Saturday, February 21, 2009

Rowling redeems herself

I finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on Thursday night, and I'm very happy with and relieved by the book's ending.

I delayed reading this last of the Potter series because I was so afraid author J.K. Rowling would continue to villainize Professor Snape and Draco Malfoy to the bitter end, which would have tainted my whole experience of the series, which has given me a great deal of reading and movie-watching pleasure.

I don't remember when I started to want Snape to be discovered to be a secret good guy for whom readers could finally feel some compassion, but it was at least several volumes ago, and it built up to the point that I was really concerned about how the series would end. But I'm enormously glad that Rowling has redeemed herself. I enjoyed the ending so much that I reread the last five chapters last night.

It struck me as I finished reading that the villains in the book all gradually faded in intensity, so that the Malfoy family and even Voldemort himself by the end are almost impotent.

The only other thing I want to say at this point is that Rowling's tradition of structuring each of the books in the series so that its plot takes place over the course of an academic year has rarely proved more tedious than in this final book. As in almost every previous book (the notable exception being the 4th book, ...Goblet of Fire), this tradition requires long stretches in which not much is happening in order to allow the "middle" school months to pass. The same plan has also encouraged Rowling to introduce annoying subplots such as Hermione's fight for justice for house elves and Hagrid's attempts at lovemaking, none of which gets resolved. It's stunning how little action happens over a period of months and how much is crammed into a matter of hours at the story's end in a smash-'em-up battle scene worthy almost of Peter Jackson.

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