Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Deathly Hallows

I finally finished reading "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." I know I'm a little behind the times. I purposely avoided reading the Harry Potter books before now because I knew they would be all-consuming until I finished them and I didn't have the time to spare. But a month ago I decided that I really needed some escapist reading, as well as just wanting to know what happened in the books (I've seen all the movies so far.) So I have been carrying these huge library books around with me everywhere, hoping to snatch a few minutes of reading on my lunch break or after school, staying up at night until I can't keep my eyes open, reading, reading, reading....

First of all, I have to say that Joanne Rowling deserves all of the credit and fortune she has gained. She has created a fictional world just as shining and real and tangible as Tolkein's or Lewis's. I also have to give her a standing ovation for including powerful Christian themes woven within a tapestry that the post-Christian world can understand and accept. That is her greatest accomplishment in the books, I believe. Her Christian detractors (including my beloved Dr. Dobson) should be ashamed of themselves, for they know not of what they speak. Everyone who has worked on the movies deserves a standing ovation as well for bringing these works to life so amazingly well.

I am grateful to Rowling for showing me, once again, that It Can Be Done. Sometimes it seems that Lewis and Tolkein are standing up on such high pedestals, no mere mortals can climb up to their height. But she has done it, and more recently. So perhaps, just perhaps, I might be able to do it too. It is Encouraging. Not terribly, for the books are so very overwhelming in their finished form, but I have to keep reminding myself that all of them sat down with a blank piece of paper or blank screen in front of them and Just Kept Writing.

Some of my thoughts on the actual book (in case anyone cares):

I find Harry to be one of the most frustrating dolts I have ever come across. I was really, really getting annoyed with him in the last two books, but finally he grew up and shouldered his responsibilities like a man. I kept reminding myself that he is only a teenager, only seventeen by the end, and so I can't expect too much of him. Still, it was a relief when he finally stopped following emotional rabbit trails and Stuck To It. I also have to remind myself that Harry's flaws underline his role as an average guy - the Everyman we can relate to rather than some untouchable golden hero. Except when he's acting under pressure, he isn't really that smart, and it is his friends, mentors and a lot of luck that pull him through.

I wanted to wring his neck when he took Mad-Eye's glass eye from Umbridge's door. I was literally muttering at the book: "Stupid, stupid, stupid!"

Harry's outburst at Lupin when he came to offer his help was extremely upsetting... I hated him for doing that... however as an author I can see why it was essential for this scene to happen for two reasons: 1) Lupin's character had to offer to help them because it was both his nature and his role to do so, but that 2) Lupin could not go along because Harry, Ron and Hermione had to complete their quest without the help of a mentor. It was Show Time for the three companions. No grown-ups could come along. Using Harry's anger at the loss of his parents to drive Lupin back to his own family was brilliant.

I was relieved that Albus Dumbledore did not come back from the dead. The whole thing with the blue eye in the mirror had me worried. I couldn't believe it. My only thought was that perhaps, somehow, by nature of his violent and untimely death and Harry's dependence upon him, Albus's soul had somehow made an unintentional Horcrux inside of Harry, and it was Albus peeking out of Harry's own eyes in the mirror. It didn't make sense with all that we know about Dumbledore - he would never have done that intentionally - but it was the only explanation I could think of. When I found out it was really his brother using the other mirror, I was immensely relieved.

I was also relieved to find out that Albus wasn't a complete saint. This was quite reassuring and made me trust the story - and the author - even more. It also emphasizes the theme of redemption - that people can change and become more than they originally are.

I did think Hermione and Harry were more than a little dense for falling for the trap laid for them in Godric's Hollow, when the snake disguised itself as Bathilda Bagshot. How stupid can you be? Not the situation itself, but the fact that the house was so clearly decaying around her and that she wouldn't speak except to Harry, in parseltongue.

I am extremely relieved that Snape wasn't a betrayer, and that Dumbledore was not wrong in his judgement of him. Snape as a tragic hero suits me much better. I never quite believed he had killed Dumbledore without his permission. Perhaps because I am such a fan of Alan Rickman, who plays him in the movies. That is one of the complications of seeing the movies first.

I am also glad that Malfoy didn't kill anyone, and that Harry rescued him in the end. I just loved Ron's line in that scene... it was truly classic... "IF WE DIE FOR THEM, I'LL KILL YOU HARRY!" I'm glad that not all the main characters lived. Nothing bugs me more than a battle in which all the main heroes miraculously survive unscathed.

What else did I really love? Let's see... the redemption of Kreacher, the house elf. Fleur and Mrs. Weasley making up. Percy returning to the fold. Luna being so essential. Neville facing Voldemort and killing the snake. I just wish Hagrid had had a chance to do something really heroic. I do wish Sirius had lived longer, though. He was such a complex character... there was so much potential there for an author to play around with. I also wish we had gotten a final glimpse of the Dursleys. I suspect that she wrote it and had to edit it out.

The whole Room of Requirement thing, where all the Order and D.A. members and their families started pouring into Hogwart's, was also brilliant. The search for the Horcruxes. The fact that Harry himself was the final Horcrux. All the stuff with the Elder Wand and who was master of it... Dumbledore? Voldemort? Harry? Malfoy? Snape? The plot was spectacular, unexpected, brilliantly clever, just too too amazing for words (hear me sobbing into the sleeve of my bathrobe with jealousy?)

In short, it was the most exciting and satisfying thing I've read since "The Return of the King."

*sigh* *sniffle* *sob*

(deep breath)

I'll get there. One day. Really I will.

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