J.K. Rowling






Last in the Harry Potter series
Scholastic, July 2007
Reviewed by Joy Calderwood


The death of Dumbledore in HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE was a turning point for Harry. He can no longer spend his time in classrooms while Voldemort gets stronger. But just because Dumbledore passed him the baton doesn't mean Harry is ready to stand against Voldemort and his evil army. Harry's coming of age leads into a time of hiding and confusion. Even with the help of Ron and Hermione, Harry feels desperately lost. Voldemort did not mean for anyone to solve the Horcruxes.

There are people who want to help Harry, throughout the wizarding world. He can't bear to draw them into danger, so he feels he must hide from their help, and from the many good people who are crying out for his leadership.

The Harry Potter series is about courage and friendship, so we know that eventually Harry must rethink his instinct for protectiveness. Another major theme in the resolution of the story is betrayal, with both allies and enemies turning out not to be as they seem. There are some unexpected but earned redemptions. Author J.K. Rowling believes that most people can be good, given the chance. It is one of the things that has made the series such a phenomenon.

Don't look for the charm and humor of the previous books. HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS is going in for the kill. However, the glow of friendship is still strong, and the pacing surpasses the previous books. Whether Rowling wants us frustrated, or frightened, or elated, or simply mesmerized, we are at her mercy. When I finished reading I couldn't concentrate on another book, so I turned around and reread this one.

The publicity campaign has been all about suspense a masterly operation. All over the internet people have been chasing down hints. Who dies? Will Hogwarts reopen? Is Snape evil? And again, Who dies? Rowling said months before the release: "At least two major characters die," but it isn't as simple as that. This is war. In war, we lose people we care about.

That's the crux of this series: people we care about. Whatever flaws there are in the plotting and sometimes things do get a little predictable they are happening to people who matter to us, and to each other. Harry always puts the people he cares about above his own advantage. That's why we care so much about him.

The scuttlebutt is that HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS is "the end of an era". I disagree: Harry Potter will survive as long as our culture does. In the meantime, look for the projected Harry Potter Encyclopedia. Even better, look forward to J.K. Rowlings' next novel. Different characters, same great imagination.

Aug 2007

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