I’ve only gone and bloody followed through with something! I set out to read the Harry Potter series back in May and now I’ve finished and I can finally see why this series has had everyone and their mum’s talking about it. The Deathly Hallows gave me the awesome conclusion I wanted after a surprisingly slow build-up – it’s not been without faults, but dang Voldemort sure is one of the best villains I’ve ever come across. AND NEVILLE DIDN’T DIE SO I’M REALLY BLOODY HAPPY ABOUT THAT, TOO.
Starting with some awesome scenes of the Evil League of Evil meeting up and talking about Evil was a great way to open the final book. I think it’s the antagonists in this series that I’ve loved the most, and any snippets of backstory I get on them has been far more interesting to me than Quidditch or what Hagrid’s pet-of-the-month is.
Can we also acknowledge the brilliant exchange between Harry and the Dursleys near the beginning of the book? Dudley saying goodbye made me smile, and also made me feel really sorry for him and Aunt Petunia to be stuck with Uncle Vernon. That scene may have been a nice one for Harry to finally get some recognition from the people who ‘raised’ him (using that word loosely), but when you realise these two are going back to a life of ignoring problems it kind of makes you feel for them. First time I’ve ever liked the Dursleys – and it was in the final book. They got there eventually eh?
Emotional goodbyes over, The Deathly Hallows didn’t waste time getting to some exciting scenes. The plan with multiple decoy Harry’s was fantastic, TV-season-finale level stuff, and I couldn’t read fast enough. In the ensuing air chase scenes I knew someone had to die, and my heart was in my mouth thinking it was going to be Bill or Fleur. Thankfully Rowling didn’t have the guts to do something that bad (wimp), and the only human to get killed off was Moody who, let’s be honest, surely no one really gave a toss about? Hedwig’s sudden death got to me much more, the poor little hooter!
Side-note, did Voldemort showing up beside Harry flying on his own make anyone think of this?
Looking at that gif I realise yes they are on broomsticks too so maybe I just like imagining the villain of the Harry Potter series as Winnie, what of it?!
Everything to do with the Horcruxes was just perfect. The mystery with the locket was brilliant, and I’m genuinely wondering: was there actually a scene back in the Order of the Phoenix where Harry finds a locket whilst cleaning the house and throws it out? If there is – that’s incredible! If not, that’s a shame because it would have been seriously cool to see that much foreshadowing.
Destroying each Horcrux was satisfying as hell (I screamed an internal YAAAAS every time – see the gif), with the locket definitely getting a more prominent backstory than any of the others (but I won’t complain about that, as it gave me more Dolores Umbridge who I can’t help but enjoy). The bank heist was also a fantastic section, if not only for the fact that I finally understand the Escape from Gringott’s ride at Universal Studios Florida. Which EVERYONE should experience if they can because it’s awesome AF.
Despite loving the Horcrux stuff, I found myself missing characters like McGonagall and Neville throughout the book. I started to wonder if we were going to go back to Hogwarts at all, and was dying to turn the page and see a chapter devoted to their side of the story. Their eventual return was fantastic, but the fact it took until I only had a quarter of the book to go was a shame, as they didn’t get very long in the spotlight. Still, Neville wins my award for favourite Horcruxecution with his fabulous slicing & dicing of Nagini…
I mean, how far has he come since the nervous boy we met in The Philosopher’s Stone?! You go Neville Longbottom! I am so relieved he didn’t bite the dust in the final battle. Neville was so close to being the ‘Chosen One’ and it felt like he spent the series living in the shadow of the main characters, yet he’s humble and tries so hard to be more than the sum of his parts – seeing him finally play the role of ‘hero’ and killing off Nagini was crazy satisfying. That’s why I love Neville! He doesn’t have the strength he wants but that doesn’t stop him trying his best to do what he can.
I feel like now I need to mention my other favourite character… Luna Lovegood, I don’t know where you came from you adorable little weirdo, but you very quickly made a solid impression on me! She’s such a lovely character. Seeing her bedroom had a painting of all of her friends on the ceiling, ah, one of the sweetest moments in the series for me. A small quote in the final battle also gave me a major smile:
“’Come on, Luna!’ Dean called as he passed, holding out his free hand; she took it and followed him up the stairs.”
This is a girl who was introduced as a bit of a laughing stock of the school and someone who didn’t really ‘belong’. Now she has someone stopping to reach out for her and help her. That quote was a fantastic moment and I’m glad she ended up finding her place at Hogwarts. She’s different to Neville in that I think she’s quite happy not getting too involved in the drama, and I don’t think she ever realises how much she manages to lift people’s spirits in the darkest moments of the books.
