This review was one of the final things posted to my Livejournal before said journal was suspended, and it was generally popular with both Potter-haters and Potter-fans alike. It is reproduced here out of a sense of desired completeness, as well as a desire for continuity from old site to new. And also because I am exceptionally sarcastic, and this is exemplary of that quality.
Be forewarned that this summary has so many spoilers in it, it is like a rotten hamburger made of garbage, and if you desire to read “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” with a sense of childlike surprise and wonder, you should probably do so before you read what follows.
Don’t complain about spoilers if you keep reading beyond this point.
Page beforethereispagenumbers: “This book is dedicated seven ways” – to her husband, her three kids, her sister, her late mother, and to YOU THE READER BECAUSE YOU MADE THIS ALL POSSIBLE AND YOU ARE JUST AS IMPORTANT AS J.K. ROWLING’S KIDS TO HER!
Page stillnonumbersbutafterthetableofcontents: A quote from Aeschylus and another quote from More Fruit of Solitude by William Penn. I am reminded of how Joe Queenan once suggested that if mediocre books were going to preface with quotes from great literature, how great literature could return the favour by prefacing themselves with quotes from Tom Clancy explaining the technical specifications of a military helicopter.
Page 1: “Chapter One: The Dark Lord Ascending.” OooOOOOooooOOOOOoo. Snape and Random Loser Death Eater arrive at Death Eater Central and tell Voldemort conflicting stories about where they think Harry Potter is going to hide next. MY GOD SNAPE’S STORY IS DIFFERENT I WONDER IF HE IS SECRETLY A GOOD GUY.
Page 6: Voldemort and the Death Eaters exposit that they are using mind control to gradually take over the Ministry of Magic. This of course begs the question why they didn’t start doing this, say, in book five, considering they also exposit that they think it will take them about a week to do it. “Hey, we can have control of the entire magical government in about a week, Mister Voldemort. Wanna do it?” “Mmmmmm… no, let’s wait on that. I need to savor the possibility of it. Much like a fine wine.” (Or whatever wizards drink. I mean, for some reason the concept of beer tasting like butter is something wizards like. What the hell is up with that, I ask you.)
Page 7: Voldy: “That Potter lives is due more to my errors than his triumphs.” I refer you to David R. Henry’s old maxim about fiction: when the characters themselves echo common complaints about the plot, there are Issues.
Page 8: Lucius Malfoy is all UGLY now. Man, someone’s going to have to pay Jason Isaac’s makeup person extra to manage that. (I am told the ladies think he is sexy.) Voldy treats him like a bitch, for no actual apparent reason – oh, right, all the failure.
Page 10: Remus and Tonks got married offscreen. Voldemort makes fun of the Malfoys for being related to Tonks. You know what really makes a villain scary? Grade-school level taunts. He’s like Kirney and Jimbo and Dolph rolled into one!
Page 12: Voldemort kills somebody at Hogwarts I’ve never heard of (like, let’s say more obscure than, I dunno, Professor Grubbly-Plank). She begs Snape for help, but he is all impassive. (And tortured underneath BUT ONLY IF SECRETLY HE IS A GOOD GUY.)
Page 13: “Chapter Two: In Memoriam.” With a title like that I bet this chapter rocks.
Page 15: And it’s three pages of Harry going through references to previous books – I mean, his stuff.
Page 16: He’s reading Dumbledore’s obit. It actually reads like a reasonable good personal account of Dumbledore’s life. A bit too long to be sure, but then again, this is a Harry Potter book. At least the whole thing is an interesting read.
Page 22: And now, for contrast, seven pages of an article about Rita Skeeter writing a luridly false and mean-spirited biography of Dumbledore. The first page or two is entertaining. After that, there’s this dead horse, and it’s being beaten. Maybe there’ll be payoff for this tangent down the road? (Sorry to say, I doubt it.)
Page 30: “Chapter Three: The Dursleys Departing.” So chapter two was kind of bad: Harry being emo and a holy hell amount of sidetracking. Chapter three begins with the Dursleys deciding to commit suicide and not run for their lives because Uncle Vernon is a stupid fat fuck and why should he believe in magic, anyway?
Page 34: Amazingly, after seven books, Harry finally convinces Uncle Vernon that he is a stupid fat fuck and maybe the Dursleys should run for their lives. It would have been satisfying in book five after the Dementor attack when Petunia did the whole “no he can’t leave” thing. Now it’s kind of overdue.
Page 40: Dudley actually tries to be nice to Harry! See, that was actually decent, the logical endpoint of the “Dursleys are stupid but maybe there’s hope for them” subplot. And then Petunia almost tries to be nice as well but guilts out and takes off.
Page 43: “Chapter Four: The Seven Potters.” Which kind of gives away how they’re going to sneak Harry away to whatever safe place they’re taking him before he kills Voldemort or whatever.
Page 45: Thirteen supporting cast members show up and Rowling describes them all economically in a single paragraph. Why can’t she do that all the time?
Page 48: Harry complains that he can’t allow six other people to risk their lives impersonating him so he can escape in the crowd of Potters. Ron excellently responds that risking their lives isn’t exactly a novelty at this point. Well done bit of snark. Rowling’s at her best, dialoguewise, when she’s doing this sort of adventurish banter. (Incidentally, Snape’s information about the Potter move was correct and Loser Death Eater ate the bait that Mad-Eye Moody set up.)
