One Week Later
So - Harry Potter thoughts. The most overriding thought is that I wish I had reread the sixth book first. Rowling's universe is really a pretty dense one, and I there were plenty of details and small plot turns I feared I was underappreciating not having refreshed myself in Potter lore prior to reading. That minor caveat out of the way, we will venture into spoiler territory:
OK. What impressed me the most was something I was kind of down on originally - that being the structural change in the series, with Harry and mates no longer at Hogwarts for the year. Initially I thought the change kind of cheap - the symmetrist in me wanted the books final book to share that same overriding structure. But upon reading Book 7, it became clear what Rowling was up to - the change in structure makes it much clearer for the reader exactly how much has changed for the characters themselves; the structural shift serves as a kind of metaphor for the real danger the characters now live in. This worked beautifully. I also liked the rootless, wandering nature of the middle section, with Ron, Harry, and Hermione hiding out all over England. I can understand how some felt it went on too long, but, again, I think it did a lot to add to our empathy towards these characters' fear and the very substantial stakes they faced. I also loved how Rowling, again, in opposition to the structure set up in Books 1-6, started things out so explosively, with the big set piece of Harry's escape from Privet drive, and the taking of casualties right from the start. It set the tone of real consequences and danger right from the start.
As far as the actual plot goes, again, I feel I need to reread to see how the whole Hallows and Horcruxes stuff really plays - it felt needlessly convoluted, but that may have just been my dim memory playing tricks on me. And unlike many, I liked the epilogue, and appreciated that Rowling felt it important to show us that the orphaned Harry, he of the loveless, abused childhood, ended up with a strong, loving happy family and large extended family of relatives and friends. That it painted a picture of quiet suburban domesticity didn't bother me, as A) it was clearly what Harry wanted, and B), we really didn't get a picture of how Harry spends all of his time. That he might still have adventures and lead an exciting life is hardly out of the question. What the epilogue did leave me wanting, though, much to my surprise, was a "next generation" series starring Ron and Hermione's and Harry and Ginny's kids. On paper, such a thing sounds hokey and crass - but in execution, I'm betting it could be a lot of fun.