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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

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I was at a summer program when this book came out; I know it because it was the only thing on anybody's mind, it seemed, apart from food and sleep that whole week. We were isolated in a prep school in a tiny Vermont town, so everybody got their mom to wait at Borders three hours and then mail them Ms. Rowling's 606-page brick, the last installment in what is arguably the most ambitious series of popular literature in the twenty-first century. We weren't allowed our IPods or Nintendo DSs during lunch, but for a while the only thing you saw in the cafeteria, or in the assembly hall during Morning Sing, or on the grass in the Common, was about twenty thousand kids' noses buried somewhere in Chapter Twelve when they were supposed to be doing something else.
It's understandable, though; from page one Rowling never lets up. This endgame tome is bursting with tyranny, tragedy, and truths we've waited six long books to hear, and the evolved language—from sarcastic, snappy dialogue to brutal battle scenes to snippets of romance—befits an audience that, like the now seventeen-year-old Harry, has grown up since Sorcerer's Stone.
Readers of previous books know that Voldemort, as he gains terrible power over the wizarding world, is hell-bent on killing the boy who caused his downfall sixteen years ago, and as Harry's birthday—and coming-of-age as a wizard—approaches, the Order of the Phoenix arrive to escort him to safety within his mate Ron's house, the Burrow. However, Harry's not the type to sit around while Muggles and wizards alike fall to his lifelong enemy, and with his old allies in tow, he soon embarks on a risky quest to defeat Voldemort by his only weak spot—the six Horcruxes.
However, fans of Hogwarts will likely be disappointed, as the magical school and all its quirks—lightning-fast Quidditch matches, pithy rivalry between Houses, and hilarity-loaded classes—are essentially gone from this volume, except for a cameo at the end. Instead, Harry, Ron, and Hermione are forced to wander the English countryside, pitching a tent at night and getting into arguments. The reader, like Harry, is forced to realize what a place—what a world—Hogwarts really was in earlier books, all the other locales—The Burrow and Diagon Alley, for example—used sparingly and only when needed. Harry doesn't fly a broom even once in this book, having lost his precious Firebolt in the second chapter, and mysteriously thinks very little of the enjoyment he used to get from flying or good memories of catching the Snitch, for it's never mentioned again in the book.
Also, I might be a total ninny when it comes to my favorite literary personalities, but Rowling seems to be trying to rub out as many heartwarming characters as possible in one book. I don't want to be Transfigured into a mocha latte for revealing certain plot twists, but I can just imagine her at the Powerbook, scratching her head at the sheer magnitude of characters and wishing she'd spread the deaths over the last three books—after all, Voldemort's been loose for quite a while—instead of packing them all into one. But after all these are personal nitpicks (I thought the series was going downhill since Goblet of Fire anyway) and for more devoted souls Hallows will answer the burning questions Dumbledore left behind, as well as deliver a satisfying, though sometimes confusing, conclusion.





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