Saturday, July 28, 2007

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

Ordinarily, I have a format for my book reviews, and I follow it closely. I don't write in the first person, most of the time, and I try to give a summary of the book, followed by my reaction to it. This book is so big and so unique that I've chosen not to review it here because I don't want to spoil it for anyone, and because this is the final book in a series that has forever changed the landscape of children's literature. I don't think a review can truly do justice to the impact that J. K. Rowling and the Boy Who Lived have had on our culture.

That being acknowledged, I have to admit that I wolfed this book down in one day. We were on the second day of our road trip home to Georgia from Massachusetts, so I pulled out the book and hunkered down for a long day of travel. I didn't finish it before we got home, but I finished it before I went to bed, and I have been mulling it over ever since.

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS was everything I'd hoped it would be, and I closed the book feeling satisfied, wistful that it was over, and sorry to say goodbye to characters who have come to mean so much to me over the years. I cried several times over the course of the day, and especially at the end, but they were cleansing tears of genuine emotion. Death came fast and furious in the final volume of this series, but various characters were vindicated, others got their just desserts, and some discovered things about themselves that we, the readers already knew.

We had just seen the new movie on Saturday, so the visuals of the characters was fresh in my mind, and I must say, everyone in films has been perfectly cast all the way along. Generally, when I read a book, I have vague images of what the characters look like, but reading the Potters has been enhanced by the spot-on performances of the actors chosen for each role. (I have one qualification--Michael Gambon as Dumbledore. He has grown on me, and I've come to appreciate him, but he has never had the requisite twinkle that is so inherently characteristic of Dumbledore, and I miss Richard Harris desperately.)

J.K. Rowling has said she's very proud that the cast is British, with no stunt-casting of Americans for box-office bonuses, and I have to agree that this has been part of the magic of this series. Honestly, could you imagine someone like Macaulay Culkin or Lindsay Lohan in this movie? I shudder to think how such casting would have compromised not only the integrity of the films, but also the very Britishness of the story. What makes this story so attractive to Americans is the combination of familiarity and foreignness, and I rejoice that Ms. Rowling has had the wherewithal to be true to her characters and her vision.

As sad as I was to close the book upon reading the final page, the thing that has kept my sorrow at bay is the knowledge that we still have a couple of films to go before it's well and truly over. I will likely reread the books someday, and I will listen to the audiobooks featuring the amazingly versatile Jim Dale, but I know that my time with these people is nearly over, and soon they will be fond memories from a place where I was happy for a time.

I look forward to Rowling's Harry Potter Encyclopedia, and I will gladly pick up anything else she writes, but I will miss Harry, Hermione, the Weasleys, the Hogwarts staff, and the rest of the characters.


I'm trying to get more traffic on my blog, so I've decided to do a give-away every week for the rest of the year. Everyone who leaves a comment here this week (after this blog entry!) will be entered into a drawing to win a copy of Industrial Magic by Kelley Armstrong. I will choose the winner on Saturday, August 4th, and will post again to announce the title for the next drawing. I will be giving away a variety of books and genres over the next several months, so check back every week, and please browse my posts! Good luck!