Page 50: Hermione: “Oh, you look much tastier than Crabbe and Goyle, Harry.” (Yes, she’s talking about the transformation potions, but still.)
Page 52: Six naked Harry Potters. No. I’m serious. It’s almost like Rowling decided “oh, fuck the legions of kids. I’m writing this one for the grownup fans.”
Page 56: Hedwig bites it as the Death Eaters attack. Still, we’ll have all those great memories of Hedwig. Like the time Hedwig delivered a package. Or the other time Hedwig delivered a package.
Page 58: This chase scene is actually really quite good. Probably the best action sequence she’s written since the big wizard fight in the fifth book.
Page 63: “Chapter Five: Fallen Warrior.” She’s teasing a Hagrid death here, but on the next page it’s revealed he’s fine. Kind of a quick reveal, but I suppose the tragic death of Harry’s personal courier was a lot to take, so she wanted to reassure.
Page 68: Harry and Hagrid were supposed to arrive third of the seven teams, but Ron/Tonks and Fred/Mr. Weasley haven’t shown up yet. George/Remus arrive and George is a bloody mess, missing an ear and everything. Some majorly hardcore shit here from Rowling. (Remus gets some of his best face time since book three here, I might add.)
Page 76: Okay, the Hagrid thing makes sense now because she’s really playing out “who’s going to die” here with the title and action.
Page 78: ….aaaaaand it’s Moody. Off-camera. Sidenote: “Harry felt as though something inside him was falling, falling through the earth, leaving him forever.” See, this is the sort of thing I’m talking about when I say that Rowling is absolute shit at dramatic emotive writing. That is some high-school lit class quality work there.
Page 80: Harry says he totally trusts everybody in the room but KINGSLEY IS NOT IN THE ROOM! Foreshadowing! (Or not, I dunno. But if Kingsley is the traitor, my god, how sad this bit would be.)
Page 81: “The suddenness and completeness of death was with them like a presence.” A presence.
Page 82: Oh good, it’s the return of Angry Jackass Harry. I never ever get tired of him.
Page 86: “Chapter Six: The Ghoul In Pajamas.” INCREDIBLY BORING CHAPTER ALERT. Here, everything you need to know in this chapter: 1.) Horcruxes are bad news and really hard to destroy, 2.) Ron has enchanted the family ghoul to “substitute” for him when he takes off, and 3.) Hermione altered her parents’ memories so they think they are completely different people who live in Australia – which of course means that Batman will never let her in the Justice League.
Page 111: “Chapter Seven: The Will of Albus Dumbledore.” Opens up with Harry waking up to discover he is seventeen and can do magic. Ron celebrates by giving Harry a book on how to magically control chicks. No, seriously, that is what Ron does, all the while extolling about how if he’d only had this book last year he totally would have boned Lavender Brown. Ron Weasley: date rapist. (Okay, in fairness, the book is not ENTIRELY about using magic to get laid. But still, Ron giving Harry the wizarding equivalent of “The System” is creepy all on its own.)
Page 115: Ginny didn’t know what to get Harry, so she’s decided to give it up. Cue “Natural Woman” on the magical CD player. Oh wait Ron interrupts them before they can really get going! Ron Weasley: date rapist and hypocrite.
Page 119: Harry compliments Hermione. Harry figures out that Ron did this because he read the fuck-a-witch book and boy howdy he can’t wait to try that shit out! DEAR GOD WHEN DID THIS BOOK TURN INTO A CREEPY EXAMINATION OF J.K. ROWLING’S SEXUAL POLITICS?
Page 122: Minister for Magic Rufus (I always drop the last name, because it amuses me to think of the Minister for Magic as a funk musician) shows up to give Ron, Hermione, and Harry what Dumbledore left them, and to ask them pointed questions, and generally to be a cock. Harry is a cock right back, and for once it’s actually merited. Good scene. Doesn’t quite redeem the total creepiness of the first half of the chapter, not by a lot, but.
Page 137: “Chapter Eight: The Wedding.” It’s a wizard wedding, what do you want? A lot of amusing scenery, and then about halfway through the chapter it turns back to the tragic and mysterious family history of the Dumbledores again, and oh god all this stuff is going to end up being VERY SIGNIFICANT or something, isn’t it. However, the chapter ends on a high note as Kingsley sends a magic thingie to tell everybody that Minister Rufus (get down!) is dead and the Ministry has fallen and the Death Eaters are coming.
Page 160: “Chapter Nine: A Place To Hide.” Everybody panics like a bitch about the Death Eaters coming, which is fair because at least that sells the threat properly. Our Heroic Trio teleports out to Muggletown, hoping it’s all safe.
Page 164: Ron complains about the Muggle diner’s coffee, because it’s not MAGIC coffee you understand. My god, I think if I ever met a wizard I would punch them in the face just for being so goddamned spoiled. “Magic makes it perfect every time!” Fuck you, spell-boy.
Page 165: Hey, those Muggles are Death Eaters in disguise! Quick fight scene, and they beat the Death Eaters. Harry mentions that he should have recognized Antonin Dolohov when he saw him, as Dolohov’s tried to kill him a couple times and all. Gee, Harry? Ya think?
