EDIT: I actually started this post yesterday morning, but got tired of typing and put it aside. ;) Then lj was a bitch and went down... so here. I finally get to post! Wooo hooo!
The writing style was certainly much better than in previous books; there were no slow parts the plot just kept moving forward, and for a book that big, that's really an accomplishment. However, there was something missing from it - some sort of magic? - that the other books had and I didn't find here, save for a few chapters.
All that said, there were lots of brilliant moments!
* Very early in the book, the farewell scene with the Dursleys. For a character as horrible as Dudley, this scene was a complete turn around. It was just really poignant to see him showing his true feelings for Harry, to see that he was grateful that Harry had saved his life. It also showed the possibility for another side of Dudley, a side that wasn't influenced by his parents. Uncle Vernon was as awful as always, no change there. Petunia inspires nothing but pity. It was sad to see that she wasn't able to open up to Harry, that she carried her resentment for Lily - and her son - till the very end.
* The loss of George's ear was sad, but George made it humorous. I loved his 'holey' comment, and how in the midst of tragedy, he never lost his sense of humor. It really showed his character. Though minor characters, the twins always shine in their scenes - they're simply brilliant. (Fred's death in the end was one of those points in the book when I kept hoping it wasn't true!)
* Is Hermione awesome or what? Modifying her parents' memories and relocating them to protect them. That girl has to be the best female character in all the books. She's simply brilliant. I also liked Ron's Ghoul in pajamas. LOL It was really nice to see how they both took measures in order to protect their families and follow Harry in his impossible quest. ;)
* I really liked the way Harry kept thinking of Dumbledore, specially early in the book and how he kept thinking that he'd never known his old headmaster at all. It was always the things that Harry *didn't* ask that mattered the most, and how through all the time he'd spent with Dumbledore, he'd found out so little about him. (I don't know whether or not Dumbledore would have released any information if Harry had asked, but...) It was just very powerful, the subtle way in which JKR wrote how much Harry *missed* Dumbledore.
* Kreacher's tale and his connection with Regulus. Definitely one of my favorite parts in the book. It showed Kreacher's potential, his devotion and loyalty for his masters. Of all the creatures in the HP universe, the house elves get the short end of the stick. They're so vulnerable and child-like and it's amazing to see what a little bit of kindness can do to them. ;-;
* Along the same lines: Dobby!Dobby!! He was pretty annoying early in the series, but with each book, he became more and more adorable. In this book, he simply kicked ass. He dropped a fucking chandelier! dkdlsjslj And he disarmed a witch! Talk about guts, talk about courage! I loved the way he talked to Bellatrix and defended Harry. It was just beautiful. He gave his life for Harry and his death was beautiful, too. :( I loved the way Harry treated him, the way he buried him. I cried my eyes out for that little elf.
* Luna and her dad. Their scenes were just so awesome. I love their outfits at the wedding. I loved their house! Xeno-whatever is such crazy man, and I love him. :D Can't say I blame him for wanting to turn Harry in. He was in a pretty tight spot for trying to be brave - and he cracked. He was trying to get his daughter back! I really loved the way this scene was worked out. The emotions and actions were very genuine, very touching. ;-;
* Viktor Krum! ^__^ Poor guy, he seemed pretty disappointed that the pretty girls were taken! Though he was only in the book briefly, I was so happy to see him! It would have been nice to see him dance with Hermione, though... at least one dance? ;)
* Regulus and Sirius. After finally figuring out what really happened, I daresay that Regulus is infinitely cooler than Sirius. ;)
* The prince's tale. Wow - just wow. If I loved Snape before, I simply worship him now. :) This is my favorite chapter in the book. Though the whole thing with Lily and him being neighbors and childhood friends is a bit contrived, I still enjoyed it. Somehow I always knew that Snape was in love with Lily, and that it was the reason he was protecting Harry. Still, it's nice to have it confirmed. It's a shame Lily picked James over Severus...but realistically, poor Snape never had a chance. I'm sure Lily was a nice girl and everything, but Snape was an outcast, awkward and unattractive. How could he compete with one of the 'cool kids'? (Even though, as far as I'm concerned, Snape's assessment of James is correct: James was an arrogant ass hat! And in my book, Snape is hot! ^_~)
* Neville! Omg, he shone in this book. Guts and courage in a nice little package. He certainly made his parents (and grans!) proud. He took on a leadership role once Ron/Harry/Hermione were gone and kept things going in their absence! I loved that he contacted the DA as soon as Harry came back to Hogwarts. And everyone coming together and ready to fight the final battle was just... wow. As soon as Harry decided to confide in Neville about the need to kill Voldie's snake, I knew it would be Neville slaying Nagini. So awesome!! Go Neville, go!
