Monday, August 20, 2007

What I've Finished Reading

I’ve just finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, about a month, I think, behind most people. I came to the Harry Potter party late, anyway. I bought the first five books as a boxed set about a year and a half ago for my wife, and watched her consume the lot in about two weeks. I realized after she finished the first three in about four days that I’d better get number six pretty quickly. I was reluctant to believe I’d find them quite so compelling, but I decided that her obvious pleasure was a pretty good sign. I probably needed three week to get through those six. Since I’d seen the films that were currently available, I knew what to expect from the first few. In their slightly clunky way, the first three or four were really pretty charming. As the series went on, and the stories became longer and more complex, however, the plotting had something of an arbitrary this happened, then that happened, and then something else happened quality to it, and worse, some of the action began to seem forced, characters did or said things the logic of which seemed to have more to do with where Rowling needed to drive the story rather than what would be consistent with the characters, particularly Harry Potter, himself. Megan McArdle said it very well indeed, here.

Deathly Hallows turns out to have been a rather easier read than Half-Blood Prince, thankfully. There’s still some forced stupidity on the part of some of the characters, but this time around Rowling provides a better rationale. I certainly had a greater emotional investment in the characters, this time around.


I thought the quasi-death and immediate resurrection of Harry was pretty cheesy, particularly in light of all the hype and speculation, in which Rowling was a full participant. I thought at least one of the primary trio was going to be killed off. Silly me. I liked the overall ending just fine; although I found the epilogue a little short of detail. Another reviewer made the point that maybe a little bit of the hiding-in-a-tent interlude could have been trimmed in exchange for a slightly more hefty wrap-up, with a bit more detail about what becomes of this character whose struggles we’ve been following for all these thousands of pages.

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