My rating of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
: 9.2 / 10
Before I begin, I promise that there won’t be too many spoilers – which was not what I had thought earlier. When I had started reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I really wanted to finish it as quickly as possible, and then yell it out on my blahg. No more. Not after finishing the whole thing. It’s far too good for that…and I really would NOT like to ruin anyone’s fun now. However, in case you’re stuck with not having the book yet and desperately want to know the story, then you can head over to the Wikipedia entry on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which has a very concise synopsis of the book.
Over the years, I’ve been pretty reluctant to admit that I’m a Potter fan, in fact I still think I’m nowhere as fanatical as other people I’ve met. I do concede however, now that the series has ended (has it?) that Harry Potter is set to go down in book lore, and join the likes of Lord of the Rings for years to come. Partly because it’s not published in the tiny font that HarperCollins (the LOTR) publishers use, and because it’s definitely more fast-paced than LOTR (take my word for it, LOTR‘s a good cure for insomnia at some of its stretches).
The Harry Potter series started off with childishness – a world of magic, games like Quidditch et al. I really didn’t like the first three books of the Potter series, for they were far too much in the world of make-believe. Things started changing from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, when things started getting darker, leading to the ultimate showdown which we see in the last book. Gone in this book are the inane discussions over how to save the Quaffle from getting through. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is a very gritty tale, and it’s far more…real. Not in the sense that no magic is being used, but in the sense that we’re talking about an actual world where Harry Potter and his friends face real hardships, tough challenges – things like how it is to lose a close friend or relative, things like how it is to stay away from all contact with your family. The story has Harry setting off on the mission Dumbledore gave him in the last book with Ron and Hermione. It’s far more philosophical, and more about the human nature. It’s no more about saving oneself from the Dungbomb Peeves might be throwing – it’s about surviving in the harsh wilderness, on the run and in the search of Horcruxes. And I won’t tell anything beyond this.
J K Rowling never really was strong at characters, or at defining places. Her writing in earlier books revolved too much around tennis-match like parries of dialogues between the characters. It’s what’s conversational, and I’m sure this tone helped Rowling catch the imagination of young minds when the initial Potter books were released. Here was a book which didn’t go into long lectures, here was a book put you in the scene of action, and presented a simple way for young readers to imagine things. But we have to admit that it’s a tool which is crude. I must say that the Harry Potter movies have played a big role in defining our view of the characters, who’re feeble in the book anyway. Unlike J R R Tolkien, say, who weaved his characters, paid attention to that more. What sets Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows apart is that yes, the mind-numbing dialogues are there (albeit in a lesser frequency), but it’s more about the story. It’s like an amazingly big jigsaw puzzle, say as large as room – of which you’ll have no clear perception until you struggle to put everything into place and view from a high vantage point, when the sheer beauty of the thing will stun you.
That’s exactly the case with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Rowling may be weak with here characters, but she’s a master at the plot. It is now that you’ll fully comprehend, after reading this book, how magically all the pieces fit and fall into place in this huge contorted jigsaw. And we must remember that all this was done by her over many years. It is now that things which happened in earlier books, small scraps of information that you thought worthless, will come forth as major pointers to the plot in this story. The plot will hold you spellbound, because it twists and turns at so many places. You’ll gain insights into characters, and get into the history of so many people. Facts about Snape and Dumbledore, about their past and the how and why of what happened during many events will come forth, but not at one go. You, as a reader, will experience it through Harry, painstakingly how layer after layer of the secrets get unravelled – of the doubts inside him that creep and the inner struggle. I’ve always felt that Snape was a much misunderstood and wrongly hated character, this book proves how much of a martyr he was – the lengths he went to for the people he loved and the risks he took. You also get to know a dark side of Dumbledore, and yet pity him when you get to know more at the end. And in the end, the Boy Who Lived lives again (not a spoiler, everyone knows by now). The final showdown – the psychological trauma that Harry goes through and the ultimate triumph over the Dark Lord are indeed well written. Chapters from the Battle of Hogwarts surely are a classic as far as the Harry Potter series is concerned.
It seems hard to believe that it’s all over (er, book-wise). Maybe J K Rowling will be greedy enough to come back with more books in the series, but it still won’t have the same charm to it. In this book, you’ll feel with the characters, their anguish and the hope – the raw emotions that well out from each person – not because of the good characters but because of the amazing plot. You’ll feel like getting sucked into a vortex of emotions as you hurtle towards the end, and then…it’ll all be over and you’ll be left to contemplate on the more philosophical aspects – say, about love, bravery, courage – human emotions so commonplace.
I once came upon a review of Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone while cleaning my bookshelf a year ago, when packing for shifting to RKP. I came across some old issues of HT School Times, a supplement Hindustan Times used to supply long ago, that were to be thrown away. I’d been flipping through those and stumbled across the review. Harry Potter was nothing of a phenomenon then. The review, I think, came only in the supplement, that too in the user-submitted articles section. Single column, not more than 250 words. It was from a kid who’d obviously been among the first converts, and he’d been critical of some parts, and yet said it might go on to be a ‘good series’ some day. Little did the world know back then what a major thing Harry Potter would snowball into. It must be accepted that this book really brought reading as a pastime back to children, and even adults.
I really think I need to read the whole series from staring, it’s something I’d advise others to do too, because only then will you be able to appreciate J K Rowling’s genius in being able to string together, and chart out plot years in advance so that the all fit marvellously together into the final tome called Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
PS – This post also marks the start of a new section on my blahg for books…