*Spoilers for this one may prove fatal 😉 *
Woohoo, I’ve made it to the end! Before I get started, I have to make some serious confessions: I used to not like Deathly Hallows… I didn’t hate it, but I had a number of issues with it and after years of anticipation I was pretty disappointed. I mean, as much as I’d enjoyed figuring some of the plotlines out between books, I felt like some of them were resolved fairly quickly and I’d hoped for something slightly different.
I’ve also mentioned a few times that I wasn’t crazy on how the later books treated evil. And, while I’m not going to repeat my arguments about Voldy’s origins, I did still have some issues with how it invoked the Holocaust. For one thing, this comes back to my whole “it wasn’t dark enough” problem. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have any issue with books that symbolically represent Nazi Germany, I just thought that if it was going to draw such parallels, it could have been a bit more extreme than a few broken wands and Snatchers. And at the risk of opening a can of worms, if we are doing comparisons between historical monsters, Voldemort reminds me more of Charles Manson than Hitler, so I’m not convinced that the comparison completely works anyway.
HOWEVER, this time round I wasn’t so interested in seeing such a grim presentation of reality. In fact, my teen self would curse me for being so forgiving. Nonetheless sometimes opinions change with age, like a well brewed potion, and that isn’t such a bad thing 😉 . I did of course have some sticking points, but what would be the charm of these reviews without them? 😉
What was especially cool is that I haven’t reread Harry Potter 7 *ahem* as much as the others. So I didn’t remember nearly as many of the details for this one and enjoyed them as if they were fresh– like Hermione modifying her parents’ memories and the ghoul in pyjamas. Not only was the new addition of the Tales of Beedle the Bard fascinating, but there were also elements hinted at from book 1- which is quite a feat- like robbing Gringotts that gave the whole book a fantastic sense of payoff. And who doesn’t love the fact that they flew a dragon out of there as well? All of these were such wonderful editions and as usual the experience of reading Rowling’s work was entirely immersive. Meaning, as usual, I didn’t take as many notes as I should have and there’s so much more to this book than I have included in this post. So I apologise in advance for that- my only excuse is that I was way too busy enjoying myself!
I have to admit by the end of book 7, I didn’t like Dumbledore very much. It’s not that he kept things back- I get why he kept things to himself here- it’s that his shudder inducing fight for the fascistic “greater good” is realllly creepy when you think about it. Oh I know he told himself he’d be a benevolent ruler, but YIKES! In the interest of being honest, I’m a bit repulsed by his power hungry side and how far down that road he actually went. I freely admit that everyone has faults and all that Wizard Rock, yet I can’t help that I’m put off by people who think they know what’s best for everyone else and seek to control them. This isn’t a criticism of the book by the way or of how the character is written– I think it’s perfect for the book and works very well in every sense. Only I can’t see Dumby as a cuddly old man after this.
But to talk more about characters I did like, I have to say the Snape twist is *brilliant*. I never saw it coming when I first read it and don’t think I’d have ever figured that out on my own- even though it’s threaded through the entire narrative. Also it delivers such an intense emotional blow– I sobbed from the death scene through all the pensieve memories.
Unfortunately, I don’t think some of the other character deaths are given enough space. I still wish that we’d had a chance to see Lupin’s last moments. He was a great character and deserved more than just ending up on a slab (I get that you can’t see everyone fall, but even a second-hand account would have been better than nothing).
That said, all the other side characters are given their chance to shine in this. So many stand out to me! I absolutely *love* McGonagall and Molly “not my daughter you bitch” Weasley’s roles in the final battle. But more than importantly, can I just hear a *Go, go! Gryffindor go, go!* for Neville?! I’ve read other people saying he’s the real hero of Harry Potter and I think they’ve got a point- he’s not cool early on, but he resists peer pressure anyway, always makes the right choices, and puts his neck on the line despite missing out on being the chosen one. I think I seriously undervalued this character before.
I do appreciate Harry’s sacrifice though. While I originally wasn’t keen on the Narnia resurrection tacked on to the ending, I’ve changed my tune on that as well. Returning to King’s Cross makes the narrative feel like it’s entering the eye of the storm. I don’t know how it works, because pausing the story here should detract from all the thunderous excitement, but somehow it feels like a natural lull and builds the sense of the ending. Somehow it fills the reader in without ruining the tension of the climax– I swear there must be some magic at play here 😉 It’s also a trippy, but quotable experience. And despite my reservations about Dumbledore, I’m glad he came back for this moment.
And now for the grand finale! First of all, I’m gonna come out and say it: the death scene/finale is *so much better* in the book than in the movie. Yes, there’s fewer explosions and dramatic posing, but the words exchanged are so powerful. The “try for some remorse” part hit me like a killing curse, showing Rowling giving Voldy a choice and the chance for redemption (which correlates rather nicely with the whole Malfoy sort-of-redemption arc). I also admire the moment when Harry strips Tom of his silly title, once and for all. While I will always find the “love conquers all” message a bit cheesy, I think it’s fantastic that Harry gets to wind Voldy up that he has another weapon at his disposal (eat slugs Voldy!) And yes, the fact that Tom “hit the floor with a mundane finality” shows that Rowling doesn’t have much love for her main villain (perhaps why I was not as compelled by him) yet what hits the perfect note is that he’s killed by his own rebounding curse, showing that his own hubris brought him down.
Now the epilogue can be quite hit and miss with people. I have a rather funny story about how my brother read only the last few pages and told my sister, who told me the last word while I was reading it, then tried to insist the last sentence was “Harry fell down a well” (this is what happens with siblings *sigh*)… Anyway, the point is, aside from taking a massive amount of tension out the story, I’ve always been a bit cranky about that last word and is part of the reason I’m on the fence about this part. On the plus side, I do really like how it gives closure (no need for any plays 😉 ) and is really sweet. Still, I’m not all that sure it fits with the series or that I’m not (objectively or subjectively) that fond of the last sentence.
So I won’t say that I was dead wrong to be let down the first time round, but what I can say is that it’s really grown on me this time round and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this reread. I think I’ve finally outgrown the growing pains I had with this series. All was well (hey, if JK can use that as a sign off, I certainly can 😉 )
Rating: 4½/5 bananas
So what do you think about Harry Potter’s finale? Agree or disagree with anything I’ve said here? Let me know in the comments!