full life

Harry Potter 6

To me, books 1-4 feel like one long prologue, and 5 is where some of the pieces of the puzzle start to fit together. 6, then, is more of the wind-up to 7, which I'm hoping is 1500 pages long, as I couldn't quite believe that everything we as readers need to know has already happened.

While I still like the books much better than the movies, I'm finding that the movies - specifically the casting - have informed the way I read the books. The professors have all been pretty much perfectly cast, especially Snape (and Hagrid, too), and as such it's them that I imagine when I'm reading. I was always bummed out that Rickman/Snape never really gets that much screen time in the films - but as events in 5 and 6 will show, it's pretty obvious that he'll finally get his time in the sun, which will be awesome to watch.

Anyway, back to the book. I bring up the films because the first chapter of the book felt less of a source of exposition and more of a dare to the producers of the films - it would not surprise me in the slightest if they actually got Tony Blair to play the PM. (Either that or maybe Hugh Grant, a la "Love Actually".)

And the second chapter felt awfully wierd. JKR pulls lots of red herrings in the books - I was convinced that the half-blood Prince was going to be Harry's mom - and so I was highly suspicious of Snape saying the things that he says and pledging the things that he pledges. But, then again, Harry's been suspicious of Snape since day 1, so I didn't quite know what to believe, especially as Dumbledore trusted him implicitly and obviously seemed to be on a different, Gandalf-esque sort of plane of wizardry.

Ah, Dumbledore. I missed him in 5, and so I was incredibly happy to be spending so much time with him in 6, even though from the moment he entered the book - hell, from the moment in the first chapter where he was described as getting older and less reliable - I had a feeling that he was going to die. Dumbledore's death is earth-shattering - obviously - and during the funeral scene I, as the rest of the school, had a tough time really accepting it. And unlike when I read 5, I was not aware that someone was going to die in 6 - the big thing before I read 5 was trying to figure out who it was going to be. To be honest, Sirius' death, while tragic, never really moved me. I mean, I felt bad for Harry, but Harry had also been somewhat annoying in 5 and his mourning felt a bit too much like self-pity. Sirius had been Harry's buddy - Dumbledore was a lot more of a father-ish presence, especially since Harry'd known him for so much longer.

Harry, however, is fucking awesome in 6 - in particular, his telling off of Scrimgouer (or whatever the Head of the Ministry of Magic's name is) - not once but twice - is brilliant. "I'm Dumbledore's man, through and through." (It got a little dusty during the moment when Harry tells Dumbledore about this, and Dumbledore looks about to cry.) Gone is the whiny, pouty bitchiness - he's still as recklessly impulsive as he's always been, but he also appears to be a bit more comfortable in his own skin. His reaction to the insane, bloody curse he puts on Malfoy is totally genuine. Speaking of which, Draco has become a bit less evil and a bit more of a stupid pansy, which I guess is fine since Harry's got much bigger fish to fry. Harry's kicked Draco's ass too many times for it to really mean anything anymore, and even when Draco broke Harry's nose on the train it wasn't done with his cronies around, so the humilation factor wasn't as high.

The Ron/Hermione situation is dealt with, finally, and a lot less insufferably than the Harry/Cho arc. I certainly didn't see the Harry/Ginny thing happening, and I thought JKR handled it beautifully - the whole "She's my best friend's sister" / "But I think I love her" thing was just plain adorable, and JKR's description of Ron seeing the two of them kiss for the first time and silently nodding "if you must" was pretty much perfect.

As for the whole story arc - as I said, I can't quite believe that we're already at the penultimate chapter, and I feel like 7 ought to be 1500 pages long. I'm certainly as intrigued as ever about it - will Hogwarts remain open? and if so, is Harry dropping out? Is RAB Sirius' brother? Is Snape, in fact, really as evil as he seems, or did Dumbledore still know something that the rest of us do not?

I'm finding it hard to sum up my overall impressions about 6 - it's a good read but not as much fun as 5 was, nor is it as complete as 5 was; it's certainly the darkest of the series, and the ending is incredibly open-ended and unresolved. I finished the book and felt like I'd been punched in the stomach. If anything, 6 has made the wait for 7 that much more unbearable, since I feel like there's a lot more information out there. I'm hoping that we'll revisit the house where Harry's parents were killed - in fact, I'd bet that that's where 7 ends...
Well-written, chief.

With both 5 and 6, as I was reading them I felt, "oh, she's treading water here, the book doesn't need to be this long," and then when I was finished with each, suddenly all that middling exposition made much more sense. During 5, I almost felt like Umbridge was just a hasty pain, but really she's the main villain in that book, even with everything that happens in the Ministry. And, of course, with 6, the idea is that for once Harry is growing up, that the sort of smaller, childish struggles he had are disappearing, and so the time at the school is less eventful in light of what's going on outside -- and the drama being at the end when the two meet.

I also imagine the actors when reading the books... I had initially thought of Snape as sort of a smirking, ghoulish old man -- and now I see Alan Rickman through and through; I can even imagine his face as he curses Dumbledore off of the tower.