* Minerva McGonagall. ;-; I've always loved this woman. She's made of pure gold. We've always seen glimpses of her affection for Harry, but this book just shows the magnitude of her love for him. The way she screamed when she thought Harry was dead! And how willing and ready she was to back him up, no questions asked, so that he could finish the mission Dumbledore had left him!
* Flitwick, McGonnagall, Sprout, and Slughorn all working together, doing their thing - with the help of their house ghosts! Yay! ^_____^
* After Hagrid disappeared with the spiders, I was terrified that he was dead, that he'd never come back. But when I saw that he'd been captured by the Death Eaters I just had to cheer. ^___^ That scene made me so freaking happy. I'm so glad he made it. <3333
* The break-ins to Gringotts and the Ministry of Magic. The action was just fabulous in both. I loved Hermione trying to act like Bellatrix - that was hilarious. :) I loved Harry stealing Moody's eye from Umbridge; though admittedly, it was a pretty stupid and rash thing to do, I still loved that he had the guts to do it.
*The scenes with Harry/Ron/Hermione while they were on the run. The camping, and the lack of food, and just seeing how the stress was getting to them. The way they kept taking turns to wear the locket, and the personality changes it would cause really reminded me of Sam/Frodo and their quest to get rid of the ring. xD I loved that Ron left and later came back; that Hermione stayed by Harry's side. It's just SO them. The whole thing was very well-written.
* Snape's patronus. xD I KNEW it was his. It couldn't have been anyone else. It was a really beautiful scene.
* Throughout all 7 books, I've gone from wanting to give Harry bear hugs to wanting to bitch slap him. Mostly slap him. ;) But when he found out that he was meant to die and he accepted his 'destiny'... so brave! When he brought the ghosts of Lily, James, Sirius and Remus to give him courage, to walk with him to face Voldemort. WOW. Just beautiful.
EDIT: Trelawney!! I almots forgot about her, and that's so not fair! I loved her contribution to the final battle, and how she kept tossing the chrystal balls like 'tennis balls'! Fantastic! :D
And now, for the bitching:
* Hedwig! She gets locked up for weeks, and when she's finally gonna get to fly...she gets fried by the Death Eaters? Dude. Poor baby! ;-;
* The Deathly Hallows... is it just me or could that have been taken out of the book altogether? The main point of the book was to destroy the horcruxes and to destroy Voldemort. The hallows seemed like a big distraction along the way, and while JKR did a great job incoroporating the wand, the cloak, and the stone into the story, they could have been done without. It might have made for a shorter book, but maybe she could have developed other points, given more detail and depth to characters that felt rushed in the book. (i.e. Percy.)
* Why did all the Slytherins leave? Why was there not a single Slytherin staying behind for the final battle? Sure, a lot of their parents were on the wrong side, being Death Eaters and all, but c'mon, not even one or two? Are we to believe that *EVERY* single Slytherin was a Death Eater? That sounds pretty fucked up. The books preach so much about 'tolerance', about co-existence between muggles and wizards, about the importance of being kind to other creatures (i.e goblins, house elves, etc.) and then she goes and writes something like that? So basically, if you're a Slytherin, you're evil. If the Slytherins are such scum, why even bother teaching them at Hogwarts? Just send them somewhere else or ban them from the school. They're all going to end up turning to dark magic anyway! =P
I'd have really liked to see ALL the houses coming together at the end. I'd have liked to see a few Slytherins joining the battle. I was pretty disappointed with that. At least Slughorn was there, I guess. >.>
Dumbledore also made a comment to Snape that really rubbed me the wrong way. Something along the lines of "we sort too soon." *facepalm* Why? Because he was showing that there was a good side to him? Um. He could still be a Slytherin, you know? Nothing wrong with that.
