Saturday, July 28, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows ***SPOILERS*** review, comments, intepretations, musings, etc., and so on

Now that I've read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows twice (and the good parts several times), I'm ready to write a review. Actually, it's not so much a review as comments on some of the many aspects of the book that interested me.
Caution: There be SPOILERS here.

Did I mention this post has SPOILERS?


Well, it was less of a bloodbath than I expected, really. I was sure that Snape would die, although I expected it to be heroic and redemptive rather than just Voldemort saying, "So long sucker, I need your wand." I also thought Hagrid and maybe Ron would die too, so I was glad they didn't.

Dobby's appearance itself was unexpected -- it had an element of deus ex machina, but that's to be expected in these books, which are about magic after all -- and that made his death and burial all the more poignant. It didn't make me cry or anything (I tear up fairly easily from music and movies, but only one book out of the thousands I've read has ever actually made me cry), but it was quite sad.

It seems that a lot of people were disappointed with the deaths of Remus and Tonks, with the way they died "off-screen" as it were, but I think it was quite well done. In a war, surely, you don't always see your friends die or get to have a last word with them. Sometimes, you just go out to a battle, and when you come back, your friends are lying in a row of dead bodies, like Remus and Tonks. Or you never recover their bodies, like Mad-Eye Moody, or you never even knew they were in the battle until you see them dead, like poor Colin Creevey, or you don't even know who someone is, but you hear her last words anyway, like the girl Ginny tried to comfort while Harry was on his way to give himself up. So I think all that added realism and poignancy to the story.


Snape has always been one of the most interesting characters in the books, so I was disappointed in how little he had to do in Deathly Hallows. As I mentioned, I expected him to die, but in a completely different way. I did like the revelation of his motivations. While I was not one of those who doubted that he would turn out "good" in the end, the idea that "he did it all for love" was completely unexpected.

I had supposed that there would be some sort of reconciliation between Snape and Harry, that Snape would finally see how much they had in common as unloved children and misfits, but Rowling had nothing so tidy in mind. Snape died still unable to see the boy as anything but a second James Potter and as the abstraction "Lily Evans's son." He never understood Harry at all, even after he had glimpses of his memories of humiliation and sadness while trying to train him in occlumency. Harry, on the other hand (with the big advantage of watching Snape's clear memories), came to understand and forgive his one-time tormentor.

And I loved the way that Rowling reached back to place the chapter "Snape's worst memory" in Order of the Phoenix in a completely new context. The memory Harry saw in the pensieve in Book 5 was Snape's worst memory not because he was humiliated by James and Sirius, but because it was the moment he finally lost Lily forever by calling her the m-word. How brilliant, how sad, how true.

King's Cross:

OK, here's what I think happened. Voldemort tried to kill Harry, but Harry was still "tethered" to life through his blood in Voldemort. So Voldemort actually killed only the part of his own soul that lived inside Harry. The shock of killing part of his own soul should have killed Voldemort, but he was "tethered" to the snake-horcrux. So the horcrux kept Voldemort from dying, and by living, Voldemort kept Harry from dying. The grotesque baby-creature-thing was the mutilated core of Voldemort's soul, everything that was left of his soul except the part in the snake.


It was a little annoying to once again have Dumbledore explain everything, especially since we'd just had another time out from battle to watch Snape's memories, but I liked the way Rowling finally humanized the Great Wizard. And I liked the way over the series Harry moved from idolizing Dumbledore to shock at his feet of clay to finally understanding, forgiving, and loving him as a human being rather than an ideal. That's the best we can all hope for from our own children.

The final battle:

Of course, one of the funnest parts in the entire book was when Molly Weasley went all Ellen Ripley on Bellatrix Lestrange. And the whole final confrontation between Harry and Voldemort was brilliant. I liked the way Voldemort was completely mystified when Harry told him to try to feel some remorse. I also liked the way Harry was in charge the whole time, telling Voldemort things he didn't know and disrespecting him by calling him by his birth name. Harry took over Dumbledore's role not only as fighter/rescuer, but as explainer as well. And of course, even the birth name thing was a trick of Dumbledore's, since he always called Voldemort "Tom."

1 comment:

  1. "So, who died?" A few non-readers asked me. I asked them back, "Who didn't?" Dobby's appearance and death came as a surprise for me too. But I did have an inkling when they got Kreever on their side, "Hmm...whatever happened to that Dobby?"

    I did venture a guess then that this may all be a "Greatest Hits" episode by the end, as in EVERYONE will make a quick appearance before this train stops.

    And I so wish it was Hermoine who kicked Bella and/or that creepy werewolf's ass herself. But then that would be a little too cliche. But oh it would be totally satisfying. :-D

    I was cracking up at Molly v.s. Bellatrix too. I mean, I was like, "YEEEESSSS!", hopping off the couch to cheer for her.

    The epilogue though, I don't know if I needed to see the future. (And here I am sitting and, how old did they get married and have kids? They're soo young!!!) But it was cute.

    Hubby is going to finish it and THEN I'd get to re-read again. :)


What do you think?