So here we are, ten months and 1 week later. Effectively, my kids spent their entire 4th and 6th grade years listening to the Harry Potter Series on audio, and what a wonderful journey it was! My daughter and I had read the entire series in print many times (with the exception of the last book), but nothing quite compared to the audio experience in the capable hands of Jim Dale. Now when it came to the final mac-daddy, we were more excited than with any other. After all, there is no movie yet to ruin everything. Plus, I’d only read the book once, like a crazed fiend in a death race, right after it was released. Except for major plots, I’d honestly forgotten all the details.
So instead of regurgitating everything that happened, I’ll leave you with some of my personal highlights and comments (spoilers ahoy maties, for those wish to remain untouched):
* Return of the Nazis. After the death of Dumbledore, and Voldy took over, it was nothing less than a reign of terror, closely resembling Nazi Germany. One-sided interviews/witch-hunts were being conducted by none other than the abhorrent Delores Umbridge, trying to identify muggle-borns so they could be tortured and persecuted. It was chilling. Too bad the Centaurs didn’t finish her off when they had a chance.
* I refused to believe he is really gone. When I read this book initially, I kept looking for loopholes that would indicate that Dumbledore was still alive. I was in serious denial. Even though I knew this time around that he was decidedly dead, I still had a childish wish that I’d missed something the first time around. The blue eyes in the mirror shard? The doe patronus? HE CAN’T BE GONE! HE’S JUST IN HIDING!
* The first half of the book was really SLOW. To me, it seemed like Harry, Hermione and Ron were doing a lot of aimless running around. After about mid-point, however, it picked up steam and everything was ‘splained. There are absolutely no loose ends here, which, after ten months, I would have no patience for the existence of such. On the other hand, while motivations and sordid histories are laid out naked before us, and all the questions that we had accumulated for the last 10 months were answered, it did seem a bit contrived. I could almost envision Rowling adding that little purgatory conversation between Harry and Dumbledore as the last ditch opportunity to answer anything that was left unresolved. And was I the only one that thought the epilogue was just a bit much? It was sweet and all, but could we get any more predictable?
* Bad guys turn good. I loved the fact the Kreacher and Harry found common ground and some affection for each other. I loved the fact that Snape was redeemed, even if it happened post-mortem. He was love-sick, poor fellow. Didn’t it make you want to give the man a hug, greasy hair and all? Narcissa Malfoy even throws Harry a bone and saves his life at the end, for the simple reason that she desperately loves her son. The little rat bastard.
* I LOVED that Neville took out the snake. Dude deserved the honor if anyone did.
* Harry gets the last word with Voldy. Yes, it feeds into the contrived ending business, but it was sincerely rewarding to see Harry face him down, hold him accountable for his actions, bring him down a notch or two, and call a spade a spade.
So where to go from here? I think the consensus is that we will now conquer the Lord of the Rings Series on audio. But no matter our next project, this audio experience will be something we never forget.
Deathly Hallows: 4 out of 5