Page 169: They decide to hide in 12 Grimmauld Place, the Order’s old headquarters, on the basis that at least there, only Snape can come and try to kill them. I think this makes, like, the seventh time Rowling’s changed her mind about who can visit 12 Grimmauld Place. Anyhoo, the Place is all cursy with Mad-Eye Moody’s anti-Snape spells.
Page 173: Harry inwardly complains that Hermione doesn’t need to remind him about the time Voldy tricked him into a trap using their mental connection. Given Harry’s amazing ability to fuck up as much as humanly possible, yes, Harry, I think you do.
Page 175: Harry sees Voldy ordering Draco to torture the Death Eaters who failed to capture him. Draco continues his hot streak of being the lamest villain ever.
Page 176: “Chapter Ten: Kreacher’s Tale.” Oh, boy. Kreacher. But first, an extended tour of 12 Grimmauld Place, because we’ve never read about this place before. Sirius Black’s bedroom has non-magic pictures of motorcycles and bikini chicks everywhere, which, given the abysmal lack of coolness in the wizard world, is not half bad.
Page 180: Harry finds a letter his mother wrote Sirius. Nice touch. Harry’s reaction is of course as emotionally leaden as you would expect.
Page 186: And the mysterious R.A.B. introduced in book six is Sirius’s brother Regulus Black. They decided to search his room for his locket. (Ron asks how if they can’t summon it. Hermione explains the concept of “searching a room.” Ron Weasley: date rapist, hypocrite, and general idiot.)
Page 190: When they can’t find the locket, they ask Kreacher where it is. He stole it, but Mundungus Fletcher stole it from him in turn. Also, Kreacher used to serve Voldemort when Regulus Black asked him to. Then, an accounting of how Regulus Black switched lockets to steal Voldemort’s potion stuff, and finally Harry treats Kreacher nicely and hey presto Kreacher is nice to them (because house-elves are all stupid) and goes to find Mundungus Fletcher.
Page 201: “Chapter Eleven: The Bribe.” Three pages of always-entertaining quarrelling until Remus Lupin shows up, because the scene sucked and needed some good.
Page 205: The Death Eaters have completely taken over the Ministry in next to no time at all, just like they decided to do back in chapter one, and inexplicably did not do two books ago. And they are being efficiently evil. Lupin explains to Ron that Voldemort isn’t declaring himself in charge because he doesn’t need to and it’s more effective for him to work behind the scenes. He explains this because Ron Weasley is a retard.
Page 209: Also, they are rounding up Muggle-born wizards. And putting them in camps. In Cuba. Okay I made that last bit up.
Page 212: Because Remus Lupin was just too awesome a character, it’s time to give him MORE ANGST. He got Tonks pregnant with a POTENTIAL WEREWOLF BABY! How could he do that? He is a filthy filthy boy! Filthy, filthy, filthy (insert spanking noise here), filthy boy!
Page 214: I’m divided here, because on the one hand Harry acts like a spoiled jerk yet again by calling Lupin a coward. But on the other hand, he is right when he says it was necessary to make sure Lupin stays with Tonks, because apparently Lupin came down with a severe case of stupid or something, and nobody deals with sheer stupidity like Harry “My Best Friend Is Ron Weasley” Potter.
Page 216: An excerpt from Rita Skeeter’s book, repeating most of what was said back at the wedding. Just in case you forgot. It was almost eighty pages ago, you know!
Page 222: And Mundungus Fletcher shows up at last, and it turns out he gave the locket to Dolores Umbridge, because every single character who has ever appeared in this series must play a crucial role in the final mystery of how to defeat Voldemort. (Dean Thomas’s urine will be a vital component of the potion that kills him.)
Page 223: “Chapter Twelve: Magic Is Might.” Kind of get the feeling that she was strapped for a good chapter title and just went to her generic slushpile for this one?
Page 225: Snape is the new headmaster of Hogwarts. My god it’s almost as if someone PLANNED for this eventuality to make sure that a SECRET GOOD GUY was in charge of Hogwarts after Dumbledore’s death and Voldemort’s taking control of the Ministry! Not that I have any idea if Snape is a good guy yet or not. I am just saying. How conveeeeeenient.
Page 226: Hermione’s exclamation of shock: “Merlin’s pants!” I mention this without comment. Consider it a sorbet, to cleanse the palate.
Page 229: And herein begins three pages of “who goes to the Ministry to find the locket? Me! No, me! It’s too dangerous for you! No, me!” Et cetera. Luckily, it is interrupted by Harry having a fever dream about Voldy snuffing innocent people.
Page 237: The plan is on, and they stun witch A, then use Fred and George’s sickness trick candies to get wizards B and c sent off, and take their places with Polyjuice Potion. It’s actually a good plan. Well, until they find out the hard way that the wizard Ron’s impersonating, the one who was so desperate to get to the Ministry, has to fix a Death Eater’s office or his wife will be tortured for being Muggle-born. See, that is a good wrinkle in the plot: have them come up with a genuinely good plan, then fuck them over by a totally unexpected side twist. Kudos.
Page 246: “Chapter Thirteen: The Muggle-Born Registration Commission.” Unsurprisingly, Delores “Bitch” Umbridge is cheerfully working with the MBRC to fuck over people. And Harry realizes that their elaborate plan is, in fact, kind of stupid, because they didn’t figure out what to do beyond actually getting into the ministry.
