REVIEW:Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

MY RATING:

If you’re a Potter fan, you’ve been waiting for this book for a very long time, and, if you haven’t read it yet, you may be wondering if its worth the wait. The short answer is: yes. As final books go, The Deathly Hallows wraps things up quite nicely indeed.


I’m not going to try and summarize the plot here, you can find that else where. I will say that in The Deathly Hallows, Harry returns to many places we’ve seen in earlier books: Gringots, The Shrieking Shack and The Ministry of Magic, among others. Each of these places plays a small role in the Harry’s quest to defeat Voldemort. We also get to visit the house where Harry lived when Voldemort attacked his parents. This visit gives us some more insight into the events that happened that night, and show how prepared Voldemort is to find Harry and his friends. Rowling does a nice job of weaving all these places into the story, as Harry, Ron and Hermione try to find all of Voldemort’s Horcruxes and figure out what the Deathly Hallows actually are.

As far as the plot goes, its basically a quest, with Harry and company running from encounter to encounter, trying to stay ahead of Voldemort and his cohorts. In fact, the first 2/3 of the book is basically Harry on the run, trying to figure things out while staying out of sight. Unfortunately, while there is some action during this period (the infiltration of The Ministry for example), this section tended to drag quite a bit, as it takes quite a bit of time for Harry and friends to figure out what they want to do, and how to do it. Once the siege of Hogwarts begins, however, the last part of the book is all action, and moves quite quickly toward it’s satisfying showdown between Harry and Voldemort. Rowling obviously took some time to figure out how this showdown would occur, and weaved the pieces needed throughout the earlier parts. The twist that occurs is obvious in hindsight, but was executed quite well. I’ve heard some people say they didn’t like the ultimate battle, but I felt it fit the story perfectly.

Where Rowling really shines in this book is with respect to Harry. She has grown as a writer over the years, and she uses all of her skills to make Harry a full fledged, sympathetic character in The Death Hallows. In earlier books Harry might have tried to quit, gotten angry and then whined quite a bit. But here, Harry shows he is growing up. He accepts that things are the way they are and he has to deal with them. He doesn’t whine or complain, instead he tries to do what he thinks is right. In fact, Harry grows into a competent adult-like figure, who becomes quite a leader. His comprehension of events leads him to accept what he must do at Hogwarts to defeat Voldemort, and shows how much he is willing to sacrifice to save his friends.

For how well Rowling wrote Harry, the rest of the characters suffer in comparison. As The Deathly Hallows is basically the story of Harry, the rest of the cast gets less time devoted to them. Ron and Hermione are basically just along for the ride. Snape is barely in the book, and the ending to his story is quite abrupt, but we do learn where his loyalty lies. Voldemort really never rises above being just a bad guy that needs defeated. And Dumbledore gets quite a bit of attention via information dumps on his history. Here we get to see a side of Dumbledore that isn’t even hinted at in the earlier books, and that I felt was put in solely to knock his reputation down a peg or two. With such a big book, I think a bit more could have been done with some of the other characters, even given the large cast used.

I mentioned the plodding pace earlier, and one other thing bothered me somewhat, and that is the use of ‘magic’ in the book. Perhaps I’m too grounded in science fiction, but the way magic is used seems to be at the whim of Rowling and without any internal logic. At one point, a magical ‘alarm’ is placed on the word ‘Voldemort’ (which is forbidden to be said), knowing that only Harry or his friends will say it. When they do, the Death Eater can quickly find them. Alright, why doesn’t the resistance get people to say that as often as possible? There aren’t an infinite number of Death Eaters, overuse of the word would quickly show the futility of doing this. And if you’re going to ‘alarm’ one word, why not other words the resistance group might say? There is a pirate radio broadcast called Potterwatch run by people in the resistance. Why not alarm the word Potterwatch as well? And with the ease that Harry and his friends were able to use polyjuice potions and confusion spells to gain entry into heavily magically defended areas, whats the point of even trying to defend them? The magical system just bugged me.

And while the book isn’t as light and ‘magical’ as the early Potter books are, I do think the ending leaves the series on a high note. We’ve seen Harry move from innocence and naivete into a competent, self-assured adult. And this change gives us hope for the future of Harry and of world Rowling has created. I’m not ready to anoint the Potter series, or this last book, as a ‘classic’, but I will say that Rowling has created a very enjoyable book and conclusion to Harry’s story.

