Saturday, September 22, 2007

Harry Potter 7 Review

Hey y'all. I am back from vacation. I have been MIA for three weeks, and it's been wonderful. I was actually in Kelowna for one of those three weeks, but mostly I've just been relaxing, doing some reading. And I finally finished re-reading Harry Potter 7. I just didn't get around to it until now, cuz I was super-busy at work, and I also had to wait for the rest of my family to read it before I got it back (all of them are fans, but none of them were willing to buy their own copy - cheapskates.) But I finally did, and although it's been 2 months since it came out, I suddenly feel like talking about it. So for those of you who haven't read it yet, please stop reading right now, I beg of you. Don't ruin it for yourselves. And for those of you who would actually like to read my thoughts, please click and drag. I just wanted to make sure that I didn't give anyone any accidental spoilers.

So, I really, really, really loved the final book. It was awesome. As I said, I just finished re-reading it, and I have to admit, I cried. I cried really hard. I cried even harder than I did the first time I read it, and I think it's because I wasn't racing ahead to find out what happens in the end, so this time I could savour the tragedy of it all.

So, how about that Snape guy? As I've said before, I love Severus Snape, and I was quite pleased to see that every one of my predictions about him turned out to be true. I find the whole Snape/Lily story deliciously romantic and unbearably tragic. So Snape really was on the side of good... but was he actually a good person? J.K. Rowling has said herself that she doesn't really consider Snape a hero. Without Lily, I think it's fairly safe to say that Snape would have grown up an unrepentent Death Eater. And even with her influence, that is still the path he chose while at Hogwarts. It was only when faced with Lily's death that Snape was able to make the choice that would have won him her love if only he could have made it when he was younger. And it was all for Lily. Snape never cared for Harry. In Harry he only saw his old rival, James. This is illustrated in this scene (which by the way, I love) when Snape gets upset after Dumbledore tells him that Harry must die:
"But this is touching, Severus," said Dumbledore seriously. "Have you grown to care for the boy, after all?"
"For him?" shouted Snape. "Expecto patronum!"
From the tip of his wand burst the silver doe: she landed on the office floor, bounded once across the office and soared out of the window. Dumbledore watched her fly away, and as her silvery glow faded he turned back to Snape, and his eyes were full of tears.
"After all this time?"
"Always," said Snape.
I love those last two lines. After all this time? Always. Can't you just see an anguished Alan Rickman growling out that last word? They'd better put that part in the movie. But, back to my point, Snape never cared one bit for Harry. And that brings me to another one of my favourite scenes. While Snape lies dying and Harry comes face to face with him for the first time since that night on the tower:
Harry took off the Invisibility Cloak and looked down upon the man he hated, whose widening black eyes found Harry as he tried to speak. Harry bent over him; and Snape seized the front of his robes and pulled him close.
"" he whispered.
The green eyes found the black but after a second something in the depths of the dark pair seemed to vanish, leaving them fixed, black and empty. The hand holding Harry thudded to the floor, and Snape moved no more.
I cried and cried the first time I read that scene, because Harry has his mother's eyes, and you know that when Snape tells Harry to look at him, it's not for Snape to see Harry, but for Snape to see Lily's eyes one last time. It's really romantic, and really tragic, and also vaguely creepy all at once.

But even though Snape never did care for Harry, and he never would have changed sides if it hadn't been for Lily's death, I actually do think that, in the end, Snape was a better person. At one point in one of Snape's memories when he's talking to Dumbledore, Dumbledore asks him, "How many men and women have you watched die?" and Snape replies, "Lately, only those whom I could not save". This shows that Snape really has changed. He cares about people dying. And Dumbledore himself has one of the best quotes in the books regarding Snape: "You are a braver man by far than Igor Karkaroff. You know, I sometimes think we Sort too soon..." I love, love that quote. Snape couldn't make the right choice when he was a boy at Hogwarts. But as a man, Snape turned out to be just as brave and good as anyone in Gryffindor. And I also loved the fact that Harry named one of his kids after him: "Albus were named for two headmasters of Hogwarts. One of them was a Slytherin and he was probably the bravest man I ever knew".

So besides Snape, there were of course loads of other awesome parts in the book. I loved the fact that Ron came back and ending up saving Harry and destroying the first horcrux. I mean, really, Ron's been rather useless up until now. He hasn't got the brains and skill of Hermione or Harry's nerve. He was always just kind of there. Of course I know he was a good friend to Harry (most of the time) and supportive, and he helped out here and there. But I'm really glad he kind of got to shine in this book a bit. And it also kind of finally laid to rest all those underlying feelings of inferiority he had. The Horcrux basically showed Ron his worst fear: that he really was nothing in comparison to Harry and that Hermione would always love Harry better. And Ron had to get past that in order to destroy it. My favourite quote from the scene:
"You've sort of made up for it tonight," said Harry. "Getting the sword. Finishing off the Horcrux. Saving my life."
"That makes me sound a lot cooler than I was," Ron mumbled.
"Stuff like that always sounds cooler than it really was," said Harry. "I've been trying to tell you that for years."
I think that quote should be in the movie too.

And speaking of Horcruxes, I also liked the fact that a different person destroyed each horcrux: Harry destroyed the diary, Dumbledore destroyed Gaunt's ring, Ron destroyed the locket, Hermione destroyed the cup, it was technically Crabbe who destroyed Ravenclaw's diadem since he cast the Fiendfyre, and Neville destroyed the snake. I think it kind of said something about it not being up to one person. One person on his or her own maybe wouldn't have succeeded, but everyone did their own part (wittingly or not).

