Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Potter Finishes Well

OK, so it took me a lot less time to read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows than I expected. And the reason for that is that the book is quite gripping, especially the last third of the book. Once I entered the final quarter of the book, it was nearly impossible to put down. Rowling kept me on pins and needles for well over 100 pages.

I will not give away the conclusion of the book. I’m sure that if you really want to find out how it turns out without reading the book, you can find sites that will provide that information. I will say that in my opinion, Rowling does a marvelous job of tying up all of the loose ends. I will also say that I felt very good about the way she finishes out the book and the series.

Meghan Cox Gurdon seems to admit in this article that the Harry Potter series probably does not “approach the lasting greatness of true children's classics.” But she also suggests a different focus. “In some alchemical way, we have all participated in an amazing cultural moment. … Some things are brilliant just as they are, even if it's just for now.”

I would have to agree that the series is brilliant. Rowling creates a captivating fantasy world in which the reader constantly discovers new things. The classic struggle of good vs. evil plays out on this backdrop; infused with philosophical, religious, and political undertones, as well as social commentary. The eminent importance of family and real love are stressed throughout. All of the noblest of human characteristics are celebrated, while all of our wretched attributes are denounced. The heroes have their foibles and are imperfect. Many are common people. Not all of the villains are devoid of positive qualities.

Another way in which I find the series brilliant is that the experience has been a shared family affair for us. My oldest children discovered the joy of personal reading for pleasure with the first couple of books in the series. The maturity level of the books has grown along with the maturity of my children. Since my oldest two are currently working at a back country Boy Scout camp, my wife and I were able to finish this final book before either of them has seen it. They are chomping at the bit to get the book.

Some acquaintances have already mentioned to me their sadness at seeing the series conclude. My personality type likes closure. So for me, a well wrapped-up series is quite satisfying. Yes, I know that real life is rarely tied up neatly like that. But when I want real life, I read or watch the news. When I want entertainment, I seek escape from such realities.

I like to feel good when I finish reading a novel or watching a movie for entertainment. I seek out entertainment that leaves me feeling uplifted. Although the literati may not find Harry Potter to be great literature, Rowling did a great job of leaving me feeling uplifted — of making me want to be a better person. And that has made the reading a worthwhile and cherished experience.


Cameron said...

I finished it up over the weekend, and now the rest of the family is feverishly reading. I thought it was great as well. It had a bit of a lull in the middle, but like you say, the last third or so is outstanding.

rslnerd said...

That was an awesome book, I finished Monday night/Tuesday morning at 2AM. I finished at that time because, as you said, the last 100 pgs or so are thrilling.

JM Bell said...

I bought it Sunday morning and finished it Sunday night. My family was making a lot of noise about "needing" to read it ASAP, so, as the fastest reader, I took it first and finished it fast. Now it's almost a week later and no one in the house has touched it but me.

I'm angry because it would have been nice to read it a little slower, but they're all reluctant to get to the end.

Frank Staheli said...

My daughter bought it, and then my son "stole" it from her, and then my wife stole it from him. My wife finished and said she was equally impressed with the ending and the lessons that were taught. Now it's a race to see whether my son or daughter will finish second.

Jeremy said...

I've avoided this post until I finished the book because the title scared me away. Now that I've finished the book I have to say I completely agree with your review of this book and the series.

These were fun books to read. They aren't great literature but they are uplifting and fun and worthwhile.

Great post.