Page 252: There are times when decompression works, and this is actually one of them, because Rowling does a really good banality-of-evil riff here as she explores every cutesy, horrific facet of the setting.
Page 257: Man, this chapter is really, really on, and Rowling’s working her A game right now. Genuinely some of the best dramatic scenes she’s ever written. The Mary Cattermole trial is just excellent and intense and when Harry attacks Umbridge, for once you can actually cheer him on for being rash, and the subsequent escape is goddamned exciting.
Page 268: “Chapter Fourteen: The Thief.” They teleport into a forest somewhere. Ron is bleeding to death after his teleport went wrong. Medicine fixes him up. (Hermione can’t apply it because her hands are shaking – this is the second time in the book that Shaky-Hands Granger has shown up, and it’s frankly a little irritating to have the girl who led Harry through a time travel rescue in book three to be a nervous wreck now.)
Page 271: Although it’s partially made up for by having had Hermione get them out of Grimmauld Place when a Death Eater managed to jockey along on their teleport, ruining it as a sanctuary.
Page 273: Ron doesn’t want to call Voldemort by his name. Ron Weasley: date rapist, hypocrite, general idiot and total chickenshit.
Page 279: Another seeing-through-Voldemort’s-eyes sequence, but this time Voldemort in turn enters his victim’s memories! Holy shit, Rowling is getting postmodernist on our asses.
Page 284: “Chapter Fifteen: The Goblin’s Revenge.” And the Horcrux locket makes you depressed because you are wearing EVIL. Eh, I guess it works.
Page 288: They can’t find the other Horcruxes. See, if I were Voldemort, I would’ve hidden one of them at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, instead of choosing a number of locations significant to my own personal history so that any idiot could figure out where they were. But that’s me.
Page 295: Holy shit, Dean Thomas is on the run and they bumped into him randomly! If the urine thing turns out to be true, I’m going to go buy a lottery ticket.
Page 298: This is a pretty good expository conversation compared to some of the others in the book: no long, rambling statements so it sounds like actual conversation, and it’s putting forth a lot of information in a hurry.
Page 303: They finally remembered to try and ask the portrait of Phineas Black that they’ve been carrying around in Hermione’s Bag of Holding for information. (Well, it’s only halfway through the book. I was vaguely worried they wouldn’t do it until book nine or something.)
Page 304: Oh, right, I didn’t mention this: Hermione has a Bag of Holding that is loaded down with just about everything imaginable they could ever need: the magical tent from book four, an entire library of books, the portrait of Phineas Black, entire wardrobes – both Muggle and wizard – for all of them – and of course a collection of weapons and a supply of food. No, wait, everything except the last two. Because self-defense and food aren’t important when you’re on a dangerous long-term quest!
Page 306: And Ron throws a tantrum and fucks off home, finally. Ron Weasley: date rapist, hypocrite, general idiot, total chickenshit, and whiny bitch. (Choice moment: “WE THOUGHT YOU KNEW WHAT YOU WERE DOING!” Uh, why, Ron?)
Page 309: “MY PARENTS ARE DEAD!” Harry Potter is Batman!
Page 311: “Chapter Sixteen: Godric’s Hollow.” I guess they’re finally going there, since Harry has spent a good portion of the book wanting to go there for reasons totally unconnected to the entire quest he’s on, and I am willing to lay odds that it will end up being crucially important to the quest because Harry is just that retardedly lucky.
Page 319: Hermione: “Godric’s Hollow, Godric Gryffindor, Godric’s sword; don’t you think Dumbledore would have expected you to make the connection?” No, I think Dumbledore would have hoped Harry would make the connection. He was not so wildly optimistic as to expect it.
Page 328: Harry thinks to himself about how once you die there isn’t anything and you’re just rotting in the ground. Hey, right-wing Christians who complain about these books popularizing witchcraft: Harry’s not just a horrible demonic sorcerer, he’s a horrible atheist demonic sorcerer!
Page 330: “Bathilda’s Secret.” By page 337 we know it’s that Aberforth Dumbledore, Albus Dumbledore’s brother, stole whatever Voldemort is looking for. By page 340, it’s actually that Bathilda is Voldemort’s snake. Don’t you hate it when people turn out to be snakes?
Page 342: A flashback to HIS PARENTS DYING! He is so totally Batman.
Page 348: Harry’s wand is broken. He hates Hermione because his wand is broken! He’s impotent! Impotent, I tell you! Can’t cast so much as a tiny spell without his wand! This is the most explicit penis metaphor ever!
Page 350: “Chapter Eighteen: The Life And Lies of Albus Dumbledore.” Ooo.
Page 357: A letter from Albus Dumbledore to Grindelwald, who was kind of like Big Mama Thornton to Voldy’s Elvis. Dumbly is going all “well we MUST rule the Muggles, it’s for their own good.” Dumbledore is Trotsky!
Page 360: Hey, I wonder if Harry is going to make this all about him… yep, yep he is.
Page 363: “Chapter Nineteen: The Silver Doe.” And we’re starting out with a pretty explicit Arthurian metaphor here as a mysterious silver deer (which is NOT a Patronus charm, no sirree) takes Harry to the sword of Godric Gryffindor, which is deep in a frozen pond.
