Title: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Author: J.K. Rowling
Published: 2007, Scholastic
Category: Fantasy/Young Adult
Oh, trying to do a review of this book is so hard. I read it in one day, directly after it was released (9 am until 4 am, pretty much nonstop). And it's been simmering in the back of my mind ever since. The whole epic series is just so huge (and I am such a demented fan) that I could probably go on forever and still have things to say. I will try to be brief. ;)
I also don't want to spoil anything for anyone who might come across this review and hasn't read the book yet. But I have to get a couple things off my chest that include major spoilers, so after I post this, I'm going to add a comment to it with those spoilerish thoughts. The thrilling conclusion is so exciting that I HIGHLY recommend that you read the book (the entire series, if you haven't done so already) first. Really, I mean that.
SO DON'T READ THE COMMENTS ON THIS POST UNLESS YOU DON'T MIND SPOILERS!!
So. Let's see, what can I say that's not really spoilerish? Hmmm. Well, we know that Harry, Ron, and Hermione have been given the mission of finding the four remaining horcruxes. The whole wizarding world is at war now; things are as bad, if not worse, than they were the last time Voldemort was powerful. Everyone is terrified, and Harry is in the worst danger he has ever been in. The protection that Harry's mother gave him when she gave up her life for him wears out the minute he turns 17. He has been the thorn in Voldemort's side (to put it mildly) for sixteen years, and Voldemort's had enough. The big showdown is impending.
This book was actually quite a departure structure-wise from the rest of the series. Though the timeframe is the same (one school year), the kids are not really kids anymore. They're not schoolchildren going about (for the most part) normal schoolchidren's lives--they are adults fighting a serious enemy in the midst of a very frightening war. I was really not expecting this. And I have to say that, IMO, this is NOT a children's book. YA, okay. Children's book, no. Because Rowling doesn't pull her punches here. Not to give anything away, and I really know almost nothing about children and what is appropriate for what age child, but parents of very small children might want to have a read first and see what they think.
Deathly Hallows has such an incredible amount of action. Every other book has seen the kids dealing mostly with regular kids-at-school stuff, with whatever evil plot Voldemort was hatching slowly gaining force through the book and leading to one big climax at the end. Deathly Hallows is a long series of explosive scenes---I couldn't believe how many close shaves Harry had. Voldemort is no longer a shadowy figure that appears in the final scene only. He's all over the place! One of the earliest scenes is Harry leaving Privet Drive. Now that is something that's happened in every single book, but I finished this scene in DH and I thought, "Well, holy hell, she's really kicked that up a notch, hasn't she?" And it hardly ever let up. My heart was in my throat for nearly the entire time I was reading.
There were also so many new elements introduced! Like the Deathly Hallows and all the extra info we got on Dumbledore. I was surprised by this too because there were so many loose ends to tie up from all the previous books that I didn't know how she was going to sort that all out, plus this new stuff. But she managed it. And it all comes together at the end to make sense. Dumbledore goes from being a rather flat character (though lovable, he is two-dimensional: the wise mentor) to being very complex and interesting. We come to understand why the most powerful wizard in the world could not defeat Voldemort. And why the task falls to Harry, who we all love, but by comparison is just a teenager.
Okay, I have two complaints. One is majorly spoilerish, so I'm leaving that for the comments. The other is that it got a bit grim there in the middle. For all I say that the action was unstoppable, there were some scenes in the middle that I thought was just going to drag on and on. The trio seemed stuck in place, unable to do anything and GRIM, GRIM, GRIM. I'm being sort of vague here, so someone ask in the comments if you don't know what I'm talking about.
I haven't been very brief at all, have I? Ah well, I tried. But overall, I was very satisfied with the book. It is huge and powerful and epic, and the sort of book that I can (and will) read again and again. The final conclusion was surprising and just . . . right. The way it was supposed to happen, if that makes any sense.
BIG, BIG, MAJOR, ENORMOUS, GARGANTUAN SPOILERS IN THE COMMENTS!
DON'T SAY I DIDN'T WARN YOU.
READ THE BOOK FIRST!!!! I'M NOT JOKING. YOU'LL THANK ME.