Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the last book in the series, and one I kept postponing to read because I didn’t want it to end, didn’t want to be over and done with this series. I’ve already watched the movie while it was still showing at the cinema, but haven’t watched it since so it’s been a few years and most of the story was fuzzy at best, as I read the first line in Deathly Hallows.
The Harry Potter books are all very well loved, held dear to all who grew up with the boy who lived, a boy meant for grand things – for adventure, for sacrifice, for a battle to the death. As the entire story arcs final round – it makes sense that this book would be grand in the actual plot, I mean – it’s the showdown between Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort – how can it possibly get more dramatic than that? And yet, this book lacked a certain sense of tightness that I felt the other books had. Even in the longest of the books in the series, Order of the Phoenix, which isn’t only long but painful to read because Umbridge is such a big part of it, I was never bored. I never felt that scenes were long winded, dragged out, or unnecessary for the story to unfold. But I did feel this at times with the Deathly Hollows. There were several parts that dragged on and on, like the time Harry spends with Hermoine and Ron in the woods – on the run – trying to destroy the horrokruxes. But then the actual fight between Voldemort and Harry lasts a very short amount of pages – it didn’t feel evenly paced. It didn’t feel as carefully plotted out as the other books have. And let’s not even talk about the last chapter that was lazy story-telling, cheesy epilogue scene created to make you feel that bittersweet sensation. Don’t get me wrong, I love the bittersweet. What I don’t love is when I know I’m purposefully being made into feeling one feeling, a certain feeling or reaction. I don’t like seeing the author pull the strings; as soon as I do, I stop feeling anything at all.
There are several deaths in this, although surprisingly few if you think about the sort of battle that takes place in it, but only one had any impact on me – made me cry, and made it actually hard to continue reading because my vision was blurred. But it was also the only time I felt sad, although this book is filled with things to be sad about. The reason I think is to do with the above mentioned – I saw the strings, so I couldn’t help but focus on them. But there are other feelings except sadness – and one thing I did feel, and strongly, was irritation. And frustration. Especially towards Ron, which in this book is absolutely the point, and is in that sense successful. But I also felt frustration at some things I had never felt before – the fact that so many background characters get no real shape, or that Slytherin constantly gets such a bad rep and I don’t get that because it’s one of the houses so why is there never any good or even praiseworthy actions from the students of that house? If it’s not filled with “bad” people, why does no Slytherin character get to challenge that prejudice? One thing I realised as I was reading this book is that the actual Harry Potter books, at least this one although I’m pretty sure this could be said for all of them – still lack a certain amount of depth. Yes – they create a sort of basic outline of amazing worlds, of Hogwarts, Gringotts, etc. – but it’s really the fandom that has made the entire Harry Potter world so rich. What I mean to say is that the things the books lacked in, the fandom has made up for, has really filled in and developed into something that is alive and is growing and changing. And I think, without the fandom, the Harry Potter books would be a great but ultimately simply a young-adult fantasy series that would soon be added to the piles of books of similar character, instead of the epic place the Harry Potter series has worldwide.
Getting back to the “young-adult fantasy” thing, as I was reading this book I felt again for the first time that this really has been written towards a younger audience. By that, I mean that it follows the plot-driven, not particularly rich-in-detail sort of writing that is common to this type of book. For some reason I have always thought the Harry Potter books were so incredibly rich and with so many layers, so much depth, and in some aspects that’s true but when it comes to the writing, I’ve realised I find J. K. Rowling’s style and voice to be slightly underwhelming. It might be especially noticeable to me as I’ve just read her novel The Casual Vacancy. But nevertheless, it was an interesting discovery for me as it contrasted to my prior impressions of the Harry Potter books.
All this being said, I still enjoyed reading this book immensely. It’s easy to get into, it’s for the most part fast paced, it’s thrilling even when I knew the major plot line. It was fun to return to Hogwarts and to all of the characters I feel I know so well; Harry, Ron, Hermoine, Mrs Weasley, Mc Gonagall, Lupin, etc. And I was happy to finally wrap this story up, even though I’m sure I will return to it one day.