Saturday, July 28, 2007

BOOKS | Done with Harry Potter 7

I'm finally done with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

I was reading it while waiting for a movie (a low-key B-grade New Zealand film about blood-thirsty were-sheep. It wasn't as funny as I thought it might be.) It was embarrassing, as close to the last 100 pages or so, I started tearing in public.

[UPDATE] To prevent spoilers, my brief thoughts on The Deathly Hallows are below in INVISI-TEXT. (To read, just left-click, hold, and move your cursor over the blank space below.)

My favourite characters from the books are Luna Lovegood and Severus Snape. Luna held up pretty well, ending up as one of the three underground student leaders against Voldemort.

Neville Longbottom also has his day, which is beautiful. There is something about the heroics of the underdog that I love. The passage where Neville's Granny went on the run, not before she told him how proud she was of her grandson, telling him to keep up the fight against Voldemort ― I got a little emotional and teary.

But it's Snape's demise that saddens me. My suspicions that Snape was in love with Lily Potter was confirmed ― it all fits, and it's a bit of a downer that J.K. Rowling is a little predictable here.

I wish more could have been made of his heroism. It just seems with all the deaths, Snape's sacrifice was pushed to the side-line. His courage ― and how Dumbledore wondered if they sorted too quickly; with Snape's courage he should have been a Gryffindor instead ― can we do more with it? Why couldn't we have given him a grand hero's funeral? Or at least show me a portrait of Snape in the Hogwarts Headmaster's Office. That would have been fun. My Snape is dead.

It's a nice touch to kill off Hedwig and Dobby. People loved Hedwig and Dobby. Well, at least I do. It was nice because Dobby's death showed how much Harry actually cared for Dobby, and it also allowed Dobby to show his mettle. Hedwig, okay, she's collateral damage. The "reformation" of Kreacher was also a good touch. Perhaps it's Rowling's own (obvious but good-hearted) way of reminding us to be more compassionate to the down-trodden.

When Order of the Phoenix (the book) first came out, near the end, Dumbledore admits his love for Harry might have caused him some slips in judgement. A friend and I discussed this, and she was a little unhappy with this crack in Dumbledore's armour. But I disagreed with her then. I thought the fact that Dumbledore was capable of human weakness, because of love, is a good thing. It made him more human, I thought.

I guess my friend did not like her heroes quite so human. Perhaps that is why she was bothered by it.

But in The Deathly Hallows, we see a Dumbledore who is more complicated than he was in the previous books. He is a master manipulator here, ambitious, proud, ruthlesss ― especially the way he uses Snape's guilt and love for Lily Potter. Like Gandalf when he rejects the One Ring, Dumbledore recognises that he cannot be trusted with too much power, because he recognises the ambition within himself.

I find the more morally ambiguous Dumbledore a little disturbing. Perhaps now the table has been turned on me, and I did not like my heroes with their armour so tarnished. Even in books, our heroes are often less perfect than we would like them to be.

It's a great finale, especially the way Rowling manages to retrieve so many characters and minor details from the other 6 books and tie to the plot in a more significant manner. But the wand-lore bit was stretching it too much, I thought. Too much is made out of the "winning" of the wands, just to justify the plot necessity of Harry winning the Elder Wand.

No more Harry Potter, althought we will still have the films. No matter how much I enjoyed the books, I'm glad it's over. Please, no sequels. It ended well. Let it be.


Ana S. said...

Had I been in a public place when reading the last few chapters, the very same thing would have happened to me.

Imani said...

Definitely. As it was I was shrieking in my room and pumping my first into air, doing embarrassing jigs and random moments.

I loved what she did with Dumbledore's character. I love that he was so fallible and morally sidetracked in his youth. It makes the Dumbledore in the first 6 books so much more worthy of admiration and loyalty, IMO.

I don't know if this counts as a spoiler but I'm still, STILL, pissed at how Rowling dealt with Slytherin house. I thought it was a huge double standard to redeem so many characters in the book but completely write off every member of the house when it had its chance to shine. Horrible. Really makes me ambivalent about the Sorting Hat now.

I can't remember which article I saw it in but Rowling balked at considering Snape a "hero", and said he was still a terrible person, or something like that, which is probably why he did not get the lift in the book you wanted.

chrisa511 said...

Great thoughts on the book! I love what she did with Dumbledore in this book. This whole book had a theme of no one being entirely good or entirely bad and I enjoyed that.

Without spoiling anything, Snape's story pissed me off too...I wanted more...he deserved more.

I ended well, let's leave it at that. Though I wouldn't mind seeing the companion book that she's considering doing.

darkorpheus said...

Better put this up - just in case ;p

Nymeth: I'm glad the book was about to make me feel this teary though. :)

imani Which parts made you do the embarrassing jigs? The final battle? It was grand, and Percy - Perfect Prefect Percy - one of the many good touches. And Mrs Weasley. Oh, don't tick off this Mommy!

I agree with you on the Slytherin House. Couldn't we have some heroic Slytherin students? But there was a tiny redeeming statement Harry made at the end, remember? Does that count?

How can she NOT consider Snape a Hero? Argh! My lovely Snape. So little to do, but I've always enjoyed reading his dialogues with Alan Rickman's voice in my head.

I liked what one of the Wesley Twins said about "... faster than Snape running away from shampoo." :)

Chris I guess I have to deal with the ambiguity of Dumbledore. But I like the character of Aberforth, and how Dumbledore himself sort of admit his unpolished brother was the better man.

You know, Chris - I'm skeptical about the companion book. May just be a money-spinner.