TEEN LIBRARIAN'S REVIEW:
Yay, I have finally finished Book 7 of Harry's saga! I listened to Jim Dale's audio recording, and that thing is 17 discs and lasts for over 21 hours. I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment. I'm also tired! Boy, was that book long.
As I stated in my review of the "Half-Blood Prince," I absolutely will not divulge key plot points, despite the fact that the book has been out for a year now. I'm sure lots of folks are just like me, taking their sweet time winding their way through the series. I will say that far too much of the book takes place outside of Hogwarts, which is unfortunate. There's such a sense of camaraderie and, well, magic at the school that I felt the book suffered by ignoring that setting for so long. Also, to be perfectly frank, there is an awful lot of convoluted backstory about the deathly hallows (resurrection stone, elder wand, and invisibility cloak), Dumbledore's misguided youth, and Tom Riddle's / Voldemort's history. I guarantee that I lost critical plot points during much of this, because I kept thinking, "Eh, just get on with the story already!" For me, there was far too much explaining and not nearly enough showing. I mean, Harry, Hermione, and Ron spend months on a completely fruitless, utterly depressing journey, often doing no more than arguing day after day after day. Blech.
Thankfully, the second half of the book picks up tremendously, and we're back to the action, wizardry, and teamwork that are staples of this series. After roughly a billion stops along the way, we (finally!) return to Hogwarts for the climactic battle between Dumbledore's Army and Voldemort's Death Eaters. Before he faces the Dark Lord, Harry learns some shocking secrets about Dumbledore, Snape, and even Voldemort himself. Turns out nothing is really as it once seemed. After the big fight starts, there are some unexpected twists, moments of sadness and triumph, and ample displays of redemption, courage, sacrifice, loyalty, and friendship. Bravo! I'm not ashamed to say I had a huge lump in my throat by the end; I'm quite sure you will, too. Overall, this is a most fitting conclusion to Harry's story, even if it meanders a bit along the way. If you find your mind wandering, stick with it. You'll be rewarded with a touching, thrilling finale.