Saturday, July 21, 2007

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

This is a review of Harry Potter, Book 7 it contains spoilers.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
J. K. Rowling
Scholastic Books

Book 6 essentially set the plot for this last book. Harry, Ron and Hermione must find the Horcruxes created by Lord Voldemort and destroy them so he can be vulnerable to distruction. They must battle he and his Death Eaters and save the Wizarding world. Yeah.

Problem is, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was targeted for Juvenile readers. That means up to 13 years of age in most cases. Though the stories have been getting darker and more adult, they really haven't crossed the line of appropriate, just the line of comprehension and vocabulary. Until now.

This last book in the HP saga is not for the age group to which Harry Potter has traditionally been marketed. In fact, parents might want to exercise caution in giving the book to their kids under 13. There are elements of this final battle that are not appropriate for children. The story packs a good deal of sexual innuendo from Bellatrix and the Dark Lord, Harry and Ginny and most disturbing at least two allusion to rape or sexual assault: One of Dumbledore's young sister and a very sexually charged discussion between Death Eaters about what to do with Hermione when she's captured.

Add to this the fact that the violence goes far beyond that in the past. This is not typical fantasy violence with faceless hoards engaged in war. There are disturbing scenes of torture and an astonishing death toll. War means death, and yes we get that, but the deaths of loved secondary characters (numerous ones) in which young readers are invested were pointless and did nothing to advance the general plot.

And the killings were essentially cruel including the murder of two characters who had just gotten married and had a small infant son, now orphaned to Rowling's needless body count. Even the expected deaths (come on we all know a certain former Hogwart's Professor was flapping about on borrowed time) were not noble or redemptive, but senseless.

The action scenes were well done and paced and several loose ends were tied up, but many more were glossed over in an unsatisfying manner. Te epilogue was saccharine sickening and worthy of a 14 year-old writing a really bad, cliched fanfiction.

Overall, I have to say I nearly put the book down at one point, permanently. The final chapters ruined the magic and redemptive spirit of the first books. It feels very much like Rowling closed this saga by sucking the magic out of the world.

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