Yesterday I blasted through Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to finally put an end to the constant shushing I’ve had to do to people who’ve already finished it. (Ed has already written on the phenomenon of HP speed-reading, and I posted my thoughts over there.)
I read the first three Harry Potter books back in 2000 while spending a summer in England. I had avoided them until then mostly out of laziness and a general antipathy toward the mega-popular that I had at the time. When I finally read them, my verdict was that they were good, but not quite as good as Roald Dahl. I enjoyed the fourth book, Goblet of Fire, immensely, but it took me almost a year to get through the depressing Order of the Phoenix. Half-Blood Prince I remember only for its climax.
And where does that leave Deathly Hallows? I’ve decided to keep this a relatively spoiler-free review (we’ll confine the spoilers discussion to the comments below). Overall, I found Deathly Hallows satisfying. Not immensely satisfying; too many of my predictions came true, there was a tad too much of use of di ex machina, and too few major twists.
Actually, that’s as far as I’m going to review it, I think. I could start nitpicking, but if people really want to get into that they can do it in the comments. I think Stephen King’s essay in Entertainment Weekly pretty much sums up my thoughts on the novel.
One thing I would like to mention is that, back in 2000, pompous windbag Harold Bloom issued an ill-favored screed against the Harry Potter books. Three years later, in a bizarre tangent when he was supposed to be attacking Stephen King, Bloom actually suggested it would be better for children not to read at all than to read Harry Potter.
While working on my Masters a few years ago, I wrote an essay defending Harry Potter (and J.R.R. Tolkien) from Bloom and his spiritual predecessor, Edmund Wilson. I wouldn’t dare punish you by reprinting the essay in toto here, but if you’re interested in reading me argue why it’s okay to read popular fiction, you can download the PDF.
And remember: spoilers in the comments!