I know this is supposed to be bateszi anime blog, but allow me this one-off transgression from the norm; I just finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and I promised kauldron26 I’d post up some thoughts. Though this may be obvious to some, I’m warning you right now to expect spoilers in this post, the last thing I want to do is ruin any surprises for you — so if you haven’t already read the book, bugger off. My short, spoiler-free opinion is this; I loved it.
Now, I guess I need to emphasize the context of my HP fandom. The truth is this — without J.K. Rowling’s saga, I wouldn’t be reading books, period. That may sound sensational, but I’m somewhat ashamed to say that before I discovered Harry Potter (around about 2003), I was never interested in book-reading. I don’t know why I decided to buy the Philosopher’s Stone; probably the hype had something to do with it, but since then, I’ve been totally and utterly hooked on literature. For me, Harry Potter opened that window into an exciting new world of words and imagination, and for that reason alone, I shall cherish it as more than just another story, it’s become an important milestone in my life.
On that bombshell, you shouldn’t be surprised to learn I’ve loved all of the Harry Potter books. People have complained about this and that, about how the books are too long, overrated, whatever, but I never did. I’ve relished every new chapter, greedily devoured every chance to escape into Hogwarts. I don’t want to read through these books in a matter of days, I want to prolong the feelings and the excitement for as long as possible. My favourite instalment is the Goblet of Fire; I was absolutely on edge during its despair-ridden finale. The sheer shock of Cedric’s sudden death sent shivers down my spine; that’s the moment Harry Potter stops being just some aimless, vaguely-fun adventure and delves into the murky depths of Rowling’s universe; suddenly, the clouds blacken, the sky turns grey and the rain starts pouring.
I’m glad The Deathly Hallows finally revealed Snape’s true motivations. If truth be told, I was getting bored with Harry, Ron and Hermione. They are the heroic central characters, but by now, we know what to expect from them; we knew that Ron will get moody and run off, just like we knew he would end up with Hermione, but it’s totally different with characters like Snape and Draco Malfoy, we’re left guessing about them, left wondering whether or not they are good or evil right up until the last few chapters.
Snape’s undignified demise is the saddest thing in this book. Even when he "murdered" Dumbledore, I still had this sneaking suspicion that he would pull a Darth Vadar and redeem himself at the last possible moment. In the end, it didn’t really work out that way, he never did anything, he just died, but in typical Rowling fashion, his memories, and therefore, his unrequited love, redeemed his blackened soul. It’s hard not to feel moved by his Prince’s Tale chapter. It’s the one true glimpse into Snape’s sad life, his mistakes, his aggression and his insecurity make him my favourite character. A real human in a book of heroes.
If we’re handing out GAR awards, Neville wins hands down. For a start, his name is Neville; the most bookish name ever (followed closely by Percy). When Harry meets him at the Hog’s Head, he sports slashes, bruises and scars all over his face. And finally, despite facing certain doom, Neville looks Voldemort straight in the face and yells "Dumbledore’s Army", and as if that wasn’t enough, soon after, he decapitates the villain’s most precious giant-snake. BALLS OF STEEL; all this from the boy who, in the first book, was an untalented, unconfident oaf!
Thinking back over The Deathly Hallows, one of the most poignant moments comes in The Dursleys Departing. Harry’s step-family was always a cruel bunch of bastards, but in Dudley’s somewhat emotional good-bye, we see a softer side to them. It’s a revealing glimpse into the Dursely’s family dynamic, a sad and all-too-late suggestion that they aren’t such monsters after all. Another surreal interlude involves Dumbledore, another character who, struck down in the past by his own deeds, is searching for redemption. Towards the end, Harry enters a dream-like world and has a final, heavily symbolic meeting with the dead wizard. They sit in chairs facing one-another, but lying "whimpering" on the floor behind Harry is a "small naked child, its skin raw and rough, flayed looking". Dumbledore suggests Harry "cannot help" it. Clearly, it’s symbolic of something, but exactly what is no doubt the subject of a million debates currently raging across the ‘net. Personally, I suspect it’s Dumbledore’s tortured sister; the sister he ignored for years and may well have murdered. He is stuck in that place, unable to forgive himself for what happened. Of course, the "child" could also be interpreted as Voldemort, a man so full of childish greed, ambition and hatred that he is literally beyond help. Any other suggestions, dear reader?
In the end, we got the Hollywood send-off for Harry Potter. Good triumphed over evil, with a few casualties along the way. Fred’s death felt rather forced, almost like a token sacrifice, while Dobby’s tragic and heroic end was so much more powerful. The final words, "all was well", in Rowling’s homely writing style, sums it up quite nicely. The nineteen years later chapter was a nice touch, millions of people have literally grown up with these characters and to leave them like this, with smiling faces, waving off their own children to Hogwarts was a poetic way to well and truly close the story. Saying goodbye is always the hardest.