It's been a few days since I finished my marathon HP reading. I listened to Stephen Fry's version of Goblet of Fire, Order of The Phoenix and Half Blood Prince and Jim Dale's version of Deathly Hallows. Jim Dale has this old lady way of saying 'Sorry' which Harry, Hermione and Ron keep saying throughout DH, and 'Oh, Harry...', which Hermione says often, that I found a little distracting because it kept taking me out of the story. Aside from this nitpick, it was a great way to catch up on the books in the little bits of time here and there over the past few weeks.

Favorite bits from Deathly Hallows

The way that Harry keeps the trio together and leans on his friends to help him through the hard parts in DH was some of the stuff I enjoyed best. At the end of DH after Harry's killed Voldemort and everyone wants to celebrate with him, the only people he wants to be with are Ron and Hermione. How fitting. J.K. doesn't even include Ginny in this. These three are totally my OTP for the series.

As annoying as I've found Harry's temper tantrums and general childishness in Order of The Phoenix, I really liked the way J.K. Rowling handled his disappointment when he finds out about Albus' past and his mistakes. The scene when Hermione reads Skeeter's account of his friendship with Grindenwald and the death of Arianna was very well done. Harry who's known nothing but neglect and occasional cruelty from the Dursleys is still all about black and white. He needed Dumbledore not to have any weakness. Hermione and Ron are much more able to understand and forgive because they are that much more emotionally mature. That little pat on the head that Hermione gives Harry as if he was a little boy says it all. Hermione's not just all about the big brain, she's also a really great friend.

The showdown at Malfoy manor was very nicely built up. Our heroes get into more and more trouble until it really seems like they're done for. They're captured by Fenrir Greyback, Bellatrix is torturing Hermione, the others are locked into an impenetrable cellar without their wands. Then step by step, J.K takes the mess apart and they get out unharmed except for Dobbie *tears*.
It seemed a little too easy for Ron and Harry to defeat Bellatrix but otherwise it was a great sequence, and it's the turning point in the book.
From here on out, we are treated to the payoff for the whole series. Harry grows up, he gets back on track with his quest for the horcruxes, gains understanding for the flaws and greatness of Dumbledore, finds out there was much more to Snape than he could imagine, and assumes his own destiny. It's one satisfying revelation after the other until the final chapter and makes for a great read.

The awesome characters

I heart Hermione. Not only is she super smart, but she's got a soft spot in her heart for those less fortunate than her in the brain department, like Harry, Ron and Victor Krum, and for those who are forgotten like house elves and Hagrid. Her preparations before they head out to look for horcruxes are genius. She saves all of their butts so many times and is remarkably low maintenance about the whole thing.

Ever since Order of the Phoenix and the terrible background story about Neville's parents, I've been expecting great things from Neville. He is *the* awesome. I do give credit to Harry for picking Neville and Luna over the popular kids at the start of HBP. Luna is just as awesome in her own right. I wish we'd gotten more of both of them in DH, but very happy with what we did get.

Snape finally got his moment to shine. I could tell something like this was coming after the memory we saw in HBP. The glimpses of his relationship with Dumbledore were fascinating. Alan Rickman does such a great job with him, I'm looking forward to some great scenes in the next two movies.

The stuff I still haven't figured out

I wish it hadn't been so easy for Bellatrix to defeat Hermione in Order of Phoenix or to hold her off in their final battle. I'm not sure why Hermione doesn't seem to be as kickass in front of the bad guys as she is in other tight spots. I wish the books weren't using the third person limited p.o.v so we could have gotten more inside of her head. Most of the time it would be a more interesting place than Harry's head.

The other bit I didn't get was why Hermione didn't seem to follow Harry's reasoning about the significance of the stone in the ring and Voldy's quest for the Elder Wand. Is this the girl who figured out that Voldemort had planted a vision of capturing Sirius in Harry's mind? Why is she suddenly so lacking in insight? That felt a little artificial and gratuitous esp since it doesn't invalidate her main point ie: going after the horcruxes is really their first priority.

I still haven't read the first few books and I suspect this is the reason why I haven't warmed up too much to Ron. In the books I've read, he's mostly a self absorbed big whiner, and absolutely no help in talking sense into Harry. I have no clue why Hermione ended up with him except for the fact that she seems to have a soft spot for the people who need help. His walking out act in DH seemed like a replay of his breakup with Harry in 'Order of the Phoenix'. Here also I felt the limitation of the third person limited p.o.v. I wasn't clear on why Ron chose that moment to leave, after everything, or why he decided to come back.

I didn't particularly like the Epilogue. For sure Harry needed a chance to have the happy family life he didn't have as a child. But after Dumbledore essentially made him his spiritual heir, I also expected Harry to try to step up to the plate or get Hermione to do it. Peaking at 17 would be a little sad for our heroes. There's still a long way for them to go to catch up with Dumbledore or even Snape.
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