September 5, 2007

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows

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With the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on July 21st, J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series finally came to a close. Spanning a time period of ten years (1997-2007), the books had gained a loyal following and the hype surrounding the last novel was huge. Everyone was eager to know who would live and who would die, the true allegiance of Severus Snape, and the ultimate fate of evildoer Lord Voldemort.
As a devoted Hogwarts enthusiast myself, I had my copy of The Deathly Hallows pre-ordered nearly six months before its debut. I reread all six previous installments prior to the release on the 21st, prepping myself for the action packed but emotionally fulfilling plotline I was sure was to follow. About halfway into the book, however, I found myself somewhat disappointed. I desperately wondered when the predictions I had made years before would play out and concurrently dreaded the last few lines that would cement the futures of my beloved characters for good. Would Harry be doomed to wander aimlessly through Rowling’s world, daring but frustratingly uncertain of his aims: whether to destroy horcruxes, find hallows, or to finally release hundreds of pages worth of mounting sexual tension? Would Hedwig finally stop fussing around in her cage and just die already?
While I was preoccupied with the possibly unsatisfying fates of my Hogwart friends, I was also frustrated by the lack of communication between characters as well as the portrayal of Harry’s feelings and emotions. Severus Snape, a prominent character in the series as well as a major player in the preceding book, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, was absent throughout the majority of The Deathly Hallows, only returning at the end of the novel to provide a gruesome death scene and a sentimental (but overly predictable) explanation for his harsh treatment of Harry throughout the years. While the reader was made to feel guilty for his or her own mistaken mistrust of Snape’s nature, I found myself unnervingly detached from the scene. Snape and Harry had not interacted for some five hundred pages and the tension that may have once stood between them (enough to build a riveting scene upon) had dulled and faded. Their once intense rivalry was not lost in translation but rather in excessive word propagation. Further detracting from this “climatic” scene was Harry’s utter lack of any emotional response, which, while perhaps sufficing as a logical reaction in his earlier pre-pubescent years, would lead the ignorant reader to believe that all seventeen year old boys have “the emotional range of a teaspoon.”
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was the first book in the Harry Potter series that I did not completely read through in one sitting. While I was always eager to finish the previous novels, I struggled to drag myself through The Deathly Hallows, rightly fearing that the conclusion would sacrifice its beloved character relationships and interactions for a plot-driven, but depthless, narrative.