Was it an amazing experience? Did I read through the night and again the next day and certain chapters every day since? Was it frightening? And exhilarating? Were there several Joey Tribiani moments when the book was shoved into the freezer to calm the nerves?
Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes.
Of course it was incredible. Of course it was deeply satisfying. And so the comments that follow must be regarded as simple nitpicking. Nitpicking at perfection - why it could have been 110% instead of *just* 100%.
But right off the get, that Epilogue sucked. Could’ve done without the Epilogue. Wish the Epilogue was left out. Because after 600 pages it ended up ending with a rather dull “Oh”. And while I understand why she had to do an Epilogue, at the same time, if she HAD to do the Epilogue, why half ass the Epilogue?
As my girl Duana said – of course he was going to marry Ginny. OF COURSE he would call his kids James and Lily… F&CK OFF!
And she’s right too. Why include those no-brainers and not tell us …
For the love of Rowena Ravenclaw, what is Harry’s job? What is Ron’s job? What is Hermione’s job? Who is the new Headmaster at Hogwarts? I could go on. But the point is, if it’s a “neat” ending you’re after, make it neat. Including the obvious only made it more maddening that the real goods weren’t given.
Having said that, in a recent interview, JK Rowling did open up with answers to many pressing questions. You can read about it here.
In short, Harry and Ron “revolutionised the Auror Department” and Harry is now the boss of it. Hermione has taken over the Department of Magical Law Enforcement meaning she’s a lawyer. Brilliant. Luna is the magical equivalent of a tree hugger. Also brilliant. And as for whether or not she and Neville hook up, Jo says she didn’t want to go there because it “felt too neat”. How ironic.
So there. There are the answers. But they were procured from an interview that many people will not read. And in 50 years, when another generation falls in love with the world of wands and wizards and witches and the Whomping Willow, will they be able to find the same conclusions?
Nope. The Epilogue didn’t work for me.
Other minor complaints: Aberforth the manager of the Hog’s Head - it took 7 books to leak? And the implied rape of Ariana? Majorly rushed and seriously, if that’s the case, I’d expect Dumbledore’s father to receive a posthumous pardon, non?
Plus… not enough Ginny and too much Fleur. Like, who gives a sh-t about Fleur? If Ginny is the woman who has captured the heart of the Boy Who Lived, if Ginny is worthy of Harry’s hand, why not give us a little more than tears and tantrums and instead of that silly bit at the end when she’s supposed to be relegated to the Room of Requirement?
And a final gripe, because incessant griping would imply that I did not love it as much as I did… maybe I’m just stupid but the Elder Wand confused me.
If the Elder Wand is invincible, if the Elder Wand cannot be defeated, then why couldn’t Dumbledore have vanquished the Dark Lord himself? Duana said that it’s because he couldn’t risk becoming “drunk on his own power”. But given that he had already taken down that Grindledude years before, who was nowhere near as evil at old Voldy, why now the distinction and why hold back only to eventually cost the lives of so many others, including Harry’s parents?
Maybe I’m too simple to understand.
But enough bitching. In the grand scheme, there is more to celebrate than to scold.
Two things in the Epilogue for instance. First – the symmetry. Ron driving a muggle car – an ode to Arthur’s fascination with all things muggle but in Ron’s case modified to reflect his willingness to merge his magical abilities with muggle inventions… All over it. Was also a fun reminder of when he and Harry rode the Flying Car all the way to Hogwarts. Good times…
Then there’s Scorpio. Have always admired the way Rowling names and words her characters and her details. Scorpio Malfoy – amazing. The name alone is enough to raise the dead. He will be a worthy future villain, don’t you think?
As for what happened before the Epilogue - SO much to love!
Like the Wand Play – that wands and their mysterious connections formed the basis upon which the ultimate battle was won. Love, love, love.
On a tangent for a sec though: growing up this generation, for me it’s immediately associated with beams of light that Red stands for The Empire and Darth Vader and Green for Luke Skywalker and the good side of The Force. And please, if you’re a Star Wars super freak geek, please… please save your email explaining exactly which combination colours constitute Luke’s saber – be it a fine mix of teal and blue or aquamarine and a dash of indigo - whatever. It was the green blue family and it certainly wasn’t red. Period.
