“HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS” (2007) Book Review
I usually do not post book reviews, but a great deal has been made about this last installment of J.K. Rowling’s “HARRY POTTER” series that I thought I might as well say something. I have only been a die hard fan of the series since the release of the third movie, ”PRISONER OF AZKABAN” in 2004. I had also seen the first two movies in the theaters. I had enjoyed both, but it was the third film that had induced me to read the novels. Between ”AZKABAN” and the books, I became a die-hard fan. But this is not about the other stories. This is about the last . . . ”THE DEATHLY HALLOWS”
I am going to make this short. As much as I have enjoyed the series, I have come to the realization that I like the last five novels – starting with ”AZKABAN” more than I do the first two. I guess I find it easier to relate the increasingly ambiguous nature of the story. And if there is one thing I can say about ”THE DEATHLY HALLOWS” is that it is one hell of an ambiguous novel. In it, Harry Potter and his two friends – Ron Weasley and Hermoine Granger – truly start on their road to adulthood. And this, I believe, is the major strength of this novel.
By the time I came to the middle of the novel, I realized that for the first time in the series, most of its setting would take place away from Hogswarts. A part of me felt slightly disappointed that Harry, Ron and Hermoine did not reach the school until the last several chapters of the novel. On the other hand, I feel that this was the correct thing for Rowling to do. For me, ”THE DEATHLY HALLOWS” definitely seemed like a ”coming of age” story for our three protagonists. It was a maturity that they strongly needed in order to face the main villain, Lord Voldemort (aka Tom Riddle) and his Death Eaters. Looking back on the story, I do not think that Harry, Ron and Hermoine would have acquired their maturity and backbone if the story had mainly been set at Hogswarts. I think it was a very good move on Rowling’s part.
And our three heroes truly did grow. Hermoine learned to face her feelings for Ron and overcome that narrow-minded superiority that originally made her dismiss the legend of the Deathly Hallows. Ron learned to overcome his insecurity about his abilities as a wizard, his views on non-human magical creatures like house elves . . . and face his feelings for Hermoine. And Harry learned to overcome his tendency to play lone wolf and realize that people are not always what they seemed to be. The truths about Sirius’ treatment of Kreacher, Dumbledore’s past and his desires for powers, Snape’s feelings for Lily Potter and his true role in the war against Voldemort were powerful lessons for Harry. And I guess one could say they were powerful lessons for Ron and Hermoine, as well.
Of course, the deaths of Fred Weasley, Colin Creevy, Remus Lupin, Nymphadora Tonks and others were painful. But it were the deaths of Dobby and Severus Snape that really moved me to tears. And the trio’s painful adventures throughout the British Isles seemed like another version of Homer’s “ODYSSEY” that probably lifted this last installment almost to an epic quality. I only have three complaints about ”THE DEATHLY HALLOWS”:
a) Aside from Horace Slughorn, none of the Slytherins had participated in the battle. It annoyed me that Rowling went through all of that trouble to allow Harry not to judge others for superficial reasons . . . and yet, she insisted upon maintaining the clichés about the Slytherins that they could not be trusted;
b) I wish that Harry had revealed to the others – especially the other Death Eaters that Voldemort was a half-blood;
c) The final battle at Hogswarts seemed like one chapter too long at times. But what can one expect when it was interrupted twice – first by Snape’s death and past memories and later by Harry’s ghostly encounter with Dumbledore?
But ”THE DEATHLY HALLOWS” also had some great moments. Here are my favorites:
a) Bill and Fleur’s wedding was a hilarious family affair for the Weasleys, until Kingsley Shacklebolt’s patronus warned them of the encoming Death Eaters;
b) Harry, Ron and Hermoine’s adventures in London – including their break-in of the Ministry of Magic;
c) Ron’s return and Hermoine’s reaction;
d) The trio’s adventures at the Malfoy Manor and their reunion with Dobby, Ollivander, Dean Thomas and Luna Lovegood;
e) The trio’s escape from Gringotts on a blind dragon;
f) Harry and Hermoine’s creepy visit to Godric’s Hollow;
g) The trio’s visit to the Lovegood home;
h) The trio’s encounter with Albeforth Dumbledore;
i) The trio’s return to Hogswarts;
j) Ron and Hermoine’s first kiss;
k) Ginny’s birthday kiss to Harry;
l) The chapter on Snape’s memories of Lily Evans Potter and Albus Dumbledore – which in my opinion was my favorite in the entire novel.
I wonder if J.K. Rowling will write any other books, now that she has finished her opus on the boy wizard, Harry Potter. If she does, I hope that they will be as excellent as the seven novels that have entertained the public for the last decade. But if her next book or books are not as good, I will not hold it against her. After all, she did create Harry Potter for all of us to enjoy for years to come – in both the novels and the movies.