Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The release of the last and seventh part of the mind-bogglingly successful series about the boy wizard excited me enough to stand in line with a lot of witches, wizards and other weirdos at one in the morning to get a copy of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows". That's me, whose earlier book reviews on this blog included works by such eminent authors as Saramago, Eco, Chekhov, Orwell and Mishima.
Surprised? You shouldn't be. The thing about JK Rowling is, paraphrasing what someone once said about Shakespeare, that she's really good, despite everyone saying she's really good. I don't like everything about the Harry Potter books: they're not gems of poetic lyricism (although her vocabulary betrays her immense enjoyment of the English language), and in general, I think they could be a lot shorter. But her imagination easily equals that of Roald Dahl and her ingenuity of plot rivals that of such marvelous engineers as Agatha Christie. On top of that, she brings real emotional power to the stories, touching upon such children's book taboos as pain, depression and fallibility. Or to put it another way: she didn't get that billion dollars (nor could she have) on hype alone.
So it is because I know she could have done so much better that I'm sad to give her last tome the thumbs down. Rowling travels the risky road of breaking with tradition, trading the familiar settings of Hogwarts and its exciting Quidditch matches for nondescript marshlands and forests that appeal to no one's imagination. "HP7" is damp and dull, and there's an underlying sense that JK was happy to finally rid herself of that monster clinging to her back for all those years. Most of the questions from books 1 through 6 had already been answered satisfactorily on Web forums by fans, and "Hallows" confirmed all but the most inane ones. There's much less humor than before, but no real darkness to take its place, like in its brilliantly executed (no pun intended) predecessor. If you've read the first six parts, you'll read this one, too; if you haven't, by all means start reading the series (especially parts 3, 4 and 6), but read this one only to find out how it ends.

Posted by cronopio at 10:34 PM, July 24, 2007