Classic review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
What better way to prepare for the movie than to read the book again?
[This review from the Monitor's archives originally ran on July 23, 2007.] In the end, no one plays Quidditch.Skip to next paragraph
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That's about the only spoiler I'm willing to reveal about the final chapter in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," Book 7 and the close of J.K. Rowling's wonderfully entertaining series. If the review seems a little vague as a result, well, tough. I'm not ruining this for fans who have waited 10 years to learn the outcome of the final showdown between the Boy Who Lived and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, and wanted to savor the last time they would ever pick up a new "Harry Potter" book.
Much has been made of whether the books represent cultural infantilism on a mass scale, with some august personages arguing that not only are they not art, they're bad for literature. (I'm guessing Harold Bloom has never read the "Gossip Girl" series.)
While I don't personally believe Harry Potter represents the acme of children's literature, I've had an absolute blast reading the novels and thoroughly enjoyed watching a high-tech generation fall in love with something as old-fashioned and out of date as a book. Cracking open a cover and being so transported to new worlds that I wasn't aware of turning pages was one of my greatest pleasures growing up.
And while some of the Potter fans may never develop a lifelong love of reading, I'm so glad they had that experience at least once.
Picking up where we left off
When last we saw our hero, it was at Professor Dumbledore's funeral, vowing to go on a quest to find and destroy the remaining sources of Voldemort's immortality, seven objects in which he had deposited pieces of his soul. (Ron and Hermione were vowing to go right along with him, of course.)
There were so many plot threads dangling, you easily could have weaved a magic carpet. Happily, in 759 pages, Rowling manages to answer the most nagging questions (is Professor Snape really evil?), and provide at least a moment in the spotlight for most of the players in her vast cast.
Finales are a tricky business, and the higher the expectations, the tougher it can be to stick the landing. Happily, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" is less frustrating than "The Sopranos" and far more satisfying than "The End" of "A Series of Unfortunate Events," to cite two recent high-profile examples.
Harry's quest is made more dangerous – and more imperative – by the fact that, with Dumbledore gone, Voldemort and his Death Eaters have a free hand. Rowling has been clear for years that fighting evil shouldn't be easy and would require sacrifice.