And that reminds me of another part of the book, which was not so good, but was admittedly necessary. The deaths. The many, many deaths that took place throughout the book. So whose death was most tragic? Dobby? Fred? Tonks? Lupin? Do you know whose death shocked me the most? Hedwig's. I mean, I know she was just an owl, but it was just that I had never even considered the fact that Hedwig might die. She was Harry's owl, his pet, and I just assumed she was always going to be there. When she died so suddenly like that in the beginning, I seriously felt like Rowling had violated some sort of trust. And I remember thinking, "If Hedwig can die, then anyone's fair game." And after that, the death's just didn't affect me as much. Maybe it was just because there were so many, and the fact that I was expecting people to die, but their deaths just didn't affect me as profoundly. I think Sirius's death and Dumbledore's death affected me more because they were one, single, horrible death at the end of the book and it was really shocking. But by the end of the Deathly Hallows, I think I was just sort of numb. I did not predict Dobby's death, or Fred Weasley's death. But I knew, as soon as Lupin made Harry his son's godfather, I knew that Tonks and Lupin were doomed. And Tonks was one of my favourite characters, so I thought that was sad.

And then there was, of course, Harry's death. Oh man, did I cry and cry all through that. Especially that last walk through the woods. There is one thing that I was thinking about though. When Harry uses the Resurrection Stone, he brings back his mother, his father, Sirius and Lupin. But he doesn't bring back Dumbledore. The whole book he's been wishing to talk to Dumbledore, but then when he has the chance to bring him back, he doesn't. At first I thought that was weird, but then I remembered that Harry was, at that point, feeling terribly betrayed by Dumbledore. He felt that Dumbledore never really cared about him, but was just using him. So I guess that's why Harry didn't want to talk to him. And what about that crazy scene in King's Cross? With the crying baby? Was that the piece of Voldemort's soul that was attached to Harry? Anyway, it was a little weird.

But the ending was really good I thought. It was great that Neville was the one who killed the final horcrux. I always thought that he should have a big role to play since he was the other boy the prophecy could have indicated. But I was disappointed that he didn't get to do in Bellatrix and avenge his parents. And how about that? Mrs. Weasley? "NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!" I actually gasped out loud when I read that line. In a way it's kind of cool, because she finally got to show what she was made of, that underneath the dumpy housewife exterior she's a really talented witch. And it also showed how protective she was of her children. But I was just really surprised.

And did anyone else totally not get the whole Elder wand bit? At least one other person I talked to didn't understand that part. Harry was going on about how Draco Malfoy was the real master of the Elder wand, and I was like, WTF? However, my sister explained it to me after she'd read the book, so I am no longer confused. Basically, although Snape was the one who killed Dumbledore, Draco was the one who disarmed him first. So Dumbledore's wand (the Elder wand), changed its allegiance to Draco that night, even though Draco never even so much as touched it after he had disarmed Dumbledore. Then in the escape from Malfoy mansion, Harry wrestles Draco's own wand out of his hands. So Draco's wand changed its allegiance to Harry. And in the last fight, the Elder wand somehow knew that Harry had disarmed Draco and changed its allegiance to Harry. And I do like the fact that Harry used Expelliarmus in the duel, and that it was Voldemort's own deflected killing curse that did the job in the end. I knew it had to be like that.

Another thing I just wanted to touch on was the whole theme of death throughout the series. Specifically, people's attitudes towards death. Voldemort's main goal (besides taking over the world) was to avoid death at all costs. His very name, Vol-de-mort, means "flight from death" in French. Dumbledore also sought to conquer death, not through horcruxes, but rather through the Hallows. Dumbledore himself wonders if he was any better than Voldemort by seeking out the Hallows. But I think he was better than Voldemort because he sought the hallows not to extend his own life, but rather to bring back those that he loved. And I love the fact that what Dumbledore actually saw in the Mirror of Erised way back in book one, was actually the same thing that Harry saw: His family. Dumbledore wanted more than anything to have his mother and sister back again. In the end though, it was actually the person who did not seek to avoid death, but actually sought death out, who was able to unite the three hallows. Because Harry was willing to die, he was the only one who could safely possess the hallows. And that brings me to another interesting point: Some people have speculated that Harry might be somehow related to Voldemort. And if you think about it, they're right, although it's a very distant connection. Harry is obviously related to the Peverell brothers, as he has inherited the cloak of the third brother. But the Resurrection Stone belonged to the Gaunts. So, if the ring was handed down through the family as the cloak was, then Voldemort was related to Harry, not through Slytherin, but through the Peverells.

Finally, I thought I would point out a small "oops" that I caught in the book. Did anyone else catch this? When Ron, Hermione and Harry leave the wedding, they stop in a coffee shop and then end up in a duel with Death Eaters. They decide they need to wipe their memories. "I've never done a Memory Charm" says Ron. "Nor have I," says Hermione, "but I know the theory" (139). But that can't be true because Hermione has already told them that she put a memory charm on her parents: "I've also modified my parents' memories...Assuming I survive our hunt for the Horcruxes, I'll find Mum and Dad and lift the enchantment. If I don't - well, I think I've cast a good enough charm to keep them safe and happy" (84). Aaaah well. Even someone as talented as J.K. Rowling can't be perfect all of the time.


librarychik said...

LOL, I actually thought part of your blog was missing!

Violette said...

Well I hope you didn't read it! You haven't read the books yet!

librarychik said...

No, I didn't read it, and I really should get my butt in gear and read the rest of the books. I work in a library I should be able to get my hands on them.