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The Witching Hour by Tania del Rio
Links My Deviant Art Site / My Poorly Drawn Life / SteelRiver Studio (my company) / lonewolfblacksheep (my fiance's site) / Archie Comics / TOKYOPOP / Marvel Comics / Buzzscope / Newsarama / The Pulse / Patrick Tierney's Music / Cute Overload! / Monster Guy Web Comic / Christy Lijewski's Blog / My Crafty Blog February 2010
 
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Mon, Jul. 23rd, 2007 03:33 pm
Harry Potter!

So I got the final Harry Potter book at a grocery store at the stroke of midnight. (I had been planning on going to a Borders release party, but the grocery store turned out to be so much better. There was only like 10 people in line, and there was no drama!) I usually like to take my time to read books, and savor them. But I confess, I devoured The Deathly Hallows in one weekend, mostly because I was desperate to finish it before having someone or something spoil it for me. I had been literally avoiding the internet the last couple weeks out of fear that I would read a spoiler!

I have to say, overall, I was satisfied by the book and how it closed the series. I still feel a little sad upon its completion... I wonder if anything else will ever get people so excited about reading the way this did? It's so amazing to see that, in this day and age, people will line up at midnight to buy a book. And that adults and children alike will read this book and discuss it, and share it. It's not a movie, not a videogame, not a new gadget... it's just a book. I love that.

Will thinks it's like the Star Wars of this generation, and in many ways I agree. It's a sort of an archetypal epic that really speaks to a massive amount of people on a deeper level. And seeing the battle between Dumbledore and Voldemort on-screen, I could only think of the lightsaber duel between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader.

Anyway, click below the cut to hear my reactions on the book.



In many ways, I predicted the outcome of several key points in this book (as did many fans), but it was no less thrilling to see them proven. This book gripped me like none of the others. It made me tense, it literally had me fearing for each character, many times, because I didn't know who would live and who would die. The book wasted no time getting into the hair-raising action, and reading about Hedwig's death early on was so upsetting that I literally dreaded what that portended for the other characters and their fates.

The whole sequence of Harry, Hermione and Ron camping in the woods did slow things down, but it wasn't necessarily a bad lull. In fact, it reminded me a lot of the Lord of the Rings, which would also have stretches of time in which the characters would do nothing except camp and travel, and wonder about their objectives. I was surprised by Ron's "betrayal", but I also respected his character more for it. I liked to see this purely human side of him, one that was overcome by fear and weakness. Because, let's face it, most of us in Harry's situation would probably buckle under the pressure at some point. And while Ron was gone, I loved reading about Harry and Hermione as they grew even closer as friends.

I enjoyed learning more about Dumbledore's past. He was, until now, a sort of pleasant, all-knowing mentor, and I can see how Harry would only want to see pure good in him (especially as a child and lacking a father figure). I liked knowing that Dumbledore had a selfish, power-hungry side to him, althought though it made me squirm to realize that he sort of used and manipulated Harry. I'm glad Harry had a chance to talk with him in the Afterlife, because otherwise, I would have left the book feeling sour about Dumbledore and his role and I would have wondered if he ever really cared about Harry at all.

Just like in the last book, Ginny still irritates me. I couldn't see why Harry fell for her in the first place, and I still don't see it now. It was almost too convenient - as though he couldn't end up with Hermione because she was taken, so he needed someone else to pair off with in the end (although I would have preferred Luna, personally. Even though she's weird, she seems to have more things in common with Harry). It always seemed like all the other Weasleys were so much more developed than Ginny- even Percy and Bill. But, oh well.

Lupin used to be one of my favorite characters, but I was a little disappointed in him in this book. The way he tried to escape Tonks and his baby seemed so cowardly and despicable, I was glad Harry put him in his place. His and Tonks' deaths were also a letdown. They seemed almost like an afterthought, while I really felt sad for Fred's death. I also didn't like how Tonks' role was reduced. She pops out a kid and then spends the rest of the book looking for Lupin and then dies. Great.

But onto Snape, my favorite character of all. I know everyone expected him to be redeemed. After all, so much of the book is about redemption. But, call me gullible, I honestly did fear that Snape would turn out to be an evil, flawed character after all, if anything, just to screw with the fans. I left the last book feeling optimistic that he was still on Dumbledore's side, and that everything was planned. But from the first chapters of this book, when he told Voldemort the true date of Harry's departure, and cut off George's ear, I really feared there was no hope for him. And when he took over as headmaster and the school seemed to turn into some sort of concentration camp, I was even further convinced that he was, indeed, on the Dark Side. Furthermore, seeing that Dumbledore wasn't as perfect as he seemed, I also found it easier to believe that he might have been wrong about Snape all along.

