Monday, July 30, 2007

Book Review: The Deathly Hallows

Last night I finished reading the seventh Harry Potter book. It was very good. My wife had been extremely frustrated with me because she had finished reading it after only a few days and wanted to visit with me about what I read. To this end, I think I read about four hours yesterday, as she made every excuse to get me to read and literally dictated that I not play with the kids and instead read the book. How crazy is that, eh?

In any case, I thought the book was very good. It was a fitting and satisfying ending to the long march that the novels have been. I do feel that the epilogue left something to be desired since Ms. Rowling did not fully flush out the "where are they now". Happily, she granted an interview and filled in some of the details, which was printed by the associated press.

Spoiler Alert - Stop Reading Now if you would like to remain blissfully ignorant of the outcome of the characters. To wit, the article went on as such:

Harry Potter, who always voiced a desire to become an Auror, or someone who fights dark wizards, was named head of the Auror Department under the new wizarding government headed by his friend and ally, Kingsley Shacklebolt.

His wife, Ginny Weasley, stuck with her athletic career, playing for the Holyhead Harpies, the all-female Quidditch team. Eventually, Ginny left the team to raise their three children -- James, Albus and Lily -- while writing as the senior Quidditch correspondent for the wizarding newspaper, the Daily Prophet.

Harry's best friend Ron Weasley joined his brother, George, as a partner at their successful joke shop, Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. Hermione Granger, Ron's wife and the third person of the series' dark wizard fighting trio, furthered the rights of subjugated creatures, such as house elves, in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures before joining the magical law enforcement squad. The couple had two children -- Rose and Hugo.

Luna Lovegood, Harry's airily distracted friend with a love for imaginary animals who joins the fight against Voldemort in the Order of the Phoenix, becomes a famous wizarding naturalist who eventually marries the grandson of Newt Scamander, author of "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them."

And what Muggle, or non-wizard, song would have been played at the funeral of Albus Dumbledore, the most brilliant and talented wizard the world had ever known?

"Surely 'I Did It My Way' by Frank Sinatra," Rowling told her fans, referring to the song "My Way," written by Paul Anka but popularized by Sinatra, among other singers.

With this, I now have closure.

Interestingly enough, I had originally resisted reading the first book for a long time, as I have a tendency to try to steer clear of all things that popular culture says is "cool." Eventually, my curiosity got the better of me and I found it to be a very engaging novel that kept my interest. For me, this was a big deal since I nearly always read science fiction for entertainment.

In any case, I soon discovered that with each book, Ms. Rowling would evolve in her writing. The first book was juvenile and crisp, the middle books were bloated and in desperate need of a better editor, but towards the end, she pulled things together again into a well-written prose that will no doubt be considered among the finest of the classics. (To me, the very term "classics" can generally be translated into "boring", but not in this case.)

Happily, it ended well. I am sad to know there are no more books planned, as I always want to know what happens next, but it's fitting that it ended where it did. It'll be interesting to see what else comes out. I expect to see plenty of additional fan fiction, franchises, and other novels set in the same "universe" (think the insanity that is Star Wars). In any case, I do hope that Ms. Rowling doesn't return to this storyline. It feels to me that doing so would over-stretch it and would just leave the stench of greediness on the whole thing.

And now that she's done with that, I'm curious to know what else she has in mind ...

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