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Review: J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows

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20140117-192700.jpgIt’s over! I actually can’t believe there’s no more left. I’ve been on a rollercoaster of emotions over the last week, with way more lows than highs, but the final high being the best one of all. Be warned that this review contains many, many spoilers, so if you’ve not read the book, I advise you click away!

The books begins with Harry saying farewell to his ‘family’, the Dursley’s. His aunt and uncle don’t express much emotion at the thought that they’ll never see him again, but there’s a lovely moment between Dudley and Harry when, although he’s goaded and bullied him all his life, Dudley tells Harry that he doesn’t think he’s a waste of space.

There’s an awful moment as Harry is being moved from his ‘home’ to The Burrow when we think that George has died, but it turns out that he’s had his ear sliced off by a death eater, later found out to be Snape. He hasn’t forgotten his sense of humour though, although Fred is disappointed:


“Pathetic! With the whole wide world of ear-related humour before you, you go for holy?”

The majority of the book leaves you feeling very doubtful about Dumbledore, and his intentions towards asking Harry to carry out this monumental task, without giving him any real help, only mysterious clues which do not prove to be easy to figure out!

In the film, I’ve always found it an emotional moment when Hermione obliviates her parents to remove her memory so that the death eaters can’t use them to find where she is. But in the book, we find out that the first time that Hermione uses the obliviate spell is when they meet death eaters in Tottenham Court Road, and that she only cast a charm on her parents, which she plans to undo if they are successful in their plans. Which makes me much happier that Hermione won’t be left alone, and that she can get her parents back to share her life and that of her kids.

I’m not going to talk too much about the finding of the horcruxes and the uncovering of the story around the deathly hallows, apart from to say that the action kept me hooked and desperate to remember what happened next, since it’s been so long since the last time I read this book.

But the last 100-150 pages of the book had me more gripped than any book I’ve read in recent times. The fighting scenes were so well written, fast paced and full of action, but also interspersed with human moments and acts of bravery and mercy which made it much more realistic and full of emotional connection rather than just killing and maiming all over the place.

The shocker for me was Percy coming back to fight along side his family against the regime which he supported so earnestly that he disowned his entire family and all his friends. At first I wasn’t sure if they were going to accept him back, but that’s not what true family does, and the Weasley’s are the truest family you can get.

And in and among the horrific moments of the final fight, we finally see Ron and Hermione share their first kiss, prompted by the unusual moment of Ron sticking up for the house elves, and declaring that they can’t ask them to fight, ‘we don’t want any more Dobby’s’, referring to the fact that Dobby died to save them from Malfoy Manor and certain capture by Voldemort, a moment which definitely made me shed a tear.

But not as big a tear as when we find out that Fred Weasley has died, along with about fifty other people in the battle to keep Voldemort away from the castle long enough for Harry to find the final Horcrux, Ravenclaw’s lost diadem, which bears the phrase ‘Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure’.

At the very end of the book, we find the shocking truth about Snape, that contrary to popular belief, he wasn’t a death eater hell bent on making Harry’s life miserable until such a time as he could deliver him to Voldemort, he actually risked his life to keep Harry safe in memory of his mother, Lily, with whom Snape had been in love for nearly all his life. Snape’s patrons is a silver doe, the same as Lily’s was before she was killed by Voldemort. When Dumbledore asks Snape if he still loves her after all this time, Snape utters one word, possibly the most powerful word in the entire set of seven books: Always.

Towards the end of the book, two characters really come into their own. Firstly, Molly Weasley. After seeing Hermione, Luna and Ginny and duelling with Bellatrix Lestrange, she shouts ‘NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH’, and forces the other’s aside while she duels solo with Bellatrix until she strikes the fatal blow, thereby killing Voldemort’s most faithful servant, and the death eater who tortured Neville’s parents and killed Harry’s godfather, Sirius Black.

Speaking of Harry, he’s almost certainly the character who undergoes the biggest change in this year. Up until now, he’s been portrayed as lovely young man, but not exactly the best at magic, his spells often ending in amusing failures. But he comes into his own while Harry, Ron and Hermione are away from school, leading Dumbledore’s Army, despite the punishments received from the teachers who are now mostly composed of death eaters. We already know from the prophecy that it could have referred to either Harry or Neville, but Voldemort himself assured that it would be Harry when he decided that he would go after Harry to prevent the prophecy from coming true.

But Neville proves himself a true Gryffindor, brave and loyal, when he stands up to Voldemort on his own after it looks like Harry has been killed and all hope has been lost. Voldemort sticks the sorting hat on his head and sets it on fire, but the sorting hat delivers something that it could only deliver to someone who truly deserved it, the sword of Godric Gryffindor, which Neville then uses to destroy the final Horcrux, the snake Nagini, thus setting about the final battle that Hogwarts will see.

Well I think I’ve gone on for long enough now, so I’ll finish with just a little more. Firstly, I’ll say that since the first time I read this book, I’ve changed my opinion on the final chapter of the book ‘Nineteen years later’. I initially didn’t like it, thinking that it felt rushed and tacked on. But now I can see that it closed the book very nicely, letting you know that your beloved characters have grown up happily and peacefully, and that the memory of those that were lost lives on in the next generation.

If you’ve got this far and somehow you haven’t read this book, go out and read it, read the entire series and absorb the magicality of the world that Rowling created. And if you’ve already read it, read it again. You won’t regret it.

5/5

Review: J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban

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20131231-183337.jpgI seemed to remember this book much more than the others, whether it’s because I’ve read it more often or if I’ve just seen the film a lot, but the book felt extremely familiar.