I did have a sense that Snape might, at the end, show a flicker of doubt or regret, or that he'd be unable to pull the final trigger on Harry, so to speak. But I honestly did think he was overtaken by evil. This thought depressed me so much that I was convinced that I would hate the book - and even the series if he was not redeemed. To me, that was more important than anything else, even Harry's fate. I needed Snape to be redeemed in order to appreciate any of the books. A little extreme? Perhaps.

I was sad when Snape died and bummed that he didn't exactly die fighting, or die in a blaze of noble glory. But I was so, so relieved to hear the truth behind his actions. I was so glad to realize that all along, he was, indeed, faithful to Dumbledore. His love for Lily kept him true all along. Instead of resenting her and hating her for spurning his affections, his love for her was his anchor. I was so moved to realize his patronis was a doe, and that despite disliking the James in Harry, he also loved the Lily in Harry. For me, this was the most tragic part of the story and I was more affected by this than anything else in the book. But then, like I said, I'm a complete Snape-fanatic. ^_^;;

As for the ending, it was epic and exciting. I liked the coming-of-age moment when Harry realized he had to die in order to kill Voldemort. I liked his stoic acceptance, but also appreciated his fear, and that he was suddenly conscious of what it meant to be alive, and how he had only so many heart-beats left, so many breaths... It made him that much more real.

I sometimes thought that I would be fine with an ending where Harry died, sacrificing himself for the greater good. But I realize now that that would have gone against the whole premise of the series, of redemption, of second chances. And that he is the Boy Who Lived. It was more important that he made the choice to die, than actually dying itself - in the same way that it was more important that he made the choice of Horcruxes over Hallows. The whole Jesus-undertones didn't go unnoticed by me, but even though I usually dislike overt Christian themes in literature (one reason I could never fully enjoy the Chronicles of Narnia), this didn't bother me. Perhaps because it's not so much a Christian theme as it is an archetypal theme. In the way that Osiris rose from the dead, or the way that Persephone and Inanna willingly entered the world of the dead only to return again. The Phoenix which has played so much of a role in Harry Potter, is also symbolic of this same concept. Even the presence of ghosts and talking/moving portraits in Harry Potter indicates a belief that death is never truly final.

I was really satisfied with the book overall, and the way it really tied in all the loose threads and further explained events that took place in earlier volumes. I was disappointed with the epilogue. It seemed too cutesy, so much like a neat little package tied up with a bow. Look, everyone's happy! Everyone's been neatly paired off and has little mini Harry Potters and Hermiones and Rons that are off to Hogwarts too! I mean, we could all have easily assumed that Ron and Hermione were going to get married and have kids someday, the same with Harry and Ginny (though I still don't see why, hehe). Although maybe this was J.K Rowling's point. That life (and death) are cyclical and that it's time for these new children to start their lives at Hogwarts and have their own adventures. (Which, I assume, the publisher is praying for!)

So, I guess it isn't so much this ending that bothers me. It's more the tone of it, which is cutesy, compared to the serious, dark mood of the rest of the book. I mean, just 19 years prior, the magic world had its own sort of Holocaust against Muggle-borns. Wouldn't this still affect the present climate? Did Hermione ever become an Auror? What about some of the other important, supporting characters like Luna and Professor McGonagall? I know there are too many characters to cover, but a little more information besides who-married-who, and who's-kids were named after who so-and-so would have been nice.

Anyway, years ago, I remember resisting the urge to get into Harry Potter when the hype first began, because that's all I thought it was - hype. But now I see it really is a complex, epic, touching story and I'm happy to say I was wrong about the series and that you really shouldn't judge a book by its cover!

Current Mood: sympathetic wistful

11CommentReply

pinguino
pinguino
pinguino
Mon, Jul. 23rd, 2007 10:39 pm (UTC)

wow i love your star wars analogy!


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jonnerbloo
jonnerbloo
jonnerbloo
Mon, Jul. 23rd, 2007 10:46 pm (UTC)

Man, the anti-Ginny sentiment on LJ is strong.

At least you suggest Luna as an alternate choice...far too many others suggest Hermione (let's face it...Harry's never felt even a hint of attraction towards her) or...uhm...Draco. (Because loathing and despising someone is a sure sign of sexual tension. Or something)


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taniadelrio
taniadelrio
taniadelrio
Tue, Jul. 24th, 2007 06:47 am (UTC)

Haha, yeah... I'm not into fanfic, but I can definitely see room for many romantic possibilities!


