I'm going to have to get a little nostalgic with this one. :) Out of the entire Harry Potter series, the last book is the one that I remember most vividly reading for the first time. That's probably partly because it's the most recent one (I was 16 when it came out). But it's mostly because the HP series meant so much to me growing up. I grew up with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. So I realized even then that it was important, this big part of my childhood coming to an end.
I remember that weekend...the book was released at midnight Friday night. My mom was going to yard sales the next morning, and I rode along so I could run in the store and buy the book early that morning. I started reading it then and I was finished by Sunday night. I stopped reading to eat, sleep, and go to church on Sunday, but that was the first (and only) time I've ever read such a huge book in such a short amount of time. I remember wanting to read slower to absorb every little detail but still wanting to rush through because I had to know what was going to happen. We were staying up the road with my grandmother that week (it was during the time that she wasn't able to stay by herself), and I remember reading on her front porch swing. I remember every part of the story that made me cry. (And there were quite a few of those, ha.)
Okay, enough reminiscing. Here are my thoughts on the book as I reread it...
This is my favorite book of the series. It really is a perfect conclusion, and after reading so many unsatisfying "last books," I appreciate that. There's so much happening that it almost feels like a couple of different stories...so much has changed from the beginning of the book to the end! Even though a big part of the story is the "journey" with the trio, and that's the sort of thing that has the potential to drag on, it never felt that way to me. The slower times are broken up with bits of action, and even in the slower bits, the characters are still changing and interacting. (Sometimes not a good thing. I've said this before, but I hate it in any of the books when Harry and Ron or Ron and Hermione aren't speaking to each other!)
There are so many parts that still make me emotional: Dudley's goodbye to Harry, Kreacher's change of loyalties, the revelation of Snape's true character, and just a lot of little things that make me tear up. And then of course there are plenty of big sad events. Anyway, I'm just really happy with how J.K. Rowling wrapped everything up, but it feels impossible to "review" this book.
I like the epilogue less the more I read it. I used to love it, but now it feels cheesy and a bit like a happily-ever-after that you would have written as a kid...when you'd be more likely to want to name your children after every single person you ever looked up to.
And if it was hard for me to review the book, it's going to be even harder for me to review the films. Because I've already reviewed them on the blog before, years ago right after seeing them in theaters. I'll just briefly give my thoughts here, and then below I'll link to my original reviews in case you want to read more. :)
I watched both parts of the Deathly Hallows in one evening, and whew, it was quite an experience. These two films feel different from the rest, just like the book. I jotted down notes as I watched, so I'm just going to go through things in order.
Part 1 starts off with a heartbreaking montage, which includes Hermione leaving home and wiping her parents' memory of her to protect them from Voldemort. (I do wish we had been able to see Ron's ghoul, though. It would have added some humor!)
I'm really disappointed with the Dursleys' goodbye scene. I wanted Dudley and Harry to have that odd bit of resolution like they do in the book. I do love the seven Potters scene though. Those transformations are well done and it's so funny. ("We're identical!") Later, I love it when George walks in on Harry and Ginny and sticks his toothbrush in his ear (former ear?)...it's just the most random and hilarious thing. :)
The Harry/Hermione dance is a little weird, but at the same time it feels realistic somehow. I've always loved their friendship. Have you noticed that they never really fight? Usually in the books when the trio is fighting, it's Harry vs. Ron or Ron vs. Hermione.
The animation for The Tale of the Three Brothers is gorgeous! But otherwise I'm always a bit disappointed with the whole visit to the Lovegood's home. My one problem with this film is that in several instances, certain things aren't nearly as impactful as they were in the book. That might just be a personal thing, though. When I read the book, I got chills at certain parts, like Kingley's message that arrives via Patronus at the wedding and when the trio realizes that Luna's dad is hiding something. The shock of realizing something terrible was incredible in the book, but in the movie it's just sort of...meh.
(Also, Dobby's death isn't nearly as moving in the film as in the book. I tear up more in the movie when everyone welcomes Harry back to Hogwarts than I do when Dobby dies!)
The scene at Gringotts is pretty awesome. And I have to say that Helena Bonham-Carter's acting is so good there. She manages to look like Hermione and use Hermione's facial expressions and mannerisms while being Bellatrix. That blows me away. (Also, the actors and actress who play the trio at the Ministry of Magic are great. They capture the mannerisms of Harry, Ron, and Hermione, too. The one who plays Harry is especially good.)
Three more little things: Professor McGonagall is the best except for that one cheesy line ("I've always wanted to use that spell!). I think Maggie Smith might just be one of my favorite people. (I watched The Grand Exotic Marigold Hotel recently and that cemented my love for her and Judi Dench.) Fred's death is heartbreaking, maybe even more so than Lupin and Tonks, probably because their whole relationship was really glossed over in the films. And Voldemort hugging Draco Malfoy is one of the most awkward things ever.
Overall, I think these two films are good adaptations. There are several things that I wish they had done differently, but the films really capture the atmosphere and feeling of the book. (This is one book that actually needed to be broken up into more than one movie. Unlike Mockingjay, The Hobbit, etc.)
So that wraps up my reread of the Harry Potter series and my rewatching of all the films! It took me about five months, but was such a wonderful experience and I almost feel like I got to discover one of my favorite series all over again. :)
P.S. You can find all of my previous Harry Potter reviews here. And here are my original Deathly Hallows film reviews: Part 1 and Part 2.