I’m always mixed about the Deathly Hallows. It’s okay as a book, but I can’t help but feeling disappointed – and not in a good way, either. As a climax for any series, it’d be a okay. As a climax for this series, however, it does not deliver accordingly.
In my Half-Blood Prince review, I already said we’d be moving into the domain of tragically depressing. I stand by this. Seriously: how many people need to die senselessly? Yes, I know Rowling’s trying very hard to show the pointlesness of the whole war thing, but come on: loads and loads of people bite the dust for no reason. Two of them don’t even get a scene, just their corpses on the floor, lined up next to others. I know you’re supposed to kill your darlings, but this is just ridiculous. If there had been – say – four deaths in total, they would have been a lot more shocking.
I like Moody’s death, for instance. It resonates throughout the entire story. Moody dying also makes sense: if he’s dead, then who can still be safe? Dobby’s death was pointless, but if you want to show the stupidity of was, then this is the way to go. I think execution is to blame here: this is never made clear (or never meant, meaning that Dobby was just another casualty for Rowling – which I refuse to believe). Three other deaths – Fred, Lupin and Tonks – are just plain stupid: there is no way Rowling can still mourn those characters – the book is over by the time she can do so. I think it is unbelievable she decided to have three pointless deaths at the final showdown – bad storytelling, bad!
I also personally would have wanted to see more Neville. Why couldn’t they have gone to Hogwarts in September? Snape could have been made principal a bit later, causing the muggle repression to start a bit later. This would have ensured that Harry, Ron and Hermione fled from Hogwarts, thus passing the torch to Neville. Neville’s reveal at the end is cool, but I still kept thinking that I would’ve enjoyed it more if this book had actually been about him running amok all over school.
It just doesn’t work anymore. It all feels a bit dodgy. Hiding in the woods, chasing Horcruxes (never mind the Hallows, which I found an even more pointless plot device than the Horcruxes themselves). It’s mayhem all right – such is war – but it’s just about as pointless to watch as Apocalypse Now. But that movie is based onto something truthful, so it makes sense. There’s no point in a making a movie that looks like you’re working on a trauma, if there’s no trauma in sight.
I think the final chapter of the series is a typical situation of how a strong way of telling a story can turn against you: the story never deviates from using Harry’s point of view. This works perfectly as long as Harry is in Hogwarts, at the centre of attention. But if you park your main characters in the middle of the woods, how will you let them maintain that link to the outside world?