As I’ve mentioned, I enjoy the Harry Potter series. I enjoy the world that JK Rowling has created and the characters that fill it. The attention to detail, from the huge history to the names of people and spells, and the placing of a world of magic next to the context of the modern world of the mundane are wonderful. Therefore, I was looking forward with anticipation to how it would all come together in the final book.
I was amazed by the hype and coverage that surrounded the release of the book. The media coverage was particularly impressive and wide-ranging, but the fan level was even more amazing. And this was all for a book. Isn’t that great? Doesn’t that show hope for the human race? That people were that excited about a book. It gave me a warm tingle. It was probably this that made the going out, just before midnight, to pick up the book along with many others, seeing the queues outside book shops of people eager to get their hands on a copy. I’m glad I was out there at 12:01 along with everyone else, being part of the phenomenon.
I read it in a rush over the course of Saturday and Sunday, finishing it too quickly on Sunday and giving myself a bit of a headache in the process. But it was worth it, and there’s no higher praise I can give it. Even though, as a fan, it was going to be hard to be disappointed by this book, the final book follows on and completely ties up everything that has gone before in a marvelously satisfying read. Everything is connected, with even minor characters from earlier stories making appearances, and details from throughout the previous six books have an impact on what happens in this book, in logical and narratively satisfying manner.
We find Harry at the Dursleys, getting them into protection as we near his seventeenth birthday, when the protections on him and the house will end, and he has to go into hiding. Along with Hermione and Ron, they go on their mission to find the remaining Horcruxes (which hold the portions of Voldemort’s soul, keeping him immortal) without the aid of the Order of the Phoenix or Dumbledore’s Army. The story gets off to an exciting start immediately, as we are plunged into a world of darkness and sorrow, as Death Eaters have infiltrated the Ministry and magical families without the right blood connections are suspected and Muggle-born folk are seen as dirty and animal-like. The book wins the title of darkest yet, as death is a constant companion through the story, with many characters facing their ends.
The darkness continues throughout the middle section of the book, as our trio are cut off from the normal world they know and the characters we have come to love. This section may be slow in comparison, but it is needed for all the backstory and for isolating Harry in his hero status, before the final climax, not only to the book but to the entire saga. A lot of the humour for which Rowling is known has to be absent from this part, dark as it is, because we can’t be allowed too much relief at this point. However, when you reach the last 200 pages, you will not want to put the book down or stop reading, as you race through the excitement of the finale. It is an exhilarating read that explains everything and reaches its thrilling conclusion. There is laughter, sadness, revelation, love, loyalty, courage, nobility, death and resolution. What more can you ask for?
I know there are some that decry the popularity of the books, the effects on the book retail industry, the writing style of Rowling (and her excess use of adverbs), the fact that they are for children, but they are missing the point. The books are deliriously entertaining stories, and that is the most important factor. The delightful characters, the thrilling plots, the amazing singular vision (obviously in place from the first word of the first book), the humour, the magic have all provided hours of entertainment for many people, myself included, and, while I will miss the them (I felt a little empty after finishing this book, knowing that there was no more), I was filled with a happiness at having read it all and was thoroughly entertained throughout. JK Rowling, thank you.