Saturday, January 18, 2014

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

2007, Canadian hardcover Bloomsbury first edition, American hardcover Scholastic first edition
J. K. Rowling
American edition illustrated by Mary Grandpre
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Canadian edition bought new for $45.00, American bought new for $34.99
Former in good condition, latter sounds like spine will break soon

I still believe this is the best book in the series, although it's not at all "a British school story with magic in it."  Yes, Harry goes back to Hogwarts, but only to lead the final battle against Voldemort and the Death Eaters.  Over one-fourth of the story is set in the pivotal 24-ish hours when Harry, Ron, and Hermione break into Gringotts and then head to their school to wrap things up.  

The whole book of course is tying up loose ends, quite the opposite of Snicket's "End."  I loved all the little shout-outs to previous moments in the series, and that Rowling really did resolve a lot of earlier mysteries.  It's not a perfect book, not quite at the level of L. Frank Baum's best, so I will talk about the flaws I found.  

The biggest flaw is that Harry starts casting Unforgivable Curses (although not Avada Kedavra), and there are no real consequences to this.  (Hermione doesn't even scold him.)  Is Rowling saying that they're forgivable in wartime?  If so, that's a non-Snicket slippery slope.  Also, while there are moments when Harry and Ron's chivalry is sweet (like when Ron says he'll pretend Hermione is his cousin, to protect her), I don't like that Harry tries to shelter Ginny during the final battle, when she's only a few months shy of being of age.  (She of course fights anyway.)  And thirdly, while there are a lot of great callbacks to earlier, there are also things like not only the Hallows themselves but Fiendfyre, that Rowling never thought to mention before.

All that said, I think this is Rowling at the top of her game.  There are no weak chapter, or parts that seem too detailed.  (I joke about the Never Ending Camping Trip, but I actually love the dynamic of the trio, and for awhile Harry and Hermione, on their own.)  There are genuinely moving moments, although it's not always the same ones that touch me each time I read the book or watch the films.  (This was I believe the first fantasy book of recent years to get the split into halves, or in The Hobbit's case thirds, ironic in light of Horcruxes of course.)  So much of the book, including the humour, comes from having a history with these characters of being, as Rowling puts in her dedication, someone who has "stuck with Harry until the very end."  I used to think that maybe I had over-rated this book because it was last, but, no, it really is the best.  

Even Grandpre has stepped up a bit.  Yes, some of the illustrations are still somewhat forgettable, but I'm fond of the ones that feature Harry, particularly the one for the chapter "Shell Cottage," where Harry sits on a cliff and reflects.

This is not the end for Harry Potter in my book collection, as I've got a few movie tie-in books coming up for '08 and '10....

No comments:

Post a Comment