Nov 27, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (book 7), by J. K. Rowling

Disclaimer: All reviews are the result of my personal opinion from a Christian stand-point. These reviews are provided for those who share my beliefs and morals, to help guide what fiction a reader may wish to pick up. For those who do not share these beliefs, please refrain from hateful comments. It is due to rude commenting that I must now include this note prior to all reviews. For more information, visit my purpose behind this blog. Thank you for your understanding.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J. K. Rowling, is a book with three plots in one that somehow tie all the loose ends of the previous six books into a single beautiful knot.

It's difficult to provide a summary without giving away plot points, so I thought I'd steal the description in the dust-jacket:

"We now present the seventh and final installment in the epic tale of Harry Potter."

Obviously, this provides practically no information at all. So, I'll have to do my best:

Harry is forced to make decisions and enter perilous quests that full-grown wizards have never even attempted. But he is up to the challenge. He chooses not to return to Hogwarts, instead he seeks the seven horcruxes (bits of Voldy's soul) in order to defeat Voldemort. Ron and Hermione--the ever-faithful friends--join him on this journey through forests and mountains, disguises and dangers, risks and desperation, but they have no leads. Dumbledore is gone--their one source to all answers--and they are forced to unravel what few clues they are given.
After 553 pages of searching and guessing, their adventures come down to one epic battle, one desperate search, and the hope that Dumbledore's minimal hints are based on truth.

When I first read this book, I wasn't thrilled. It seemed to drag through the first half (and then some), but in the end everything came together pretty nicely (with only a few crooked puzzle pieces). J. K. Rowling has an amazing ability to weave significance into every tiny aspect of the story. She ties loose ends that I never even noticed.! And no one can deny that the end battle is the essence of "cool".

After following Harry through six books already, it's amazing looking back to the innocent boy in the closet and seeing the huge change in his character throughout the series. J. K. Rowling is incredible with her ability to take characters and students through the "tricky teen years" and accurately portray their frustrations, angst, and growing. In a way, the Harry Potter books show that one can survive those difficult years without rebellion, without intense depression, and with friends.
Rowling places great emphasis on the friendships, faithfulness, and love in her story--themes that the youth of today tend to miss. And in that area, I think the series is an enormous success. However, as stated before, the Harry Potter series leaves the "children" label of books and jumps strongly into the "teen" or even "young adult" section. But when you look at the books, it makes sense. Harry is entering his teen and young adult years. So naturally, the writing is going to follow.

I noticed several more mentions of God in The Deathly Hallows, often used flippantly like "Thank God", but it is capitalized. I will not make the assumption that Rowling is or is not a Christian, not unless I read it in writing as quotes from her own mouth. But there are a few mentions of "afterlife", church, "thank God", and the likes throughout novel 7.

**************SPOILER ALERT*************
(meaning I'm going to give away a major plot point, so you may skip this if necessary)

At the end of the book, Harry is forced to sacrifice himself in order to save the wizarding world. He is a horcrux, meaning a piece of Voldemort's soul was accidentally imparted to him when Voldemort first tried to kill him 17 years ago. In order to completely finish off Voldemort, Harry must die so that Voldemort has no horcruxes left.
As Harry is walking to his death, he starts thinking about every heart beat and every breath in his body. He is brought to the sharp reality that life is a miracle--a miracle he's never realized before. This moment is very touching and can help other teens see how precious life truly is and that sometimes that preciousness is only realized when it's too late to appreciate it.

When Voldemort "kills" Harry, just the Voldemort-soul part dies and Harry enters some sort of in-between heaven state. I've read the chapter three times and still cannot figure out where/what this place is. He meets Dumbledore (who is already dead) and they have a friendly chat in the clouds. Harry has a choice, either to "go on" to the unknown (aka. afterlife) or return to earth without the Voldemort-soul in him.
I'm sure you can guess what he chooses.

*************END SPOILER*************
(meaning it's safe to read now)

This book is the most intense of the lot with its battles, dangers, escapades, traps, torture, murders, etc. There is the usual swearing, but generally it's mostly battle scenes that may turn the young one's stomach, which is why I recommend that the reader be at least in his or her teen years before perusing book 7.

One review of the book that I really enjoyed reading was in Christianity Today by Bob Smietana. He writes about the "gospel" in Harry Potter, finding Christian themes (even if unintentional by Rowling). It's helpful reading about the books with this attention on the positives in the stories. Sometimes we can get stuck on the negatives.

Overall, I would recommend Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to older teens only if that teen has read the rest of the series. This one is sketchy--well written and providing perfect closure, but dark and a little odd concerning death and miracles. As I stated before, I'm slightly biased toward the Harry Potter books and have loved them my entire life. Right now especially, when book 7 and movie 7 have left such good impressions upon me, it is near impossible to give a neutral review. I will leave it, once more (as always), to your own discretion.For a more detailed explanation of the above ratings, visit the 6-Point Nutshell post.

Violence Level: ****
Romance Level: **
Christian Focus: *
Readability Level: ***
Story Depth Level: ****

Recommendation: ***

For a more detailed explanation of the above ratings, visit the 6-Point Nutshell post.

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, releases 2014 from Marcher Lord Press, the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction. When Nadine's not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she is out pursuing adventures. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband. You can find out more about Nadine and her books at

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