To talk about the main trio – Ron grated on me a little in this book. He’s constantly been a character who my opinion shifts on, one chapter I’ll enjoy his humour and the next chapter I’ll be getting frustrated at how melodramatic he’s seemed throughout the series. When he ran off in a huff after wearing the Horcrux for too long, I just thought…. Sigh. I had a similar issue with Harry thinking Dumbledore didn’t have a plan in place when he died. This was the last book; we should be past this kind of drama by now. It ultimately felt like wasted time and I didn’t enjoy reading it – a lot of the stuff with Harry and co camping in fields wasn’t my cup of tea and felt dull considering we were in the final book. Ron redeemed himself eventually, and he’s still a source of comedy at times which you certainly need – I thought him and Hermione got shelved a little in the last quarter of the book which was disappointing. I know this was Harry’s story but they had played such a core role in the series and felt forgotten in the final fight.
Hermione was definitely the star in this series for me. I’ve said it before; I would rather have read the books from her perspective. She was clever, intuitive, and when she told Harry about the spell she’d worked on her parents to make them forget her I felt so sad for her. That momentous decision felt glossed over, though – she’s not the main character, so wasn’t allowed the page-time to fully delve into her actions. I would have liked a flashback chapter showing us the way she performed that spell and how she made the decision to make her own parents forget her existence for the greater good. That’s also why she’s my favourite of the three main characters, as she constantly demonstrates a willingness of self-sacrifice to help others. Throughout the entire series I’ve been left wanting more Hermione and never really had it delivered – but I can be happy enough with what I’ve got.
The Deathly Hallows was very Harry-centric, which it obviously had to be, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who will say he is actually one of my least-liked characters in the series. He’s short-tempered, hot-headed, and sometimes a bit of an arse. (Everything Neville’s not! NEVILLE FOR HERO!) I found I didn’t even really care if he died at the end, and was much more concerned about other characters and the overall thwarting of Voldemort than whether Harry was going to kick the bucket or not. I’d say in terms of the main trio I’m a Hermione > Ron > Harry kind of guy.
On the subject of another popular character… Severus Snape. Hmm. Can I be honest and say I was expecting so, so much more? Before starting the series I knew he was a really popular character. I don’t know what I wanted out of him exactly, but what I got all just felt very underwhelming. His death didn’t affect me because I didn’t find him very likable at all (Maybe he didn’t necessarily deserve to be eaten by a snake but, eh, what can you do?) And as for the ‘revelation’ that he had been in love with Harry’s Mum… It just didn’t have any impact on me. If he loved Lily that much, you’d think he’d have made more of a point to treat her son so much better throughout the books, even if he didn’t really like James Potter. I find him very confusing, frustrating and hard to figure out why he was so insistent on being stone-faced, when being more open about things would have made everything so much easier. I’m interested to hear just why fans love Snape so much, if anyone wants to comment and shed some light!
One character I did really like and am compelled to mention is GOD DAMN PROFESSOR LUPIN AND THE FACT HIM AND TONKS DIED AND WE DIDN’T EVEN SEE HOW AND I’M SO SAD FOR THEM AND OH MY GOSH BIGGEST SHOCK OF THE BOOK. Ahem. Talk about a pull-the-rug-from-your-feet moment, I had to reread the paragraph when it was revealed to make sure I understood what had happened right. And then I had to reread it again. It really reminds me of a certain main character death in the TV series Dollhouse that made me rewind the scene to make sure I’d seen what I’d thought I had because it happened so fast. I know some people hate quick deaths like that, but I enjoy the shock of it. That is how you make stakes seem especially important: killing off characters that actually matter – it makes me want Voldemort to be stopped even more. It also made it feel very ‘real’ because we didn’t get to see the details, which I thought was excellently done even if I would have liked more information. Well done Rowling, I thought, brave move. Now please don’t kill off anyone else I like. (Let’s also have a gentle head-nod for poor Colin Creevey, who at times seemed like a Neville Jr. R.I.P)
Another death that got to me was, of course, Dobby’s. It’s like killing off a bloody toddler, Rowling – how could you?! Malfoy Manor was, in its entirety, an excellent chapter and I couldn’t put the book down at that point (I’d potentially call it my favourite chapter of the book). Whereas Lupin’s death was done for shock value, Dobby’s was touching and sad and gave you time to take it in – and also gave us this lovely quote:
“And then with a little shudder the elf became quite still, and his eyes were nothing more than great, glassy orbs sprinkled with light from the stars they could not see.”