The thing I love the most about this book is that it is the first time that Harry feels like he has an actual family (I don’t think the Dursleys count as a normal loving family), and even though Harry’s dreams of living with Sirius are cruelly snatched away after half an hour and now it looks like he has no chance of seeing him again, he knows that he has someone who loves him.

My favourite quote from this book was from when Buckbeak was sentenced to execution and Harry, Ron and Hermione are trying to comfort Hagrid. When Hagrid’s howling becomes unconsolable, Ron says ‘Er, shall I make him a cup of tea?‘ After a stare from Harry, he says that it’s what his mum usually does when someone is upset. Apart from the fact that I can’t get enough of tea at the moment, the exchange reminded me of Sheldon from Big Bang Theory.

This book brings back some of the tension between Ron and Hermione, with Hermione stressed out by taking so many subjects and Ron and Harry baffled as to how she manages it, and Hermione understandably getting a bit snippy. As well as all the work, she’s trying to find a way to free Buckbeak and constantly worrying about Harry with Sirius ‘on the loose’. Not that she gets any thanks for it when she has Harry’s precious new broom temporarily confiscated for ‘tests’.

I was hoping that I would have been able to read Goblet of Fire before the end of the  year, but with 5 hours left, I don’t think I stand a chance, so I’ll leave it at 34 books read this year. Not quite as good as the 68 last year, but not too shabby since I hardly read at all over the summer. I think I’ll aim for 50 next year and see how it goes…

5/5

 

Review: J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets

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20131229-151410.jpgI was always under the impression that this was my least favourite of all the books, but I think it’s actually the film which I disliked, because the book was excellent. I think I must have seen the film about 15 times with all the times it’s been shown on TV at Christmas, so I think it’s overwatching that’s made me not like it.

First of all, I just want to say how awesome the cover is for this book, very sinisterly red.

This book is the first introduction we get to Dobby, the adorably cute House Elf, although not so adorably cute in his actions in this book, trying to prevent Harry from returning to Hogwarts with some non-conventional methods. In his own words: “Dobby wants to save Harry Potter’s life! Better sent home, grievously injured, than remain here, sir! Dobby only wanted Harry Potter hurt enough to be sent home!”

I also enjoyed the first appearance of Hermione’s ‘bad side’, trying to persuade Harry and Ron to brew the Polyjuice potion with stolen ingredients even though Ron and Harry both think it’s a bad idea. And maybe after the effects of her particular mug of ‘Millicent Bullstrode’, Ron and Harry had a point…

I couldn’t help but read Moaning Myrtle’s part of the book with the voice from the film, just like when I read Lord of The Rings and couldn’t help but read Gollum with the film voice. I do remember the first time I watched The Chamber of Secrets and being surprised that they managed to get the voice so perfect for the part!

By far my favourite quote of the book comes from the Albus Dumbledore when Harry asks him why the sorting hat didn’t put him into Slytherin when that was what the hat initially suggested.

It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.

Prisoner of Azkaban up next, I wonder how far I can get by new year…

5/5

Review: J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone

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20131228-163743.jpgI’ve been wanting to re-read these books since I went to the Harry Potter museum in July, and my lovely parents bought me the full boxset for Christmas, with the gorgeous new covers. I couldn’t wait to start, but I managed to hold back until I’d finished reading Death Comes to Pemberley.

It’s actually been a surprisingly long time since I read the books, I re-read the last 3 when the final book came out, but it’s probably been about ten years since I read the first few. I’ve obviously seen the films more recently than that, but I loved being transported back to 10 years old again!

I think we all know how the story goes, so I won’t do a review of the actual book, but I do have a favourite few parts from the book, which I was able to write down in the awesome Book Journal that my friend Andy bought me for Christmas.

I got a nice smile from when Dumbledore and McGonagall were leaving Harry on the doorstep of the Dursley’s, and McGonagall asked Dumbledore if there was anything he could do to remove the scar from Harry’s forehead. Dumbledore said ‘Even if I could, I wouldn’t. Scars can come in useful. I have one myself above my left knee which is a perfect map of the London Underground’. I had a wonderful vision of Dumbledore in a pair of shorts on the underground consulting his knee for directions.

I also loved the quote on the door of Gringotts;

Enter, stranger, but take heed
Of what awaits the sin of greed,
For those who take, but do not earn,
Must pay dearly in their turn,
So if you seek beneath our floors
A treasure that was never yours,
Thief, you have been warned beware
Of finding more than treasure there.

Not only is it a good quote about not taking advantage and taking more than you earn, but I’d imagine that if you’d never seen a Goblin before and you saw this quote about finding ‘more than treasure’, it’d probably put you on edge a bit!

But by far my favourite quote from the book is from Dumbledore when Harry is sat in front of the mirror of Erised. ‘It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that’. I also loved that I’ve only just realised that the quote on the mirror of Erised was actually a message backwards:

“Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi”

Which then becomes:

“I show not your face but your hearts desire”

I was quite surprised to remember that the adventure into the third floor corridor past the three-headed fluffy and the subsequent battle with Quirrell/Voldemort was only really in the last 30-40 pages. I seemed to remember it being much longer, although that was maybe because it took up a much bigger part of the film. I’d also forgotten that at the start, Ron and Harry thought that Hermione was an annoying know it all, and weren’t actually friends with her until they helped her fight the troll in the girls bathroom, after accidentally locking it in there with her!

Can’t wait to start the Chamber of Secrets now. I always remembered it as my least favourite of the books, but maybe it will change my mind!