Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Friday, July 15, 2011

As I’m sure you all already know, the final installment of the Harry Potter movies is being released today. It has been 10 years since I picked up the first book in 2001 and fell in love with the series. Since then I’ve read all seven books multiple times, then listen to them all again on audio. I’ve attending midnight book release parties and even went to the red carpet premier of the fourth film in London. I’ve seen all of the movies and debated the merits of the different directors and different Dumbledores.

All-in-all, this series has provided some of the most important literary milestones in my life. There are few other books that I have loved as much as these. I felt like I’ve watched the characters grow up and now that’s coming to an end it feels so bittersweet. I can’t wait to see the final movie, especially after finishing the seventh book, but I will miss having more Potter related things to look forward to. Luckily I know the books will always be there for me whenever I feel like revisiting the wizarding world.

**If you haven’t read this book, just skip this review. I tried to avoid spoilers, but there is just too much to talk about.**

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
by J.K. Rowling

The wizarding world is in the midst of a war and Harry, Ron and Hermione are on a quest to find and destroy the remaining horcruxes. The seventh book is the only one that does not take place mainly at Hogwarts, instead it winds from the dank rooms of Grimmauld Place to the quiet streets of Godric’s Hollow to the vaults of Gringotts Bank. We do return to Hogwarts, but not for classes. In this final chapter of Harry’s story, everything is on the line. He must defeat Voldemort once and for all or die trying.

I love this book for so many reasons. We finally learn the whole truth about Snape, we see Voldemort’s downfall, Ron and Hermione finally make it official, Mrs. Weasley’s wonderful line to Bellatrix, and so many other reasons. Just as it happens in any war, there are also casualties. Even though I knew what was going to happen, I couldn’t help crying at a few points; Hedwig’s death, the graveyard in Godric’s Hollow and the moment Harry walks into the forest with his parents, Sirius and Lupin, they get me every time.

This book shows exactly how much Harry has grown up over the course of the series. He’s always been willing to risk his life to save others, but the true sign of his maturity is his decision not to act. His hot head has gotten him in trouble in the past, but at the crucial moment, he has to decide whether or not to try to stop Voldemort from taking the elder wand from Dumbledore’s grave. He chooses not to, and though he second-guesses his decision, in the end he’s learned that he doesn’t have all the answers and jumping to conclusions or diving blindly into action is not always the best choice.

Though he died at the end of book six, Dumbledore features prominently in this book. Harry learns all about his mentor’s youth and misdeeds and he begins to doubt the man he has always admired. It would have been easy to end Dumbledore’s story without going into the details of his childhood or tarnishing Harry’s perfect picture of him, but I’m so glad Rowling decided to delve deeper into his life. No one is perfect and showing Dumbledore’s faults made him more human and accessible as a character.

After six years of rivalry, Potter chooses to save Malfoy (more than once) in the final moments. I loved that even though they hated each other, Harry’s goodness triumphs over petty revenge. By saving Malfoy, Harry is in turn saved by Narcissa, Draco’s mother, which once again proved that Voldemort never understood the power of a mother’s love for her child and he was undone by it.

I think it’s fascinating that Rowling included the concept of squibs in Harry Potter lore. How awful would it be to live in a world where everyone around you can do magic, but you are unable to. People like Filch live in the magical world, but they’re never truly part of it. It also puts a different twist on the “pure blood” mentality, because a witch or wizard could come from the perfect bloodline and still not be able to do magic.

One final note, I know many HP fans hated the epilogue, but I loved it. It might have been cheesy to give the books a happy ending, but to me it was perfect. It ended the series on a note of hope and gave us a glimpse into the future lives of the characters we all love so much.

A few things I'd forgotten about the seventh book:

1) Hermione puts the portrait of Phineas Nigellus in her bag and he’s the one who tells them he saw Dumbledore destroy the ring with the sword of Gryffindor.

2) Lupin offers to go with Harry and protect him on his mission. Harry is furious with him, because Lupin would knowingly be abandoning Tonks and their unborn child.

3) There’s a statue of Harry and his parents in Godric’s Hollow. There’s also a plaque at their destroyed home, which is covered with messages encouraging Harry.

4) When Harry is kind to Kreacher, after finding out he had to watch Regulus die, he becomes a brand new house elf, clean and helpful.

5) Harry was a descendent of the Peverells, the three brothers who originally owned the Deathly Hallows. Voldemort also might have been descended from them, because his grandfather owned the ring containing one of the hallows.

6) Luna painted pictures of Harry, Hermione, Ginny, Ron and Neville on the walls in her bedroom with the word “Friends” repeated over and over again.

7) Lupin asked Harry to be his son Ted’s godfather.

8) It was Ron’s idea to get all of the basilisk fangs from the Chamber of Secrets to destroy the final horcuxes.

"That which Voldemort does not value, he takes no trouble to comprehend. Of house-elves and children's tales, of love, loyalty, and innocence Voldemort knows and understands nothing."

Read for the Harry Potter Challenge hosted here.


BookQuoter said...

Perfectly planned day for posting the final book. Again, your review is all I need for now, until I decide to reread them once again.I too LOVED and NEEDED that epilogue.

Jeanne said...

I loved the epilogue, too. My midnight-showing movie-goers said that it's also a good part of the movie.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

BookQuoter - I'm glad I'm not alone on that!

Jeanne - I can't wait to see it! I heard they shot it twice. The first time the kids had a bunch of make-up on to make them look older, but the director thought it looked too fake. So they reshot it months later with no aging make-up and just digitally enhanced them a bit later.

Amanda said...

I can't wait to see the movie! I LOVE your book reviews; you're always right on! I've been flying through books lately, and have put a bunch of your recommendations on my list! Have a wonderful weekend!

Jenny said...

You know, I really liked the seventh book, but I have never stopped resenting how much of a jerk Lupin is in it. Going to leave his kid! What a prat! I used to have such a crush on him, and I longed and longed to see more of him, and then when he finally had some stuff to do, in the seventh book, it was a lot of jerky stuff! And my crush on him evaporated completely. Hrmph.

(However, I do love it when Harry tells him off, and then Lupin leaves, and Harry says, "Parents shouldn't leave their kids unless they have to." I always tear up at that part. Oh Harry.)

Jillian said...

I needed the epilogue too. Rowling saved a lot of fans from going insane thinking what happened to them years later! This is my favorite HP book, and just reading this post is making me feel sad again! Have you seen the movie yet?

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Amanda - Thanks, I hope you find some good ones.

Jenny - I loved Lupin so much in the 3rd book, but I'm with you, I was so disappointed with his character in later books.

Jillian - Shockingly I haven't seen the movie yet. I flew to NYC last week and just got back yesterday. I did see the HP exhibit in New York though, and it was awesome! I'm seeing the movie tonight!

Mumsy said...

I agree with you and Jenny: Lupin did not fulfill his early promise of goodness and wisdom. I sort of wondered if Rowling just got so caught up with juggling SO MANY characters that she didn't have time to draw him properly.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Mumsy - I think that's probably what happened. She also wrote the books really fast. The whole 7 book series was complete in a little over 10 years.