Page 370: “Thrashing, suffocating, he scrabbled at the strangling chain, his frozen fingers unable to loosen it, and now little lights were popping inside his head, and he was going to drown, there was nothing he could do, and the arms that closed around his chest were surely Death’s…” HEY, KIDS! When did this sentence turn to crap? Can you identify the exact point? I’m sure you can!
Page 371: Oh, good, Ron is back. Everybody, wave your tiny little flag for Ron.
Page 373: There is no fantasy trope I hate more than characters “just knowing” what is supposed to happen or what they’re supposed to do “because it’s magic.” It’s lazy and stupid and Rowling does it entirely too often.
Page 375: And the Horcrux locket tries to play against Ron’s insecurities. Ron Weasley: date rapist, hypocrite, general idiot, total chickenshit, whiny bitch and manic depressive.
Page 379: Incidentally, Ron’s been soaking wet in freezing temperatures for a while now. In the next edition of the book, Rowling will insert the sentence “and then Ron did some magic stuff to not get hypothermia.”
Page 380: Thankfully, Hermione is once again the voice of reason as she berates Ron mercilessly for being a total twat.
Page 382: The evil wizards have their own brownshirts. Rowling is being as subtle as a large elephant with a big sign reading “I am subtle.”
Page 384: And the Deluminator Ron got from Dumbledead turns out to, I dunno, magically teleport him to Hermione/Harry or something. Ron, of course, “just knows” this. Incidentally, how pathetic is it that Dumbledore knew in advance that Ron would be a whiny loser and take off mid-quest and need a way to find Harry and Hermione again? Ron, you officially blow.
Page 388: “Chapter Twenty: Xenophilius Lovegood.” And Ron reveals that Voldemort’s cast a spell so that when anybody says his name, it alerts the Death Eaters and breaks protective spells. That’s actually reasonably clever of Voldemort, who all of a sudden is trying to make amends for spending multiple books being the biggest cliched Evil Overlord of all time. I guess he read that list you can find anywhere on the internet. By magic, of course, because he hates filthy technology!
Page 391: Ron accurately figures out that Dumbledore knew in advance that he would be a weaselly little turd.
Page 395: Harry rightly wonders, not for the first time either, why Dumbledore set up all these secrets and clues for them to find instead of just telling them what they needed to know. There had better be a goddamned good answer, I’m saying that right now. The characters actually make fun of the horribly stupid “you needed to find it out for yourself” theory, so there really needs to be a good payoff for this.
Page 396: Ron reveals he didn’t go home for Christmas, because he knew his entire family would tell him off for being a weaselly little turd. Recall that Ron is currently the chosen wielder of a sword that requires the user to be brave.
Page 401: Nice bit here as Xenophilius Lovegood has clearly been sent the wizard equivalent of a bomb and doesn’t realize it because he is a weirdo.
Page 402: Hermione and Ron whine about how Xenophilius is afraid to help them after saying everybody should in his newspaper. I mean, it’s only a death sentence!
Page 404: “Are you referring to the sign of the Deathly Hallows?” WE HAVE A TITLE!
Page 405: “Chapter Twenty-One: The Tale of the Three Brothers.” That would be, I am guessing, Albus Dumbeldore, Aberforth Dumbledore, and their illegitimate brother Stinky Wizzleteats. No, actually it’s a wizard fairy tale about three brothers who fuck around with Death, and who in turn get three items, one of which is the Invisibility Cloak (which back in book one was hardly treated as an awesomely singular item, you will recall, but rather just a really awesome sort of wizard thing, like owning a Nintendo Wii or the like).
Page 407: Ah, I see, the Invisibility Cloak they have is like a SUPER Invisibility Cloak, the Rolls Royce of Invisibility Cloaks if you will, as opposed to your standard crappy Invisibility Cloak. Cunningly played, Rowling! Although that doesn’t explain how this tidbit got past Hermione “Queen Of The Anal Retentives” Granger.
Page 412: And the Elder Wand has to be captured for its powers to work. Gosh, I wonder why Voldemort has spent the entire book chasing after, interrogating, and killing wandmakers. And how long it’ll take Harry to figure that out.
Page 415: Ron is horribly enthused about having a super-wand. Hermione points out that it’s not how super the wand is, but how well you use it. LOOK, I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP, IT IS ALL THERE ON THE PAGE, PEOPLE!
Page 419: And the Death Eaters took Luna to get Xenophilius to work for them as another anti-Potter thing. He turns plausibly desperate and creepy. Good.
Page 424: “Chapter Twenty-Two: The Deathly Hallows.” Hermione reveals that she put together a fairly intelligent plan to make sure Ron’s cover story was left intact and that the Death Eaters saw Harry so Luna wouldn’t be hurt. Harry goggles on in awe, wishing that he could do stuff like that so he could be a plausible hero.
Page 431: And Harry figures out only twenty pages later that Voldemort is after the Elder Wand. Man, he’s getting positively spritely.
Page 433: “Why wouldn’t Dumbledore have told you this?” “You’ve got to find about them for yourself! It’s a Quest!” Capitalization not mine, I’m afraid.
Page 437: Multiple pages of Harry obsessing about the Deathly friggin’ Hallows. This is seriously tired already.
Page 438: “Potterwatch,” the only wizard radio show that tells the truth, hosted by Lee Jordan (heh). This book gets so much better when it stops with the stupid questing and focuses on the “real”-world consequences of the bad guys winning.
