[Over this fine Saturday, a rainy one indeed, I plan on shutting myself in and slogging through the last and final Harry Potter book. Will you join me in my quest? Only time will tell.]

Books are a unique medium nowadays because I consider them to be the only one capable of truly surprising us. We see trailers for movies, commercials for TV shows, and yet is there really a preview for a book? I’ve been avoiding spoilers all week, and here I sit down with not a single clue what lies within these pages except for the basic setup provided in the last book.

And there’s something special about that, going in blindfolded to the story inside this ugly cover art not knowing in what context Harry, Ron and Hermione are being sucked into a giant vortex with all sorts of gold. I don’t know who dies, who lives, and what goes on in this novel. My knowledge of it is limited to my own imagination…and that feels right, for this the last book in this illustrious series.

Progress Updates

Update #1 – Lunchtime

Progress: 255 Pages, 15 chapters.

Time Reading: 3 1/2 Hours

Current Opinion: Hogwarts was really dragging these narratives down, I wish Rowling would have dumped it for Half-Blood Prince.

Update #2 – 3:00pm

Progress: 418 Pages, 25 Chapters

Time Reading: 5 1/2 Hours

Current Opinion: At this point, the book is succeeding at making me forget Half-Blood Prince was an awful piece of tripe by making it seem far more important. Kudos.

Update #3 – 5:35pm

Progress: Book Completed (607 Pages, 37 Chapters)

Time Reading: 7h 45m

Current Opinion: Wait for the full review. Or message me.

A Warning to the Muggles: There will be spoilers. I don’t plan on ruining too many things, but stay out if you don’t want to know how the book goes.

Pre-Book

7:45am: This is actually sleeping in for me, sort of, so it’s not too early. Heading down to Superstore at 8 in order to pick up the book. Hoping for a decent price point, but beggars can’t be choosers when you pass up ludicrously cheap at Wal-Mart to pick it up sooner this morning by driving just down to Tantallon. Hoping for minimal small kids action this early in the morning, we’ll see how that turns out.

8:26am: Book acquired. I like to think that the extra money I paid as opposed to going to Wal-Mart is a gas savings. Thus, paying more for the book is actually saving the planet. My experience getting the book was much more mundane than The Elder’s (Blog Post Can Be Found Here): I walked into Superstore, picked up the book from a small table, went to the Express lane and walked out of the store.

8:31am: Opening the book…now.

[Spoiler Warning – Discussion of Novel to follow]

Chapter 1

The view into Voldemort’s home seems an odd way to start this book, I’m not going to lie. It had some really nice elements, but it all felt very Dastardly Villain esque in the beginning. Voldemort felt like a very normal figure, sitting at the head of the table. The chapter got better as it went along: the Malfoys’ clear discomfort, Draco’s fear of everything around him, and Voldemort becoming progressively more creepy as it went along. Combine this with the rotating corpse of sorts, and you have an atmospheric opening chapter. Still, Half-Blood Prince had the chapter she spent the most time with, the one that opened up her world. This one just confirmed some things.

Also of note: Tonks and Lupin got married! Awww.

Chapters 2-4

Wow. See, this is the way the book needs to start: some context as to the reaction to Dumbledore (Rita Skeeter FTW), a proper goodbye for the Dursleys (Dudley FTW), and then some comedy (Multiple Harrys > Multiple Jack Sparrows) followed by the rug being pulled out from everything through the nighttime attack.

My only quibble: sending Harry with Hagrid was bloody stupid considering that Harry’s protector can’t actually use magic. I guess, though, that the Order doesn’t really have many other people who could have filled the task, do they? Death has a way of taking away potential protectors.

Chapter 5

The death at the center of this chapter was sudden, and necessary to add some sort of levity to the proceedings. However, my favourite development was Lupin finally becoming a character again. He had nothing to do in the last book, but now he’s taken over as Harry’s voice of reason. It’s nice to see someone not putting up with Harry out of love, realizing that he needs some form of guidance.

Chapters 6 and 7

Okay, I lie: I’m only halfway through seven. But for whatever reason, two things just go to me:

1. Ron’s quick slip of his desire to start a relationship with Hermione. I guess I’ll officially a shipper.

2. The following line from Fleur’s father about the enchanted razor she and Bill gave Harry for his birthday:

“Ah yes, zis will give you ze smoothest shave you will ever ‘ave.”

That, for whatever reason, cracks me up. It’s nice to see that the Horcruxes are starting to become into clearer focus, I feel we’re ramping up towards something.

EDIT: Also, noted improvement on the “Book with a Book” front compared to Half-Blood Prince. Scribbled in Potions Book holds no candle to a book on how to romance witches. Thumbs up to that one.

Chapter 8

Top Three Ways to Break Up a Wedding

3. Some guy wears a symbol that is totally not the equivalent of a Swastika (Not at all, I’m sure), and someone takes offense to it and starts a duel.