ReplyThread Parent
pinguino
pinguino
pinguino
Mon, Jul. 23rd, 2007 10:55 pm (UTC)

i like ginny. im glad they hooked up.
harry isnt whiny in this book. i really enjoyed it

also i think harry liked hermione in book one.


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taniadelrio
taniadelrio
taniadelrio
Tue, Jul. 24th, 2007 06:49 am (UTC)

I also like how Harry isn't whiny in this book. You can see how he's really matured. As for him liking Hermione in book one, that's definitely possible. But throughout the rest of the series it's been pretty clear that he doesn't think of her as anything more than a "sister".


ReplyThread Parent
tanukitsune
tanukitsune
Tanukitsune
Tue, Jul. 24th, 2007 04:05 am (UTC)

The ending did bother me, they just told us a little and left so many details out, like how the world of wizards was rebuilt, how did they get jobs, and how come their kids didn't know what Harry Potter did...

I'm hoping the Harry Potter fans will still be into fantasy and fiction now that's it's all over, if the Star Wars analogy is true, the fans will be looking for a replacement very soon! Hopefully Discworld?


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taniadelrio
taniadelrio
taniadelrio
Tue, Jul. 24th, 2007 06:50 am (UTC)

Although judging by Star Wars, which first emerged about 30 years ago, I hope we won't have to wait another 30 years for the next "big" thing! ;)


ReplyThread Parent
jonnerbloo
jonnerbloo
jonnerbloo
Tue, Jul. 24th, 2007 07:23 am (UTC)

I think one thing that separates Harry Potter from Star Wars is that from Book 3 onward, shades of gray and moral ambiguity began to permeate the series.

This worked to Rowling's benefit. She was able to avoid the trap of utter moral weirdness that Lucas fell into. It's hard to swallow that one last minute act of good completely cleansed and purified Anakin Skywalker of a lifetime of murder, torture, and deceit.

Heck, we know from those dang prequels that many of his early victims were helpless children. And his own pregnant wife. *shudder*

It's impossible for me to accept that killing the Emperor enabled him to become a happy, peaceful, smiling Force Ghost.

Contrast this with an example from one of my favorite anime...look at Folken Fanel from 'The Vision of Escaflowne'. From the very start we see him doing terrible things, but from the very start his motives are made ambiguous. He shows signs of great compassion towards those he commands, and anguish over the things he does for his Emperor's secret purpose. By the time we learn his origin, one can understand why he would compromise and kill...why he would destroy his soul and hurt others, if he felt a noble goal would truly be achieved.

Thus, when his attempt to sacrifice and redeem himself comes near the series climax, one can fully accept that he's changed.

Likewise in Harry Potter, we need look no further than Severus Snape to find a bitter, sour, mean-spirited man whose allegiance seems forever in doubt. Yet the moment you have him pegged as evil...Rowling murkies up the waters.

Thus, the big reveal on his true motives and tragic life leads to the reader going: "Of course! It all fits..."

Instead of "What. The. ****."

Boy, this post turned out longer than I intended!


ReplyThread Parent
leborcham
leborcham
Leborcham
Tue, Jul. 24th, 2007 04:35 am (UTC)

I like Ginny! She is fierce and independent, and a darn good wizard. Yeah she wasn't developed much -- Rowling STILL likes the boy characters much more than the girl characters -- but the germ of the attraction is there.


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taniadelrio
taniadelrio
taniadelrio
Tue, Jul. 24th, 2007 06:52 am (UTC)

Strangely enough, I like Ginny in the movies more than I like her in the books. Seeing her in the Order of the Phoenix movie, I felt more sympathetic towards her than I did reading the book and I liked how her spells were so strong compared to everyone else's while they were practicing in the Room of Requirement. She never really came "alive" for me in the books, like so many of the other characters did...


ReplyThread Parent
redknot
redknot
Redknot
Tue, Jul. 24th, 2007 07:34 pm (UTC)

that's so funny! i felt that way about ron, not ginny. he's sketchy and grumpy and stupid and funny-lookin'... why would hermione love him? ginny shone for me because she decided to stop pining for harry and to develop a thick skin instead. she worked on becoming a girl everyone would respect and admire, even if harry wouldn't date her. she stands up for underdogs, even if she's a bit too snippy at times. she reminds me of what i've tried to do after devastating crushes.... :P


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