Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows By J. K. Rowling [LibrarythingAmazon]

The blurb on the book jacket says it best: “We now present the seventh and final installment in the epic tale of Harry Potter.” Potterdammerung being what it is, we’re switching up the review style a bit this time around, and will be discussing our impressions of the book behind the cut. Beware: spoilers abound in them thar hills, so if you don’t want to know who dies and who gets smooched, read the book first!

Jessica: Well, I liked it.

Rebecca: Me, too. I don’t actually remember what happened in a lot of it – I devoured it pretty quickly so there are a lot of segments I barely recall. (I have the same problem with books 4-6, which I barely remember at all.) Overall, though, I really liked it, especially the last quarter or so; for the most part, it gave me just what I wanted in terms of concluding the series.

Jessica: Agreed. The pacing was a leeetle wonky, at least as far as “nine thousand pages of camping and oh look! Hogwarts!” went, but for the most part I liked the break with tradition. I thought the book worked well in general, and that J. K. Rowling has improved as a writer immensely since the first book (although I am confused by her constant incorrect use of colons – the punctuation mark, not the organ). My thoughts are mostly character-specific ones.

Rebecca: Same here.

Jessica: Shall we start with the big ones, then? What did you think about Dumbledore’s Deep Dark Secret?

Rebecca: I loved it. I loved that Dumbledore had done things that were wrong, and that he had a serious weakness, and that he overcame it. But his whole creed, “For the greater good,” still held true throughout; it was clear that he loved and cared about Harry…but for the greater good, he was still willing to send Harry out on a suicide mission. It had to be done, and he did it. As sainted as he appeared for most of the series, this book made him a more thorough character to me. The thing that didn’t ring true, though, was that Harry would believe anything Rita Skeeter wrote. Being frustrated that Dumbledore kept so many secrets, sure, but being willing to believe the absolute worst of him on the say-so of someone he knows full well is a liar? Yeah, not so much.

Jessica: I was a little confused that Rita would take the risk of pissing off the girl who kept her in a jar for a year again, but I guess Rita just lives on the edge like that. I agree with you about Dumbledore; I know, however, that we disagree on the other Deep Dark Secret-Haver in this book: Snape.

Rebecca: First off, let me say, I dislike Snape pretty vehemently. So that may have colored my reaction a bit. I thought, however, that he was…creepy. Not noble or much of a hero, just kinda creepy. It was definitely interesting that his relationship with Lily went back so far, and I wish we’d gotten to see more of it; but as it was, he struck me as stalker-material (had she survived) instead of a tragic hero. He did what he did because of her, not caring that her husband was murdered her or that her son almost was, until Dumbledore forced him to. His love was deeply selfish, and his treatment of Harry through the books was petty. I did like that Rowling gave us a character who was basically a bad person, but still on the side of good (it was more than she managed for everyone else in Slytherin…) but nothing about his backstory redeemed him for me.

Basically, overall, I really wish he’d died doing something more active and good, like protecting Harry, so that he’d have a real hero moment. But then, I felt similarly about Peter. What can I say; I like my deaths redeeming.

Jessica: Fair enough. (And word on the Peter thing – it seemed like JKR wasted an opportunity there.) I’ve never been fond of Snape either; as someone who’s dabbled in teaching for the past few years, I’ve always been infuriated by Snape’s completely inappropriate teaching practices. I guess at a school that has you repotting deadly plants and having Azkaban-worthy curses put on you as a matter of course, a teacher threatening to poison or drug his students on a semi-regular basis isn’t that big a deal, but I would have kicked him to the curb ages ago. Still, even though I found him creepy when he was watching the Evans girls from the bushes, for the most part I didn’t mind Snape’s love for Lily. I just thought it was kind of pathetic and tragic, since it was obviously doomed not by her death but by his own massive issues. And I can’t say that I’m not intrigued by a love that’s not noble and self-sacrificing, especially in a series like this, that is built on noble, self-sacrificing love.

I am, however, annoyed that Lily’s Patronus was a doe. (A deer! A female deer!) Must she always be defined by James?

