Review byJennie A. Levine Curator for Historic ManuscriptsUniversity of MarylandSugarquill.net
Newswise — Thank you, J. K. Rowling. With the publication of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, you have sealed the fact that the Harry Potter series will be a classic that will endure through future generations. Finally, with the entire canon complete, we can truly claim that this is a story of good against evil, of choosing between, as Dumbledore once said, "what is right and what is easy." This book does not follow the pattern of the previous books in the series, and the narrator, Harry, is more mature and focused than he has been in previous years.
Rather than return to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to complete his education, Harry and his two best friends, Ron and Hermione, set out on a quest to find and destroy the remaining "Horcruxes" - enchanted objects that contain portions of his nemesis, Lord Voldemort's, soul. Meanwhile, Lord Voldemort and his followers, the Death Eaters, manage to gain control of the Ministry of Magic, and immediately embark-upon a Nazi-like purge of Wizarding society, interrogating and segregating witches and wizards who are not "purebloods" and forcing thousands into hiding. Along the way, Harry learns more secrets about his former Headmaster and mentor, Albus Dumbledore, and that destroying the Horcruxes is only part of what will be needed to extinguish Lord Voldemort forever. It is impossible to write a complete review of this story without giving away "spoilers" for those who have not yet read it.
The book is like an emotional rollercoaster; Harry and his friends run into opposition and danger in almost every chapter. Part of what makes these books so compelling and addictive to many readers is the rich characters that Rowling has created over the course of the past six books. Readers identify, understand, and relate to many of them, and feel a special bond. Many beloved characters die in this book, though readers may be comforted by the quote from William Penn that Rowling chose to start the book: "Death is but crossing the world, as friends do the seas; they live in one another still." Lord Voldemort's greatest fear is death. Harry does not fear it, rather, "his will to live had always been so much stronger than his fear of death." This attitude plays an important role in the book's ethereal and compelling ending.
For years it has been evident that these books are not only meant for children. As a matter of fact, Rowling has said that she never wrote these books with a particular age group in mind. Some may feel, and I would agree, that this book is not appropriate for younger age groups. The lessons that Harry learns in this story, however, such as the importance of friendship and of treating others with respect, the realization that no one is perfect, and the understanding of how love can bring out the best in people, are appropriate for anyone.
Most importantly, this book sends the message that no matter what your belief system, death need not be the end of someone, on a number of levels. Near the end of this book, Harry has an opportunity to ask a question of the late Albus Dumbledore: "Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?" Dumbledore replies with the usual twinkle in his blue eyes: "Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?"
See this review, Jennie's movie review of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," Maryland's Harry Potter expert's list and more online at: http://www.newsdesk.umd.edu/culture/release.cfm?ArticleID=1452.