It was funny, even though the spoilers my manager told me yesterday were false, I still felt a little spoiled. Harry turned out to be a Horcrux, and it would have taken me completely by surprise had I not heard people speculate about it previously. Also, I never would have expected Snape to be good had not so many people been convinced of his true allegiance, and I finally looked up why. Call me crazy, but I like the fact that JKR is smarter than I am and that these things would have been surprises to me. It was sort of like when I read all about the speculation that Beaver was the culprit in VM season 2, loads of people were surprised but I missed out on that. But that is probably my only complaint, really. There were plenty of other surprises in store for me to read about.
Dumbledore Talk about a surprise. First, the fact that Rita Skeeter had some facts correct, was enough to shock anyone. That he wasn't perfect, that he craved power, but that he still foresaw so much, all that wrapped together was quite amazing. I liked every part of the book that had to do with Dumbledore, whether good or bad. It made him a whole person, and I liked who he was.
Harry He was so much greater than I could have thought possible. Even though he made mistakes, he always ended up doing the right thing. I liked the fact that he did die, at least sort of.
Snape I liked the way he was revealed. It wasn't that Dumbledore automatically trusted him, and it wasn't because of remorse over setting Voldemort unto the Potters, as Harry guessed in book 6. It was remorse over Lily, over a love we never understood and never knew about, and something that I never read speculation about, at least, so it was a complete surprise. I don't like that Ashley gets to say I told you so now, but I do like that Voldemort never thought that Snape could have still been on the right side, because he underestimated the power of love. EditYeah, it's like six in the morning and I can't sleep. Did I mention that Friday night I had nothing, nothing, but Harry Potter dreams? Anyway, I thought this this morning, that the other great thing about this storyline, was that it explained why Snape hated both James and Harry so much. He hated James not only because he was a bully, but because he took Lily. When Sirius said that James was everything Snape wasn't, he also had the one thing Snape wanted more than anything. And it explains why Snape never really saw Harry, why he had that conversation with Dumbledore describing him as just like James, because whenever he looked at Harry, visually, he saw, like everyone did, not just James, but James and Lily. He saw not only the love he could never have, but the person who took that love away, and that was why he hated Harry so much. It still doesn't make me like Snape very much, but at least he's more than just an evil, horrible person. (/edit)
The Deep Magic (to borrow a phrase from CS Lewis) All the stuff about love and the magic of sacrifice, I thought was pretty, well, beyond pretty cool. What Harry said at the end, about dying for everyone, and that all the curses didn't seem to be hitting anyone, that the protection of that could be so strong, is pretty awesome.
I cried when Fred died, what is George supposed to do without his twin? And I cried when Harry found out Tonks and Remus had died. But I cried the most, when Harry met his parents, and Sirius, just outside the Forbidden Forest. That just tore me in half. I loved the way it ended, and the epilogue, and the fact that Harry named one of his children Albus Severus, it just shows that Harry is a better person than Dumbledore was, and I am, because I probably still can't think that highly of Snape. I am pretty confident that James's middle name is either Sirius, or Sirius Remus, by the way.
I loved Luna and I can't wait to see the actress in the role in the last movie, and Neville was amazing, I loved McGonagall and the other teachers, I loved Hermione and Ron, and the fact that Ron left and wanted to come back, that Dumbledore knew that Ron would both leave and come back, that Hermione was stubbornly sticking to her unbelief of anything that wasn't rooted in fact, that she didn't just run into Ron's arms when he did finally come back.
I loved Harry yelling at Remus, I loved George thinking himself "Holey," I loved Percy coming back and making a joke, I loved that Mrs. Weasley killed Beatrix, I loved that Ginny lived (stupid false spoiler), I loved that not everything went smoothly and that so many times they were on the brink of failure, I loved that Neville killed Nagini, I loved his Gran, I loved Narcissa and her selfishness feigning Harry's death, that in the end, love for their son sort of saved the Malfoys.
And Kreacher! This book made me like Kreacher, now that's pretty amazing. But the fact that Dumbledore was right, they should have been nicer to Kreacher, that Hermione was right, that Kreacher was loyal to those who were kindest, that once Harry was kind, Kreacher was practically a different elf.
If I could ask J.K. Rowling one question, it would be how much of the story she knew from the beginning. I want to know, did the story start out with just Harry and Voldemort, how did it grow, when did she think of all the details, did she have everything planned before the first book? It seems like she must have of course known all the big things, like the Horcruxes, but did she know that Sirius would be free in year three, that year four would be the Triwizard tournament, that Fleur and Bill, and Remus and Tonks would marry? Had she made long notes connecting all the characters and describing their history and interconnections, or was it all kept in her head, did she not even need to write it down until it was time to pen the chapter that included the information? Having once had a desire to be a writer, but never really having the gift of creativity, I am just amazed at the story, at the continuity of the whole thing. We see movies today that have sequels that were obviously not thought through before the original because there will be something that doesn't make sense, something that doesn't connect, some poorly thought out plot device that makes the complete story fall short. But these books don't really have that, at least most of the time (I've always wondered if J.K. knew what a Portkey was in book 1, or if she realized she would need something like it when she was outlining book 4 and then made it up specifically for the end of book 4 and then used it earlier in the book so that it was at least conveniently introduced to us beforehand).
I love that in book four Dumbledore has that flash of triumph in his eyes when Harry tells him that Voldemort used Harry's blood to regenerate, and that even back then Dumbledore knew that Harry might be saved from death because of that. I really, really liked that she knew that part, at least, so early on, and that she gave us that to look back on in hindsight and say "aha!" about.
This was just such a good, good book and I want to read it again. Now, please.