Rebecca: Well, as a wife and mother, evidently. Speaking of which, I’m torn on Mrs. Weasley: on the one had, I loved seeing her take down Bellatrix and fighting Death Eaters and generally kicking ass. On the other hand, after books of being a housewife (to the best of my recollection, anyway), what finally gets her out and fighting actively is her, well, mother bear instinct. On the one hand, it made sense and definitely fit with her character; on the other hand, her character was entirely defined as wife and mother. Which, given that that’s all we knew about Lily, and that we don’t know anything about Hermione, Ginny, or Fleur in the epilogue except that they have kids, and Tonks died because she didn’t stay home to protect her baby, is a liiiiittle much for me.

But then again, JK also apparently has a War Orphan Thing. Jeez.

Jessica: I didn’t like the scene with Mrs. Weasley and Bellatrix, mostly because I really, really hate the word “bitch,” and I don’t like feeling like I’m meant to cheer at its use. Couldn’t Molly have called her a big bucket of crazypants? Because, you know, she is.

Oy, the orphan thing. Look, I understand was JKR was trying to do with Teddy Lupin. I get that he is supposed to parallel Harry, but the difference is that now that the evil’s defeated for good he’ll grow up loved and blah blah blah. But as she never showed any connection between Harry and Teddy (not even in the epilogue, which would have been perfect for it), Poor Orphaned Teddy wound up being entirely pointless, unless JKR was really just gunning for a thousand Teddy/Victoire fics.

Plus, the whole Tonks/Lupin thing just bombed. We didn’t see them falling in love – Tonks falls for Lupin between OotP and HBP. We didn’t see them get married – again, it falls between books. All we see is Lupin trying desperately not to marry her, and then trying desperately to avoid her once he has married her. If JKR was trying to convince me that Lupin is gay like a gay gay thing and was simply too polite and British to keep saying no to Tonks, she has succeeded.

Rebecca: Like I said, I barely remember most of the later books in the series; at the beginning of each, I had a moment of, “Wait, who is she again…?” so her death really didn’t mean anything to me. I was saddened by everyone else’s, though not surprised or angry about them. I just wish that we’d seen real emotional responses to the ones near the end. Like, you know, George after Fred died, or Harry doing more than vaguely noting Lupin and Tonks’s bodies as he walked by, in a sentence so fast I didn’t realize they were dead until Lupin showed up as a ghost a couple scenes later.

Jessica: Speaking of Tonks and Lupin, by the way, why is Voldemort the worst villain ever? I mean, sitting around gossiping about their wedding? Does he seriously have nothing better to do? And hiding Helga’s cup in the Room of Requirement – what was that about? “Oh, gee, a room full of stuff. I bet no one’s ever been here before! I’ll put a chunk of my soul here.”

But, you know, I guess I understand. After all, it’s not like there was a room in the castle that had great personal significance to him…a room that only he could find, let alone enter…a room protected by, I don’t know, some sort of monster only he could communicate with…some sort of CHAMBER in which to put things that are SECRET…

Oh, wait.

Rebecca: Not to mention the horcruxes. “I’ll make them all really, really hard to find and destroy! Or…you know…one of them will be. Then I’ll put one in a bank, give one to some dude I know, maybe put one in an obvious room, oh, perhaps one in my snake? Thinking up hiding places is hard.” So you’ve got one horcrux that’s got great protections and was really hard to destroy and tried to defend itself and took up most of the book…and everything else was kind of disappointingly easy to get rid of.

Actually, the sword itself is kind of frustrating. So in the last book, you introduce an interesting facet of Goblin culture! But did no one think to say, “Hey, um, Goblin…we all want to defeat Voldemort, right? I kind of need the sword for that. So maybe I could borrow it for a bit, then give it back to you at some later date?” Instead there’s a convoluted plan which ends up being pointless, because at the end of the book, Neville pulls it out of the hat anyway. Which is completely awesome – everything about Neville is made of win – but kind of renders the whole worry about betraying the goblin pointless.

Jessica: And speaking of horcruxes and the final battle, I say again: why is Voldemort the worst villain ever? “Hmm, my enemy is at the stronghold of the opposition, which would be a powerful symbol if it fell even without said enemy’s presence, and he’s basically outnumbered and cornered by my minions. …I think I’ll go check on my soulbits!” Voldie. Dude. If your horcruxes are still there, you need to go kill Harry Potter. If your horcruxes aren’t still there, you still need to go kill Harry Potter! Just kill him, and then go check on your tacky necklace!