In the world of Harry however the colours are the opposite. Our guys shoot off red spells, the death eaters spew green, because of course Red is the colour of Gryffindor and green Slytherin. Took me a while to get used to that in the movie and the books too… but it’s amazing how pop culture iconography can show itself at the oddest times, non?
Also amazing how Jo manages in the final epic to weave in every significant “location” – locations we’ve come to know and love across previous installments but never all at once, together in one delicious read. Like the Shrieking Shack and Number 4 Privet Drive and Gringotts and Diagon Alley and Number 12 Grimmauld Place and of course Hogwarts. Hogwarts where it begins and where it ends. How fitting then was it that the final battle was waged in The Great Hall?
Also perfect… the truth about Severus Snape. Predictable yes, but also so beautifully told. Unrequited love that spawned a Patronus like Lily’s – the most beautiful Silver Doe. Still makes me cry. How she can create such multidimensional characters, some with no solid black and white lines, capable of horror but also of honour, and redemption at the very end. Sigh… Crying again for Snape.
But nothing was worse than Dobby!
If someone had said to me: you will lose your mind when Dobby dies I’d have been like… whatever, jump up my ass.
But when Dobby died with those 2 words on his last breath, and the memories of his loyalty and devotion came flooding back – I’m telling you, my Chinese ass was curled in the fetal position wailing at the injustice.
From tears to laughter, is it just me or do you laugh out loud every time you read Grawp say “HAGGER!” Is that mean? Because Grawp, of course, is only a little smarter than Britney Spears. So of course he can’t pronounce Hagrid properly. But still. Seeing it spelled out like that – HAGGER! – and then picturing him shouting madly for his big brother…kills me every time.
As for the romantic angles – my producer, Laura, talked of sexual tension. I think she meant between Harry and Ginny and that birthday kiss was totally teen movie hot but for me, maybe I’m a perv, but I kept wanting Voldemort and Bellatrix to get it on. Like evil devil sex with spells and sh-t. Is that wrong? Did you pick up on that vibe too?
And finally, we will each undoubtedly take away something different from the saga. For me I offer nothing profound. What mattered to me is obvious and cliché: friendship and the power of a mother’s love and the eternal protection those can bring, not only for Harry for also for someone like Draco Malfoy. Though rendered impotent by cowardice in the end, perhaps Draco’s failure to join ranks with the Dark Lord was not for lack of courage but for lack of hate. If someone is so adored by his parents, parents who ultimately were desperate to save him, can he then be truly rotten to the core?
Same goes for Neville. How proud were you of Neville? When he came charging out of that tunnel, disheveled and dirty but imbued with a new confidence and a commitment to the cause, emboldened by the pride of his grandmother (LOVE that asskicking senior citizen!) and also the constant inspiration of his friends - his true friends from the beginning who loved him as he was - OF COURSE it would be Neville the ugly duckling, the Rudolph the rednosed reindeer of his crew, who possessed the heart and the valour to be the worthy Gryffindor to find the Sword of Gryffindor inside the Sorting Hat. I wept when Neville cut Nagini’s head off and like a loser I pumped my fist through the tears while HUGGING THE BOOK TO MY CHEST.
Equally as lame as when Ron killed the Horcrux. After confronting his insecurities and being tempted by hate, Ron chose friendship and stabbed that bitch in the eyes. But tell me what followed wasn’t a stroke of genius. Tell me you weren’t blubbering when Harry rushed to reassure him, brothers for life, assuaging his fears, not stomping on a friend’s weakness but helping to heal it. And when they ended in a man hug… tell me you weren’t affected and I will tell you I don’t believe you.
Book 7 was not my favourite. The Half Blood Prince will be, for me, the most satisfying of the lot. Maybe because it seemed as though she couldn’t afford the same level of humour this go round. But then again, where do you go from the hilarity of Ron and Lavender Brown making out every five minutes? Could anything really top that?
And still…even though the Hallows isn’t #1… it doesn’t mean there is no love. Loved it, love them all. I am now rereading from Book 1. And vacillating every day in ranking. Right now it goes:
6, 4, 7, 5, 3, 2, 1.
Yesterday it was:
6, 7, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
Tomorrow will likely be something else.
And you? Do share. I may not be able to reply but I promise I will read.