May 4, 2012

Book: Harry Potter and the Dealthly Hallows by J K Rowling

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 10:06 am

Just a word of caution first: I have split the review into two parts. Why? Let us say you are one of those rare people who still has not read the book. (Are there any who are interested in this blog?).  If you intend to read the book  later, you can still read this review, until you see the “==== SPOILER WARNING ====” banner. Once you see that, if you do not want to know important events in the book, stop reading – you are done. If you do not mind reading about  plot details, then you can read on, until the very end.

Of course,  Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix have already been reviewed in this blog earlier.

That said, onwards to the review.

This is the last book in the series and one expects that all the loose knots in most books will be neatly tied up in this one. It was also a huge media event, and doubtless  you remember the frenzy in getting the earliest copies in North America, with people lining up hours earlier to get a copy.

Does the book justify all the hype? Depends. On the plus side, it does tie up a lot of loose ends and explains a lot of questions posed in other books – for example, why does Harry think that he has a strong connection with Voldemart? The story is well told, as we have come to expect from Rowling. A lot of things keep happening at the same time, and the book moves along at a fast clip, without a slack in the pace.

It is hard to come up with new things in the magical world book after book. Most magical events are old hat now, for dedicated readers of the series. Moving portraits, the various spells, the house elves, we have met all of these before. If Rowling wants to retain the interest in the magical world (in addition to the storyline), she needed to come up with new stuff that would keep the younger readers enthralled, and to a large part, I think she succeeds. The scene in the Gringotts is an example.

On the negative side, though, there is not enough explanation around certain characters – Dumbledore’s actions in previous books have not, in my mind, been explained very well, nor is the death of certain other people in the last book done in a “satisfying” manner. (More on this in the spoiler section).

At the end, one has a mixed feeling – the elation of having read agood, well written story, mixed with the disappointment of this book not fully living up to the hype created in the earlier books and somehow not being very satisfying.

On top of that, there is an astounding scene that looks like it has been lifted straight from the `Matrix Revolutions’ movie – again, more of this later.

The flaws mentioned here give a slightly negative tone to the review but they are outweighed by the sheer magnetism of the story telling, which keeps one turning the pages constantly to find out what happens next.

I will say, we can easily give it an overall 8/10

— Krishna


The following part of the review reveals important plot details.

Some parts of the book are disappointing, for all the strength of story-telling in the book. For instance, one did guess that Snape was a spy for the Good Side, right from the end of the sixth book. (As someone asked me then `You know that Dumbledore begs Severus saying “Please Severus…” just before he kills him. Do you think that Dumbledore is the type of person who would beg for his life?”. Having guessed it, it was no surprise to find that he is a good guy, but both the explanations for why he was with Dumbledore and the manner of his death are unsatisfying.

I liked the part where Harry goes willingly to die. It has been well told but I wish they had paid enough attention to Voldemart in this book. Except for ineffectually screaming, and getting frustrated, and finally, conveniently dying with just one confrontation, what did Voldemart do in this book?

The scene at the Kings Cross station caused me mild dismay. Do you remember the train station in Matrix Revolution where Neo meets a family waiting for a train that never comes? It is too close to the scene not to identify with. And `Of course, it is all in your head, Harry! But why should it not be true?” is the ending of that scene? What a cop out! And how does the `Harry’s head’ discover all the explanation for Dumbledore’s behaviour? He put it together himself? And who is the deplorable creature chained and whining in the station? (Dumbledore’s greed? Harry’s horcrux? Come on!)

How is a “mere” Death Eater able to perform the powerful magic to summon fiery beasts into Gringotts when even Harry is not unable to perform such magic?

It is highly confusing to see such care taken to save Draco Malfoy repeatedly and to watch nothing significant come out of that one! When people fall (dead) like ninepins, one wonders why Malfoy gets such special attention.

And how did the Gryffindor Sword, lost to the goblin in the  Gringotts, suddenly appear in the hands of Neville Longbottom, conveniently enough for him to slay Nagini? Hmmm.. It is not like Rowling to leave such weak plots  in the story!

The Gringott scene where the treasures multiply is brilliantly told, as are the confrontation with the Death Eaters in various places. The scene where they go to Potter’s Parents’ grave and the subsequent visit in search of the Sword of Gryffindor is a sequence that keeps you turning the pages.

It is a bit shocking to see the death toll mount up and the losses accumulate – Hedgewig, Mad Eye Moody, George’s ear, Fred, Tonks, Lupin, Dobby, and so on. But then, this is the Final Confrontation and so I guess I should have expected it.

The choice Harry has to make between the Hallows on one hand and Horcruxes on the other is brilliant and vintage Rowling. So is the explanation on why the Elder Wand did not work for Voldemart as he expected it to…

Like I said, warts and all, this book gets an overall 8/10

— Krishna


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