2. Hagrid’s drunken sing-a-long turns into a hoe-down, causing earth-shattering quakes to rock the garden.

1. A Patronus delivers a shocking and rather alarming message to the patrons of the fall of authority and the ever-looming takeover by evil.

Chapter 9

I’m a huge fan of the scene in the diner for a few reasons. Firstly, it reminds me of two things: the attack by the Death Eaters on the campground in Goblet of Fire, and Sylar’s attack on Charlie on Heroes. It’s the magical playing itself out in a very realistic and mundane setting, and I can imagine the scene quite vividly.

Chapter 10

So it is very clear why Rowling insisted that David Yates and Michael Goldenberg place Kreacher within Order of the Phoenix as she did, considering he has an entire chapter named after him.

Chapter 11

Spinoff Alert! Lupin, Mad-Eye (Ignoring certain events) and Snape (Ignoring allegiances) in Three Wizards and a Baby.

Chapter 12

So the kids not going to Hogwarts appears to have turned the novel into what I can only describe as Potter’s Three. I am personally a fan of this, and I hope that this more non-linear development allows for a more natural progression.

Chapters 13-15

So I haven’t written anything for a while, so it is abundantly clear that I am enjoying myself. These sets of chapters were simultaneously really interesting and mildly frustrating. While I enjoy the Ministry action and think that things are still progressing smoothly, I don’t like the return to bickering friends. I’ve always been annoyed at how quickly Ron/Harry/Hermione can turn to these activities, and even with a justifiable cause it still seems unnatural.

To address Mr. Rivers’ below snipe at my speed, I shall say that I didn’t pick up the book at midnight, and as a result am not in a position to have finished it.

Chapters 16 & 17

See, this is one of those times when I feel that Harry’s stupidity actually makes sense. Going back to Godric Hollow is incredibly dangerous, but he really had no other choice. And every now and then you have to risk running into a snake-possessed corpse that will maim you while its master arrives to kill you.

I’m, for now, assuming the blonde-haired thief to be Gilderoy Lockhart simply because he’s blonde and bringing back Umbridge shows that Rowling is trying to connect some dots here.

Chapters 18 & 19

There was some really nice set pieces in here: Ron and the Locket being the particularly good one. It is also interesting that Hitler (Come on, can’t we just call him Hitler?) is an intricate part of Dumbledore’s past that has never really been focused upon before. It seems somewhat late in the mythology to find a Hitler lying around, but considering how little Harry knew about Dumbledore’s past it is unsurprising that we as readers know similarly little.

It should be interesting to see how this is handled from a cinematic standpoint, though: Ron and Hermione play major roles here, but were all but cut out of Order. Much like the first book, it appears each will have their moment to shine (Although Hermione’s got cut out of Philosopher’s.

And, alas, it wasn’t Gilderoy but rather Hitler who is the thief!

Chapter 20

After waiting how many pages to figure out what Half-Blood Prince meant last book (PS: Ummm, can that be explained for me sometimes soon, JK? Thanks.), it’s nice to see that a Deathly Hallows mention only took 328 pages to get to.

Chapters 21 & 22

“like Severus Snape running from a bottle of shampoo” is now my official speed-based simile.

Chapter 23

Death Count is steadily rising at this rate: in fact, almost too much so. I feel like it’s Season Five of 24 all over again. In that analogy, the death at the end of this chapter is most comparable to Edgar’s.

Chapters 24 & 25

I’d like to point something out here: Harry’s totally drinking underage like all the bloody time. It never really occured to me before, but with the firewhiskey and the wine, it’s like he’s turning into a regular boozer.

It’s also depressing to know that Lupin and Tonks’ bouncing baby boy are likely to be unceremoniously cut from the proceedings. It’s always so frustrating to know that their story is worth telling (She lost her father only recently, after all), and yet we don’t get to see it.

Chapters 26 & 27

My only concern at this point is that there have been two capers involving polyjuice potion, and while both have been independently interesting they’ve also been the exact same basic premise. They go inside with the best laid plans, something goes wrong, they magically find their way out through luck or giant blind dragons.

We’ll see how the repetitiveness continues, or doesn’t continue, as the book heads into its climax.

Chapters 28, 29 & 30

OMGWTFBBQ.

(Okay, that’s not the only thing. Rowling needed to be a bit more subtle with the tiara: the random exchange between Fleur and Bill stood out too much)

Chapter 31

We need to invent a new direction: Rowling is not just killing people left and right, there needs to be another option. I’m voting for Flort. I don’t really know why.

Other thoughts: the kiss was perfect, Malfoy’s slow build is strong, and…yeah I’m gonna go back to reading now.

Chapters 32-Epilogue

“All was well” is going a little bit too far in my books, but…yeah.

The book is finished. Final thoughts will come later.

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