But yes, Neville is wonderful. When he came swaggering out of that painting, I had more than a few inappropriate thoughts cross my mind, and the moment when he pulled the sword out of the hat and killed Nagini was phenomenal.

Rebecca: I kind of wished to do things with him that were completely inappropriate given that he’s underage, and also fictional. I hope he and his awesome grandmother go on some awesome adventures as aurors, rounding up stray Death Eaters and being awesome, because they are both made of awesome. I mean, what? But honestly – he got more development than almost any other character, and it was all brilliant. I love him to death.

Okay, one more gripe before the praise, at least from my end. Ginny. Gosh. I really, really wanted to like her relationship with Harry; I think it had a lot of potential. The end of the sixth book, where they break up for her own good, infuriates me, but that’s another entry entirely. In this book, however, what kills me is that when we don’t see Ginny, she’s off stealing things from Snape’s office and leading a student rebellion (along with awesome Neville and almost as awesome Luna) and being generally active and cool and great. Every time we see her, all she wants is to make out with Harry. Or she’s been locked in a closet while everyone else is fighting…which makes me mad, because Ginny is shown to be very competent and very powerful, and she has very personal reasons for wanting to help defeat Voldemort. So we’re told Ginny is awesome, but we’re shown her not doing anything but lovin’ her man. Grrrr.

Jessica: Agreed. And Ginny is one of my favorite characters, too! Bummer.

But speaking of Weasleys, and switching into praise mode: Ron. I adored him in this book. I thought his leaving and returning was handled brilliantly, and that he defeated his own personal demons brilliantly, and that he punched Malfoy in the face brilliantly, and was basically, well, brilliant. (In more ways than one, because he remembered there was a Chamber of Secrets, even if neither Harry or Voldemort did.)

Rebecca: I love Ron. He’s hands down my favorite character. I could not have been more pleased that he got a hero moment. And JK remembered he plays chess, which was a nice bit of continuity. I actually feel like…there’s not a lot to say about the trio themselves in this book, since they’ve all been consistently well done through the series, but Ron is the one I identify with the most strongly, and I thought the idea that Dumbledore knew he’d come back was lovely. Him finally getting some smooches with Hermione – even if it was very sketchy that he’d been reading a book with advice on how to pick up women – was awesome. And I loved him in the epilogue, much more than anything else; his “I’m famous, don’t you know?” was just darling. I’m such a crazy Ron fangirl, and this book made me very, very happy in that regard.

Jessica: I also loved that he (and me, and probably Harry) was sure that Hermione would throw herself into his arms when he came back…and she punched him. I love Hermione. And I loved the way they actually wound up smooching (Hermione: “You finally get it! TAKE OFF YOUR PANTS.”) and that Harry just sort of facepalmed and waited it out. Adorable!

I also really enjoyed the redemption of the Malfoys (and of Dudley! Didn’t see that one coming). I thought it was really well-handled: they didn’t exactly join in a group hug with the Scooby Gang at the end, but they weren’t irredeemably evil, either, and Draco continued to show inklings (but just the barest ones!) of remorse and compassion, a nice continuation from his inability to kill Dumbledore. I also liked that Narcissa coped with being in the evil doghouse with the most strength and grace out of the three Malfoys.

And, let’s face it, I liked that Draco got punched in the face.

Rebecca: If there’s anything I’ve learned from this, and from the movies, it’s that MORE FACE PUNCHING, PLZ. But I did like Draco in the epilogue – I got the feeling he was just some guy, that he and Harry had kind of kept in touch and didn’t hate each other anymore, because they really aren’t their parents. On the other hand, the epilogue didn’t impress overall, but I like the feeling that everyone gets to grow up and be happy, even the Malfoys. And that meant Dumbledore’s sacrifice really meant something, because Draco was redeemed and his life wasn’t ruined. And I liked that he had tried to avoid identifying the trio when they were captured. And the scene where Hermione was tortured was terrifying…but really well done. I’m not generally for torture in a kid’s book, but I thought it was handled brilliantly.

