The last of the Harry Potter books does not disappoint. As I was reading through this book, it brought me a sense of nostalgia as I remembered when it first came out. The big question in regards to the last Harry Potter book was not how the plot would end (Harry wins obviously) but who would die in the process. As I processed this anecdote, I was shocked to remember how many deaths there are (in comparison to the series as a whole) in this book in particular. But there is often a high price to pay for war, something that you understand more so in this book than any previous to it.
I liked this book for several different reasons. 1) This is the first book to truly cast off the formula from the last six. For example, it has pretty much been: Pre-Hogwarts conflict, Hogwarts, Hogwarts conflict, etc. etc. Azkaban saw Harry blow up Aunt Marge (pre-Hogwarts conflict); Phoenix saw the arrival of Umbridge (Hogwarts conflict); and all the books detail the daily life of a wizard student. This book throws off all of that as Harry, Ron, and Hermione set off to defeat Voldemort on their own, with clues left by Dumbledore. 2) One of the most difficult parts of book writing, I think, must be taking into consideration the meta-narrative while at the same time, having an engaging plot within that meta-narrative. What I mean is that ultimately this book, and the entire series, is about Harry Potter and Voldemort, good v. evil. However, J.K. Rowling excels at creating stories around that narrative. In this book, the title gives away the inside narrative: Harry’s search for the Deathly Hallows is the mini-narrative inside the meta-narrative. Then the grand crescendo of this book is not about Harry and Voldemort (even though it is in the meta-narrative), it is about collecting the Hallows. This is not only brilliant but engaging and quite clever. 3) The symbolism in this book is the most powerful of all the series. I find it interesting that C.S. Lewis was so highly praised for “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” because of the Christian symbolism, but this book does not get the same attention. The overtly Christian symbolism is so obvious I think it achieves the same ends as Lewis.
Lastly, I think I like this book because it ties up all the loose ends. I love this series because of the world Rowling creates and how magnificent it is and how many questions you have about it and Harry. By the end, all the questions that the series posed are sufficiently answered. For the epilogue, some people loved it, some people hated it. I was in probably the middle camp of indifference. I wish there were more stories to explain! But the canon is closed and I will revisit them again, probably next year.