Friday, June 14, 2013

HP Readalong ~ Deathly Hallows 29- END (eek!)

Ladies (and any gents that may be reading)!  It is upon us: the end of this ridiculously long and awesome Harry Potter readalong!  It is sad and a little exciting, if only because I actually managed to stick to it for this long.  BUT I will save my commentary for the wrap-up next week, because today is the day for indulging all of my conflicting thoughts about the end of this series.  Because YAY, Voldemort’s dead but it was a little lame, amirite?  We’ll discuss.  Happy Harry Potter Day!

 photo tumblr_m8tl5eHuXA1qciou5_zpsc1b5779a.gifSo, to start off in the middle of things, that chapter where Harry walks to his doom in the forest?  GETS ME EVERY TIME.  The first time I read it, I bawled like I’ve never bawled over a book or most other things.  Seriously, it’s a surprise that my book doesn’t look like Hagrid’s letter after Buckbeak was sentenced to death, because it was ridiculous.  Nowadays, I don’t cry so hard, but still, it gets me, especially when Harry whispers to his mother, “Stay close to me,” because a) he needs his Mommy but b) he is still self-conscious and doesn’t want the men to know he needs his Mommy even when he's about to DIE and oh my god just writing that makes me want to weep.  BUT I SHALL STAY STRONG.  On a side note, is it just me or is that chapter exceptionally well written?  There were sooo many quotes I wanted to include here, because they’re all so good, but I couldn’t choose, so you get NOTHING.

So there’s the thing with the wands, which I go back and forth on.  First off, JKR ties together a LOT of details into the explanation about Elder Wand and it’s kind of awesome because it goes back to when Draco disarmed Dumbledore and even farther to when Hagrid told Harry he heard Snape and Dumbledore arguing and OH HEY it turns out that Dumbledore was telling Snape he’d have to kill him (to keep the wand from Voldemort).  So many apparently unrelated details are brought together here.  Kudos on that, JKR.  But then you think about it for like thirty seconds and it all comes crumbling apart.
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Or gets floppy, or something.
The info about how exactly the wand chooses the wizard is interesting and all, but Harry disarmed Draco by snatching wands out of his hands through sheer Muggle force, none of which included the Elder Wand, which at that time was still in Dumbledore’s tomb, and that makes it change allegiance?  That’s a bit hard to believe.  And by a bit, I mean that it’s bloody ridiculous and should we really have to tell JKR that that’s not how the magic she created works?  So in the end, she just kind of makes shit up (you know, in a way that goes beyond “fiction”) just so that we can have a happy ending*.  Lame.

Speaking of happy endings…eek.  This book has the worst of the happy endings times 100.  Yeah, I know it’s a “children’s” book and all, but let’s not kid ourselves.  This series got DARK and is only still sold in the children’s section because it would be awkward to break up the series.  If we can handle that darkness, we can also handle a realistic and believeable ending, but which I mean to say that Harry should have DIED.  Because the whole end of this book is all, oh wait, here’s the actual truth, no wait, here it is, I knew it all along, oh no wait, THAT’S the truth.  Got it.  No, no, NO.  Didn’t Hermione teach us at the beginning of this book that the Horcrux depends on its container for survival?  (Yes, she did, it was on page 104.)  So Harry needs to die to a) actually destroy the Horcrux (and I will accept no special exceptions) and b) make this whole thing believable.  Because in war, people DIE, even well-developed people.  ESPECIALLY well-developed people, because that’s what gives the sads.  Did you notice how none of the really well-developed characters die?  Sure, you lose a twin, but there’s an exact (albeit one-eared) replica of him to comfort yourself with, because the twins are not individuals.  Tonks and Lupin die, but we weren’t THAT close to them and it’s more the orphan thing that gets you.  Colin Creevy dies, which I actually find to be one of the saddest deaths because OMG he loved Harry to the very end, but wasn’t he really just a joke?  Okay, Snape is VERY well-developed but because of how hated he is, it’s hard to really mourn his death, especially at the moment that it occurs**.  Somebody that we LOVE needs to die to make this real, and according to JKR’s own rules, that person should be Harry.

Okay, and now I’m totally getting off-track, but let’s say Harry dies.  Falls to the ground in the woods and that’s it, no Dumbledore-dream or final exposition or aptly-timed Protego charm.  WHAT THEN?  Call me crazy but I think that the book should end here and then (dun dun dun) there should be an eighth book: Neville Longbottom and the Final Horcrux.  Why?  Well, Neville’s awesome, for starters.  Also, the prophecy could have applied to him, so why can’t it still?  Oh, and Harry symbolically passed the torch as he strode to meet Death, telling Neville to kill the snake.  And sure, Neville does that, but wouldn’t it be more exciting and heart-breaking if he did it while mourning the death of his friend and hero, determined to get revenge and probably horribly scarred from the flaming sorting hat, against the background of a magical world that is rebuilding under Voldemort's rule?

Or maybe that’s just me.
I'm pretty sure that Ginny does too.
Or she just wants to get in his pants.
There are so many other things I want to say, but this is getting ridiculously long so I’ll sum it up: I LOVE the destruction of all things old and revered in this book because THAT is a truth of war and a sacrifice that must be made (kind of like Harry’s death).  Oh, and the epilogue ... yeah.  That's all I'll say about it.

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The Deathly Hallows... I love it and I hate it and yes, it would be terrible if Harry died but so much more believable and JKR just needs to write more and more books about this world.  If we’re sticking with the original ending, she could at least write a follow-up in which somebody tries to win the wand from Harry because it’s clearly not safe in a tomb and also, Harry said enough in his final battle for a discerning mind to figure out what he meant and track the wand down years later.  Also, she could write maybe a short story or something showing us which son Harry gives the cloak to.  I mean, obviously it’s Albus Severus (you know, to make up for that name), but confirmation would be appreciated.

