July 23, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I liked it.

It started slow and then got even slower. Suddenly the prolixity of the almost nine-hundred page Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix loomed ominously. But the pace picked up dramatically, no pun intended, in the second half and by the end the pages flew by as quickly as Harry on a Firebolt. While I sped through the last few chapters I was also griped by a melancholy realization that it was all coming to an end, and far too rapidly.

This book is dark, which seems a bit redundant considering it is all about death and all its attendants. But it is a different kind of dark and reminded me of the aphorism that it is always darkest before the dawn. There are real losses with a great deal of pain and anguish and not a few tear-jerking moments. Personally, I wouldn't say it has a happy ending, but rather a life goes on ending, albeit one in which life is much better than it might have been. That's a little brief and barely touches on the meaning I'm really trying to convey, but it is tough to explain without a lot more text and way too many spoilers.

It is difficult to overestimate Ms. Rowling's achievement with these seven books. They may not quite reach the literary heights of some of the books they are frequently compared to, but they are rather good, and display an uncommon ability to relate to adolescents, teenagers, and adults all at the same time. Not even Disney has been able to do that for quite a while,and certainly not with any enterprise that has had a run as extended as this. Ms. Rowling's imagination and thoroughness is very impressive. Her technique of belated plot revelations may be annoying to some, but that made it next to impossible to accurately predict what would happen next. Undoubtedly, better educated pedants will be able to pick apart various elements of style and substance, but those efforts have little appeal to me and generally remind me of Professor Lockhart whose fame came from the risks and achievements of others. Congratulations to Ms. Rowling and a heartfelt thank you. I fell fortunate my kids come of age at a time to appreciate Harry Potter in all his glory.

A few random thoughts without getting into any obvious spoilers...

I wonder if Griphook's opinion of wizards has changed much now?

Ms. Rowling says she is "left-wing." Nonetheless, the Harry Potter books seem to be remarkably devoid of what passes for "left-wing" ideology in most aspects of our society today. Whether she consciously avoided it or whether "left-wing" means something different to her than to most people who proudly declaim this is unclear. But as Dumbledore told Snape about his opinion of Harry, "you see what you want to see."

In the movies, James and Lily Potter look much older than the twenty-one years old they both were when they were slain by Lord Voldemort.

I hope the final movie is four hours long with an intermission.

Posted by Charles Austin at July 23, 2007 09:39 PM

I finished the book last night. I thought there were sections which could have been shortened, but I really enjoyed it.

Posted by: Jon at 02:33 PM