There’s so much to go over with this book that this post could go on forever. First of all, the problems that I had with the storyline and its progression (or lack of focus, as we’ll see).
Albus Dumbledore’s death was long overdue in terms of the storyline. Why, you ask? Because his presence made certain things too easy. Harry Potter knew that he could always run to Dumbledore and get his problems either solved or just-about solved. Makes for a boring story in the long run. Killing off this seemingly omniscient, omnipresent character really does make sense, though given the fact that Dumbledore was the only person that Lord Voldemort ever feared – it probably should have been Voldemort that killed him in the end.
Severus Snape killing Dumbledore wasn’t really a shock, but here is another problem that I have with Rowling’s story. She spends five books building up Snape as someone that Dumbledore trusts while she also builds up that Dumbledore is the wisest wizard of his age and that Snape is a real bastard to the kids in the school. From the get-go, some of this logic just didn’t work. For example, our muggle-equivalent to having Snape (a known Death Eater) teach at Hogwarts would be for a convicted sex offender to work in a Sesame Street amusement park! Yet, there was no parental uprising over his hiring?
My other issue with Snape being the one to kill Dumbledore is that it sends a really horrific message to the legions of children around the world who are reading this story. For literally thousands of pages they read how Dumbledore is a kind, loving man who sees the best in people – a truly great lesson for the kids out there. Then they learn that even though the world seems set against Snape because of his past and his present malicious ways, that Dumbledore still trusts him and expects others to trust him. And then – Snape kills the loving, old wizard. What do we learn here? That if you suspect someone is a sneak then you should NOT give them the benefit of the doubt and give them a chance? What exactly is the lesson that the kids out there learn from this killing other than that they shouldn’t trust people with bad histories? A very bad lesson indeed. Unless Snape was in on the death (see link below).
Then there is the practicality of it all when you think back to the memory that Harry saw in the pensieve where his father and Sirius tortured Snape. Why didn’t Harry apologize for his father and Sirius when he saw that memory? It was obvious that they were in the wrong and that Snape did nothing to provoke that attack. Shouldn’t the lesson here have been to be the better man and apologize for the sins of the past?
Oh, and I didn’t like how the book opened with the muggle Prime Minister waiting for a call from that “wretched” President. Sure, Rowling didn’t name who the President was or from what country he was from, but come on…what a completely unnecessary and awkward cheap shot.
The Horcruxes – eh, I don’t take too many issues with them. Honestly, I think that it’s a way to prolong the story and for Rowling to make a thicker seventh book. I also think that Harry Potter’s scar is a horcrux and thus Harry will need to die before the end of this story…
And Rowling is getting a bit loquacious in her writing style. A lot of what is in the book as “filler” was, at times, tedious to tread through. However, from what the internet tells me (and if it’s on the internet, it must be true), we aren’t going to have to suffer through any more Quidditch play-by-plays in the final book.
Now, I have to say that I enjoyed the Harry Potter/Ginny Weasley love affair much more than the Cho Chang one in the previous novel. It was well played out – good job there. I didn’t, however, like the way it “ended” with Harry saying that he couldn’t be with Ginny because Voldemort would go after her again. Seemed like too easy of a cop out to me. And, quite frankly, sixteen and fifteen year olds shouldn’t be concerned about whether they can “be” with someone for a prolonged period of time.
I also enjoyed the reintroduction of Fleur into the storyline as Bill Weasley’s fiance. It provided some entertaining moments in the beginning of the book and a touching scene at the end where she and Mrs. Weasley embrace over the werewolf-battered Bill Weasley. Sticking with the love stories, the Ron/Hermione love story is coming along nicely, too.
And I couldn’t write a review of this book without saying how much I absolutely love the Luna Lovegood character. She’s a riot! I could watch an entire movie that dealt solely with Luna and what she does in a day. Fantastic bit of writing by Rowling with this character. I found myself hoping that Luna would show up in some (if not all) of the chapters in the book. Her whole airy manner is thoroughly entertaining. I mean I even laughed out loud when she went on about the Auror scheme to take over the Ministry at Slughorn’s Christmas Party. Genius!
Professor Trelawney – brilliant! Another great character who is completely “out there!” I love it.
Finally (before I write a book myself), I have to say that one of the best parts of this book was all of the conspiracy theories that spawned from it! Take a gander at this page that supposes Snape and Dumbledore were quite aware of what was going on and that Snape would kill the Headmaster that night. The only other “clue” that I would add to what is presented here is that throughout the book, Harry tries to alert Dumbledore to the Malfoy/Snape connection and their apparent plot to do “something bad.” The most that Dumbledore responds to this is that he is not concerned about it, but he is aware of it. Of course, if Snape was killing Dumbledore by the Headmaster’s own request…then why would Dumbledore be concerned about it, right?
Interesting stuff to think about until the next Potter book comes out…