Page 445: And Harry says “Voldemort” aloud, despite having been warned that it is magic and a big-ass signal to the people hunting them. Because he is a fucking idiot.
Page 446: “Chapter Twenty-three: Malfoy Manor.” Hermione, again the actual hero of the book despite the billing, thinks quickly and alters Harry’s face with magic so he can’t be identified by the stupid Death Eaters sent after them.
Page 449: It’s Dean Thomas again! Odds that he survives the chapter: one in three.
Page 452: And the stupid Death Eaters aren’t so stupid that they can’t figure out who they’ve caught. You know what the best part of this book is? The bad guys aren’t acting like idiots. Now, if Harry and Ron could follow their lead, this could be a truly great book. However we’re two-thirds of the way through the book now, so my hopes aren’t that high.
Page 460: So they’ve been captured, taken to Malfoy Manor where they’re surrounded by the enemy, stripped of all weapons, and trapped in a cellar while Bellatrix tortures Hermione. I wonder
who will save them this time how they will get out of this jam?
Page 467: OH FUCK ME IT’S FUCKING DOBBY. Dobby is going to save their asses. God I hate Dobby. I hope he dies in a fire.
Page 470: Wormtail dies at his own (well, technically Voldemort’s, but still) hand.
Page 475: DOBBY DIES! Not in a fire, but good enough. Calloo, callay, et cetera.
Page 477: “Chapter Twenty-Four: The Wandmaker.” Dobby’s funeral is actually quite well-done, possibly because it happens on-camera and, for this book, is relatively brief. The rest of the chapter is talking to the goblin they rescued about how to break into Gringotts, and then a chat with Ollivander about the Elder Wand, which of course Voldemort desperately wants because penis metaphor penis metaphor penis metaphor. And we close with Harry seeing Voldy get the wand by violating Dumbledore’s grave with Snape’s help, which of course will not backfire because that would mean Snape is a SECRET GOOD GUY.
Page 502: “Chapter Twenty-Five: Shell Cottage.” Griphook the goblin agrees to help them break into Gringotts, in exchange for Godric Gryffindor’s sword, which heroic Godric apparently ripped off from the goblins in the first place. Man, even the good wizards in this book are assholes.
Page 503: Ron suggests that they give Griphook the fake (Ron Weasley: date rapist, hypocrite, general idiot, total chickenshit, whiny bitch, manic depressive, and double-dealer), but Hermione points out that this is a moronic fucking idea. Harry settles on “I’ll promise to give it to him but I won’t say when.”
Page 514: Awww, Remus had a baby! (He is toast.)
Page 516: Bill warns Harry that Harry’s plan to give Griphook the sword at a later date is the sort of thing that could alienate and anger the goblin, just so we know that Harry’s track record for ideas remains a solid 0-for-185.
Page 519: “Chapter Twenty-Six: Gringotts.” Starts off with several pages about wands and how they’re all doing with new wands or stolen wands and dear god this just gets more disturbing as the book goes on, it really does.
Page 525: With Hermione disguised as Bellatrix, they’re breaking into Gringotts now, and again, this is actually a pretty good plan they’ve put together, with the added wrinkle of being more well-thought-out than their previous plan. It’s almost like they’re learning!
Page 532: Man, the Imperio curse is really a great catchall, isn’t it? Need to get stuff done with no explanation worth mentioning? Use the Imperio curse!
Page 537: This is a very imaginative trap that Rowling’s come up with here. When she gets a good idea (which is about half the time), she can usually execute it very well.
Page 542: And that’s a good escape. First thoroughly good chapter in a while.
Page 544: “Chapter Twenty-Seven: The Final Resting Place.” This chapter is actaully very short. In a nutshell: Harry has a Voldevision of Voldy killing goblins, then thinking of all the remaining hiding places of the Horcruxes, and the only one left is – big shock – at Hogwarts.
Page 554: “Chapter Twenty-Eight: The Missing Mirror.” The Terrific Trio arrive in Hogsmeade, and the bad guys have cleverly set up spells to alert them whenever said threesome arrives in Hogsmeade. Luckily, they are concealed beneath the Cloak of Writer Fiat and cannot be found.
Page 558: And it’s the barman at the Hog’s Head who saves their ass, and who sent Dobby, and who is Aberforth Dumbledore, brother of Albus. Good reveal.
Page 561: Aberforth, sarcastically: “Nice job, I hope? Pleasant? Easy? Sort of thing you’d expect an unqualified wizard kid to be able to do without overstretching themselves?” Again, reference previous comments re: characters complaining about the plot.
Page 571: “Chapter Twenty-Nine: The Lost Diadem.” And Neville Longbottom finally shows up, with the crap thoroughly and comprehensively kicked out of him. Seems with Harry gone, he’s decided that someone has to be the guy who stands up to the forces of evil and injustice, and is getting the shit whaled out of him for doing it. Neville Longbottom is fucking hardcore.
Page 577: Neville also figured out how to use the Room of Requirement as a headquarters for his secret army and how to keep the bad guys from finding it and how to use it as an entrance and exit to Hogwarts that they don’t know about. Why isn’t this guy the hero of the books again?
Page 582: Again, Hermione as the voice of reason, pointing out that if twenty-plus young wizards offer to fight on your side, it’s kind of retarded to tell them you don’t want their help.
