So, we’ve finally made it. There’s really nothing else to say! Here is my critique of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:
1. The beginning of this book really reinforces my idea that J.K.R should really just stick to writing the action/war stuff. The first few chapters of this book (much like the previous book) are tight and tense, thrilling and really exciting. I have no real problems with the beginning of this book. But then once we get to The Burrow where Harry, Ron, and Hermione are together (and J.K.R. has to write about, like, people’s actions and feelings and interactions with one another rather than things happening) things start to get a little shaky. Most annoyingly, the frustrating, more-than-a-little sexist ideas about gender and relationships spill over to this book to. Ron gives Harry a book called Twelve Fail-Safe Ways to Charm Witches. Uhm, ew. Now, I hate real life equivalents to this kind of thing (Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, shit like that). Ron is acting suspiciously nice towards Hermione but not because he’s finally realized that he’s a shit person and that he’s been treating her in particular like garbage for years but because a goddam book is telling him that that’s the way to get into her pants or some shit. It’s just so icky and insincere.
2. Why didn’t any of them, at any fucking point, stop and think “Hmm…you know maybe the fact that Dumbledore had stuff in his fucking will to aid us in this mission of ours means that he was, oh, I don’t know, expecting—perhaps planning—to die?” And on a related note, Dumbledore what the fuck is your problem? Why the hell did you make things so complicated? You couldn’t tell Harry that the death was planned? You couldn’t have let SOMEBODY know that the death was prearranged? My dick, Dumbledore, for all the stress you put on how “authentic” things had to be…just no. There was no reason for things to be this goddamn complicated.
Hit the jump to see my lengthy lament over Tonks and Lupin, the ultimate Ron douchebaggery, and more….
3. Remus and Tonks are, in my opinion, some of the most tragic characters in the whole series, as individuals and as a couple. Remus Lupin: bitten by a werewolf as a young boy, he’s been an outcast his whole life. He had a few close friends in school and afterward he lived meagerly, unable to find work due to discrimination. He had no family and fresh horrors had befallen his few friends: James and Lily, murdered by Voldemort. Sirius, in Azkaban for 13 years only to briefly return before being cruelly killed. Peter, a traitor whose actions helped set it all in motion. His only friends are the few people in the Order. His entire identity is wrapped up in the horrible misfortune of him being a werewolf.
Nymphadora Tonks: introduced in the fifth book as a strong, interesting, funny, vivacious character who is well on her way to some rich 3-dimensional characterization. But then, as I wrote before, she’s demoted to being a love-sick ragamuffin who can’t even muster the will-power to morph the color of her hair. And then, these two characters are thrown together in the most out-of -place, random, ridiculous pairing in a series that is well known for its out-of-place, random, ridiculous pairings. I’ve always felt that Remus was pressured into his marriage with Tonks; even if his reasons were “I’m too old for her and marrying me could have negative consequences on both of us” those are still reasons, valid reasons if you ask me. When he makes the point that Tonks could have a much younger man at the end of Book 6, Arthur says “But she wants you.” Uh…so that means he should just automatically get into a relationship with her? I don’t buy into that whole “love conquers all” shit, at all, ever. Because look what happens to them. Remus spends the first few months of their very short marriage resentful and rueful and even tries to run off when she gets pregnant. And then, just a few weeks after their child is born, they both die in battle. I feel like J.K.R purposefully set them up as tragic figures and that frustrates the shit out of me. Their marriage brought out the ugliness in both of them: Remus’s fears and cowardice and Tonks’ inability to cope with her emotions and her upsetting dependence on a man to bring her happiness; even after they get married her entire identity is “I’m married! And now I’m pregnant! And now I’m dead.” It’s a sad, sad end for two characters who had the potential to be truly great.
4. After the debacle at the Ministry, Ron gets splinched and Harry thinks about how he always used to imagine it as being very comical. But the reality is much more dangerous and bloody; Ron has lost a chunk of his arm and is losing blood fast. But hm…the year prior during Apparation practices didn’t Susan Bones’ entire leg part company with her body? There was no mention of the torrents of blood she lost or the gore involved so I can only assume that this is something J.K.R altered drastically to enhance the drama.
5. Putting the locket around their necks to “keep it safe” is the stupidest goddamn idea EVER. You have two fucking little bags at your disposal that are pretty fucking awesome at carrying and protecting stuff—Harry’s moleskin and Hermione’s magically enhanced beaded bag—and you fucking decide to take turns wearing PART OF VOLDEMORT’S SOUL around your fucking necks? How the fuck did the Wizarding world make it with you lot in charge of taking down the Big Bad?