Jessica: Yeah, the epilogue was a bit too cheesy for me, which is saying something, because usually I think cheese is delicious. It did, however, make me eternally grateful that my name is not Albus Severus or Scorpius. Or, uh, Deathstick.

Rebecca: Deathstick LOL. Actually, I was kind of confused by the wand thing – the Elder Wand is undefeatable! Um, unless you defeat it. And the line of succession was mildly confusing, but I got it eventually. But I did like the Hallows at the end; when Harry had them all, he did master death. Not by being immortal, but by being unafraid of it. Which…I guess…gave him the ability to come back? I wasn’t as clear on that, but I did love that his alive-or-dead setting was King’s Cross, and that Dumbledore noted that it was in his head but not necessarily unreal, and overall, the whole section where Harry goes into the woods and sacrifices himself was really excellent. I had never thought for a moment that he’d die until then, and I think JK did a great job with the tension there.

The only real note I have about the Hallows, though, is that I didn’t get why Hermione was so against their existence – she’s a witch! She hangs out with house elves and robs banks with goblins! But a fairy tale being real? Crazy! Especially given that there was no other reason provided for why Dumbledore would have passed her the book, I thought she probably should have been less skeptical. But ah, well; such is Hermione. Logic and reason. And I love her for that, overall.

Jessica: Well, I wouldn’t accept anything Xenophilius Lovegood told me on faith either.

Anyway. It’s a lot easier to quibble about a book than to praise it, especially a book that has a fair bit of ridiculousness to it, but I stand by my opening statement: I liked it. It was a solid, engrossing adventure and a satisfying end to the series. And I really can’t fault anything that says that all you need is love (and maybe a basilisk fang or two). Four cupcakes, would you say?

Rebecca: Oh, heck yeah. I’ve grown up with these characters and I’m sad to see the series finish, but I have to say, I loved them and the conclusion overall. Four cupcakes, and maybe some extra sprinkles on top.

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    6 Responses to “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”

    1. Hannah says:

      I loved these books. I was depressed when Fred died. The twins where my favorite characters and he died!!! The epilogue was okay. I didn’t like it that much but I didn’t hate it.

    2. Sledogirl says:

      I didn’t think that she did a god job wighting this i personally think that most of the book was depressing

    3. Sledogirl says:

      But i did love the other books

    4. Anastacia says:

      Harry Potter is, in my opinion, one of the best things ever invented PERIOD.
      I agreed with pretty much everything in this review, except for one thing. Here, I’ll copy and paste it:
      “Actually, the sword itself is kind of frustrating. So in the last book, you introduce an interesting facet of Goblin culture! But did no one think to say, ‘Hey, um, Goblin…we all want to defeat Voldemort, right? I kind of need the sword for that. So maybe I could borrow it for a bit, then give it back to you at some later date?’ Instead there’s a convoluted plan which ends up being pointless, because at the end of the book, Neville pulls it out of the hat anyway. Which is completely awesome – everything about Neville is made of win – but kind of renders the whole worry about betraying the goblin pointless.”
      It’s been a while since I read this, to be honest, but I’m pretty sure I remember something about the goblin saying he wasn’t on either side, which would make asking Griphook for the sword rather pointless. They wouldn’t achieve anything by it, and they already know that, so they don’t even try.
      At least, that’s what I think. Like I said, it’s been a while, so please don’t pay too much attention to what I say.
      There’s one more thing. (OK, I lied at the beginning when I said just one) You say you’re annoyed by the fact that Voldemort sits around “gossiping” about Lupin and Tonks’s wedding. I can’t claim to know everything, but I think that what Rowling was trying to do there was show how relaxed and certain of victory Voldemort is.

    5. Amanda says:

      I loved the harry potter deathly hollows! the suicide mission to the epic finale! to much in a book to handle! now the movie is coming out! OH MI GOSH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    6. Amanda says:

      by the way, why is Voldemort the worst villain ever? I mean, sitting around gossiping about their wedding? Does he seriously have nothing better to do? And hiding Helga’s cup in the Room of Requirement – what was that about? “Oh, gee, a room full of stuff. I bet no one’s ever been here before! I’ll put a chunk of my soul here.”

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