Last night I finally finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, thus finishing the series by J.K. Rowling which has been with me throughout my adolescence. I got the book for Christmas when I was in sixth grade, and I remember desperately wishing that I would be invited to the American version of Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry on my eleventh birthday. I must say that I was wholly impressed by this seventh book of the series, and am so glad that I elected not to watch the fifth movie recently, so that I could read the final book while maintaining my mental images of the world of Harry Potter.
1. Severus Snape. As soon as we jumped into the Pensieve and saw him as a little boy, abused and lonely and enamored...I lost it. I didn't stop crying until the end of the book. I was amazed at Rowling's ability to suck me into Harry's frame of mind. Since book six I had totally believed Snape to be wholly evil, and as Harry began wondering what Dumbledore was really like in life, I began wondering what Snape was all about that would have kept him in Dumbledore's good graces. The moment I realized what Snape's childhood and adolescence was like, I was in total sympathy for him, and mourning his death. He really did share something with Harry in that he probably could have suited Gryffindor or Slytherin, and was incredibly brave throughout his turmoil. This morning after a night's sleep, it dawned on me that his last words as Harry peered into his dying face were, "Look at me," because he wanted to look into Lily's green eyes one last time...beautifully written.
2. The deaths. I was incredibly sad when Hedwig and Dobby died. I really didn't feel like I expected that or that those were necessary. I can understand that killing Fred was necessary in a sense that not all of the Weasleys were going to make it, but still. Mad-Eye's death didn't affect me as much as I'm sure it did some people, because I never really made a connection to him. And I expected Lupin, the last of the Marauders, by that point, to join his old friends, but Tonks' death was certainly unnecessary. Okay, so now Harry's godson Teddy is an orphan like Harry, to be raised by his grandmother, like Neville. Cool, but I'm still distraught, J.K.
3. Harry's death. I figured that "Harry is a horcrux" was a pretty obvious conclusion from the end of book 6, but about halfway through book 7 I expected Ron to be the one to die (I really thought one of the Big Three would have to die). Of course, when Ron and Hermione made out I knew that it had to be Harry, but it wasn't until the scene in King's Cross that I understood how the series could end with Harry remaining The Boy Who Lived.
4. The epilogue and the unanswered questions. Look, I get that the epilogue was totally trite and cheesy. So what? This is a children's series that has grown up in its voice with each book, and the epilogue provided and perfect bookend to the whole thing. Certainly for a moment I was rolling my eyes thinking, "Oh, gee, I'm sure that all the childhood sweethearts lived happily ever after," until I realized that that was exactly what I wanted. Certainly I want to know what George is up to with Weasley's Wizard Wheezes (is Percy working for him?), how things are for McGonagall as Headmistress (I hope), and whether or not Luna and Dean decided to hook it up just for the hell of it. Also, I really would love to know what became of the Dursleys. Now knowing that Petunia was just jealous and Dudley is not that bad, I wonder what life is like for them.
I was very pleased with how, in each book, the characters' and the readers' knowledge of and familiarity with the magical world (spells, possibilities, places, history, etc.) has increased so that by the time the book wrapped up, they were full-on adult wizards, using Unforgivable Curses and Apparating and practicing magic without the difficulty they had as novices. And the final epic scenes taking place at Hogwarts, hearkening back to some of the greatest things we've come to love over the years, was much appreciated.
And now I am curious to see how history will treat the Harry Potter series. How will my children react to them, not having grown up with all of the hype surrounding them? I want to try as hard as possible to make my kids wait a year in between each book, but I don't know how effective that will be because they're sure to have gleaned too much plot detail from cultural osmosis to care. It's just like how I have never seen the original Star Wars movies but I don't really want to since I'm sure I won't be as into it as everyone else, since I already know who Luke's father is, and that Leia is his hot sister. Nonetheless, I must end by saying that I was quite proud of Rowling's accomplishments with this book, and I can't wait to read any supplemental material she writes when she realizes that her cash cow ain't goin' nowhere if she doesn't want it to.