (in under 24 hours—that must be some kind of record), I’ve found myself dogged by so many self-confessed “Harry Haters” begging me to find out the answer to the question that has been on everybody’s lips from the moment Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone was released all those years ago—Does Harry die? I eventually had to start threatening violence just to get them to leave me alone. And, unfortunately, I’m going to have to tell you exactly the same thing I’ve been telling them—read it yourself.

You see, I got the first book when it was first released just over 10 years ago and stuck through them all—the frustratingly slow Chamber Of Secrets, the dark and frightening Prisoner of Azkaban, the thrilling (and still my personal favourite) Goblet of Fire, right up to The Deathly Hallows. I’ve earned this knowledge and, sorry to tell you, I ain’t sharing! Sorry to disappoint.

Story

(or: I’m preparing for my spell check to explode)

At the close of “The Half Blood Prince”, Harry and his two best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, were left with a mission. They were to find and destroy several “Horcruxes” (items containing pieces of ones soul, after it has been split, rendering one technically immortal) belonging to the evil and sadistic Lord Voldemort. The theory being, that once all the Horcruxes are destroyed, Harry will finally be able to defeat Lord Voldemort. Or at least stand a better chance in their inevitable showdown.

And that’s exactly where this book starts off and that’s pretty much all that I can say without giving anything away.

The good

(or: Get ready for the nerdy gushing)

I’ve always loved the fact that J.K. Rowling has acknowledged her audience. Each book has been, for lack of a better word, age-appropriate. I was 12 when I read “The Philosopher’s Stone” and that was the age group (the “tweens”) the book was aimed at, so there was a very innocent edge to it. Harry was 11, he (and the readers) didn’t comprehend things in the same way as an adult would and this was reflected in the tone of the writing. As the books went on and Harry grew, the books reflected it. In book 3 and 4 the series took a darker turn and he was smack bang in the middle of that fun time that all love to look back on fondly—puberty. He was petulant, selfish, racked by hormones and pretty much a pain-in-the-arse. Many people criticised this darker edge and not very likeable Harry, but for me it was the charm of the series. Rowling realised that the original readers of the series weren’t tweens any more; that they’d grown and were old enough to understand that no-one, not even The Boy Who Lived, was flawless. It ensured that the audience still felt some connection to the main character. So I’m glad to not be disappointed this time. Sure, “Hallows” and “The Half Blood Prince” could pretty much have been released together, and one does not generally change as drastically from 16 to 17 years old as they do from 11 to 14, but they are still age appropriate.

Another aspect of the series that has, in my opinion, always been a big draw card has been Rowling’s ability to throw a twist in so suddenly that it left you spinning, slapping your head saying “What?! It all makes sense now!” Well, “Hallows” had me gasping so often that my husband thought I was having a seizure. She really has tied it all together quite nicely.

Satisfyingly even.

The bad

(or: The vocabulary of the idiot is so often made up)

If I owned a thesaurus, I’m sure it wouldn’t be able to give me an intelligent word for “clunky”. So that’s what I’m sticking with. At over 700 pages one can hardly call it a small novel, yet so much of it seems rushed, brushed over, implied and squeezed in. Clunky.

I’ve always loved the relationships between the characters. They’ve always been such an integral part of the series. Yet this final book is so much focused on the impending showdown between Harry and He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named that these relationships, which Rowling has always placed such an emphasis on, come across as an after thought. I’m sorry, but when characters are just randomly dropped in to ask about the status of various relationships so that Harry can sum it up in one sentence, I will not be satisfied. Luckily I have read the previous books, otherwise many of the relationships would seem even more forced than they do in The Deathly Hallows. Affection cannot just be implied, it has to be demonstrated.

The lack of real development between characters is pretty inexcusable from my point of view, but Rowling almost manages to push it over the edge with the constant desire to beat Harry down. I understand the logic behind having him suffer constantly, sure. It shows his strength of character and deservingness of being a true hero, yet so many times I find myself thinking “Geez! We get it! Life’s tough and you’ve got to be strong and Harry’s an amazing person and yada yada yada... But just give him a break already!”. Never before has this been more true. It almost makes me glad that the book didn’t have those extra chapters for character and relationship development, as I hate to think what Rowling would’ve put him through—in the magical world there really aren’t any limits.

What I learnt

(or: I’m a keen multi-tasker)

Well, now I can’t answer this without giving away major spoiler type hints, can I? Nice try though. So, aside from the strong inclination I have that Rowling may very well be a sadist, I learnt that I can pluck my eyebrows, drink a beer and read all at the same time, and it’s probably the best way to enjoy a book.

Rating: 8/10–Complaints aside, it’s such an exciting ride and is sure to satisfy any fan of the series.

In short

Title: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Author: J. K. Rowling
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
ISBN: 0545010225
Year published: 2007
Pages: 607
Genre(s): Children's literature, Fantasy

Bridget has also reviewed this book... her review is here.

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Best. Review. Ever.