Thursday, August 9, 2007

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling

Ok, so it took me longer than usual to finish this book. Sue me, I've been busy :P

Anyway, this is a rather hard book to review. Over the years its has gathered up so much hype and expectations it was bound to disappoint in one way or another. Also I'll be trying to keep any spoilers out of my following review, so rest easy all you internet crazies. You can drop those pitchforks.

So does it disappoint?


And no its not all about the hopeful, doe eyed expectations.

Ok I'll try to be more specific, which is pretty hard without violating the holy non-spoiler act. Book 7 is a very dark book, especially when contrasted with the cheery and charming first three books. But people who've read book 4 (or seen the movie) know the dark turn the books had taken. Death, torture and other darker themes became more and more prevalent. And the final chapter is the darkest by far. Its not really a children's book anymore, and has crossed the boundary over to so called "Young Adult" fiction.

Which is pretty good. Until you start looking closer, and all the warts come out. That's when the book betrays its children's books roots. The clumsy world building, black and white characterization (with only a few notable exceptions), the rather immature and cheesy handling of death and other more adult situations, and the prevalent use of handy deus ex machina solutions without so much as foreshadowing.

The book starts out nicely paced at the begining. You can almost feel Rowling's relaxed state of mind. Then the second half starts, and things go high wire. The pace gets more rushed and clumsiness sets in. Its almost as if Rowling had a checklist of things to happen before the book ends, realized that she was almost out of space, then started rushing things through. Dramatic situations are shrugged off, and people die just because they need to die and are then glossed over in the mad sprint to the finish line.

And then comes a rather anti climatic end, and a rather silly epilogue.

Mind you, I still found Deathly Hallows to be a fun book. I mean Harry Potter was never high literature to begin with and that has never changed. For all her faults, Rowling is pretty good at spinning an enjoyable story and fun characters. I just wished that she had taken her time to flesh them out a bit more in this book instead of cramming every secondary and tertiary character in the series into one book.

If you're an established fan of the books I dare say you'll enjoy the book. It's a ... competent ... end to the story. But if you've never cared for the boy wizard from the start, this book won't change your mind.

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