6. My hatred of Ron truly knows no bounds at this point. Everything that I’ve been complaining about with regard to him—his jealousy, his possessiveness, his crybaby bullshit privilege, all of it—comes to a head here. Harry and Ron have their second breakup of the series and this one is serious business. I really don’t see how Harry can get over this shit; Ron says some of the foulest shit he’s ever said in the whole series to Harry. Harry even thinks that “something had broken between them.” And then Ron just up and leaves. After all the bullshit about how it was decided years ago that Ron and Hermione would be with him through this, he just leaves. I guess Hermione was speaking for herself when she said that. Hermione’s loyalty to Harry has never faltered (even at times when it totally should have); even if she has doubts about what he’s doing she never, ever fucking abandoned him, not once. Ron is a fucking self-centered coward. And just like all the other times where Ron does something horrible, he never really apologizes: something traumatic happens (Buckbeak’s execution, him getting poisoned, and in this case Harry nearly drowning) and that hurries up the forgiveness. It’s bullshit.
7. This isn’t so much something that angers or confuses me but more something that is just really, really sad. Lily and James were only 21 when they died. It’s bizarre to think that the age I am now is older than they ever were. Growing up with the HP books from a very young age sets them up as these bigger-than-life legends—the reality is that they were just exceptionally brave kids who were tragically killed during a war, leaving their son orphaned. It’s deep shit for me.
8. OMG, REALLY. There are only about ONE THOUSAND red flags that ya’ll should NOT go into Bathilda’s house! But no, okay, go ahead! It’s cool! And furthermore, when “Bathilda” said “Come” to both of them why didn’t Hermione be like “HEY BTDUBS, she sounds just like a snake”!?!?!
9. Harry doesn’t know any like…warming charms or boiling charms? Anything to warm that cold-ass pond up?
10. So, Ron is back. Yippie. And it is nice that he actually does say sorry. But Harry is still pretty damn quick to just let go of all his resentful feelings. And then it’s like things are back to how they always were, even to the point that when Hermione (rightfully) flips her shit on Ron, Harry thinks that Ron should totes fight back and that Hermione is out of line! What the fuck, man? And I am sorry but everything with the Deluminator is complete bullshit; the fucking voice and the light going into him to tell him where to go? Ass Pull of epic proportions.
11. Harry’s brief obsession with the Hallows (more commonly known as “most hyped MacGuffin ever”) always pisses me off. (There’s a weird running theme in the last two books with Harry being obsessive: Book 6 it was Draco, in this it’s the Hallows.) The fact that he becomes obsessed to the point where fucking Ron starts taking charge is just ridiculous; it’s hard for me to believe that Harry would lose sight of the actual mission at hand so quickly and so completely.
12. I hate, hate, HATE how little Luna Lovegood is in this book. Like seriously, it makes me angry. Another one of the best characters introduced late in the series who was not used properly in the last book.
13. I’ve always felt like Aunt Muriel’s goblin-made tiara had so much build-up, that it was mentioned one too many times to be just a normal object, that I was certain when they struck up their deal with Griphook that they would offer it as an alternative. I’ve never understood why they didn’t try that.
14. I really question the security of the Wizarding world’s government buildings. Three fucking teenagers with totally haphazard plans managed to infiltrate two of your most important buildings—Gringotts and the fucking Ministry itself—and fucking escape. And it’s constantly said that everything is under the highest security ever! Fuck, man, I would not keep my money in that bank.
15. Going back to Ass Pulls, the last part of this book is full of them. It’s like JKR completely lost her head and was like “OMG I JUST WANNA FINISH THIS GODDAMN SERIES, I DON’T CARE IF IT MAKES SENSE OR HAS ANY KIND OF FLOW” and just wrote wildly. It’s like this: camping, camping, camping then ACTION-Y STUFF MALFOY MANOR BELLATRIX WOOHOO then Shell Cottage Shell Cottage Shell Cottage then ACTION-Y STUFF GRINGOTTS DRAGON YES then brief calm then IN VOLDY’S HEAD WOOHOO I TOTES KNOW WHERE THE HORCRUXES ARE GO ME then HOGSMEAD OMG ALMOST GOT CAUGHT then brief respite while we learn the truth about Dumbledore’s past then HOGWARTS FUCK YES. It’s really fucking exhausting! And there are a lot of things that just come out of nowhere to further the plot that are so fucking random that it’s jarring! Like Ron’s fucking sudden ability to mimic? Which becomes hugely important later when he FUCKING IMITATES PARSLETONGUE WTF?! Like…I’m sorry, but shouldn’t a talent like this be something that’s established a few books ago, you know, like a good Chekhov’s Gun? It’s not like JKR doesn’t know how to do that; it’s kinda her thing. But no, it just comes out of fucking nowhere, what the hell, man?