8 thoughts on “REVIEW:Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling”

  1. So does he die? Who died? Is Alan Rickman a good guy or bad guy? I don’t wanna read the book; I just wanna know what all the hubbug is about…

  2. (Further spoiler alert)

    I disagree with your statement about Voldemort and Dumbledore – I thought it was almost as much their book as it was Harry’s.

    Though we saw little of Voldemort, I think between this book and the previous he was really fleshed out as a character. We came to understand the weaknesses that ultimately led to his downfall. Most “Good vs Evil” showdowns come down to blind, stupid luck. But Rowling made clear that that’s not why Harry was ultimately able to defeat him – and Voldemort’s continued insistence that his defeats were just accidents and luck provided a nice ironic illustration of just why he failed. On the whole I found that satisfying, as it did go quite a bit beyond “he’s just the bad guy”. The final showdown was a very logical conclusion rather than one that occurred by happenstance – that’s a rarity in fiction.

    And Dumbledore has been a wise-but-flawed character at least since Book 4 – the revelations here were in line with that.

    I do agree that the rest of the characters were underdeveloped, I’m mixed as to whether that was a good decision though. The narrow focus is kind of called for in the climactic volume.

    And with the ease that Harry and his friends were able to use polyjuice potions and confusion spells to gain entry into heavily magically defended areas, whats the point of even trying to defend them?

    Kind of reminded me of airport security, actually. The wizarding world’s government was illustrated as pretty bullheaded, inept, and corrupt throughout the series – so I don’t think that was particularly surprising, in context. Similarly, I think the way she portrayed its descent into fascism was masterful.

    I agree on the other point about the magical trace put on the word “Voldemort”, though I suppose I could fanwank that and say that Voldemort himself could only do it because it was his own name. The explanation of the “trace” on underage wizards is what bugged me… if it goes off just for doing magic *near* an underage wizard, then that must put a heck of a strain on wizarding families where magic is routinely used by the parents (I’m also not entirely sure it’s consistent with previous volumes).

  3. I kept thinking I’d much rather be at Hogwarts with Luna and Neville than wandering (what seemed like) aimlessly around the countryside with Harry.

    I was disappointed in the short shrift given the other characters.

  4. I was really, really disappointed with the ending. (But then I didn’t like the endings on the previous two books either, I did like the first four)

    The Battle of Hogwarts was good, really good, and I liked the final chapter.

    The Kings Cross section may have well been the Architect in the Matrix.

    The Showdown between Voldemort and Harry was far too short, a bit of an anticlimax after thousands of pages.

    I think that the way Snape passed on his knowledge to Harry was lazy, Rowling could have made this a huge piece about whether Harry believed Snape or not.

    Saying all that, I did like the book for a lot of the reasons you said, but, like OOTP and HBP, the ending just seemed rushed, like all of the details were there, the hard work of building up the first half of the book is done and she can’t be bothered to finish it properly.

  5. I felt that the real end began with the chapter The Missing Mirror. It seems that JK is really apt to write in and around Hogwarts. Before the book was slow, and depended on happenstance a lot. If it was any other book I doubt I would bother reading it to the end. Speaking of which. To me the end was perfect. It wrapped things up nicely, and left a good and satisfying feeling. Taken as a single unit the book is average, but as a whole with the seven it is great. I am going to go on a limb and say that it will be remembered as a classic and will be at least as popular as LOTR. At least.

  6. personally, i thought the book was fulfilling in most of my needs as a reader.

    i mean fair enough there were slight glitches/errors such as the ‘magical alarm’ with voldermorts name…which had flaws in them n other such things. But to round it all off i thought the book was brilliant.

    ……

    This may sound a bit pathetic but the only thing that annoyed me about the book was how it only took a page or so for JKR to explain how harry’s life turned out,, by marrying Ginny n everything.

    I know that ultimately the books all boiled down to who would good or evil,, but i felt that the results of the victory and the afterlife of the HP, HG & RW could have been touched on slightly more.

    –Tell me what you think please–

  7. I must say that the book was a let down. Having said that, one must take into consideration the amount of expectation that was built up before the release and the pressure JKR was under to complete the series for the movies to be made. Considering these, we can see that this was a real good book that concluded the series.

    I was not satisfied with the last quarter of the book as it gave me the feeling that the author was not completely in her elements when she was writing this. It may have been that she was hurried or the feeling of this getting over was occupying her.

    All said and done. There was enough material in the book for a fan to go through the whole book in one sitting. Not many authors can do that. All said and done, I say “Hats off to JKR for enthralling us for this long and taking us all through the magical world of Harry and his life. You have made a huge impact on the world which need magical solutions. At least you gave us a magical distraction. Thank you JKR”

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