Sunday, July 22, 2007

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

(For those of you reading this, the cover on the left is the UK version, which Canada gets, and not the US cover).

Warning, there be spoilers below!

I got home yesterday at about 2pm, and the new Harry Potter book was sitting on my doorstep. So I pretty much dumped all good intentions on doing homework (I'm already a week behind where I want to be), and had a 12-hour marathon read.

Here are my impressions. Things I didn't really like:
  • JKR (as some other book writers have complained), isn't a good writer. And she isn't. She's a very good story teller, but her scenes and chapters could have been tighter and better plotted out. Sure, she tied up her loose ends, but she also crammed in too many details. The whole looking-for-the-Horcruxes and the Battle at Hogwarts both could have been compressed plot-wise, and a lot of details could have been left out or combined.
  • When Harry et al found out about the Deathly Hallows, I was thinking, oh boy, JKR is once again is introducing another idea, and since this is the final book (so she says), she has to tie things up quickly. That annoyed me.
  • Convenient plot devices:
    • Harry seems to conveniently "forget" about things all the time. For someone whose always so curious, he tends to be non-curious at the right time, especially around Dumbledore. Of course, when he does ask the wrong questions (as opposed to the right questions), he gets non-answers from Dumbledore. That just makes Harry look stupid, and I don't buy the "Harry-regrets-the-questions -that-he-never-asked- Dumbledore-because- he-was-being-a-selfish -and-self-centred-git" reasoning. It's just too convenient for JKR.
    • Speaking of convenient amnesia, why didn't anyone point out that even before Harry got to Hogwarts, that they had a different DA teacher every year (well, before book 6 anyways)? The adults certainly should have mentioned it. Fred and George I believe would have mentioned it.
    • Snape's secret: Well, a lot of people had figured that he was in love with Lily, so it wasn't a huge surprise there for me. I agree with JKR's reasoning for killing him off, but unrequited love is one of the oldest plot devices in the world, and I couldn't stop myself from rolling my eyes during the reveal of Snape's secret. I really like Snape as a character, but I wished that there was a different reason for his reason to turn to Dumbledore. But even that aside, I wish Harry felt a little more empathy towards Snape, particularly since Harry represented to Snape the persons he loved and hated the most. I didn't feel that Snape was redeemed in my mind. When Snape asked to look at Harry's eyes before he died, that was sad, but at the same time, I thought it was pathetic of JKR to plot it out that way.
  • The last couple of chapters and the epilogue was too cheesy. Yes, I know that people died, but it was still cheesy. And over-the-top dramatics. I can't imagine it unfolding like how it did with all the dramatics.
Things that I did like:
  • The whole mood of the book. It was a depressing read, but it was meant to be depressing. Even the moments of levity didn't lift my mood. The themes that JKR brought out was very adult in nature. Yes, a lot of people died, but life isn't fair that way. This series stopped being a kid's book by book 4 in my opinion
  • I didn't get where Neville got the sword from until this morning. He got it from the Sorting Hat (duh!). I really like how JKR developed his character.
  • JKR had the balls to kill off good people as well as the baddies (and she let a lot of the baddies live). Life doesn't always work the way you want it to.
My other comments:
  • I get how when Lily sacrificed herself, she had inadvertently put a charm on Harry protecting him, so the Killing Curse bounced off of him the first time. I'm still a little fuzzy about how this affect Voldermort and the whole circular reasoning that Dumbledore was explaining to Harry, that was confusing (it was 1 AM, and I was tired!). Someone please explain this to me!
Overall, I give this book a 6.75 out of 10. JKR really had to tie up a lot of things and it was evident in the book. Probably my biggest complaint is that JKR tries to cram too much in the the overall plotline, and because she gave herself restricting parametres (7 books in combination with revealing bits of information over time), the books aren't as well written as they should be.

But that doesn't stop me from being a fan. I'm waiting for the soft cover book box set to come out so I can buy it =D

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