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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

29 July 2007
Posted in: Books | 22 Comments

A journalist recently asked me what the Potter phenomenon means to Indian authors writing for children, whether it helps to decide how or what to write. The thing is, Harry Potter had long ago degenerated into a massive marketing drama that overshadowed the books’ merits, making it very difficult to judge the books in an unbiased manner.

Even the most dedicated admirers of Rowling—and I am certainly of the club that pegs her as a brilliant narrator—will admit that the series went downhill since Prisoner of Azkaban.

My opinion of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows follows. I have chosen to keep the review in the inside pages as there are spoilers and plot discussions. So click in at your own risk and don’t blame me if you get to know anything you’d rather not have!

BOOK REVIEW:: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Other reviews you might want to check out (but only after you’ve read and commented on mine!) are: Marie’s and Proteeti’s.

Please feel free to leave your opinions through the commenting system!

~PD

22 Responses

  1. Marie says:

    Oh Jan, don’t hold back, tell us what you really think! πŸ˜‰

  2. Payal says:

    Um… did you actually read the real review? It’s here!! 😳 Well, apparently I don’t get sarcasm when I’m talking myself too seriously! πŸ˜‰

  3. Kat says:

    You made me want to finish my review!

    “At worst one could call Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 600-odd pages of beautifully written tripe; at best the rousing culmination of a saga that raised an entire generation of teenagers.” This is my favorite bit among the gems that made me laugh in this review. πŸ˜› I agree with you mainly, only I suppose I feel more forgiving toward JK for her epilogue! *ducks any tomatoes thrown her way* πŸ˜‰

  4. Marie says:

    Oh Jan it’s called sarcasm! *shakes head*

  5. Payal says:

    See above! πŸ˜›

  6. Proteeti says:

    Loved your review. Far less rambling than mine, I thought! But yes, despite liking the book a great deal, I agree with nearly everything you said – apart from Dumbledore being the most painful of the lot, that is! πŸ˜€ And I thought DD’s gifts to our heroes and heroine were explained – he always knew Ron, big wuss that he is, would chicken out and so gave him the Deluminator in the hope that he’d have a change of heart; Hermione got the book so she could make the connection about the Hallows; and Harry got the second Hallow in the Snitch so Rowling could write a tear-jerker chapter towards the end.

    But yes, WHAT did Lily see in James? I’d have gone for Severus, if I’d been her.

  7. Swapna says:

    Excellent review (dare I say this was more exciting reading than the book? *straight face*)

    As you know, I am not a very deep reader, but I did follow HP faithfully (including getting up in the mornings to be among the first to get the book!). On finishing DH, I was not sure what to make of it all.

    Granted, as you say, HP is a marvellous creation, but I just felt like we were taken up a nice garden path only to be brought down with a crash. (Oh, excellent interpretation of the Doctor’s prediction, btw!). It’s as if JK lost interest in putting the same effort that she did in the first 3 – 4 books. It’s either that, or maybe she is still stuck in children’s writing and hence needs to be sugar-and-spice-and-all-things-nice!

    (That’s a thought, we should check out whether the different age groups view DH and the whole series differently!)

    And now I ramble, so I shall rumble off pretending to earn me salary!

  8. Payal says:

    I’m glad the review’s liked in general—I thought I’d been too harsh at times! πŸ˜›

    @Proteeti: Yes, I’d have so gone for Snape too! Oh, and even though Dumbly annoyed me, his story is interesting enough. I wonder if JK thought of a separate book about him?

    @Swapna: Ha ha “up a nice garden path only to be brought down with a crash”. I like that! Wonder if we’d have felt differently about the book if the epilogue hadn’t been there?! (Btw, I corrected “Go JK”! It’s not so apt any more, but WTH!)

  9. Vineeta says:

    Great review even though I enjoyed the book, minus the epilogue and the lingering doubts.
    I must say I agree with Proteeti re Dumbledore. And with both of you re Lily’s choice of men!!

  10. Payal says:

    Hi Vineeta, Nice to see you here! Yes, Lily’s choice of men has us all totally flummoxed! πŸ˜†

  11. Anita Roy says:

    Hey Payal – nice review. Have to confess that I loved the book, romped through it, and found myself constantly aghast and agog that one brain could contain so much PLOT. Little asides in book 1 are suddenly full-blown EVERYTHING HANGS ON THIS type elements in book 7. Over. And Over. Again. Crikey. At the end of the day, it would more – it IS – more that possible to pick holes in the whole (as it were), but given the scope of the thing, that almost feels like nit-picking/sour grapes. Credit where credit’s due, and I couldn’t put it better than The Observer lit ed, Robert McCrum’s summation:

    “From the point of view of the English canon, it’s hardly great literature. But if Rowling is neither CS Lewis nor Tolkien, nor Philip Pullman, hers has been, none the less, an extraordinary performance. At the end of a decade of accumulating Pottermania, you have to acknowledge, first, the ambition to undertake such a marathon, then the dedication to execute it, and finally the ability to bring it off.
    To write one successful children’s book requires uncommon gifts, to write two suggests a touch of magic, but to complete no fewer than seven bestsellers and apparently retain your sanity, and your all-round niceness, is a marvellous achievement. The completion of this world-shaking heptalogy is something close to a triumph.”

  12. Kat says:

    πŸ˜› Though I very much enjoyed the Harry Potter series I believe I would have to respectfully disagree with Robert McCrum .

    Firstly, the author is being given credit simply for writing the series and completing it in seven books? The Dragonlance series is comprised of over 190 books, and though they are written by various authors those same authors have written multiple books in a sort of mini-series within the main series many times. Just going by that we would have to assume that the books are truly great, however many readers of the fantasy genre have complained about the quality of some of those books.

    It doesn’t seem logical to praise J.K. simply because she has gotten a fantasy series published.

