Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, J. K. Rowling

Title: Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows
Author: J. K. Rowling
Rating: Good

Like about 11 million other people in the US, I got my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on its release date - July 21, 2007. Mine came in the mail, so I didn't get it until the afternoon, and as my weekend was pretty booked up with other events I didn't get to spend a lot of time reading it until Monday.

So what can I say about this book without spoiling it?

I can tell you that I enjoyed it. It's 750 pages long and I read all but the first 150 pages or so in two sittings on a single day. Looked at that way, it clearly held my attention. I set aside another book I was in the middle of to read this one, and I'm not sorry I did so.

It's also a complex book. A lot is happening, and yet Harry spends a lot of time waiting for news and information. And a lot of the plot depends heavily on events in the previous book or two. I read Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince back in July of 2005, which is long enough ago that a good many of the details have slipped my mind by now, so I had to go with the flow when there were obvious references to something in an earlier book that I couldn't recall. But despite that I think Rowling does a pretty good job of winding up all the loose ends. She actually provides resolution on most of the outstanding issues I can remember from the previous books. (Contrast that with the way The End didn't clear up many questions in the Lemony Snicket series.)

On the downside, I found two things in this book that I didn't quite believe. Call them questions about the story or plot that I didn't get answered. These were both new with this volume, and I'm not sure how to take them. I won't go into details as I don't want to ruin the book for those who haven't yet read it. You can send me an email if you want to know what they were.

The last major comment I have is that the book presents a lot of new background information on a major character in the series, and much of it comes (to me, at least) as a surprise. Again, I don't want to spoil anything for others, but suffice it to say that I spent a lot of time reevaluating someone while reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and that isn't something I anticipated.

Overall I think Rowling did a pretty good job of winding things up. I need to spend some time with a serious Harry Potter fanatic I know and discuss my questions with her. I'm curious about how she feels now that the series is over. It's been a lot of years waiting for the books to arrive, and I hope she feels the end is up to the level of the rest of it. I thought so.

Mind you, none of this is "Great Literature" (tm) in my mind. It's escapist fantasy, and IMHO there are some weak spots in the way Rowling writes - her choice of certain words in particular - but escapism is fine with me, and she holds the story together regardless of my reservations.

I'll have to reread the entire series at some point - back to back to back - to get a better overview of it all, and to have each book fresh in my mind when I read the next one. More of the details will stick with me then, and it may be a somewhat different experience as a result.

I wonder what Rowling will do next?