The Deathly Hallows

This is the end, then. 7 books, and the saga is concluded.

I know no-one likes a spoiler, but does it count if it's relatively minor and occurs on page 52? Just in case, I'll give you some space to surf away...

Hedwig dies! And you can understand how that would be upsetting to me. Well, not quite upsetting, but unsettling, in any case. And her death is only the beginning. She was the reason I started reading, after all, narcissistic as that might sound: this was just before book 4 came out, I was bored while babysitting and picked up a copy of the Dutch translation of the second book. I noticed the name, and asked my dad to bring back the English version of The Philosopher's Stone from his trip to London. He brought back the first three, and three days later, I'd finished them just in time to buy the fourth.

The Harry Potter books really aren't for children any more, are they, although I dare say books 3, 5 and 6 were darker: whereas those has touches of the psychological thriller, this one is a war book, maybe most clearly because the school year doesn't frame the story any more: society isn't teetering on the brink any more, it's fallen. The book goes from action scene to action scene with very little of the self-doubt and the despair in daily routine that filled the other books.

I never quite understood the Potter hype, but these are gripping books. I mean, I read this one in a day, mostly because I was in a lot of delayed trains (enough to get me to page 481), but also because it's a thrilling adventure with many small mysteries to be resolved. There are no less than 10 important magical artifacts in this story, maybe too many, in fact. And as for the resolution, I won't spoil anything here, but I was glad to discover I was right all along about one particular detail.

However, I didn't stand in line on Friday night: I simply strolled into the bookshop on Saturday morning and was able to buy it right away. And I am not as in awe of the saga as a whole as many people seem to be. I love the humor, the inventiveness, the richness of the world J.K.Rowling has created, but in the end she is just a little too traditional for me. Oh, I love the small satirical touches she has here, and this book could even somehow be seen as allegorical of the war on terror, but she's simply not on the level of, say, Roald Dahl, because in the end, she's simply not cynical enough. Love conquers all, and the "nineteen years later" epilogue is really some of the most soppy and sappy stuff I've ever read. Totally unnecessary, too: it only serves to stir up some feeling and allow the reader to feel better after putting down the book. If you're going to let the body count climb so high - and climb it does- it feels like a cop-out to not take the consequences of that.

I don't mean to be cranky. I enjoyed every book (my favorite would have to be either the first one, for its humor, or the third, for obvious reasons), and Rowling deserves every penny she's earned for introducing so many children to the power and magic of reading, showing them that books don't need to be any less thrilling than films or television. I just hope these children will go on to discover there's much more to read out there than wand-waving and selfless sacrifice.

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