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11th December
2008
written by Steph
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows

Is there anything better to read than a Harry Potter book when one is laid up in bed sick with the flu? Not according to my immune system. For the past few days, I’ve been struggling with itchy ears, congested chest, and overall body aching so intense that my symptoms would fall well in line with some of the more choice curses found throughout the Potter series. Now is not the time to struggle with dense and delicate prose. No, instead, I need a heaping helping of adventure and fast-paced excitement. Which makes my choice of the final book in the Harry series a pretty good one, and as far as home remedies go, an enjoyable panacea as well. Warning: Do not read on if you have not finished reading the HP series. I definitely discuss plot details after the jump! I read Deathly Hallows about as avidly as I did the first time round, though there were some parts where I had to put it down as I braced myself for some of the horrors that I knew were just a few pages away. I had hard times with Harry leaving the Dursleys for the last time, knowing that Mad Eye and Hedwig would soon be gonners, as well as the period in the middle where Ron is being aggressive and loutish (mostly because I just found him incredibly annoying, and rolling my eyes kind of hurt, but also because I knew that this would mean we were getting close to the Snatchers catching the gang, which would mean they’d wind up with at Malfoy Manor, which was probably the scariest part of the whole book for me… the first time I read it, I remember being so terrified because I was convinced JK Rowling was going to kill Hermione, since up to this point in the book she’s really been the only useful person). But the part of the book that hit me hardest of all, even though I was fully expecting it this time, was when Dobby dies. For reasons that elude me, Dobby dying in Harry’s arms pretty much makes me sob uncontrollably, and given the phlegm issues I was already dealing with… not pretty. Seriously, though, I think I find Dobby’s death the hardest in the entire series, which is extremely weird since I tend to find him unrelentingly annoying in the other books. Maybe it’s because for all of his annoyingness, he was ultimately innocent and good, and had no ulterior motivations for helping Harry other than out of love and gratefulness. And it’s not as though DH doesn’t have its fair share of death, because title aside, there is an awful lot of dying happening throughout the whole thing… and yet, it’s Dobby that breaks me each and every time. I think I enjoyed DH more this second time through, perhaps because I wasn’t so frenzied to find out what happened. I still find the final face-off between Harry and Voldemort really anticlimactic… it just seems like all of a sudden, after all this blustering and expositioning (which is kind of annoying because now Harry’s just telling Voldemort things that we, as readers, already know because we’ve already had these things revealed to us with Harry), and bam! Voldemort’s curse has rebounded and he’s lying spread-eagle dead on the floor. It just is a bit of a let down after all the previous stuff with Harry literally embracing his death and facing it head on. Also, I still don’t totally accept that Harry could have been an accidental horcrux, mostly because we know from Order of the Phoenix that when Voldemort tried to possess Harry, he couldn’t bear to do so for very long because of how good and pure Harry was. So how could a part of his soul have attached itself to Harry and survived for 16 years? It just doesn’t make sense. I remember disliking the Hallows storyline the first time through the book, mostly feeling that it was all little too convenient, or maybe even a bit excessive, given that there had been no hints as to the existence of these things previously. Sure Harry needs to make the choice between hallows and horcruxes, and this is a big deal, I just felt as though the horcrux storyline made sense and fit nicely with all the previous books. It felt like hallows just got concocted so that there could be a dilemma and even more drama. Sure Jo weaves a tale around them, but I don’t feel there was really any foreshadowing regarding their existence or importance in future books, and that’s a bit frustrating as a reader. This didn’t really bother me really at all this time, again, maybe because I knew how things would go so I wasn’t all wrapped up in trying to solve things along with Harry. And finally I am vindicated when it comes to Snape! I never said he was a good guy, but I always knew there was something more. I don’t know that we needed to make such a huge frickin’ deal about Harry’s eyes being just like his mom’s just for the “Snape loved Lily” storyline to work, but whatever. Hands down Snape was the most interesting and complex character in the series. [Aside: my favourite non-main character in the whole series is Kingsley Shacklebolt. I don’t know why I dig him so much, but I just always thought he was kind of awesome.] But these quibbling matters aside, overall, I find the book really enjoyable on its own, and very satisfying as a series closer. Not everyone gets a happy ending in the series, and I think that is what gives the books a ring of authenticity. Even if the trio does make it through in the end, it was not without sacrifice, and there was the real belief (again, see my absolute certitude that Hermione would die partway through my reading) that any of them could die. Really, anyone could die in the books, and I think that for the series to be emotionally honest, given the topics that are addressed over the course of the seven books, that had to be a possibility. I guess, ultimately, I feel like Rowling earns her ending. I still don’t really care for the epilogue, not in principle, but just because the writing feels too saccharine and trite. I get why it’s there, and I see the purposes it serves, but to me it feels a bit false. In conclusion, can’t wait for the movie(s). They’re gonna be so scary, and I’ll undoubtedly weep excessively, but I just know they will rock. Also, I really do hope that one day an encyclopedia is published courtesy of Rowling. A lot of the post-release interviews have been just as enlightening as the books themselves, and it would be nice to be able to take an even more in-depth dive into this world one more time. I rarely re-read books these days, but there is something about the Harry Potter books that keep me coming back. Like seeing an old friend, it's nice to know they're waiting and ready for me whenever I should feel the Muggle world needs escaping. Rating: 5 out of 5

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