16. This is a complaint that a lot of fans have: that we’d rather be with Neville, Ginny and the other Hogwarts students because it’s obviously the most epic, exciting, thrilling, interesting year that’s ever happened at Hogwarts. I know a lot of us, myself included, feel totally cheated that while we were on a goddamn camping trip with Harry, Ron, and Hermione (two of which are totally boring characters) we missed out on all the action at Hogwarts. But for me it goes several steps further: there are several points in the story where I want to break away from Harry’s story and follow other characters to see what happens to them. I wanted to go with the Dursleys to see how they dealt with being displaced and under magical protection and learn more about Dudley’s Heel Face Turn (which was sudden and [cruelly] brief for the readers). I wanted to go into Tonks and Remus’s home and see how they were patching together their sudden and awkward marriage and trying to deal with all their negative emotions while she was pregnant, all while worrying about the war. I wanted to go into Malfoy Manor and watch the constantly shifting and conflicting morality of Lucius, Narcissa, and Draco and I wanted to be with Luna during her captivity to see how her whimsical spirit held out in the face of torture and imprisonment. I want to be IN THE THICK OF ALL THAT’S HAPPENING DURING THIS WAR! But instead we’re with the Trio, who are purposefully cut off; all we get are tantalizing tidbits and it’s endlessly frustrating. It would be really good writing if, you know, the main plot was as interesting. Never make peripheral plots and characters more interesting than your main ones; JKR is really bad with this.
17. I MEAN SERIOUSLY, THEY HAVE A GIANT FUCKING TREEHOUSE CLUB THING WITH HAMMOCKS AND SHIT! WHY WEREN’T WE HERE!?!?
18. This has always pissed me off: the fact that Harry just keeps up with the “we can’t tell ANYONE ANYTHING ABOUT THE MISSION OMG?!” At this point, you’re at fucking Hogwarts; why the fuck not? Why should people help you if you’re not telling them why? Fuck, man.
19. I’ve complained in the past about how JKR totally perpetuates the house hate she’s supposedly against and there’s a perfect example here. There’s not a single fucking Slytherin student who stays to fight for Hogwarts. She’s always treated Slytherin like it’s the worst house, from the very first goddamn book. You couldn’t have given us a smattering of Slytherins who weren’t, like, evil? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the underdevelopment of the houses really fucking hurts her big, shiny message of tolerance.
20. This is one of my biggest fucking problems with this book. The fact that so much hangs on Harry being there when Snape dies and gathering up his memories. Like…am I really supposed to believe that all along Dumbledore and Snape had planned it this way? Really? Snape was trying his hardest to get away from Voldy so he could find Harry (and presumably reveal the truth to him). But seeing Snape’s memories (rather than Harry just being told that he has to sacrifice himself) is the catalyst that helps Harry realize and accept that he has to die; how else could he have seen them without Snape dying: Snape is not the kind of man who would have revealed these things—especially to Harry—if he were not dying. What if Harry hadn’t gone to the Shrieking Shack at that time? What if he had just thought to himself, “Good riddance!” and walked away rather than approaching his former Potions Master? It even says in the book that he had no idea why he was approaching the dying man. So much hangs on this. So. Fucking. Much. And it was really just left to chance.
21. “The Forest Again” is probably some of the best writing in the whole series. It’s very emotionally palpable; Harry is accepting death, accepting that his sacrifice will save an entire world. The all-encompassing, overwhelming truth of it—I have to accept death and walk willingly toward it— is so emotional and heavy and my heart starts pounding like thunder in my chest every time I read this chapter. And then…we find out that Harry is wizard Jesus and he comes back. I feel cheated; I feel like Harry returning totally undercuts the emotions I’ve just gone through in the previous chapter, like I was tricked into those feelings and then suddenly found out there was no reason for them. It pisses me off.
22. I am still super, super fucking icked out at the fact that, regardless of whether or not Dumbledore “guessed” that Harry would totally come back to life, he was still basically raising him like a pig for slaughter, to paraphrase Snape. That’s…unsettling and disturbing on multiple levels.
So, there you have it! And so, you may be wondering “Hey, what about the epilogue!?” don’t worry. It’s not that I love the epilogue; it’s that I have so many problems with it that it must have its own post! Please come back next week for that! And as always, please feel free to comment below!