Sunday, August 05, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

(Book Review)

Yeah I know, me and the rest of Western Civilization, right?

Actually given how popular Harry Potter is in Japan, I should probably amend that to the whole world. But the Japanese translation isn't due to come out for another year. So I have one year's time to gloat over my students that I already know the ending.

I came into Pottermania a bit later than everyone else (I didn't start reading these books until a couple years ago) and I did them mostly through audio book (this is the first book I've actually physically read the old fashioned way), but like everyone else I got addicted along the way.

Unless you've been living under a rock you probably already know from the media blitz that the final fate of Harry and Voldermort is revealed, several characters die, and we finally learn the true loyalties of Severius Snape. Aside from that, I'll try not to spoil anything. (I've got a bad history of giving away the endings to Harry Potter).

This book starts off with a real bang, and it finishes with a bang, but in the middle it lags a bit as the mystery stews and the usual quarrels between Ron, Hermoine and Harry pop up again for yet the 7th time. Also unlike all of the previous books, most of the action takes place away from Hogwarts and is not tied to the school year calendar. So we lose all the usual house rivalries, quidditch matches, Malfoy's mischief, and bumbling teachers which in the past books were used to flesh out the story.

Typical of most Harry Potter books, instead of answering questions from the previous book, this book starts out with raising new and previously unthought of questions first. But all the questions, both new and old, are answered before the end.

As is typical with most books about fantasy and magic, I suspect that if you went over this series with a fine tooth comb not everything would be consistent. There were several times when I found myself wondering, "but if they had the power to do that in this case, why didn't they use that before?" But you can't worry about these things too much.

There is an unusually high body count. Several minor characters, and even a couple major characters, bite the big one. Some of these deaths seem a bit superfluous, but I guess J.K. Rowling was determined to go out on a bang.

Update: A couple more added thoughts since I originally posted

1). Like many books in the Fantasy Genre, this has a plot that is a bit too similar to a video game for my tastes. (The characters are on a quest to find and destroy a number of magical objects hidden in various places). These quest type stories, as opposed to character or plot driven stories, can be a major flaw in the genre, and I think part of the reason why the middle of the book drags a bit much.

2). I thought some of the language in the book was a bit funny, particularly the use of the exclamation "effing" which I assume (and wikitionary backs me up) is a sanitized version of the f-bomb. Maybe this is more common in Britain than in America, but we always used to use this word as a joke among my old gang. ("Ah, F!") It's such a funny word. If you're going to go for the F-word, just say it. And if not, just use another exclamation. So I found myself smiling every time that word popped up.

Link of the Day
Antiwar Group on March With Old-School Tactics, Online Savvy

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling: Book Review (Scripted)

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