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Harry Potter Paperback Box Set (Books 1-7) Paperback – Box set, July 7, 2009
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About the Author
Newbery Medal winner Nancy Willard has written numerous beloved books for children and adults, including poetry, picture books, and novels. She teaches writing and literature at Vassar College.
Mary GrandPre is the acclaimed illustrator of many children's books, including Plum, by Tony Mitton; The Thread of Life, by Domenico Vittorini; and the bestselling Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling.
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Rowling breaks the rules of her world in just about every other chapter. Problems and plot twists are consistently summed up by the simple explanation of "something strange happened that nobody ever knew was possible". Examples: the sparks from Harry's wand, Kings Cross, Ron coming back.
The entirety of the wand plot fits this bill perfectly. Nobody had any inkling previous to this book that disarming someone's wand made you the rightful owner of the wand...yet that fact is of the utmost importance in the final scene when Voldemort learns that Draco is the rightful owner of his wand since Draco was the one that cast the disarming spell...wait a minute, all of the characters have been busy disarming each other all throughout the course of this series! That must mean that all of the wand ownerships have been discombobulated somewhere along the lines! As it turns out, the fact that there has been established precedence over the use of the wand-ownership rule has no bearing on the fact that Rowling needed something to happen and so she broke the rules to make it so. Also note that Dumbledore beat someone whose wand was apparently "unbeatable". Way to stay consistent!
Other times, the author includes obvious references to other fantasy/literature and world history events just for the heck of it (and of course, to add an almost pointless plot twist besides). Examples: Griffyndor's sword, the locket, the fact that the entire ministry of magic is Nazi Germany, etc.
The book was stretched out needlessly just so that it could conform to the school year and the pacing of the original books. Harry and Hermione wander aimlessly around the world going on quests that lead nowhere and add nothing to the plot (Godric's Hallow, endless camping sequences). In addition, many characters from previous books that were unimportant to the plot of this book make their unnecessary (and page-wasting) return (Krum and Rita Skeeter in particular, but there were more).
If you're like me and you enjoy reading about some of the minor characters like Luna, Ginny, MaGonnagal, Draco, etc...be prepared, because they get almost no screen time whatsoever, with the single exception being Neville. Ginny is consistently kept out of the way because she is underage, and this volume goes to show that her entire purpose in the series was just to eventually become Harry's girlfriend. A very disappointing way to develop her character.
Then there are the main characters, who consistently act out of character, and prove to be rather poor role models for the children who are reading these books. Hermione and Ron suddenly both become incompetent wizards who yell at each other ceaselessly, Harry performs an unforgivable curse and apparently feels no remorse whatsoever, Lupin goes from being a strong positive influence into a weakling, and that scene between Harry and Ginny in her bedroom was a bit too suggestive for a children's book if you ask me. In addition, Ron gives Harry a book about how to seduce witches (even though he should clearly be able to tell that Harry is interested in his little sister- yuck!).
As far as I can count, Hagrid should have died three times during the course of the book, yet lives on despite. The same can be said of Lucius Malfoy, who seems to get an endless number of screwups and still remains on Voldemort's good side. Of the characters who do die, there is often very little reason that they should have died, and even less explanation of who killed them and how it was done. In the cases where we do see the character's dying, it is often for unexplained reasons (just what exactly happened to wormtail's hand where it suddenly became possessed?...oh yeah, another bit of "mystery magic").
Let's not even get into the epilogue. That was a complete and total waste of space, talking only about the five characters whose fate we could have guessed from as early as book 3...and where does Rowling get those awful names?
As others have mentioned, the addition of the Hallows added nothing to the plot whatsoever. The horcruxes were plenty on their own, and because Dumbledore spelled them out in detail in the last book, there was no mystery there. In fact, there was no defining plot line like there were in other books. Every action scene basically uncovered one of the missing horcruxes, so there was no "oh wow, I wasn't expecting that!" moments like there were in every other book of the series. It was like watching the characters go through a checklist.
And then there were the totally unbelievable sequences that catch you off guard with just how ridiculous they are. Can anyone tell how Harry managed to crash land the motor bike exactly at the spot where he was supposed to land, or how Hagrid managed to survive jumping off said flying motorbike, and live to tell the tale? Why can Voldemort suddenly fly on his own? why did voldemort choose to light the sorting hat on fire and use that to torture neville? Why is it that nobody seems to be able to tell that Harry is still breathing in the forest scene? Of course I know that this is a fiction story, and fantasy besides, but it really sucks the realism out of the world, which Rowling has worked so hard to keep up for the first six books, when these sorts of things happen.
Then, in quite possibly the only worthwhile and unexpected twist in the entire book, Rowling manages to all but ruin one fan-favorite character. The rest of the story unfolds almost exactly as we all expected it to from the beginning. Snape's character development was one of the only worthwhile pieces in the book.
Overall, a very poor way to end an otherwise phenomenal series.
There are hundreds of things I loved about Harry potter and the Deathly Hallows, and millions of things I hated with the fire of a thousand suns.
One word review: SUCKITUDINOUS.
This book is just bad.
You could lose the first 400 pages of this book and still tell the story. Rowling ditches the Hogwarts school-year structure for this book, and simply falls apart without it. Voldemort sitting and talking. The trio cleaning the Burrow. The wedding. Teen wizard camp with Harry, Ron and Hermione. All completely pointless episodes that only serve as filler in a book that is otherwise tottering under the burden of revelatory exposition.
