I finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows a short time ago ago; it would have been sooner but the weekend intruded on my reading plans. I find myself elated with the journey's ultimate conclusion and a bit bereft that it is over. If I were to hazard a guess there will be many discussions forthcoming regarding the appropriateness of the ending, the writing within book seven, and a continuation of it's place in children's literature. Instead, here are a few comments and reflections, in no particular order, regarding my reading experience.
I had a few qualms regarding my decision not to reread The Half-Blood Prince before Deathly Hallows was published, especially after talking to a co-worker on Friday and realized how much of the book I had forgotten. By then it was too late, the lure of Deathly Hallows was too great to take time for a refresher course. Rowling's did a good job with the first quarter of the book reminding me who was who, what was what, and detailing the quest being undertaken by Harry, Hermione, and Ron. By the end of the sixth chapter, less than 100 pages, I was up to speed and anxious to travel with old friends. The book opened with a rousing chase complete with Death Eaters, the reading of Dumbledore's last will and testament, and charmingly enough, a wedding. But once the quest began, there were a few rough patches.
All of the story/character/plot elements uncovered by Harry, Ron, and Hermione were well-planned (and neatly tidied at the end). The early life of Dumbledore, Snape, and Harry's parents was thoughtfully explored. But for me, the middle lagged, bogged down by Harry's continued musings regarding Dumbledore's secrecy and transgressions (they were, to a certain degree, annoying). I would have enjoyed more emotional maturity displayed by this almost eighteen year wizard. That by and of itself was easily overlooked as things picked up again, but I did not quite grasp the mid-book melt-down Ron suffered. While Harry and Ron had their differences, Goblet of Fire comes to mind, Ron's defection during their quest felt contrived.
Yes, an argument could be made that Dumbledore had foreseen this event hence Ron's bequeathment actually an interesting foreshadow to the event - or - the locket horcrux being bandied about by the three added significant pressure to each individuals internal strife. However, with his burgeoning personal feelings for Hermione and friendship with Harry, not to mention this was his chance to participate as opposed to being a bystander, the abrupt departure, nee abandonment, did not ring true to Ron's character. I kept waiting for hidden motives to be revealed; he was charmed, it was all a ruse, or failing that it wasn't the "real" Ron. And even though Ron eventually returned to the fold and all was forgiven, it still was a bit of a blemish on the character.
The last part of Deathly Hallows moved along a a brisk pace, rushing towards the final showdown held appropriately at Hogwarts. Here there were many shades of gray as readers learned the truth behind Dumbledore's demise, Snape's previously unfathomable near hatred of Harry, the Malfoy's, and the almost casual evil of Voldemort. More importantly, here readers were treated to depth of character from Neville, Aberforth, McGonnegall, and the Weasley family (Mrs. Weasley was incomparable!). Extenuating and harrowing circumstances bring strength of character to the forefront, often results in loss of life, and renewal of hope. The Hogwarts war and aftermath did not disappoint.
Much discussion was held regarding which character's died in this final installment. I was a bit concerned with the blithe dismissal characters in the beginning (it was almost careless in nature), but in my opinion Rowling's took care not to insult her reader's intelligence by having every known character survive. Since the final book was the ultimate fight of good against evil, it was inevitable instances of death would be addressed.
I was pleasantly, yet oddly, surprised to see an epilogue. More happily ever after in nature than I expected, it laid to rest many "wonder what happened to...." questions. Generally speaking, I think most readers will be happy with the outcome of the seventh and final Harry Potter novel.
Now I will have to dodge my Dad's phone calls and continual questions regarding the end and if Hermione survived.