Page 585: Ginny being all catty to keep Cho away from her man-meat. Because in the Potterverse, you always find your chosen soulmate during your teens. Why a woman who started out her writing career as a single mother would go with this theme is beyond me.
Page 587: The Ravenclaw password isn’t a catchphrase but rather takes the form of answering a riddle, which is a very nice touch. (Presumably the Hufflepuff method of entrance to their common room is desperately begging to be let in, or pretending that you’re as good as the other wizards are rather than being a lump of useless baggage.)
Page 589: “Chapter Thirty: The Sacking Of Severus Snape.” One of the Death Eater teachers arrives and is promptly stunned by Luna Lovegood (styling), then the other one shows up, and he apparently teaches Advanced Craven Sniveling And Planning 201. McGonagall tells him to go screw when he suggests blaming the kids for what appears to be a false Dark Mark alarm, so he spits in her face and Harry curses him. McGonagall tells Harry he’s being stupid. She’s a bit behind the curve on that point.
Page 593: McGonagall decides that the teachers and students will hold off the Army O’ Evil ™ until Harry can do whatever the hell Dumbledore told him to do, not that she knows, but apparently all you need to go to get McGonagall to do whatever you need her to do is say that Dumbledore told you to do it. Which probably made her class quite easy to pass. “Dumbledore told me you need to give me an A in this class, Professor.” “Right! A-plus, even!”
Page 595: Snape, finally, makes an appearance. What was that sound – oh, right, it was the book getting cooler. Then he runs, because he’s smart and A SECRET GOOD GUY.
Page 600: Professor Sprout mutters about how she’s going to fight the Death Eaters with plants. To quote Bill Cosby: “Riiiiiiiiiiight.”
Page 605: Everybody shows up to fight the bad guys – the Order of the Phoenix, the graduated Dumbledore’s Army members, Oliver Wood (who will, I dunno, fly around on his broomstick at them or something), and even Percy, who has an awkward reunion/reconciliation with his family.
Page 607: BUM BUM BUM! Voldemort is right outside Hogwarts. BUM BUM BUM! (I felt that deserved a double musical coda. You are welcome.)
Page 608: “Chapter Thirty-One: The Battle Of Hogwarts.” Best chapter title in this entire series.
Page 610: The Slytherins leave, because that’s entirely predictable, and there’s nothing quite like a Slytherin being stupidly evil for tradition’s sake. You’d think some of the Most Ambitious House would bet on the people who are gonna win.
Page 613: Harry brainflashes that since nobody “in living memory” knows where the diadem of Ravenclaw/last Horcrux is, therefore maybe a ghost does, and it’s Nearly Headless Nick’s turn to be significant to the overall arcing plot.
Page 622: While the (far more interesting) battle goes on in the background, Harry’s figured out where the last Horcrux is, and finally Ron and Hermione show up again after about forty pages, having gone to the Chamber of Secrets to go get a bunch of basilisk fangs with which to kill Horcruxes.
Page 625: Ron and Hermione make out. Harry complains about timing. Harry is the last person on earth who should complain about other people’s actions in moments of crisis.
Page 626: And it is finally confirmed that Crabbe and Goyle are, in fact, actually intellectually handicapped, rather than just seeming to be.
Page 631: Ron rightly complains about why they are saving Malfoy and his goons from the fire, considering that the Teen Slytherin Dream Squad just tried to kill them multiple times.
Page 633: Crabbe destroyed the Horcrux by accident. Oh, J.K. Rowling, why must you so regularly screw around with dramatic build?
Page 637: Fred Weasley bites it, with “the ghost of his last laugh still etched upon his face.” That would have been a lot cooler if he hadn’t, you know, died in a meaningless explosion.
Page 638: “Chapter Thirty-Two: The Elder Wand.” Ron: “I wanna help – I wanna kill Death Eaters -” (Ron Weasley: date rapist, hypocrite, general idiot, total chickenshit, whiny bitch, manic depressive, double dealer and bloodthirsty savage.)
Page 641: Lucius Malfoy begs for a pause in the assault so that Draco can be safe, which is a nice realistic touch. Of course, Voldemort is not stupid now, so he says “fuck that.”
Page 642: Hermione saves all their asses for the, what, seventh time this book?
Page 646: Professor Trelawney brains the evil Death Eater werewolf with a giant crystal ball. It’s not quite an ACME-brand 16-ton weight, but it will suffice.
Page 649: Luna, Dean, and Ernie Macmillan (of all people) save Our Heroes from a Dementor swarm with a bunch of Patronuses. And then giants attack. Isn’t that always the way?
Page 655: And Voldemort kills Snape, because Snape is the true master of the Elder Wand (having killed Dumbledore), and that means Voldy has to kill Snape to take the Elder Wand properly from him. Ah. Villain logic.
Page 657: But Snape gives a weird silvery goop to Harry for some reason. Possibly, and this is just a theory, because he is a SECRET GOOD GUY. Could that silvery goop possibly be Snape’s memories? Oh, I think so.
Page 659: “Chapter Thirty-Three: The Prince’s Tale.” Yep, I was right, I think. Voldy calls out Potter to come die like a man.
Page 661: And both Remus and Tonks are dead too. THE WEREWOLF BABY IS AN ORPHAN!