**EDIT** I forgot to mention a very important thing that makes me unfailingly angry and I know that this is already really long and you're all very tired of my nitpicking, but WHY doesn't Snape's portrait replace Dumbledore's in the headmaster's office?  Dumbledore's immediately showed up when he died but then Snape, who is determined to be a legitimate headmaster and generally good guy (even if he sometimes acted like an ass but so did Dumbledore) just gets nothing?  WTF and that it NOT OKAY.  END EDIT.

And that’s it.  The series is over.  I’ll be back for the wrap-up next week but…yeah.  No more Harry Potter.  I think we should all spend the next week thinking up titles for another readalong.  LET’S DO IT.

*Have I mentioned that I don’t like happy endings?  Because I really hate happy endings.  Give me ambiguity any day.

**Of course, then on a reread you realize that the last thing Severus wanted in life was to see the eyes of his lost love, which just so happen to match Harry’s own eyes exactly, and it all comes together, and you just bawl and bawl.

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  1. I can't believe you used that GOT gif! I snorted!!

    I remember my first read through and I had to reread the wand speech like 3 times because I just did not get it. I like it in theory, and the implication that in Voldemort's hubris he overlooked little things like disarming being important, but like you I think it does tend to fall apart when looked at too hard.

    1. LOL. When I was looking for it to put it in the post last night, my husband and I just sat and watched it over and over, laughing hysterically.

  2. I think you say it all, pretty much. WHile Dobby's and Fred's deaths make me very sad, I do agree with you that JKR is definitely pulling her punches here. The story arc really does demand the death of a main character to feel right/complete. For me, Snape counts as a main character, so it feels okay to me, but I see what you're saying. I wouldn't *really* want Harry to die, but if it meant a book 8 starring Neville, I could probably get over my scruples there.

    "Also, she could write maybe a short story or something showing us which son Harry gives the cloak to. I mean, obviously it’s Albus Severus (you know, to make up for that name), but confirmation would be appreciated." Yes to all of that!

    1. I'm just not as saddened by Snape's death, even though he was so very complex. I never had an emotional attachment to the guy. Also, if you buy into the book's/Harry's claims (which I did the first time around) then you think he's just a murderer who deserved to die, and it's hard to revise that initial impression in the next chapter, even though he obviously no longer deserves it. Main character, yes, but he doesn't carry the emotional punch I need.

  3. Shouldn't Snape's portrait not replace Dumbledore's but just be added to the room? And maybe it was but maybe Portrait Snape was like, "You know, Harry's up here and this is awkward so I'm going to peace out for now," and went to drink himself unconscious in some other Hogwarts picture?

    I'm also okay with Harry not dying, even though I too tend to prefer ambiguous endings. Here's why I think it's fine: If someone felt like it, they could probably take Tom Riddle's diary, Reparo it, and use it for a regular diary. I don't see any reason to think that wouldn't be possible. So I think it's reasonable that you could Avada Kedavra Harry's body and it would kill the Horcrux forever, regardless of what happened to Harry's body after that. And then Harry's soul gets tossed into wizard purgatory for some Dumbledore talks, and when Magic puts his soul back into his body, I think it's reasonable that he'd be all set to get up and go and no more Horcrux.


    1. Lol, got it!

      I think, though, that the most recent headmaster's portrait is supposed to be the big one behind the desk, which is where Dumbledore's showed up at the end of Half-Blood Prince. So his should just get moved to the side and Snape's should go in it's place. But yes, I would definitely understand if Snape had decided to take a walk just then and avoid the inevitable awkwardness.

  4. Like you, the scene with Harry walking into the forest destroys me like no other book ever has. This time around I had to take a break cos I was crying extra hard.

    I agree that it felt like a cop-out to have Harry live. BUT I would not have been happy if Harry had actually died there. and not just not happy because Oh man, the tears, but I mean would have probably turned against the book. Which is dumb on me, but there you go. Though if he DID die, I am 100% behind a final Neville centered book. That may have gotten me to forgive the Harry murder.

  5. Snape's portrait should probably have been there, BUT then JK would have had to think about how he would be reacting, and how would that be? Like... Happy that evil was defeated? Pissed off that Harry was all victorious? And that scene where the potraits all applaud at Harry is SO lovely that it doesn't need, like, Snape-tension.

    Also, I don't even know how to respond to your 'Harry should be dead' thing, other than to go NOOOOOO HARRY SHOULDN'T HAVE DIEEEEEEED! Because I wouldn't be able to cope with that. I see your logic (although I like Jenny's better, obvs) But I just NOOOO.

    I am still crying inside over Harry walking into the forest. I don't think I'll ever be able to NOT cry reading it.

    1. I agree -- I think JKR skipped Snape's portrait because Harry wasn't ready to work through his feelings about Snape, and it was easier to have nineteen years pass before she shows that he really respects the memory of Snape.

      Actually, does Harry ever have a reaction to Snape loving Lily? I think it's so overshadowed by the revelation at the end of the pensieve memories (ie his impending death) that he barely spares it a thought. I want to know what he thinks of Snape's love for his mom -- is he sad, grossed out, confused by it? I want to know!

  6. Ohhhhh yes, the forest scene. As I somewhat reluctantly admitted in my post, I didn't shed actual tears reading this book...but my throat got all KINDS of tight and constricted when Harry was walking to his death with his ghost-family. That was rough.

    You are QUITE right about the Snape portrait. There should definitely be a Snape portrait...and Phineas needs some Slytherin company on that wall.