In December, I read the first book in the Harry Potter series. In the month of January, I read books 2 through 4. And now, midway through February, I’ve completed the seven part series. I literally had difficulty putting these books down, sometimes (I hate to admit) foregoing eating or taking a shower just to read one more chapter, and once I had finished book 5, I begged my brother to mail the last two books to me so that I didn’t have to wait to know how the saga concludes. And once I knew, I didn’t want it to end. I think it’s safe to say I’m a Potterhead. Here are my thoughts on the last three books of the series:
Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix
I loved Luna. I also loved George and Fred’s grand departure from Hogwarts. I didn’t love Cho. Nagini continued to creep me out and give me nightmares. My favorite part of this book, by far, is the formation of Dumbledore’s Army. It’s so cheeky, both in name and in concept, and I think it shows, as does the rest of the series, that it’s a serious mistake to underestimate youth. And yes, I was sad when Sirius passed through the veil, but that sadness was kind of eclipsed by my awe at how badass Dumbledore is, what with covering for Harry about the D.A. and resisting arrest by the Ministry and duking it out in epic fashion with Voldemort, whom Dumbledore has the brazenness to call Tom. My favorite quote in the book comes from Ginny, who tells Harry “The thing about growing up with Fred and George is that you sort of start thinking that anything is possible if you’ve got enough nerve.” I think that could be Harry’s personal slogan.
Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince
It was really interesting to see how the relationship between Harry and Dumbledore grew in this book, how Dumbledore began to let Harry in on so much more and trust him with important tasks and information, which made it even more tragic when Dumbledore was killed. I loved how Ginny really came into her own and started letting her sassy and strong-willed side show, and that she didn’t give a damn about whether or not Ron approved of who she was kissing. She’s a true feminist hero. I experienced a whole spectrum of emotions directed at Draco Malfoy, who I hadn’t really bothered to give much thought to in previous books: I hated him when he stomped on Harry’s face while he was petrified, and then, to my surprise, I felt really sorry for him when he was threatening to kill Dumbledore, because his internal struggle between not wanting to kill Dumbledore and feeling like he had to in order to protect his family was so apparent and so sad. I wasn’t surprised to discover that Snape was the Half-Blood Prince, but I was so shocked and angry when he killed Dumbledore and thought that there was no way he could possibly redeem himself for doing something so unforgivable.
Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows
I was teetering on the edge of an emotional collapse throughout this entire book: if I wasn’t worrying myself sick over whatever sticky spot Harry, Ron and Hermione kept finding themselves in, I was on the verge of tears over the people who were dying and what a terrible world they were living in under the threat of Voldemort seizing total power. I was more amazed than ever at Hermione’s resourcefulness and cleverness, and was so glad that Ron and Harry finally acknowledged that they didn’t know what they would do without her. And of course, I was glad that Ron and Hermione finally got together. I cried when Dobby died. I wept when Harry saw Snape’s memories of his mother in the Pensieve, and at the revelation that he had been protecting Harry from the very beginning, and that his Patronus was still a doe. I wept even harder when he said “Always.” I wept even harder than that when Harry was walking to give himself up to Voldemort, and Neville (who I was so proud of for leading the rebel forces at Hogwarts) said “We’re all going to keep fighting, Harry. You know that?” I’ve never cried more while reading a book than I did while reading The Deathly Hallows. Even though I knew it was coming, I was heartbroken when Lupin died (especially since he and Tonks had just had a baby!), and felt so sorry for Harry that every positive parental figure Harry had ever had was lost because of a war. I found the bit about The Deathly Hallows really fascinating, especially the way in which so many characters in the book dismissed it as nothing more than a children’s tale. I think many people could say the same thing about the Harry Potter series itself, but I’ve never known any other children’s tales to tell such profound truths about friendship and sacrifice and bravery and loss and the dangers of power and the power of love. There was so much death in this book, maybe too much death for a young reader, but J.K. Rowling treats the topic with an honesty that is simultaneously direct and gentle: one part of the book that struck me the most was toward the end when Dumbledore tells Harry “You are the true master of Death, because the true master of Death does not seek to run away from Death. He accepts that he must die and that there are far, far worse things in the living world than dying.” Although that’s not a particularly new stance to take on death, it just seems really beautiful and powerful to me. All of which is to say: The Deathly Hallows is one of the best books I’ve ever read, and nothing made me happier than to see “All was well” as the final words.