* Was it really necessary to kill both Remus and Tonks? Did she do it just so that Harry would have the chance to be the godfather Sirius was never able to be? That's dumb. Seriously? Tonks shouldn't have been in the battle. She just had a BABY! I really don't think people would mind if she didn't show up. Yes, she's an auror - but she had a responsibility to that child. She knew that Remus was risking his life, and the smart thing for her to do would have been to stay home to care for Teddy. (But why do the smart thing, right? ^_~) Sure, Harry was the godfather, but let's assume for a moment that Harry didn't make it - then what? Luckily for Teddy, there was still Andromeda, but no matter what - Tonks was pretty fucking selfish throwing herself out there instead of staying behind.
* And while I'm talking about *not* smart things? Harry, Harry, Harry. >.> Basically, he kept making mistake after mistake, after mistake. Had Hermione not been there to save his ass only about 99.9% of the time, he might not have made it. This is the 7th book! You'd thing that Harry would have learned his lesson after all he's been through. Instead, he still allows his temper to get the best of him and gets pretty irritated and belligerent whenever someone tries to point out his mistakes. Compared to Neville's progress, Harry needs to go back to his first year. =P
* JKR relied so much in 'luck' it's not even funny. Yes, Harry beat Voldemort, but I would say it was 30% skill and 70% luck (and more than a little help from his friends and the entire wizarding world!) Voldemort was the "bad" guy and Harry had to win in the end, but... >.>
* Ron imitating parseltongue to open the Chamber of Secrets? Um, sure. Ok.
* Where the hell did Gryffindor's sword come from towards the end of the book? Are we to assume that Griphook took the sword, and one day as he was taking it out for a stroll, or showing it to his goblin friends it just went *poof*?? It seems a little bit of a stretch, but ok.
* Draco. Man, what a waste of character. The kid had SO much potential. I spent the entire series wishing that he'd come around, because let's face - Dumbledore *saw* something in him. There's a reason WHY he told Snape to watch over him. And Snape liked him too. (Ok, so being liked by Snape isn't exactly a great credential, but, um... dksljslj) His role in HBP was his chance to shine. I really thought that in the last book, we'd finally see the depth of his character. There were *SO* many scenes in this book where it seemed like he was finally coming around, like he just needed a little push - and nothing. When he was asked to identify Harry & co. at the manor, he hesitated! I thought that would be the turning point - and nothing. Later, in the room of requirement, after Harry and Ron saved his life - I thought he might come around then, and still nothing. Am I alone in feeling that every scene with Draco was a tease? Or perhaps it's my own fault, wishing for something that was never there. I knew Draco was never meant to be one of the "hero" kids, but when it was revealed that he had a talent for Occlumency, I thought there was hope, that perhaps he'd stop being such a pathetic character. I still like him, though, for reasons I can't even explain. I confess, Harry/Draco is still my favorite pairing and will probably always be. I also like Voldemort/Draco and sometimes, Snape/Draco. >.> I realize it's sick and crazy, but that's what turns me on! So whatever. ;) I never claimed to be sane.
* Dumbledore. Another character I was disappointed with. I cried my eyes out when he died in HBP. I totally idolized him, thought he was the best thing in the wizarding world, all sweetness and light, etc, etc. I didn't think he was perfect, by any means. I realize he's human and he made some pretty big mistakes with Harry - specially in HBP. He admitted to his own faults, but when Rita's book came out, I was pretty sure that there would be perfectly logical explanations to everything that was said of him, that everything Rita wrote was a lie, and the truth would clean up Dumbledore's name. Well, there were explanations - just not the ones I was expecting. Turns out Dumbledore was rather manipulative and selfish. Human, yes, he's human and he's got flaws - I just never expected those specific ones to be part of the package. *shrug* Still love him to death, though. :)
* Why bother bringing Percy back in the last chapter if he wasn't going to have any good lines, if he wasn't going to contribute anything? Wouldn't it have been nice if he'd shown up at the last minute with some vital information? Don't get me wrong, I love Percy, but his appearance just felt rushed and pointless. Sorta like "Oh, shit! The Weasley's still have this other son that's been a jerk for the past few books. Let me bring him back so I can wrap things up!" =P
* The elder wand's true master was Draco, because he's the one who disarmed Dumbledore, but as Harry later disarmed Draco, the elder wand was really his and now it would not obey Voldemort! So basically Snape was toast for no real reason (as far as Voldie knew up to this point, anyway!).... WHAT? Could she have made it any more complicated? And when did Harry figure all this out? Because towards the end, he seemed pretty sure that he was now the true master of the wand! And let's face it, that's what REALLY saved his life, because the wand (supposedly!) refused to kill its true master. But what would have happened if Ron or Hermione had disarmed Draco instead of Harry? Would the wand had killed him then? And what if Draco had never been disarmed at all? The whole thing just seems so convoluted and contrived - like an easy way out, because now we're nearing 750+ pages and we gotta end this book. NOW.