Page 663: At long last, all the secrets of Severus Snape revealed. 1.) He was in love with Harry’s mother since he was little. 2.) He really hated James Potter (okay, not a secret really). 3.) Aunt Petunia begged to go to Hogwarts along with Lily. 4.) He quit the Death Eaters when he found out that Voldemort was targeting Lily. 5.) Dumbledore was a dead man from the time he tried on the ring and asked Snape to kill him to spare him a suffering end. 6.) Harry’s soul is connected to Voldemort’s (duh) and as a result Harry is a sort of a Horcrux himself, and while he’s alive, Voldemort can’t die. 6.) It was Snape who led Harry to Godric’s sword, who Confunded Mundungus Fletcher into coming up with the escape plan and who attempted to save George during the seven Potters escape. (Whoa, that was a lot.)
Page 690: Understand now that the reason Dumbledore made Harry jump through all these intellectual hoops (well, Hermione, but she was doing it for Harry) is that he was worried that if Harry, whose bravery is supposed to be his most gloriously redeeming characteristic, knew in advance he had to die to defeat Voldemort, he wouldn’t be able to do it.
Page 691: “Chapter Thirty-Four: The Forest Again.” (Now that is what I call an inspired title.) Begins with three pages of Harry bemoaning his fate, which is about as exciting a read as you might guess.
Page 694: Neville shows up, carrying Colin Creevey’s body (of all people). Neville, of course, never loses hope. This is because Neville kicks ass. Harry tells Neville to tell Hermione and Ron to kill the snake. FORESHADOWING!
Page 698: Harry finally opens his Snitch and activates the Resurrection Stone to talk with Lupin, Sirius and his parents. Sirius, predictably, says that dying is dead easy and kind of radical.
Page 704: Voldy offs Harry. Didn’t see THAT coming! No, wait, it was kind of obvious.
Page 705: “Chapter Thirty-Five: King’s Cross.” Harry wakes up in a misty forest, he doesn’t need glasses, he’s naked – surely he must be dead! But Dumbledore is there, and he says Harry isn’t dead. (Unlike Harry, Dumbledore gets to wear clothes – I suppose Daniel Radcliffe did his nude scene in Equus for prep purposes.)
Page 709: Ah, because Voldy took Harry’s blood for his own new body, he “tethered [Harry] to life” and that’s why Harry isn’t all-dead, but rather just mostly-dead. This is a job for Miracle Max and an oversized pill coated with chocolate.
Page 711: And the whole wand thing was blah blah blah god I don’t care mystical connection et cetera get to the good part. Assuming there is a good part.
Page 716: Dumbledore says Harry is a “selfless person.” HA HA HA no really he says that. This, incidentally, after a few pages of him saying how amazingly brave Harry is. (Great that Harry is brave, but courage without intelligence is, you know, kind of sucky.) I should add here that the entire point of the seemingly interminable “Dumbledore’s mysterious past” subplot is apparently to establish how much more awesome Harry is than Dumbledore. Just in case you felt otherwise.
Page 720: Harry is the true master of death. Oh, god, somebody please put this book out of its misery already: all this congratulatory isn’t-Harry-awesome party after seven hundred-odd pages of Potter Fucks Up Again (to say nothing of previous books) needs to not happen!
Page 724: “Chapter Thirty-Six: The Flaw In The Plan.” Okay, this is actually a very clever development here: Harry’s faking being dead so he can kill Voldemort. Narcissa Malfoy knows he’s alive (because she examines the body), but when he tells her in a whisper that Draco is alive and in the castle, she plays along. That’s good.
Page 731: Neville Longbottom continues to give Voldy a hearty “fuck you.” Have I mentioned Neville is awesome yet?
Page 733: Neville pulls Godric’s sword out of the Sorting Hat and kills Voldemort’s snake. A horde of forest monsters attacks Hogwarts and the battle starts up again. More good guys show up, more bad guys show up, and Kreacher leads the house elves in a tiny army against Voldemort. Rowling is seriously pulling out all the stops at this point, which more than makes up for the last, rather sucky expository chapter.
Page 736: Mrs. Weasley has a Ripley-in-Aliens moment and kicks the shit out of Bellatrix. Never underestimate the power of a Ripley-in-Aliens moment.
Page 740: Harry is speechifying like hell, which is both redundant and kind of kills the momentum. Just FIGHT him already! Jeez.
Page 745: And Voldemort’s own curse bounces back and kills him. Okay, finally. Anticlimactic after all that buildup and the rest of the chapter being awesome, but at least Voldemort is DEAD now.
Page 749: And all’s well that ends well! Oh, wait…
Page 753: “Epilogue: Nineteen Years Later.” MOST BLATANT FANSERVICE EVER. Okay, quick summary: Ginny and Harry have three kids (James, Lily and Albus Severus – yes, seriously, Albus Severus Potter). Ron and Hermione have two (Hugo and Rose). Draco has one (Scorpius, who will grow up to try and kill John Crichton). Teddy Lupin is a family friend and apparently dating Bill and Fleur’s daughter. Neville is Professor of Herbology at Hogwarts. And everything is fine and happy. And that’s it.
Overall: C-. Better than Half-Blood Prince, but then again a phone book is a better read than Half-Blood Prince. Has some gloriously inspired moments, it really does, but Harry Potter remains one of the shittiest, most pathetic fantasy heroes of all time, and that just keeps dragging it down. The movie will probably be good, thanks to the continuing lack of dreary internal Potter monologue.