Wednesday 6 January 2016

Book Review - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I'm back reviewing books again! No more weird End of Year/New Year's Resolution messages! And the name of these have changed! Bye bye Goodreads - it was a good run - but I think, for the sake of people who don't know my blog does book reviews, am changing your name to Book Review! So, out with the old and in with the new!

Last year, I said I was going to reread all seven Harry Potter books. And I did! I COMPLETED MY CHALLENGE! THROW THE CONFETTI AND LET'S CELEBRATE!!!

I admit, I cheated with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as I didn't read it, but I audiobooked it. The lovely people at Midas asked if I fancied reviewing some audiobooks via Audible and when they offered Harry Potter, I jumped at the chance to listen to Stephen Fry reading Deathly Hallows.

Now, for those of you not sure what Deathly Hallows is about, let me be as brief as possible - then we can have a real discussion about this book. Harry has a mission that Dumbledore has left him: find all of Lord Voldemort's Horocruxes and then kill Voldemort, freeing the magical world of his evil. But with Dumbledore dead, leaving Harry very few clues and Voldemort slowly taking over, how can Harry complete this seemingly impossible task...?

This book very much divide the fandom. Yes, it's the last book in the series and yes, it does do a lot of things the series has been running towards, but it does divide the fandom as most of the book, the main characters are camping/hiding and have very little idea on what they are doing. Which is the entire point! The main characters are seventeen years old and have NO IDEA what they are doing! And even though very little happens, a lot happens at the same time. A lot of character development, plotting, explaining. Yes, it's not as action packed as we all hoped (compare to the previous books), but this book does serve a purpose!

It was refreshing to come back to this book as, compared to the others, I haven't read this as often. I think I have read it once or two (normally, I would reread Philisopher's Stone, Prisoner of Azkaban or Goblet of Fire) so it was nice to go back to the final book in this series, sit down and pay attention to little details and clues.

Stephen Fry is a good narrator and his reading of this book (if not, the whole series) is great as he slows readers down and shows things that we readers miss in our reading run. There were several things in this relistening that I went "How did I miss that?!" or events that happened that, because of Mr Fry's reading, made it all the more emotional (let's not go down that route, shall we?). At times, though, Stephen's voice did seem flat or the character's voice didn't match the voice he used a few minutes prior, but this could be down to a number of reasons so am going to be very kind on this front.

But listening to this was very interesting. We all know the immortal line Mrs Weasley screams at Bellatrix (Gif below) but it was surprising how much swearing Ron and a few other characters got away with. Yes, these characters are adults so yes, they can swear but remember, this series is usually placed in the 8-12 reading range in book shops and libraries so go figure that logic. (But compared to The Casual Vacancy, the swearing in this book was very bare on the ground).

What was also interesting to remember was Ron's return. When he left, it was a shocking moment in the book the first read and seeing this build was a long time coming. Seeing Harry's and Hermione's reaction to his departure was hard, but seeing him return and their reactions was interesting. In the movie, Harry forgives Ron very quickly because Ron saved Harry's life and destroys the Locket Horocrux, and Hermione forgives Ron after a few scenes (mainly after Ron's speech). Even in the movie, he still got a bit of stubbornness because he goes "Of course not, I only destroyed a bloody Horocrux! Won't that change anything?" when Hermione says "This doesn't change anything?"). The book, however, is different. While Harry forgives Ron very quickly, Hermione doesn't forgive till much later in the book. Ron's return upsets Hermione because he left and then, he just returns. Even his story doesn't soften Hermione, who talks to him quite coldly and lofty. Ron has to work hard over the coming days/weeks/months to gain her trust and forgiveness again, but in the movie, because of time frame, it happens much quicker.

My main moment where I love that Hermione's attitude towards Ron and even, up to a point, Harry is when they return to the campsite after destroying the Locket Horocrux and Hermione sees them in The Silver Doe chapter. Let me get the UK hardback and US hardback and get the quotes.

"You - complete - arse - Ronald - Weasley!"
She [Hermione] punctured every word with a blow: Ron backed away, shielding his head as Hermione advances.
"You - crawl - back - here - after - weeks - and - weeks - oh, where's my wand?"
"Hermione!" said Harry. "Calm -"
"I will not calm down!" she screamed. Never before had he seen her lose control like this; she looked quite demented. "Give me back my wand! Give it back to me!"
"Hermione, will you please -"
"Don't you tell me what to do, Harry Potter!" she screeched. "Don't you dare! Give it back now! And YOU!"
She was pointing at Ron in dire accusation: It was like a malediction, and Harry could not blame Ron for retreating several steps. 
"I came running after you! I called after you! I begged you to come back!"
"I know," Ron said, "Hermione, I'm sorry, I'm really -"
"Oh, you're sorry!"
She laughed, a high-pitched, out-of-control sound; Ron looked at Harry for help, but Harry merely grimaced his helplessness. 
"You come back after weeks - weeks - and you think it's all going to be all right if you say sorry?" 
(Pages 309 to 310 in UK hardback edition & pages 380 - 381 in US hardback)

"Gosh, what a gripping story," Hermione said in a lofty voice she adopted when wishing to wound. "You must have been simply terrified. Meanwhile, we went to Goodrich's Hollow and, let's think, what happened there, Harry? Oh yes, You-Know-Who's snake turned up, it nearly killed both of us, and then You-Know-Who himself arrived and missed us by about a second."
"What?" Ron said, gaping from her to Harry, but Hermione ignored him. 
"Imagine losing fingernails, Harry! That really puts our sufferings into perspective, doesn't it?"
(Page 311 in the UK hardback edition and pages 382 & 383 in US hardback edition)

Another thing that is interesting is that this is the book we look at Dumbledore and the childhood vision Harry and the readers have of Dumbledore is finally gone. No longer the kindly grandfather/God-like figure, we see him as a man who had huge faults and failings. This is the same with Snape, but Dumbledore was the character I focused on as I am going to write a blogpost about Dumbledore in, hopefully, the near future! 

I loved this series and rereading them in 2015 reminded me why I love the series so. So much so, I am making plans to reread at least one Harry Potter book this year and, hopefully, read Tales of Beedle the Bard, Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them before I go see the stage show and the movie... 

2016 is going to be one busy Potter year! 

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