At first I couldn't entertain any thoughts that Dumbledore knew what he was doing when Snape killed him; all I could think was that his capacity for trust had been his undoing. But, of course, it would be just like Rowling for us to discover that Dumbledore knew his destiny and had wise cause for his actions, even if Snape didn't necessarily. (Or, of course, maybe Snape knows what he's doing too and isn't necessarily a baddie.) In any event, the death of Dumbledore was devastating; I'm not a cryer at books, but I came pretty close as I realized he really was gone, and it wasn't a literary ruse.

The Harry/Ginny thing was done perfectly, was genuinely romantic I thought -- and although his parting with her at the end had that pall of Peter Parker to it, Rowling couldn't have really avoided it. I do hope to see some reconciliation there after (I assume) Voldemort's defeat at the end of the next book.

I also feel that book 7 will be immense -- because she is ending a decade-long, thousands-of-pages saga, because Harry will have to find multiple Horcruxes, because his adventures will probably occur outside of the structure of semesters at Hogwarts, and because even after the final battle there's sure to be a lot of tying up of ends a la Return of the King. I doubt it will be less than 1,000 pages, and I think we'll probably get it in late 2007 or 2008.
Re: Dumbledore's death - the more I think about it, I get more and more convinced that (a) Snape really is evil, which means (b) Dumbledore had absolutely no idea. He was already dying before Draco arrived, but he put on his poker face remarkably well - until Snape showed up, at which point I think he was genuinely pleading for his life. Now, obviously, Dumbledore never ended up revealing why he trusted Snape so implicitly, so I'm still sorta hedging my bets - but the thing is, I imagine that JKR draws her characters knowing how her targeted audience will respond to them, and I really can't imagine a scenario where Snape ends up being someone you root for - that'd just feel wierd. Certainly the flashback scenes in 5 where Harry's dad is bullying Snape at least justifies why he's got it in for Harry, but that doesn't suddenly make him a likable character. If anything, now he's a complete enigma.

While it's hard to take JKR at her word, as so many plot elements in the books have come to take on multiple levels of meaning, she's also been remarkably straightfoward in terms of the harsh reality of life and death - I mean, Harry's parents were brutally murdered, and that's one of the first things you end up learning about him.
Wasn't it revealed, at the end of 1, that James had saved Snape's life? Did we ever get back to that? I can't remember.

I don't think Snape is going to be anyone's hero; I just wonder if perhaps his actions were done at Dumbledore's wishes, if Dumbledore had required that Snape end his life for some other purpose. Or, of course, maybe Snape is just a Death Eater prick.

I think her ability to deal directly with death is one of the things that makes the story so powerful... when Dumbledore gets blown off the tower, you don't automatically assume he's ok because it's "a children's book."
One also wonders if Snape knew that Harry was in the room. God, having Harry have to watch all that while being frozen AND invisible - I think Dumbledore was trying to protect Harry, but I certainly didn't think he was preparing to sacrifice himself, a la Obi Won.

In any event, I'm sure this will be addressed in 7, as Dumbledore's death (unlike Sirius') has repurcussions that will be reverberating all over the place.
James saved Snape's life, but to save his own neck. Sirius got irritated at Snape and was sending him to the Shrieking Shack when Lupin was transformed. Had he gotten all the way there, he would've had to tackle a full werewolf. James saved Snape from that, but because he didn't want to get in trouble/cause Sirius's death.

And, in other news, I felt as though 5 and 6 fit together, that 1 and 2 were largely setting the scene, 3 and 4 were individual adventures, and that 5 and 6 were the steps leading to the confrontation in 7. 4 remains my favorite and I can't wait to see how they tackle the Triwizard Tournament and Quidditch Championship on the big screen.

I was extremely surprised when Dumbledore dies. When he was pleading with Snape, we know that Snape is going to have to assist Draco (because of the Unbreakable Pledge or Vow or whatever), so I wonder if Dumbledore was pleading for Snape to end it to avoid making Draco a murderer? Or if he - I don't know. I had many unanswered questions and turbulent feelings about this book. It surprised me in several places, and books rarely do that.
Since I haven't yet been swept up in this cultural phenomenon, let me ask you this: did you see Patton Oswalt on Conan last night? Brilliant.
Shit, he was on? No, I didn't. Does Comedy Central still re-run the previous night's Conan, then? I'll catch it when I get home.
No, but I think CNBC does. Or someone else. Or I can help you find a torrent of the show.
"And now, Harry, let us step out into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure." - Dumbledore (early).

The moment I read that I knew he was going to die. I kept on thinking of this line: "To the well organized mind, death is but the next great adventure." Struck me that Dumbledore saw what was ahead and was preparing for it.
Finally went back and read this post, because I finished last night. I don't have much to add, I'm still in shock. But I still think there's a chance that Snape is on the good guy side. It's possible that Dumbledore knew of Snape's vow, and so he knew the predicament Snape was in when he walked through the door on the tower. The pleadings could have been for Snape to kill him, because Dumbledore knew that Snape's cover couldn't be blown. He might think that Snape's inside position is worth more than his life.

I still hate that motherfucker though. I guess we'll see in the final book, but I wouldn't be surprised if Snape's last act is a betrayal of Voldemort. He very well could be the last person to die protecting Harry.