Thus having finished with time to mull it over, I will now proceed to divulge a few opinions on zee Book 7.
* mah-hajor spoiler alert ahead *
* seriously, I'm going to use names and everything *
* are you still reading? by golly, you'd better have already finished the book, if you are *
Anyhoo, I can't say I actually enjoyed it. About halfway through I was thinking, "This is really painful. I am not enjoying this experience." Granted, it was probably the tension of not knowing how everything was going to end up, and wondering where the heck Snape was, and getting bored with the trio running around aimlessly in the woods having a bicker-fest. This one was a lot less fun than the other six books - no structure of going to school at Hogwarts, no familiarity. And - this really bugged me - rather than fill in holes already developed from the other books, it led us down a whole new direction with Dumbledore's weird history. What was that? What the heck was the business with the Hallows? Was all of that really necessary?
It irked me that the characters I really cared about were being brushed aside for this new plot development, which never led to anything substantial except that A) Harry was tempted to go in a wrong direction, and B) Voldemort's got a really powerful wand. Like he needs it.
After I finished the chapter where Harry broke his wand, I actually put the book down and said, "Are you kidding me?" Since I was carefully meting out chapters, I didn't continue, but for the rest of the day seriously wondered if JKR had actually published several versions of the last book, and I ended up with the one where everything goes horribly awry. (Wouldn't that be a great idea? And there could be another version where Snape lives and actually gets credit. She'd make a fortune as everyone rushed out to buy all the different versions.)
Finally, finally, the last part of the book starts doling out the goodies, but they were all so crammed in there and rushed that I never really got to enjoy them. Telling Snape's story in a chapter of flashbacks... meh? All right, so it confirmed my Snape loves Lily theory, so it proved he's a good guy and all that, but it felt as satisfying as going out an asking someone, "Hey, did Snape turn out good in the end?" Man, I tell you... the antihero always gets the bum rap. Everyone thought that Harry might end up a tragic hero, but I believe that honor goes to Snape. And I'm still waiting for a word from his Hogwarts portrait, you stingy author, you.
I'll say it again - JKR is a great storyteller, but a horrendous writer. Her ideas and characters were fantastic, but she really ran them through the blender with her delivery. A better writer would have known which parts to dwell on, which to skip through. Not going to complain too much about her, though, because obviously she's created characters which I care enough about to be mad when they aren't given proper justice.
And the epilogue. Ooooooh.... the epilogue...I agree with the posters at the Leaky Lounge who are calling the epilogue "craptastic." First of all, 19 years in the future? Really? It's so far out there that it hardly matters, does it? What do we care about the next generation, other than a drawn out way of saying that life continued on as normal. JKR could have saved space by simply writing, "And everyone married and had lots of babies." Bleh.
But A.S.P., that was brilliant. Sappy, yes, but the only part of the book where I cried. We can keep that bit.
One last gripe - what the heck with killing Tonks and Lupin? That was poorly thought out. I imagine JKR sitting down at her desk and saying, "Hmmm, yeah...there's a war going on, so more people should die. Yeah, I'll go ahead and kill him, and him, and her, and him..." Not everyone and their frikin' dog has to die to make it a tragedy! Ooo, one last gripe, really - Snape dying was very unSnapelike, don't you think? Very powerful wizard, can't defend himself against a snake? Was kind of hoping he'd use some of those handy dandy healing incantations on himself, but I guess he was distracted by Harry's pretty eyes.
Bits I thought were cool:
The Silver Doe - saw it coming a mile away.
Dobby just being all around awesome.
The Malfoys surviving. Narcissa being sneaky and Draco finding humility. White peacocks - braaa!
Neville, who hated Snape, killing the snake that killed him.
The blind dragon, who is cute and who I shall adopt as a pet.
So, in a nutshell, overall good story, wish it had been better written.
It was worth standing in line for 4 hours, though! I'll write about that next!