Well, I've finished the book. The last book. I feel both excitement and regret. Excitement that I finally know all there is to know. That Jo Rowling can now freely answer any question asked of her. That a new era of Harry discussion has begun. That I have finally reached, along with Harry, the end of this incredible journey. But regret...regret that I have to, literally and figuratively, close the book on this nearly ten year chapter of my life. Regret that there will be no more wild but often very interesting theories about how it will all end. Regret that I will never again have to pre-order a book, and then wait in a long line at midnight to experience that amazing moment when a store worker hands over the coveted volume, full of all the answers to secrets I've been longing to find out!
And now, if you haven't finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, STOP READING NOW! The rest of this post is about my reactions to the book. Don't spoil it for yourself! Come back and read the rest of this post once you've finished the book...and now...
Ok, I hope if you're reading now, you've finished Deathly Hallows...or you never plan on reading it anyway, so you don't care about finding out how it ends!
It's still sinking in...but I really believe this is the best book of the series. Here's a few reasons why:
- The Deathly Hallows. I loved the idea of this children's story, The Tale of the Three Brothers, being so important for Harry. I really like legends and especially when a legend is so old, no one even knows how the story started or by who. And it's especially cool when the legend turns out to be true. And I was strongly reminded of CS Lewis when Harry had to decide: should he continue on the task set before him by Dumbledore, to destroy the Horcruxes, or should he pursue the Deathly Hallows, which were such a strong temptation to him. It was so like the Silver Chair, when the children are tempted to stray from their task, set for them by Aslan. But Harry showed his strength of character when he chose the Horcruxes. A decision which turned out to be exactly right.
- Dobby's death. If you had told me before I read this book that Dobby would die, I probably would have felt a little sad for the poor elf, but I wouldn't have been too torn up. After all, I didn't cry when Sirius died. I teared up only slightly for Dumbledore. I wouldn't have thought the death of a house elf would affect me too strongly. I would have been wrong. Dobby died a hero's death. He was frightened at the prospect of saving Harry and his friends from Malfoy Manor, where he was once a slave. But he did it. And the following chapter, when Harry picks up a shovel and digs Dobby's grave without using magic is, in my opinion, the most beautifully written passage in the entire series. And I cried throughout the entire thing. As Oprah says, it was an 'ugly cry'. The kind when your eyes get red and puffy and your nose starts to run and you can't catch your breath. But what can I say? It got to me!
- Harry's Sacrifice. After all these years of hearing "Harry Potter is evil" "It's witchcraft" "It teaches our children to be ill-behaved and turns them into little warlocks" it turns out, Harry Potter is a Christian allegory. Back in 2000, JK Rowling said, "Every time I've been asked if I believe in God, I've said yes, because I do, but no one ever really has gone any more deeply into it than that, and I have to say that does suit me, because if I talk too freely about that I think the intelligent reader, whether 10 or 60, will be able to guess what's coming in the books." And now that I've read the end of the book, this quote makes perfect sense. Harry finds out that he must die to kill Voldemort. He must die so that others can live. And he walks to his death fearful and sad. But although he does not want to die, he knows that there is no other way. Sound familiar? But what Harry doesn't know is that he will be resurrected. He willingly sacrificed himself. Just like Aslan. Just like Christ.
- Luna Lovegood. Always the optomist, even when she's being held captive in a dark chamber by Voldemort's followers. And I just loved when she took Harry to the Ravenclaw common room:
[Luna] knocked once, and in the silence it sounded to Harry like a cannon blast. At once the beak of the eagle opened, but instead of a bird’s call, a soft, musical voice said, “Which came first, the phoenix or the flame?”
“Hmm … What do you think, Harry?” said Luna, looking thoughtful.
“What? Isn’t there a password?”
“Oh no, you’ve got to answer a question,” said Luna.
“What if you get it wrong?”
“Well, you have to wait for somebody who gets it right,” said Luna. “That way you learn, you see?”
“Yeah … Trouble is, we can’t really afford to wait for anyone else, Luna.”
“No, I see what you mean,” said Luna seriously. “Well then, I think the answer is that a circle has no beginning.”
“Well reasoned,” said the voice, and the door swung open.
- Professor McGonagall rising to the occasion. She's always been a favorite of mine and in this book, she didn't disappoint. In particular, I loved her confrontation with Slughorn.
- Ron and his new attitude towards women. He was cracking me up with all his good manners and his compliments. He finally got a clue! It's about time, Ron!
- The battle at Hogwarts. Yes, there were some scary and sad moments, but I loved it. Neville and Sprout running down the hall with mandrakes, the suits of armour springing to life, the D.A. back together again, the old Quidditch team including Oliver Wood! It was great.