Thursday, July 26, 2007

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling

At 2am EST on July 22, I finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, 26 hours after its release. There are no true spoilers in this entry, and any pseudo-spoilers will come with warnings.

Roommate was in NYC for the release, and by midday on the 20th, he was text messaging me to let me know that crowds had already gathered. I headed downtown Saratoga Springs around 7pm and picked up my wristband from Borders. The clerk said that my green wristband would allow me into the green line and then festivities began at nine. I parked myself at the bookstore across the street—Uncommon Grounds—to do some grading. The location gave me the opportunity to check out the Borders line whenever I went out to grab a smoke.

By 10pm, a throng had gathered, but even by 11 or so, it hadn’t increased. When I headed over at 1130, I felt pretty confident that, although Roommate had been telling me that there were thousands gathered in Times Square, Saratoga would be an in-and-out venture. What I hadn’t realized was that the crowd outside was just catching some air… inside it was breast-to-back claustrophobia.

Had the clerk done me a favor when bestowing me with a green wristband? I’ll never know. But after fighting my way through the crowds, I found that the green line was the shortest. I took my place behind a cloaked mom and a daughter dressed as Crookshanks and held my precarious ground. The other colored lines were double the green even then and expanded to fill the small store. When green built up behind me it grew slowly—us green folks were the lucky ones.

The store had raffle drawings and bingo. I paid little attention to either. A handsome man, 31 year old ad salesman, took the green space behind me. He reeked of liquor and made loud jokes about the costumed attendees. He will remain an enigma to me, as he was brutal and yet… still in line for his own copy. At one point I spun around and said, “You DO realize that this is book meant for kids, right?” He admitted to being a Star Wars geek and having dressed in costume for a premier or two. And so, I gave him a bit of a hard time. My elbow bumped him hard when I was taking off my sweatshirt in the oppressive heat, and when I apologized, he said, “I’ll never complain about a pretty girl taking her clothes off in front of me.” He (I did catch his name, but have forgotten it) seemed rather intent on picking me up, until I flatly told him that nothing short of nuclear war was going to stop me from starting to read HP as soon as I bought it.

So, strange crowd indeed. I admired Crookshanks’s “witches brew” necklace and she disappeared and returned with one for me. I made small talk with drunk guy, and he honked his horn at me and screamed out the window when he drove by me (he shouldn’t have been driving) on my way back to the car. Next to me were parents—locals—in line so their wee ones on the balcony wouldn’t be crushed by the hoards on the selling floor.

Green magic worked in my favor and I walked out at 12:21 am with my prize. Headed straight back to my dorm lodging at Skidmore College where my box o’wine awaited me. And by 12:45, I’d cracked open both the box and the book.

Read until the wine made me sleepy at 4am-ish. Woke at my 8am alarm and cursed myself for not shutting it off. I considered continuing to read in my bed at 8, but fought it and then couldn’t get back to sleep. I lay awake for two hours, thinking about the book. And I came up with what I thought would be the perfect fate for Harry. This may be a spoiler but I promise that I won’t tell you if I was right or not so don’t finish this paragraph if you don’t even want any ideas: My thought was it would be perfect if Harry survived and somehow became the first, really permanent Defense of the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts.

Again, this was just a musing of mine when I was less than 200 pages into the book.

Anyway, finally re-slept at 10 and woke at 12:30… and pretty much read until I finished at 2am.

Did laundry, had lunch, got sushi, and did a little shopping, but other than that my day was devoted to finishing the book. Got a bit of a sunburn reading on my porch. And just after I finished, and just after I started this entry, I was confronted by a curious skunk not two feet away from me. Luckily his claws skittered on the concrete and I had a little time to think, but he was so cute it was all I could do to not reach out and pet him.

Final verdict: Best book out of the seven. 750-some pages of nail-biting suspense. Gorgeous and moving wrapping up of the mythology. I GET that it is over, and I accept that.

It did feel a bit slow for a while after around 100 pages, but so much was revealed during a time of inaction. Connections unearthed. Revelations uncovered.

In the end, the mythology feels, well, done. And well done.

Semi-pseudo-spoiler alert: I’ll never for the life of me know what JK Rowling meant when she said that “Two die.” Bull SHIT! I can’t even begin to imagine what her qualifications for “two” were. The death toll in the book is considerable and there were few deaths that didn’t bring tears to my eyes.

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