The inconsistencies render the entire plot of not just this book, but of all seven books, meaningless. If house-elves can side-along-apparate wizards into places wizards can't normally go, why didn't Voldemort catch himself a house-elf to take him into Hogwarts? And take the Elder wand. If Grindelwald stole the wand from Gregorvitch, how on earth was he its master? Then Dumbledore defeats Grindelwald - fair enough. But Dumbledore chooses to be defeated by Draco by wilfully not defending himself, and Draco still becomes master. Later, Harry simply steals Draco's wand (NOT the Elder wand), which somehow makes him the Elder wand's master?! The most asinine part is after all this, Harry tells Dumbledore's portrait in the end, "As long as I die a natural death, the wand's power dies with me."
(BTW, why doesn't he just break the damn wand and be done with it?)
The epilogue was in a league of its own as probably the worst commercially published piece of writing I've ever read, and that includes Mary Higgins Clark. Holy purple centaurs. To think how we spork poor teenage badfic writers who actually manage to do better than this bilge! Rowling seems to think that what we're dying to know about the post-war wizarding world is the names of Harry & Ginny and Ron & Hermione's kids. And that is ALL the info she gives us. Even the aforementioned badfic writers manage to tell us more: Harry is a Quidditch star, Ginny is a model, Hermione is Minister of Magic (Ron is usually forgotten). What's happened in the Ministry? Have wand regulations been changed to be more inclusive? Did Hermione take SPEW further? Did Harry and Ron become aurors? Did nothing change?
But by far the worst fault of this book is the unconscionable hubris that permeates every page of it. So all right, it's Rowling's story, and she can tell us any tale she pleases, but she writes this book as if she wanted to throw in some HUGE ideas and then hurry off to collect her paycheck without pausing to give those ideas a second thought. For example, there were all those references to World War II - could they have possibly been treated any more casually? The Wizarding World, it seems, is meekly bowing to a second wizarding holocaust without a word of protest - and yet, this idea remains unexplored, of vanishing importance next to that damned camping trip. Rowling racks up the body count as casually as throwing berries into a basket, with as little thought and as much cheer, more often than not. Just how many times do we need to have the message of "Death Is Arbitrary" hammered in, and just how incompetent is she that Remus Lupin's death is introduced and mourned in a total of four sentences?
If you expect her own plot to escape such thoughtless treatment, you're mistaken. Oh, the lost opportunities, the wasted potential. Dumbledore was Grindelwald's best friend! He shared the aims of the world's most evil wizard of the time, but we can't stop to dwell on that. Harry's sacrifice keeps the entire school safe from Voldemort - and that gets ONE LINE's worth of pagetime. Even shoddier is the way she deals with ideas and characters from previous books: Where was Ginny throughout the book? Dean Thomas has more pagespace than she does. Rowling forgets all about the Veil and the locked room in the Department of Mysteries - why set it up as such a huge mystery if you won't return to it? All that buildup about Wormtail's life debt, and it comes to an utterly nondescript and random closure. Inter-house unity is in shreds as Slytherin house simply up and leaves in the middle of the battle. Dumbledore's line to Snape, "Sometimes I think we sort too soon," is the deepest betrayal of the concept of a united Hogwarts: possibly ALL TWO (count 'em!) halfway-noble Slytherins are not really Slytherins after all!
It felt like she was just slapping little patches all over the place on the book as a whole - consider how Snape just happens to pick the very memories from his lifetime to give to Harry that will exactly answer all the little questions Harry has about the subsidiary plots of this book. These patches consist of random factoids,hastily contrived magics and situations, and worst of all gratuitous death and dismemberment. It was hubris. "Watch me Grapple With Big Ideas, bucko," she said, before tripping on her own feet and falling splat. And the whole of Deathly Hallows is her scrambling to retain her dignity by saying, "I meant to do that."
Having said that, there were parts of the book that I didn't hate - even stuff I loved, even one part that moved me close to tears. I didn't mind that my predictions were almost all 100% correct - that's not Rowling's fault. Though I was never a fan of the Snape-loved-Lily theory even after I predicted it, Rowling managed to convince me in this book. I've seen a lot of reactions in fandom that are basically "Yo, what a loser", but I disagree. Rowling's out on a limb here, a limb I can respect. She's saying that even unrequited love is love: it can be as strong and ennobling as what commonly passes for the real deal. This isn't the advice you'll get from Dear Abby, it isn't practical and maybe it even hurts you to believe it - but that doesn't necessarily make the thought untrue, and it took guts to say it.
It also took guts to knock Dumbledore off his pedestal so spectacularly. The guy in the long white beard is almost evil, and certainly a creep - whaddayaknow! Not only is he a manipulative b*stard till the very end - he makes Severus Snape risk (and meet) death simply because he wants to delay giving Harry some information - he also succumbs to temptation at the end of his life, when he is supposed to have conquered his desire for immortality. I love it that we see why it is that Dumbledore sets himself against Voldemort so completely: they are just too alike for comfort.
So that's it, boys and girls. The end of the line, the finish of the Harry Potter saga. Whimper, whimper.
By which words I describe not the sounds I make, but the manner of this epic's exit.