The last time for Harry Potter

In just 24 hours, 8.3 million copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows sold in stores and over the web. And if you haven’t already, go buy it. Immediately.

In just 24 hours, 8.3 million copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows sold in stores and over the web. And if you haven’t already, go buy it. Immediately.

Still here? Okay then. Deathly Hallows is less of a book and more of a journey. One that will thrust you through a vast array of emotions, bringing both tears and giggles, and praise and hatred for author J.K. Rowling.

To avoid spoiling anything for Potter novices and folks who haven’t yet read Deathly Hallows, I’ll keep the background and story rundown to a minimum. The Dark Order, including Voldemort and his Death Eaters, is working harder than ever to topple the Ministry of Magic at the start of Deathly Hallows, and they already have a few well placed operatives to help Voldemort gain dominion. The Ministry is growing weaker each day, and the Dark Order’s grip on the magical community grows firmer as the good guys continue to lose Ministry support.

Deathly Hallows focuses on both the current state of the wizard war and the history of major characters, both within the Order of the Phoenix and among the Death Eaters’ ranks. Moreover, with Harry’s 17th birthday approaching–the day Harry becomes a magical adult–the magical protection of his mother’s sacrifice is about to cease. This upcoming vulnerability forces Harry into his long-awaited Voldemort hunt, and his close friends Hermione and Ron aren’t far behind.

There are chapters that unravel the heavily layered secrets of the Potter saga, chapters that develop the lead characters masterfully and entire chapters devoted to battle scenes that make the epic fight with Voldemort at the Ministry of Magic headquarters (from Order of the Phoenix) seem like a minor scuffle. Nearly every major character still alive following Half-Blood Prince makes a return, though not all of those returns are long-lived.

Throughout the novel, the good guys die with a rapidity that evokes pure rage at Rowling for creating such likable and intimate characters, just to keep killing them off like flies. However, in response to all this tragedy, Harry matures and shines in a way that readers have been hoping for since the first book. Harry’s determination to avenge his fallen friends is incredibly powerful, and the humanity of his quest shines clearly through each page.

Harry isn’t alone in his pursuit of maturity, either. The brilliant Hermione, who has always aced exams and solved complicated riddles, is now even more intelligent. Hermione’s not only grown as a witch but also–and more importantly–as a critical thinker who can make the tough calls, and her strokes of brave genius save her and her friends’ necks several times in Deathly Hallows.

Ron has also grown up and, now more than ever, his lifelong connection to the magical world proves essential for keeping Harry and Hermione alive. Moreover, the hallmark bickering between Ron and Hermione causes the trio some serious strife, though it also lends to some great in-jokes for longtime Potterheads (remember Hermione’s canary attack after Ron was snogging Lavender?).

The most incredible element of this book isn’t the driven, twisting story of the trio’s quest to finally destroy Voldemort. Rowling’s greatest strength is her ability to make you laugh and smile, even during the darkest moments of the tale. During the climactic final confrontation comes this quote, from the last person you’d expect, “NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!” You will nearly wet yourself in laughter.

Without ruining anything, I will tell you that the Potter series is clearly finished during the epilogue: there is no last sentence of intrigue or mystery that suggests another book. They’re most definitely done, whether you like the rather unexpected ending or not. It’s worth noting that this isn’t a read-to-sleep sort of book, or else something to read during breaks at work or school. It will captivate you and keep you reading through to the end, the closing 75 pages in particular.

It’s likely that you expected the book to be superb before you read this review, so it seems best that “I open at the close” and tell you again to buy Deathly Hallows. The Potter books are among the most loved to ever see print, and the 325 million copies sold proves that claim.