Everything about the Deathly Hallows themselves was awesome. You can’t go wrong with a good set of legendary evil-defeating objects like the Master Sword from Zelda –which would also have probably done a good job of stopping Voldy in his tracks. Can we also take a moment to say WHEN I STARTED THIS SERIES I ASKED IF GRINDELWALD WAS GOING TO BE IMPORTANT AND I WAS RIGHT!!!!
Sorry, there’s a lot of caps lock going on in this post, but I need to convey my enthusiasm. I am giddy that I mentioned him in my very first post and now here he is, in the last book. Congratulations, to me!
When Voldemort got his bony little fingers on the elder wand I’ll admit I wanted to cheer a little bit. It’s nice when villains aren’t constantly thwarted; they need to have some victories to make them a credible threat (see: Caleb in Buffy or Sylar in Heroes). I knew Harry would still blatantly win, Voldemort was never going to end the book doing a victory dance (I wish). To give him more power was a good move though, rather than just overloading Harry with all the weapons he needs plus some C4 for good measure. Rowling kept both sides fairly equally matched throughout the book, which was great.
Overall the final battle was great, and exactly what I’d spent the whole book waiting for. I was constantly on edge worrying who was going to die, and when it came to the Weasleys I’m in some ways relieved it was Fred who kicked it – potentially even disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m gutted the family has been broken apart – but if Ginny had died I’d have been devastated for Molly losing her only daughter, and if Arthur had died I’d have struggled to stop yelling “NO!” at the book. On the flip side Percy dying wouldn’t have had an impact at all as he was so unlikable. One of the Weasleys had to die, there’s so many of them it was against their odds for them all to survive, and I’m glad we never had to deal with the kids losing one of their parents. That being said, it would have been far more interesting to read about and made for a much more dramatic twist, but then I feel like Rowling couldn’t go too dark with these books considering how young some of the readership would be. I could say the same with Moody dying earlier – Bill/Fleur would have been so much more devastating and fascinating to see the consequences of, but I can see why it would have felt extremely dark for that to happen in a series like this.
Like I mentioned in previous posts, I really wanted Neville to have a showdown with Bellatrix to avenge his parents, and really didn’t expect Molly to be the one to kill that pesky Death Eater (She’ll be telling that story to neighbours for years). The whole section with Narcissa lying to Voldemort about Harry being dead was fantastic, too. Her and Lucius are brilliantly evil characters, ultimately always looking out for themselves and not caring what ‘side’ that falls upon. I can forgive Draco for being such an average character when his parents are so satisfying to read.
Some of the final battle did feel a little messy – everything seemed to move very fast and I feel I need to Google some things to make sure I understood them. Stuff about the intricacies of who a wand belongs to, why Voldemort wanted to use Harry’s blood for something, I don’t know – I either read too fast in all the excitement or missed some details. The whole chapter in a spiritual King’s Cross Station with Harry talking to Dumbledore and creepy infant Voldemort was amazing and cryptic and I loved every second of it.
And then, I was done. The flash-forward of what became of our main characters, even though it was as cheesy as a Babybel, I can forgive because it’s great to know how things eventually worked out. What a lovely set of books. I feel not having the nostalgia of reading them when they were released meant I didn’t quite feel that connection to the books some people have who read them over the span of many years as they were growing up – but that can’t be helped.
Voldemort was incredible in this book. He quickly became a force to be reckoned with in the series and was a legitimately scary villain. Neville and Luna were two of the loveliest characters to read about, Hermione should have been the hero, and suddenly I feel like I need to do a whole other post detailing how I feel about the characters now I’ve finished this series. In a nutshell though, my favourite characters were Neville, Hermione, Luna, Voldemort and Dumbledore. I never warmed up to Snape, Hagrid or Draco. The Weasleys definitely managed to change my opnion on them the most throughout the series. Looking back now I’ve finished, I’d rate the books as Order of the Phoenix > The Goblet of Fire > The Deathly Hallows > Prisoner of Azkaban > The Chamber of Secrets > The Half-Blood Prince > The Philosopher’s Stone. That’ll probably change by tomorrow, but here it is, in writing, now!
The most important thing is I can now walk into the Harry Potter shop at King’s Cross Station like…
My questions for you are…
- What did you think to the final book? (Awesome!)
- How did your opinion change on characters like Ron, Snape, and Voldemort as the series progressed?
- What would you change about the series if you could? (Make Harry more likeable)
And now I’m left to think… What on Earth am I going to read next? Suggestions, anyone?