    Also, though Rowling has created an engaging world, I can not say that I find the scope greater than the standard fantasy series. With Madeleine L’Engle’s, A Wrinkle in Time series we travel from the smallest particles of nature even within ourselves to the furthest reaches of the universe, and yet she manages to write quite well without including gaping plot holes.

    Let’s just say that Rowling was there at the right time when there was a real need for good children’s literature. It isn’t that she is a poor writer in the least, but that perhaps her work wouldn’t be as celebrated as it is if had she come at a different time, or if there were more talented writers around at the time!

    I’ll still be reading her series over from the beginning though, because I don’t quite want the series she created to be over with yet. πŸ˜›

  13. Payal says:

    @Anita: I knew you’d love the book!! You liked Half Blood Prince too, didn’t you? And yes, I admit to nit-picking. Though… ouch… I was hoping no one would use the term “sour grapes”! 😳 Anyway, a lot of the stuff I wanted to say seems to have been covered by Kat who got here first, so I won’t repeat! Though I have to say, to credit JK for merely having the ambition to undertake the marathon and bring it off, and “retaining her sanity” for it, would be quite unfair to authors who have persevered on far more, well, ambitious projects! Stephen King springs to mind (Dark Tower series); Robert Jordan (who, incidentally, is suffering from amyloidosis, and his median life expectancy currently is four years); George RR Martin (disturbing, yet stunning); Steven Erikson (still looking for book 1!); Terry Pratchett (no intro necessary)… And if one sticks to children’s fantasy, Tamora Pierce may not be a household name, but she has created two totally unrelated fantasy worlds with different varieties of magic. Her 14 Tortall books link the lives of four amazing women — Alanna, Daine, Keladry, and Alanna’s daughter Aliane… *stops for breath…*

    Er, so, where was I? Yes, while I enjoyed reading DH in general, I can’t help comparing it to the rest of the great fantasy I’ve read. And though JK (I have to stop calling her JK and stop watching Doctor Who!!) is a wonderful storyteller, why do our eyes glaze over and we lose perspective when faced with the Harry Potter marketing blitz?! The plot was never groundbreaking, the characters stereotyped, the scope limited (which I suppose was mainly to simplify it for a young audience). Yet she told a fantastic story, and it changed the children’s fiction scene. I agree about credit where credit’s due, but also not to go overboard with it. Because the Potter books stood up and banged a lot of pots and pans together shouldn’t be the basis on which we judge them!

    I based my conclusion about Deathly Hallows on one simple question: This can’t be the best the author of Prisoner of Azkaban can do, can it?

    (Off topic: Funny, but Rick Riordan seems to be the exact opposite of Rowling—he has a great story, but isn’t half the storyteller!)

    [Edited]

  14. Swapna says:

    Re all this Lily and James stuff, I am beginning to come round to the idea that all would have been fine if James’s quartet was not hyped up as a holier than thou.
    Maybe they were just ordinary people, and essentially good (you know Auror-level good) but mischievous people. Doesn’t demean Harry in any way… great kids need not have great parentage always!
    Maybe we were led to believe that they were great because we only saw them through Harry and Dumbledore’s eyes.
    (Oh and by the way, re James, just saw Goblet of Fire yesterday, and, did you see James? He’s an old balding fellow there! Whereas I think the book sort of indicates he still had the messy hair when he died!)

  15. Payal says:

    Well, we just saw Order of the Phoenix, and are we agreed that they fixed the James problem in it? (Off topic, but I liked the movie! Dare I say better than the book?!)

    Re James/Lily, yeah, I think you’re right. Though I get slightly disturbed that the focus is so much on James and not on Lily.

  16. Swapna says:

    Yeah the James problem is perhaps a non-problem now. I still think though that he could have been younger / more dynamic. (ooh, just checked Wiki, and the role is played by a 49 year old!)

    Re James-and-not-Lily, maybe JK’s just old school! (And WHY would you wanna stop seeing the Doctor!!!! *Aghast*)

    Re Phoenix movie, yes, dare away, it is better than the book! What I didn’t like though, the execution of 12 Grimmauld Place, that they didn’t show Sirius’ mom, that they glossed over the Longbottom connection with the prophecy!

  17. Payal says:

    Actually, I still don’t understand why the Prophecy was so important. I’m to lazy to read the book again, so if anyone can elaborate… :mrgreen:

  18. alpana says:

    I also thought the deathly hallows was what saved harry from death. the blood thing bit only confuses me.
    on an aside–do you think among adults it is only women who read HP?

  19. Payal says:

    Ooh, interesting. I certainly know more women who read it. But I think in general women read more than men, at least those I know.

    Oh, and Alpana, you really need to update some day!

  20. Anamika says:

    What a super review. I must admit that I lapped up the book as fast as possible and was very pleased with it, as my comments on Proteeti’s review show. But the passing of time since that first, euphoric reading has brought more objective distance and I tend to agree with your review. (Damn, I’m so easily persuaded either way!) The surreal bit with Dumbledore and the epilogue were a bit too bad-Hollywood filmy for me!

    And as for adult male readers of HP, I know at least two men who made considerable schedule changes to read the book on the first day!!

    And I just realised you test our maths before we can post a comment! Ouch. The sum of 2 and 6. Let’s see…

  21. Payal says:

    @Anamika: Sorry about that maths thing — other people complain too, but I was sick of filtering out offers of drugs and “enhancements”! If it makes you feel any better, even I as blog admin have to fill it out!

    As for the book, well, yes, some time has passed and I feel less mad at JK now πŸ˜‰

  22. Swapna says:

    Ah finally someone else brought up ‘that math’s thing’! but you never apologized to me!!! *Sniffs*

    (now let me see… 3 + 8… erm…)

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