Wherein we read my review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling.
Before we proceed: Spoilers. More than a few, because I have to discuss a few things, particularly the ways in which Rowlng somewhat pissed me off with this seventh novel.
I hate deliberate spoilers. I’ve written a few books myself and know what it’s like to try to carefully craft a narrative, to keep the reader engaged and turning the pages, to keep things moving but not so fast no one can keep up, not so slow anyone wants to skip to the end.
This, then, is your last warning. If you haven’t read the seventh Harry Potter yet but intend to, and don’t want the story ruined, don’t read further.
We’ll start with the most irritating deaths.
1. Hedwig, Dobby, Fred Weasley and Harry
First chapter, Harry’s owl gets smoked like a doob at a Beenie Man concert. Hedwig! A friendly, intelligent bird! Who spends most of her time just before her death mooning in her cage sadly. Blazed in a few sentences, actually unworthy of a graf. A familiar? Shit. One wonders how his human friends will fare in light of how briefly Harry seems to mourn his pet, friend and companion of seven years.
Then, somewhere in the middle of the book, Dobby does three incredibly annoying things.
1. He shows up. Nuff said.
2. He gets killed. For no reason, except for #3.
3. He becomes a major focus of mourning for Harry.
Harry! Yes! Not Hermione, who seemed to have a moistie for elves. (And pity Ron; most cuckolded lovers can console themselves with the thought that they were dumped for more muscular, long-penised men. Think about what that means for a minute.)
Rowling writes a lovely coda to Dobby’s life; but rather than let it close the chapter and his presence in the narrative, we’re forced to spend half of the next goddamned chapter dealing with Harry digging a fucking grave for Dobby, burying Dobby, etching a by-Christ headstone for Dobby, and, well, fuck Dobby.
When my eighteen-year-old cat Sputnik died a few months ago, I dug his grave by hand, buried him and am still mourning. I loved that sweet old cat. The worst part for me, apart from the fact that I wasn’t actually there to pet him in his final moments as he died like I was for Mira, was when I placed his stiffening, cooling little body in the cone-shaped hole and felt his back legs press against the wall of soil; I feared that his delicate, dead legs would break; and as I thought of the times he had cuddled under the sheets with me, curling next to my chest and saying murr at me, I felt a little piece of myself, my self, tear open and bleed.
But you know Sputnik was with me, thick and thin, for two fucking decades. Dobby was … shit, he was Jar-Jar. A too-cute shitty little plot contrivance that was there when convenient, idiotic for the sake of strained comedy, and in general something that should never have been introduced to begin with. He and his ilk took up half of book 4, for fucksake.
And then, near the end of the book, Fred Weasley gets creamed by the magical equivalent of a mortar, everyone pulls up their socks, and on with the narrative.
It was like the fucking owl all over again.
Whoops, dead thing, too bad, move on.
Tonks and Lupin bought it too, and I’m sorry, but that was just shitty. I know war involves hideous death. But this seemed a little gratuitous. They get about as much recognition in the book as they have here, in this gloss: A few sentences, and that’s it. In fact I think I’ve already written more about Tonks’s and Lupins’s deaths than Rowling did. And these were significant minor characters.
Harry? No, he doesn’t die. He can’t; he has to survive long enough for the smoking hot foursome he, Hermione, Ron and Ginny share in the last chapter. I’m just fucking with the assholes who are trying to read ahead without actually putting in the time. Fuck y’all.
2. Shitty pacing
Probably Rowling could have spared a few pages to let her characters — and their readers — really digest and make meaning of Fred’s death, except she blew off something like sixty thousand words in the middle of the story with Ron, Harry and Hermione camping out in the woods.
I guess that’s why Hedwig got hosed in chapter 1. It would have been awful, dramatically, if Harry could have sent a distress message by Owl Post or whatever. Strangely missing also, though, were Hermione’s and Ron’s familiars. Unfortunately, what we got stuck with was dramatic doldrum instead.
And you know I really mean it when I say they spend literally two hundred pages hanging out in the fucking forest and getting miserable. The entire set of chapters felt like they were written by Rowling around, say, book three, and hadn’t really been revised since then. It was Emo Angst in the Forest, and it was fucking interminable. Just pitch a tent, get uncomfortable, move, pitch a tent, get uncomfortable, move, pitch a tent, get uncomfortable, move; it was like Nudist Gay Repressed Celibate Boy Scout Camp. For two hundred fucking pages.
What was least believable, though, was we had three seventeen-year-olds camping out for months together, and apparently no one ever jacked off, went on the rag or, god help us all, fucked.
I know this is a kids’ story. But Jesus. Come on. I don’t know why the right-wingers hate the HP series so much. It’s one of the best commercials for chastity ever produced.
3. Weak … weakness
Oh, wait, the Malfoys don’t have the collective testes to side with Moldyfart after all? Gee! Redeemed!
And in the “climactic battle” Harry deflects Moldyfart’s avada kadavera with a weak-assed stun spell, causing his opponent’s curse to ricochet like a wild blaster bolt against a lightsaber wielded by Luke Skywalker, causing it to hit Moldy and kill him?
And as for the epilogue. Jesus. Rowling does nothing but reinforce the myth that your One True Love from ninth grade is the one you’ll marry and end up living with forever.
Oh — Harry being a godfather? Nicely glossed over, Joanne. I especially liked how he spent the next one point six or so decades ignoring that responsibility, just like any teen boy who was too quick with his wand. Very fucking admirable and heroic. Maybe the next series of books can start with Harry Potter and the Narrowly-Dodged Responsibility. Followed with Harry Potter and Ginny’s Lost Period. And then Harry Potter and the Hope Hermione’s Brat Has Ron’s Hair At Least, Because We Don’t Remember Which One of Us Came Last in Her Pussy After That Kegger, And We All Hope to Shit It Wasn’t That Freak Grawp, But You Gotta Admit That Was an Amazing Fucking Thing to See.*
You know, I’ve really liked the HP series; I’ve liked the way the plot unfolded, I’ve liked the storyline; but the ending was pretty much precisely what I expected, save the occasional bizarre, random and pointless death.
Rowling, when she is focused, is a very good writer. She’s got a great ear for language and a very good feel for pacing and plot overall. But this book just wasn’t that satisfying. It has nothing to do with overinflated expectations either; I’m not a raging fan of Potter. I haven’t been waiting breathlessly year after year for the next installment. She’s capable of brilliant writing, like, say, Stephen King or George Lucas; but just like Lucas or King, she would benefit from strong, assertive editing.
I am sure that generations of parents, myself possibly included in their number eventually, will have one hell of a job before them explaining this last book to their kids.
It was a good damn beginning, an interesting middle, but the end just did not satisfy me.
* You’re right. That probably is one of the funniest goddamned things you’ve ever read.
No related posts.
Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.