tahariel: (Harry and Voldemort - Save Me)
[personal profile] tahariel
While waiting on the tran platform to go in for the pre-release book party in London at the HP Con I caught sight of a pale, bald man down the platform and before conscious thought my brain screamed "VOLDEMORT! AARGH!" before I realised that no, it was just some bald guy in a suit. But genuinely I thought it was Voldemort for a few seconds. Tells you something about my brain, huh?

I read HP7 in seven and a half hours from midnight onwards solid through the night last night, and have only had about two hours of sleep since seven am yesterday. This is what I thought of it. Cut for spoilers.

Deathly Hallows, quite frankly, read like fanfic. The first draft of a fanfic. That the author hadn't got around to editing yet.

Don't get me wrong, I haven't got a hate-on for the book - in fact, I was happy when I finished it. But there was SO MUCH wasted potential here. So many things that could have been done better, so many things that fell by the wayside.

The main thing here is that her plot was sloppy. In the previous six books, the plot has been tightly planned to show us everything a little bit at a time and at the time that we need it, and also to include clues for later books to keep us guessing, in a truly genius manner that I really loved. This book does not do that. It is too slow in many places, with about five bazillion pages of Harry and Hermione camping in the woods, for God's sake, and rather than carefully revealing her detailed and fascinating backstory for several characters, Rowling just dumps it on us in big lumps, not bothering with subtlety, just dropping exposition in on the story without care for how it affects the way it is read. So we find out everything about Snape's past, at last, all in one big lump from pensieve memories (that Harry just happened to have a flask handy to catch when Snape was dying, natch.) Dumbledore waxes lyrical about his faults and his sister and his dodgy past.

Not only does she fail to seed things carefully throughout the text, she even forgets to mention the main plot point, the Deathly Hallows themselves, until about halfway through the book, without even a foreshadowing of them earlier in the book or books. They just appear out of nowhere, Deus Ex Machina style, and boom, that's it. Um, what happened to the whole Horcrux thing? That you carefully built up over several books and handled really well so that we were gagging for it? Oh, yeah, you randomly distributed objects with throwaway characters and just had them find them at random.

That's a big thing. She didn't bother to make us care about what happened to many characters, just dumped them in there without warning, and then they buggered off again when their part was done. I'd expect that of a rookie fanfic author. Umbridge is present again for one chapter then vanishes. We're supposed to give a damn that Colin Creevey is dead even though we haven't seen him for three books or so. (I really, really didn't care that he was dead. She didn't make me care.) Not only that, but more sinful still...

JK Rowling fell to the tell side of SHOW NOT TELL, DAMMIT throughout this entire book. Compare the emotional reaction to Hedwig dying, when she shows us it happen, or Dobby, or Fred dying, which nearly had me in tears, to 'oh yeah Remus and Tonks are dead oh noes let's move on with our plot now huh?' Um, that doesn't make any emotional impact on me at all, ma'am. They're PART OF A LIST OF THE DEAD. I needed to see them fall down fighting if you wanted me to have an appropriate emotional response other than 'what the fuck?'

I really hope that this book came out as a response to being under pressure to finish and publish, and that she didn't think this was the best that it could be. So many threads she had seeded earlier were left hanging - why did Lily change her mind about James? Who was the other person at Godric's Hollow? What about the Veil in the Department of Mysteries, or the locked room that seemed so important and mysterious?

JK didn't use the world she had created enough. Most of the time her characters were in unrecognisable outdoors places, rather than using her amazing imagination - it just comes out all the same.

I genuinely believe that, having lost the structure she had built so carefully for herself of the school year - Dursleys, Hogwarts Express, something happens in September, something happens at Halloween, etc - threw her into confusion and made it much more difficult for her to plot anything, a sort of 'what do I do now?' problem. This could have been a much better book if she'd mixed it up a little more. For instance, shown us what was going on elsewhere rather than having us just hear it and expecting us to respond the same way. Snape could have appeared multiple times when they faced Death Eater attacks, for instance, and she could have ratcheted up the tension and the questions by using his actions to confuse Harry as to whether he is good or bad. Rather than HE'S TOTALLY EVIL NO WAIT HE'S GOOD (AND DEAD.)

Also - why is Draco such a pussy? What happened to the Draco who was beginning to be well-rounded as a character, who was ambiguous and interesting and drove the plot in an interesting fashion?

There were parts I loved, though. The climax of the Ron/Hermione tension was fantastic, the encounter with Dudley at the beginning where Dudley finally expresses something good towards Harry, the way she handled the foray into the Ministry was classic good Rowling. But seriously... that epilogue? Was written by a million fourteen year old H/G fans all over the world in a million different ways that all happen to be exactly the same. It was so cliched. Hogwarts: The Next Generation!

This book could have done with another year of editing. Her publishers should not have let her publish this as the finale to such a well beloved series. It feels like vanity publishing rather than professional. It's a disappointment of all the things it could have been. And I don't feel like I have really read the seventh Harry Potter book, because whatever else this was, that was not it.

Date: 2007-07-22 03:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tarayith.livejournal.com
*lol* Well, from what I can tell from the admittedly very early reaction to the book, you seem to be about the only person feeling this way. Personally, I thought it easily the richest and tighest of the plots though I agree that the camping and information dumps got tedious-I certainly never expected something as seemingly unimportant as the manner in which he caught his first snitch to matter at all! At least Harry isn't screaming in capslocks anymore. Actually the thing that really annoys me? Is the epilogue. Totally ruins all my hopes for slashy goodness, hence I will ignore it and eagerly await the fanfiction that I'm sure the beavers are already slaving away at :D

Date: 2007-07-22 07:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tahariel.livejournal.com
Actually, pretty much everyone at the convention feels this way. We had a big discussion group at 10am the morning after.

Date: 2007-07-22 08:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tarayith.livejournal.com
Well everyone I've talked to seems to think the opposite, but to each his own. I totally agree that it read like fanfic, but then I'm not sure I can read *anything* HP in a non-fanfic way anymore-books 5 and 6 had exactly the same problem for me. Still miffed about the epilogue though >_<
And the Voldemort-platform thing is totally understandable :) I do that sort of thing the whole time-the other night something really fast whizzed dowon my lane and my first thought was: It's the Aifrorce testing some super-powerful new something, the second was: Aliens! And the third was: Nah, boy-racers :D

Date: 2007-07-23 12:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sabershadowkat.livejournal.com
Popped by after you left your comment in my journal. So very true what you said. It really needed a beta reader horribly. The stuff she did good on was great, but overall there was a lot of wasted material that she'd built up for us and dropped with anti-climatic telling (not showing, for sure).

And people liked the book all over lj, but they also have a huge amount of disappointment and similar unanswered questions/complaints, so you're not alone.

Date: 2007-07-23 05:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tahariel.livejournal.com
Someone said to me that, apparently, the movie people were putting thr squeeze on her to get it out so that they could start on the screenplay and not get behind schedule, which, if it is true, is really damn annoying.

I just hate going into people's journals, reading 'I love this so much! Whee!' and thinking, 'did we read the same book? is there something wrong with me?'

Oh well. There's already good fic coming out of it, at least.


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