Monday, 23 July 2007
‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ – J.K.Rowling (Bloomsbury Books)
Some of us have been waiting for this since we were children and now the time has finally come. It’s already grossed millions of dollars world-wide and the money doesn’t look like it’s going to stop coming in just yet. One of the most eagerly anticipated events of its kind, now it’s arrived things will never quite seem the same again… But that’s enough about the new ‘Transformers’ movie (can you tell how excited I am?), J.K. Rowling’s final instalment of the ‘Harry Potter’ series hit the shops this weekend to predictable scenes of fans queuing up outside bookshops dressed as wizards etc. I wasn’t in one of those queues preferring instead to get a good night’s sleep and pick up my copy while doing the grocery shopping on Saturday morning. I did have other books on the go but there’s something about a Harry Potter book that makes you pick it up the first chance you get (after my wife had finished with it)…
The first thing that struck me was that Rowling had taken it upon herself to tie up every single little tiny loose end from the last few books, considering how hefty the last three books were that’s a lot of loose ends to pack into 607 pages! A sign that there won’t be any sequels? Maybe… The end result though is a book that’s absolutely crammed full of information, heaven for the die-hard Potter fan but (at times) like trudging through molasses for this reader. Being far more interested in the actual story, rather than the intimate details of wand mechanics and horcrux manufacture, I’ll admit that I skimmed certain passages where it didn’t look like I’d miss out by not reading them…
‘Deathly Hallows’ will go down as the bloodiest of the ‘Harry Potter’ books. It’s the wrong book for any of the characters to have a connection with Potter as the resulting odds of them dying, or being tortured, shoot through the roof! I’ll play a quick game with you. Name a supporting character. Named one? They’re dead. However, Rowling’s ruthless cull of the supporting cast only serves to highlight her unwillingness to go for the emotional jugular and ‘off’ more of the main characters. Without mentioning names, two of the big characters bite the bullet but I think Rowling missed a great chance here to really go out with a bang.
It’s not all bad though, Rowling does what she does best and delivers a book full of humour and pathos that reaches the standards set by her earlier work. You can tell that she really cares about all her characters (even ‘you know who’) and has worked her hardest to do them all justice on the page. The ‘not quite a love triangle but still awkward for all concerned’ between Harry, Ron and Hermione is captivating and really makes you feel for all concerned. Harry himself also becomes the character we were all rooting for in the earliest books rather than the whining teenager he’s been recently.
Rowling may have ultimately bitten off more than she could chew in this final chapter but I don’t think too many of her fans will be complaining. A fitting end to the journey but a bumpy ride along the way.
Six and a Half out of Ten