Well, as many Harry Potter fans know, today is Neville Longbottom’s birthday, and tomorrow is Harry’s!
I probably wouldn’t have thought about that, but last night I finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and it was better than I could have hoped for. I won’t ruin any of the surprises, because I’m not that kind of a guy. I can’t stand it when people flip to the back of the book to see what happens before they even read it, and I certainly won’t take part in ruining stories for people. But I will say that all your questions get answered: What are the other Horcruxes? What really happened to Dumbledore’s arm? Where do Snapes’ allegiances lie? In my opinion, Book 7 was the best of the series. And after reading it, I can now say that I like the Harry Potter books better than any other series I’ve ever read – and that’s saying quite a lot.
I’ve read most of the Ender books by Orson Scott Card, I’ve read the Dark Tower series by Stephen King, the Lord of the Rings series by Tolkien, the Dune books by Frank Herbert, and many others, but I think I’m most impressed with Harry.
Too often, a series will start out great, but after a couple of books, the author seems to realize that he’s really got something going. At that point, a larger plot is often woven into the story that just wasn’t there in the beginning. I really felt that with the Dark Tower books. King seemed to have had a vague sense of where he was heading, but by the time we reached our destination, it was vastly different than the original feel of the story. Things got stranger and stranger as they went, and Frank Herbert’s Dune universe started getting pretty wacky around book 3.
But Rowling really impressed me with the Harry Potter books. In the beginning, they seemed rather mild. The ending (of the first book) definitely had some pretty cool elements, but the book was still fairly juvenile. As the books progressed, however, so did the overall story and the maturity level. And beginning in Book 4, readers found that major characters could actually die! The stakes had been raised! The depth of the overall plot grew with each installment, but it felt totally natural. I’ve never read a series that remained so consistent.
For me, the entire series has been a complete joy, and I count myself among those who are currently dealing with their withdrawal symptoms. I confessed to a friend earlier today that when I finished reading it last night, I immediately reread the last couple of chapters. Turns out, he did as well!
It’s rare that something that has generated so much hype actually lives up to its reputation, but the Harry Potter books do. If you’ve never read them, you absolutely need to. As Stephen King has said, “I think Harry will take his place with Alice, Huck, Frodo and Dorothy, and this is one series not just for the decade, but for the ages.”