| .: Deathly Hallows Review :.|
I think that there has finally been enough time since the release of DH for me to give a somewhat reasonable review of it. Had I given you Snitchers this review immediately after reading, it would have been something like “OMG! No veil? She killed all of my favorite characters! She didn’t explain this and this and this that that she said she would! And then, she didn’t even tell us how many of the characters died!”
My emotions have calmed somewhat since that initial internal outburst. So this review should be more calm and collected. I’m hoping it will be anyway.
I’d like to first look at DH in terms of being the final book in the series, in how it fits into the whole seven compilation.
It does end much how it began: with a new group of first-years boarding the Hogwart’s Express. The Scar is still there, but it doesn’t matter like it did before. It now serves as a reminder of all that came before.
There a very few pauses in the story. Most of it is action-sequence after action-sequence, leaving the reader captivated certainly, but with his/her mind racing. This is why many of us have already taken it upon ourselves to undergo a re-read, as there was too much to catch in the first reading.
Reading this story makes you feel like you’re living the war yourself along with Harry. And, if you’re like me, you cry and are shocked and appalled like he is. One thing that J.K. definitely did in this story is made you feel exactly as Harry did. I was intrigued by the parallels between this war and WWII, especially with people crowded around a small radio listening to a forbidden station.
When it’s over, you get a sense that I can’t really describe. Like everything has come to a close and yet not. Like you fought the war with Harry, brought down Voldemort, and got your girl, but something’s not quite right.
Lately, I’ve been comparing the story in my head to one of my other favorite series: The Chronicles of Narnia. Narnia ended beautifully. It was sad but it was also brilliant and full of hope. I’m not going to say here what happens for those of you who haven’t read it yet, but C.S. Lewis does go through the effort of explaining the fate of every character that we encounter in the story. It was a little exhausting in all of the mentionings, as there were so many characters to be listed, but I could tell that Lewis was trying to make sure that nothing was left out and all loose ends were tied up. But, something else to keep in mind is that his writing style is totally different from J.K.’s, and his books are meant for a much younger audience. Not to be too bitter, but I think that J.K. could have learned a lot from Lewis’s model. I can’t for the life of me understand how she couldn’t like that series.
In J.K’s epilogue, she was trying to give us a peek at the future using a writing-tool of sorts. There was not enough room in there to mention what happened to everyone. And most of it wouldn’t have made sense either. Was Albus supposed to ask Daddy how Lupin died? I also don’t think that having funerals at the end of the book would have made sense either. There were so many deaths, it’s not like she could have picked and chosen which ones are of higher importance. You know that if she had a funeral for everyone but Colin Creevey, everyone would have been angry. It just really didn’t have a place in her story. A lot of things didn’t have a place in her story.
I don’t like the idea that the only way we could find out what happened to those characters whose fates were left unmentioned was by tuning into one of her webchats and hope one of our questions was asked. Fifty years from now, people are not going to have access to those webchats. They may have ways of finding them, but it really shouldn’t be something that people have to hunt for. This may sound harsh but, I really think that that information should have been in the books themselves, even if there is an encyclopedia out to explain them all. An encyclopedia should be meant to supplement the books when people have questions. It shouldn’t be a dire necessity to understanding the series. That’s not how series’s are supposed to work. J.K.’s recent response to this has been “I’m dealing with a level of obsession in some of my fans that will not rest until they know the middle names of Harry’s great-great-grandparents” (http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/19959323/). What most of us want to know isn’t some offhand character’s middle name. Most of our needs are fairly simple. She doesn’t need to reduce all of us to hyper-obsessive fans.
Some authors just honestly like leaving things left unsaid to be pondered upon. And it is their world after all that we’re looking at, so they can do whatever they want. These were her choices, and we must live with them.
If I hadn’t been an editorialist for a HP fan site, I’d probably have a totally different perspective on this. I spent hours and hours re-reading interviews and webchats from several different sources, making sure that my bases were covered so that my theories could have as accurate of a start as possible. Many of my theories did stem from the little hints about the books that she gave. And now I feel very foolish for even reading them. That’s because there were things that I know she said for a fact, as I found it from so many different sources, but weren’t in the book. And now she denies even saying them.
There were things that she said that turned out to be true and in the books, but they never amounted to the “big deal” that most of us were supposing them to be. So even when she was telling us the truth, it felt like a let down too.
I just would have handled everything totally differently myself. As now I feel slightly betrayed by the woman who is supposed to be one of my favorite authors.
