Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Author: J.K. Rowling
Twelve years after it came out, I finally got around to reading and finishing this series. I’m pretty plugged into pop culture, and although I’d only seen the first movie, I had a few major things spoiled for me prior to reading this series. I knew the major character that would die at the end of The Half-Blood Prince. I knew one major traitor was actually not a traitor. I also knew that the general tone of the ending was a happy one. Even with that stuff spoiled for, I still think this was one of the best books in the series.
For the record, my ranking of the books would go:
1. Prisoner of Azkaban #3
2. The Deathly Hallows #7 (5 stars)
3. Goblet of Fire #4
4. Half-Blood Prince #6
5. Sorcerer’s Stone #1 (4 stars)
6. Order of the Phoenix #5
7. Chamber of Secrets #2 (3 stars)
Unlike the rest of the books in the series, the majority of this book avoids Hogwarts as a setting. On its face, that sounds like a bad idea as the worst parts of most of the earlier books are when Harry is stuck waiting for somebody to rescue him from the Dursleys and take him to Hogwarts. Right away in this book. Harry is flying for his life as Voldemort and several death eaters are trying to kill him and the next 90% of the book is he, Ron, and Hermione are in hiding trying to find the horcruxes that are the key to defeating their adversary.
For the most part, Harry is better in this book than he is in the last few where he is constantly making bad decisions. (I say for the most part, because his use of a certain word results in one of his friends being tortured in what was a very preventable moment.) There are a few moments where the group can go different routes to accomplish their goals and I wasn’t sure what the right one would be or what the characters would choose. The elder wand that becomes important later in the story took a few too many twists, and based on the rules of how it worked I don’t believe that Voldemort wouldn’t have been able to figure out the rightful owner before Harry did.
A few other nit-picks: the ending battle with Voldemort goes the route of overly clever rather than anything particularly exciting. The tack on at the end of the book showing the characters nineteen years later was good for closure but I’d have rather left it ambiguous or open-ended for the readers. (I was hoping that Harry and Luna would end up together… I really liked that whacky girl.) Finally, the death of two supporting characters right after the death of another supporting character could have been one of the most emotional parts of the book considering those individual’s family setting but instead it was sort of an afterthought.
Nitpicks aside, the rest of this book really worked for me. Even though I never doubted the loyalty of a certain faculty member, I still enjoyed the reveal at the end of the book of the major moments in that character’s life. Some of the magical creatures I didn’t particularly care about prior to this book (particularly goblins and house-elves) were much more interesting than they ever had been. The opening sequence with the decoys was very exciting, and the ending of the wedding scene was similarly very dramatic. I continue to enjoy how Rowling writes these books for the age of the characters. By the time this final book comes around, people are dying, being set on fire, and saying words like “bitch” and “bastard.” I’m sure I’ll check out Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at some point, but as an ending to the original series this was a fitting conclusion.