Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

~by J. K. Rowling
2008 ALA Best Books for Young Adults
2008 ALA Notable Books for Children
2008 Andre Norton Award Winner
2008 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Winner
2008 Locus Award Nominee

Probably as most people know, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the seventh and final volume in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. The books are well-loved and adored by many. I've enjoyed reading them but even more I've enjoyed having really interesting conversations about the books with other readers. I have never really been as taken with Harry Potter as other people seem to be but I certainly recognize the series as an important recent reading phenomenon. Personally, I've just been trying to stay ahead of the movies, so it's been a while since I read the previous volume, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Even so, I was looking forward to reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and finishing the series.

Dumbledore's death struck a great blow to those fighting against Voldemort's rise to power. Soon the Order of the Phoenix and the resistance are forced to disband and go into hiding. Even the Ministry of Magic has been taken over by Death Eaters and those loyal to Voldemort. Harry is the only one believed to be able to put a stop to the Dark Lord and save the wizarding world and muggle world alike. Unfortunately, he's not entirely sure how and Voldemort is determined to end his life before he can figure it out. Dumbldore gave Harry a push in the right direction before he died, but it seems as though there was a lot he failed to mention. Harry has many people to help him along his way, but ultimately it will come down to him and Voldemort and what each is willing to sacrifice in order to defeat the other.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows cannot be read as a standalone novel--the text is too inundated with references to the previous books. It's almost as if Rowling is using them as a form of shorthand or secret code. While having seen the movies will help, those who haven't read the other books in the series are still going to end up lost and confused--even I was from time to time since it's been so long ago that I read the other Harry Potter novels. There are also a few minor plot holes and inconsistencies but overall things hold together pretty well. While I was never particularly surprised by any of the plot developments, and was even able to guess many of them, I appreciated that Rowling chose less obvious and more interesting ones. However, things occasionally felt too easy or convenient for the sake of moving the story along.

I enjoyed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Relatively little actually happens compared to the length of the book, but it's not even the longest one in the series and it reads pretty quickly. While a lot doesn't happen plot-wise, there is still a ton of important information and reflection going on. The entirety of Snape's story was finally revealed, which I'm glad of, and I also really enjoyed the book's end and final battle. I did think the epilogue was cute but unnecessary--personally, I preferred the slightly more ambiguous conclusion that preceded it. Occasionally, Rowling's writing style and word choices can become overly overdramatic, especially during scenes where emotions run high, but for the most part are very approachable and easy to read. The books may be intended for young adults but there is still plenty of things that will appeal to more mature readers as well. I don't think Harry Potter is the greatest series out there but it's a solid storytelling experience. I'm glad I read the books and I'm glad they got so many other people reading again.

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