originally published July 2007 - Warning: Spoilers Ahead!
Early last week, during a television interview, J.K. Rowling appeared to joke that the final novel was a “bloodbath.” Turns out, she wasn’t really kidding. To say that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows begins with a bang is an understatement. There’s death in chapter one and four deaths by chapter eight. One understands quickly that no character is safe from Rowling’s thrashing penknife. She’s brutal. Is this really a children’s book?
But trademark Rowling devices are present. The little understated moments tug at our heartstrings: Dudley tells his cousin goodbye, Harry leaves the Dursley’s as he came – with Hagrid on Sirius’s motorbike, and the final battle occurs at Hogwarts where all the characters “do what they do.” We see Trelawney assault with crystal balls. Neville and Professor Sprout send in the attack plants. McGonagall transfigures an army of desks to lead the ‘charge.’ Grawp fights giants as Hagrid rescues spiders. Luna spreads happiness to assist her three friends past the dememtors. The woman understands, lives with, and breathes alongside, her characters.
Her themes are there: love can conquer all and kindness and friendship matter. But we also see political statements: news-media and the government are corrupt and not to be trusted. She throws a take that jab at her religious critics simply by having Harry say, “Thank God.” Traditional Christian resurrection themes dominate the book with Harry as Christ-like as ANY fantasy character, rising from the dead to save them all. The Christian references are way too many to mention in a short review. She even helps us understand death as the next step, the next great adventure. She lets us know that all humans are flawed creatures, so multidimensional one can never predict their actions. We can be bad guys and good guys at the same time, the lines are not easily drawn. It seems Rowling hasn’t missed a beat....... Continue reading the entire review and resources on Reading Rumpus.