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Inspirational Reads

It's the End of Potter Mania as We Know It (and I Don't Feel Fine)

July 26, 2007

So, the furor over book seven has died down. I know I said I would post this last night, but I got busy doing other things. Plus, I went to bed early. I've been up late the past few nights reading. Take a stab at what I might have been reading.

Oh yeah. Spoilers Alert. Stop reading unless you really want to know that Harry survives and nails Ginny three times in the end (of the book...pervert).

Now, as to the story. For the first 450 pages, I was really, really disappointed. For one, I was half expecting a bloodbath from the very beginning. Instead, we don't even really see the deaths of Mad-Eye and Hedwig. They just sort of...died.

The lead-up to the wedding was painfully drawn out and boring. The wedding was painfully drawn out and boring. The aftermath of the wedding was painfully boring. And then there was just "Scrimgeour is dead". What the hell? All the character deaths were off-screen. Give me a break. And what was the fricking point of introducing us to Scrimgeour? Fudge could have gotten the same effect. And Fudge would have been more pliable for Voldemort's plans. Maybe I'm just still bitter about the whole lack of Regulus/Scrimgeour connection, I dunno. Still. And what about Regulus? All we know is that he got pulled under by a bunch of inferi. Blah. If two people have died any less spectacular deaths than Sirius and Regulus Black, I truly pity them. One fell through a curtain and died; the other was just a dumbass and didn't bring anyone along to help him. Numbnuts.

Finally, we come to the "apparate around the countryside" stretch of the book. Christ, at least Quidditch was readable. It was just a long line of "it was cold, it was rainy, it was cold, it was snowy, Ron's a punk". And then Ron shows up, tells Harry NOT to say Voldemort's name, and what does dumbass do? Promptly, I might add? Harry was just a non-stop pissy little dumbass throughout the last three books. Yeah, people didn't believe you that Voldemort returned. Next time, Harry, try being subtle.

And then, finally, something happened. The scenes at the Malfoy estates finally became a good read, and the first stages of the final battles were being fought. It felt good to see some action taking place and to finally begin weaving all of these storylines together.

I don't feel I need to rehash things, but I will say that when they finally figured out that Hogwarts held the final horcrux that things got really good. The tension being built by the return to Hogwarts (and man did Snape get a raw deal from MacGonagal!) was finally capped off by EVERYONE showing up to fight. Literally, as Neville and Seamus and Dean and Luna and all stood up to pissy-ass Harry and demanded they be included in the fight, my interest was swept up in the brewing melee. As more and more people came down that tunnel into the room of requirment, I began to tremble with giddy excitement. Here came the bloodbath I so desired, especially since Star Wars: Episode III, was such a let down.

And, man, the fact that MacGonagal led the charge was awesome (shouldn't have been a surprise...her first name IS Minerva, after all). I could just see Maggie Smith in the role, pressing her lips together in a sign of unbridled fury. Oh, it was fantastic. And, how all the Hogwarts teachers finally stood up and did something--it was obvious why Dumbledore had to die.

Anyway, the final pages passed in a blur. I knew that Lupine and Tonks were already dead (obvious from the first chapter), and expected one of the Weasleys (admittedly, Percy, but Fred did have a more dramatic twist) to be offed. And, of course, I knew Snape would die. However, as I read the final chapters, I could hear the stupid bitch in Gwinnett, Georgia screaming blasphemy as Harry died and then rose again to defeat Voldemort. It was a nice little Christ figure nod that pops up all the time in fantasy literature, but given the vehemence that certain people display toward Harry Potter because, you know, it's black magic and in league with the Devil, I could sense the outrage rolling through the born-again Christian communities.

Overall, however, I was left with a sour taste in my mouth. Sure, Harry realized that Snape was a good guy and was trying to get him whipped into shape in order to be able to handle whatever Voldemort threw at him. I would have really liked, however, to have seen Harry turn to Snape's portrait in the Headmaster's office (I assume that there was one...Snape was, after all, dead...Dumbledore's portrait showed up right away) and look up at Severus and simply say "I'm sorry. Thank you."

I was also disappointed that nothing came of Umbridge. She got stunned and the horcrux stolen from her...she had Moody's eye, so one can only assume that she got the body from the Death Eater's after they killed Mad-Eye. Why not toss her in the end and have a rock fall on her.

And the battle scenes, while gripping, just sort of...petered out. There were flashes of brilliance, capped by Molly Weasley fighting Bellatrix Lestrange (a masterful pairing, if ever I saw one), but then there were scenes like Fred's death. He didn't move anymore. That's it. Done. Over. I thought so many things could have been wrapped up nicely during the fight; the girl on the ground that Ginny was comforting could have been Cho Chang; Mundungus could have showed up and started capping DEs, thereby redeeming himself. But, oh well. You can't please everyone now, can you?

Overall, the final few chapters could not really help to save this story. The introduction of the Deathly Hallows was...awkward, it seemed. Perhaps if Grindewald had been mentioned more, or his wand had been mentioned, or even mention of the Resurrection Stone at least once, that would have made the story a little more cohesive. As it was, it seemed as though it was something entirely contrived for the final book rather than a way to unite all the other threads in the book. Looking back, yeah, perhaps there were clues left, but it still seemed like this came hurtling at us from the outfield.

Don't get me wrong; what J.K. Rowling has done is crafted a new modern epic on the same level as Star Wars (I wrote about this a couple of weeks ago). In 50 years, Harry Potter might well be studied and picked apart like Lord of the Rings is in some English majors. And I would have no problem with this. Personally, I cannot say enough about what JKR has done for the genre that I seek to enter. Sure, there are the small-minded pinheads that bitch about the evilness of the black magic in the Harry Potter stories and the people who still consider fantasy/sci-fi a niche genre. However, each one of the Harry Potter stories made it more mainstream; it suddenly became cool to be a sci-fi nerd, dressing up and partying about the release of a brand new story.

Perhaps I had my heart broken because my vision for the finish of the series was not the same as the author's. Perhaps I have no qualms over killing my characters whereas Rowling has made them such vital parts of the world she has created that they have become friends. Perhaps it could be that I'm disappointed my favorite characters did not play more crucial, vital roles. Perhaps it's just that Rowling and I are two different authors.

Whatever the reasons, it does not matter. The series is ended, with a slow release "bang". And I, for one, am grateful for the past ten years. We might never see a series of books like this ever again. We should savor and love them, read them until their bindings are weak and their pages are dogeared. Most of all, we shouldn't be overly critical, but instead, simply enjoy them for what they are: a damned fine story.

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