It is with mixed feelings that I write the review of the book. I have been waiting for this right from the moment I read the first book. But the desire to know the end reached it’s peak when I saw Dumbledore die in the hands of Snape. I just couldn’t wait for the next book. I don’t think I anticipated for any other book in the series as much as I did this one. Did it live up to all the hype and expectations? I cannot say that for sure. In many ways it was like Order of Phoenix, which incidentally happens to be my least favorite of HP series. There were portions where I actually felt bored and there were portions that I absolutely hated.
The fact that Ron deserts Hermione and Harry because he feels Harry is taking them on a wild goose chase. Harry shouting at Lupin for wanting to desert Tonks and accompany him. In Half Blood Prince, I got the feeling that Godric Hollow would reveal many secrets. The only thing that happened there was another attack on Harry and Herm. The part I hated most was Harry doubting Dumbledore’s character, that too based on Rita Skeeters biography. Dumbledore was one person who stood by Harry all his life and made him the person he turned out to be. How many times has Dumbledore saved Harry. How many times, Harry himself had been misrepresented by Rita, yet he chose to mistrust Dumbledore and his intentions. Coming from a person who, to put it in Lupin’s words, was just like James, who would have considered mistrusting his friends the height of dishonor. I wonder why Harry did not choose to extend this consideration to Dumbledore.
Another thing that I did not like about the book is the way Harry comes to become the master of the Elder Wand. It is simply because of a series of lucky coincidences. First his wand is destroyed, then he is captured by Grayback then he grabs Malfoy’s wand to help Hermione escape. All this was purely by chance. In fact he decides not to go after the wand because he deduces that Dumbledore never meant him to have it. It was simply providence that Harry ended up being the master of the wand. This appeared to be a departure from the previous book where Dumbledore tells Harry not to give too much importance to the prophecy. Ultimately, it turns out that Harry acquired the final weapon to slay Voldermot merely because he was destined to.
There are so many unanswered questions too
1) How does Neville come to possess the Gryffindor Sword. It was taken by the Goblin during the Gringotts break-in and it mysteriously finds its way into Neville’s hands when he kills Nagini.
2) We read in Order of Phoenix that Voldemot knew that Harry could read his thoughts. How come Harry is able to make so many excursions into Voldermots brain without him sensing it?
3) Both Harry and McGonagall use unforgivable curses (Imperius) which they never did regardless of the provocation in the previous books.
4) Ron being able to open the door to the Chamber of Secrets by merely behaving like a Psletongue, is quite un-realistic.
5) Why was Mundungus chosen to impersonate Harry during their move from Dursley’s house? He was a well known crook and an unwilling participant.
One thing that makes Harry Potter books so enticing is that, in-spite of it being about a magical world it rings true. This world had rules and everything works within the framework of these rules. This book wandered into the realms of unbelievable in sections.
Most of the clues in the previous books were deciphered by the fans.
1) Harry turns out to be the 7th Horcrux, after all
2) Snape did love Lily Potter and that’s why he switches his allegiance.
3) Ron and Hermione do hookup and so do Ginny and Harry
4) RAB turns out to be Regulus Black (one of the things that was guessed very early and agreed by most of the fans)
However, the build up to these revelations were so good that it didn’t matter that the suspense was broken long back.
The book picks up momentum towards the middle. The break-in at the Gringott’s bank and their subsequent escape is fantastic. It reminded me of Harry’s first task in Goblet of Fire where he retrieves the golden egg from under a dragon’s nose. The last 200 odd pages happen at Hogwarts when everyone prepares for war and fights against the death eaters. All the characters featured in each of the seven books make their appearance and contribute to the war. Grawp, Kreacher, all the creatures in the forbidden forest and even professor Trewelny.
And like all other HP books, the final pages are truly spectacular. Dumbledore explains why Voldermot was unable to defeat or kill Harry. The final battle between Harry and Voldermot, where Harry explains why he is the true owner of the Elder wand was fantastic. Even though, every HP book had a nail biting finish, this was simply the best.
This is perhaps the most hyped and anticipated book in living memory and full credit to JKR, the book did live up to its hype. Although, it is not the best of the HP books, I would still read it many times (I have read it twice already) as I have every HP book. Hats off to JKR, she is truly the master of the Magical world. I earnestly hope she writes many more books.
Updated 24th July 2007
Another question I had was, why Voldermot thought the room of requirements had only been discovered by him. Remember when Harry enters it in HBP, it is quite obvious that people have been hinding things there for centuries. I wonder why Voldermot assumed no one else could enter it, the proof was there right before his eyes.