To be fair, there were parts in the story that I thought were absolutely brilliant. The most compelling of which was the scene where Snape asked to see Harry’s eyes before he died. Even though I thought having Snape be killed as pointlessly as he was was a waste, especially after all of the years of build-up with his character.
I’ve tried to re-read the book once. I got up to the point just before Snape and Voldemort have their last scene together, and I just had to stop. I wasn’t quite ready to experience that pain again. It wasn’t the same as re-reading the others somehow.
I bawled through both reads when I read that scene where Harry digs Dobby’s grave. I’m a 28-year-old woman who normally doesn’t cry at things. I can’t imagine what it would be like for a young kid to read that scene. I shutter to even think of it.
She has created so much with this series. I’m not trying to deny that by any means. She’s inspired me more than she’ll ever know with her writing. Her characters are wonderful enough for so many of us to create our own extremely detailed fan fiction stories with. Regardless, she’s done so much, that I can’t really fault her.
I can still be frustrated, angry, and disappointed though. I can still want to bang my head against the wall at the fact that she created this amazing character with Luna Lovegood that she didn’t fully utilize. That Voldemort honestly wasn’t anything to be feared in this book. He wasn’t a compelling villain by any means. Most of the time I was just laughing at him for being so stupid. I was also hoping that we’d find out more of what his ultimate plans were. I just feel like he had to have been promising the Death Eaters initially more than just purity of the races in order for someone like Severus Snape to get sucked into his evil circle while he was still in love with a half-blood. That she killed off Colin Creevey as almost a footnote as if his character was unworthy of being mentioned further.
I try to put this story into the context of the whole series. I see this book as the ending of many things. By killing Hedwig, she was tearing Harry’s ties to his younger days. By showing the darker aspects of Albus’s past, Harry is brought to the understanding that his mentor was far from infallible. By showing Ron becoming more of an adult as the book progresses, and finally making the necessary effort to entrap Miss Hermione, Harry sees the start of more of an adult relationship than he has witnessed so far, and the end to senseless childhood games.
At Dobby’s death, Harry learns that he must focus on the path that was set out for him, even if he didn’t understand much of it. Fred’s death ends the days of bliss and laughter at The Burrow as he once knew them. Moody’s death was to prove to him that absolutely no one was immune from Voldemort’s wrath. J.K. was tying a lot of loose ends here, just in ways that we normally don’t think about.
I understand that J.K. killed off Lupin and Tonks because she wanted to have the parallel with Teddy and Harry’s life. That Teddy grew up without parents, but he had a loving Grandmother (like Neville) and a loving Godfather (like Harry). I still don’t see the importance of their deaths to the story though. And I definitely don’t see how Colin’s death is supposed to fit in there. I know it would have been fitting for his character to fight when he was forbidden to, but it didn’t seem to add anything necessary to it. I don’t care how J.K. attempts to justify all of these deaths. I absolutely refuse to believe that we needed every last one of them in this story.
It is very clear to me that The Deathly Hallows was never meant to be a children’s book. I know J.K. imagined that her readers grew up as these kids did, so the ideal audience then would be a seventeen-year-old crowd. However, that is not how this book has been marketed. And I’m not sure how much control she had over that.
My final rant is going to be over Harry’s relationship with Ginny. I don’t feel that it was ever well developed. We see Ginny in COS as the young girl who has this fanciful crush on Harry. She gradually grows up, and several years later they end up dating briefly. Then Harry breaks up with her, and he barely sees nor speaks to her through the entire DH book. They never have a real heartfelt conversation, not even once in that book. The only thing Harry thinks about with her is how beautiful she is. He never thinks things like “She’s so funny too” or “She’s a really strong girl”.
It’s just that, if you’re going to teach girls something about relationships, Harry and Ginny make a dismal model. Generally speaking, you don’t end up dating your crushes. You can dream about them certainly, but they usually never make a 360 and turn around to start liking you too. Things just don’t happen like that. It’s not very realistic.
None of this is to say that I now loathe the series and am going to sign up with nutty parents-sites to ban the books. I do see their value now, as I always will. And I will never regret reading them, and getting into them with The Snitch and all of you who I’ve met and debated with along the way.
Editorials are for my thoughts, and these at present are mine.
And my editorials will continue, in case any of you were wondering. I am also continuing with my fan fic What Luna Sees, available for reading in our forums of course, which started off and will continue to be my own version of DH. A version that happily includes many things that I thought should have been included in the final installment.
In the meantime, take care all, and keep in touch.
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