* The Epilogue? Cheesiest thing I've ever read. Honestly! What the hell was that all about? I understand she was trying to give the kids a - well deserved!! - happy ending. I get that. But Harry married Ginny and Ron married Hermione and they made lots of babies and lived happily ever after? dkdljslsj WTF! I suppose you could argue that this is a 'children's book' and in that case, this is the classic fairy tale ending... right! Seriously, though, I don't know what JKR was thinking.
The epilogue feels completely out of place with the rest of the book, it's cliche and dumb beyond words. Ron and Harry basically married their high school sweethearts? Pffft. Give me a fucking break! That doesn't really happen. No, really, it doesn't. I would have been much happier with the last chapter of the book being the ending. When Luna created a diversion and Harry was able to walk away with his two best-friends in the world, and he thought about his nice comfy bed in the Gryffindor common room and Kreacher bringing him a sandwich? That was pretty happy, wouldn't you say? I mean, the baddies are gone! They accomplished their mission and more. How much happier can you get? Why ruin it with that lame ass epilogue? So, yeah, I hated the epilogue. You know, just in case you didn't notice. ;)
* Ron/Hermione, I completely get. But Harry/Ginny? *rolls eyes* What makes Ginny so wonderful? Seriously. Other than being a Weasley, which makes her 'cool' in Harry's book by default, (with Percy being the exception, of course.) and being described as rather 'pretty', what else does Harry see in Ginny? She's such a secondary character! I'd have been much happier if Harry had ended up with someone like say... Luna! She has more personality than Ginny!
* What's up with the names? Scorpios? Are you for real? @_@ I tell you, JKR was smokin' some good shit when she wrote the epilogue. And just in case you thought the poor kids' names couldn't get any more retarded? I present to you Albus Severus!! *headdesk* That's just ludicrous.
I can see the Albus part. But Severus? Newsflash, Harry Potter: Snape never liked you. He loved your MOTHER! He only protected you because he couldn't save her. He only did it so that her sacrifice wasn't in vain. That doesn't make Snape a nice guy and it doesn't take away that he was absolutely HORRIBLE to you and your friends. I love Snape with all my heart, but it doesn't change the fact that he was a bitter old man who sought every opportunity to humiliate Harry and his friends, sought every opportunity to make the Slytherins look good and screw the other houses. He was never fair. And you named your kid after him? Duh. I certainly hope one of those kids was named after Sirius. (And was there a Remus anywhere there? I don't remember now, but it would have made a LOT more sense than Severus. Hell, even Alastor would have made more sense!) Was Snape brave? Surely. But the bravest man Harry ever knew? Certainly not.
* But he was home. Hogwarts was the first and best home he had known. He and Voldemort and Snape, the abandoned boys, had all found home here...
Omg. That is so beautiful and so poignant. This might be my favorite line in the book. Drawing the parallels between those three characters - just wow.
* "There will be no more Sorting at Hogwarts School," said Voldemort. "There will be no more Houses.
Of all the crack that came out of Voldemort's mouth, this is probably the only thing that made some sort of sense. (Minus the part of forcing the Slytherin colors on everyone. Ahem. >.>) But seriously, wouldn't it be nice to see Hogwarts combining all the good qualities of each house and coming together under a single one? Heck, use the colors of all four houses.
In theory, it might have worked. ;)
* He pressed the golden metal to his lips and whispered, "I am about to die."
Need I say more? Harry. <3333
There's lots more, lots and lots of exquisitely crafted lines. I'm sure when I read again, they'll come back to me. But these are the three that got me the most.
So, yeah. Fantastic journey. I'm so glad I listened to ari_ all those years ago, and decided to give the 'kiddie books' a chance. ^___~
OotP is still my favorite, followed by PoA and HBP, in that order. Deathly Hallows will probably follow HPB in my favorites list. Despite all the stuff that bothered and the deus ex machina way in which Voldemort was destroyed and Harry was spared, I really did enjoy the book. I'm sure I'll be reading it again - lots and lots of times in the future. (And in a few years, I'll actually read it to Liam, whom I think is a little too young for the amount of gore in the last few books.)