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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (book)

The Harry Potter Saga concludes in the seventh and final book. Things are much different this time around. Harry, Ron and Hermione blow off their final year at Hogwarts and embark on a quest to track down and destroy Voldemort’s remaining Horcruxes in order to defeat him. Voldemort has essentially taken over the wizarding world, forcing Harry and his supporters to go on the run. The war has started, and you can’t help but draw parallels between this war and the Nazi takeover during World War II.

Harry has no guide or mentor anymore. Dumbledore and Sirius were both selfish and died, and Harry rejected Lupin’s help. All he has is Ron and Hermione to help keep him on the right path. The friendship between Harry, Ron and Hermione is strained almost to the breaking point. Ron has always been jealous of Harry and Harry has always been stubborn. Some shit goes down and Ron decides to bail. Harry and Hermione trek on together for a bit, but Ron’s absence is noticed. It is a relief when he comes back.

Halfway through the book, the trinamic trio is still tromping from place to place. They only have one Horcrux with no clue as to how to destroy it. They don’t even know what or where the other Horcruxes are. It makes you feel very worried, you know that the book is ending soon and they are running out of time. The final third part of the book takes place in one day. Everything that happens the morning leading up to the Gringott’s raid to the fall of Voldemort occurs in one day. Sorry I didn’t put a spoiler alert there, but if you didn’t know that Voldemort dies I feel really bad for your parents. I liked the nineteen years later epilogue as well, but I think that seventeen years later would have been better.

Severus Snape is the man. He spends the entire seven books being an enigma. You can never tell where his loyalty lies. All you know is that Dumbledore trusts him, but Dumbledore makes mistakes too. J.K. Rowling’s best character is the most mysterious, but his ultimate redemption is enough cause to go back and reread the entire series, because now you know his motivation. Certain actions make sense with this new information, whereas before they seemed out of character. His final line, “Look… at…me…,” is amazing, and I love it even more because J.K. Rowling respects the reader, and doesn’t cheapen it by blatantly stating “Harry, look at me so that I can die gazing into your mother’s eyes, oh, how I loved Lily so.”

Dumbledore’s backstory makes you look at him in a new light. He was not always a great man. He had to learn about himself, what his strengths were and what his weaknesses were. You learn about his family life, and some of his shadier moments. You aren’t sure if you can fully trust him, even though you want to. This doubt heightens the drama when Harry learns he must sacrifice himself. Is Dumbledore capable of raising Harry like a lamb for slaughter?

Harry Potter steps up in the Order of the Phoenix. In Deathly Hallows, Neville Longbottom steps up. While Harry is out running around in the woods, Neville takes it upon himself to rebel against Snape and restarts Dumbledore’s Army. He protects the other students at his own expense. He was deserving enough to get the Sword of Gryffindor (like Harry back in Chamber or Secrets), and he uses the sword to kill Nagini, a.k.a. the final Horcrux. Only the most important characters destroy a Horcrux. Dumbledore destroys the ring, Harry destroyed the diary (and himself), Hermione destroyed Hufflepuff’s cup, Ron destroys the locket, the diadem was accidently destroyed by Fiendfyre, and Neville destroys Nagini. He comes full circle, from being comic relief to being Harry’s pureblood equivalent.

It is a great book, and the best ending that she could have come up with. I will never begin to understand how she could create and finish such an amazing and magical series with the pressure of the world watching, waiting, and judging. J.K. Rowling became the first ever author billionaire. She deserves all her success and more. She didn’t invent wizards or goblins or magic wands. But she made them her own, and created a timeless story that seals its place with masterpieces of literature like the Lord of the Rings and Goosebumps.

Critically Rated at 16/17

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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (book)

Harry, Ron, and Hermione are back at Hogwarts for their sixth year, and the sixth book is the darkest one yet. Voldemort is steadily gaining power, and even the Muggle world is starting to be effected by him. The war is coming, and Dumbledore knows isn’t going to be around much longer, so he starts to prepare Harry for what lies ahead.

Voldemort is still the main antagonist, but he isn’t physically present in this installment, he only appears in flashbacks in the Pensieve. Dumbledore and Harry explore memories that people have of Voldemort in order to gain insight as to defeat him. Dumbledore’s theory is that Voldemort has been creating Horcruxes to cheat death. Harry must figure out what items Voldy used to create the Horcruxes and he must find a way to destroy them.

Professor Horace Slughorn is a fun new character. Dumbledore convinces him to come out of retirement and resume his old position as the Potions teacher. Slughorn is the Head of Slytherin House. He has all the attributes of a typical Slytherin: he is a cunning, ambitious leader who enjoys power. He collects students that have potential, and uses his contacts from the “Slug Club” to improve his own status in life. He is a little bigoted, but he still can see past one’s blood status. Most Slug Club members are pure blood, but Lily and Hermione were still recruited, and Lily was his favorite student.

There isn’t as much of a mystery plot in this story. They spend some time trying to figure out what Malfoy is up to, and they also try to discover who the Half-Blood Prince is. A lot of time is dedicated to showing student life at Hogwarts. Ron gets a girlfriend and Hermione gets jealous and they have stop hanging out for a while. Harry develops feeling for Ginny and is torn between his heart and loyalty to his best friend. It seems like J.K. Rowling is setting everything up for the final book.

SPOILER ALERT: So Dumbledore dies at the end of this one. And now Harry is in control of his fate, he doesn’t have anyone to guide him anymore.  He doesn’t have Sirius or Dumbledore to ask advice. He’s not alone, he still has Ron and Hermione, but he knows that it is time to face Voldemort.

You find out at the end that Snape is the Half-Blood Prince. The book is basically called Harry Potter and Snape. J.K. does a tremendous job handling Snape’s moral ambiguity. You can never tell if he is good or evil, or which side he is on. The final reveal of his character in the Deathly Hallows would not have worked without his depiction in this book.

This book is much slower than the previous entries to the series. It’s more reflective and a character study than an exciting book about a wizard war. It’s the calm before the storm. A very important step before all Hell breaks loose.

Critically Rated at 13/17

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So if Gryffindor is the good house, and the light side of the Force, Slytherin is a house of evil, and the dark side. Slytherins aren’t necessarily evil, but they are really ambitious and strive to be powerful and great. Notable Slytherins include Snape, Malfoy, Bellatrix Lestrange, and Tom Riddle (a.k.a. motherfucking VOLDEMORT). Not all Slytherins are bad. They are just racist fucks sometimes, always hating on mudbloods.

Critically Rated at 13/17.

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