I finished the final Harry Potter book late last night! I had a lot of fun rereading the series again. Books 6 and 7 are my favorites while 4 and 5 are my least favorites – but even them I like because they add to the overall story. I also enjoy how it ends. I know a lot of people hated the epilogue and I can understand why, but I liked it because it was nice to know where they all ended up.
Spoilers for the series under the cut (though most spoilers are for last book), including further discussion of the epilogue.
I see books 1 through 3 as the world building books – they set things up, they introduce the characters and give us information about what happened previously. On the other hand things don’t get all that exciting until book 4 when things really start happening and it becomes obvious that Voldemort has returned.
While I did like books 4 and 5 in general I do feel that they could have been shorter – there were events that could have been removed without damaging the overall story. Yes some of it was important later – Hermione’s quest to free the elves hinted at why it was important to respect magical creatures even if it was annoying, but other things just felt like filler – Hagrid dealing with his half-brother. And somethings just went on for much longer than they should have – why did they have to suffer with Dolores Umbridge for as long as they did? I wasn’t really thrilled with how angry Harry was in book 5 – I understood it but at the same time it got old fast. Though to be honest I didn’t really blame him for being that angry – he was in a bad situation and really it was to be expected that everything he was feeling would finally explode. Especially when it was reveled that Dumbledore wasn’t telling him everything and could have prevented some of what happened. I really don’t Rowling’s use of all caps to equal yelling though – it’s amateurish and it’s what you’d see in bad fan fiction.
Books 6 and 7 are my favorites because we finally start getting some actual answers to most of the questions. Yes a lot of book 6 could be considered “information dumping” but I think it was handled well. They needed to gather information about Voldemort to understand him and to know how to defeat him. Also it lead to the Horcruxes and what they meant and the need to get rid of them. Book 7 is great because of the final battle where everything comes together Voldemort is finally defeated for good. I think what I loved the most isn’t Harry’s sacrifice but rather the fact that Neville becomes a key player – he lead the students at Hogwarts during the final year against the death eaters who had taken control, and in the end it’s he who kills the snake (the last of the Horcruxes with the sword of Godric Gryffindor, making the defeat of Voldemort possible. There are hints of how important he’ll become in the earlier books but it’s really in book 7 that he becomes the hero that he is.
Yes many see the epilogue as horribly cliche and exactly the kind of thing you’d see in bad fan fiction – everyone is married off with lots of kids who are named after dead family members and friends, and so on and so forth. However I liked it simply for the fact that it ends where the series begins with kids going to Hogwarts for the first time and also tells us that everyone is okay. Only this time there isn’t the threat of Voldemort returning hanging over everyones heads. Granted there are hints that some important lessons haven’t been learned. Some of the hatred of Slytherin remains given how one of the kids fears being in it and Ron makes a joke about it – and it’s that hatred that allowed someone like Voldemort to be created. If you automatically assume that everyone in Slytherin is going to be a dark wizard and treated as though they already are dark wizards than why is anyone surprised when dark wizards gain power?
In the end it’s the characters that I love the most about the series. The friendship that develops between Harry, Ron and Hermione, and the other students in the school who become important later. Hagrid, Dumbledore and all of the other professors, the Weasley family, and really all of the characters who carried the series. I also like how the good guys aren’t always good and the bad guys aren’t always completely evil. I love that there was more Snape that in the end it was made clear he helped Dumbledore and did everything he could to protect Harry simply because he loved Harry’s mother.