So. I finished it Tuesday or so and handed it off to , and I’ve been rolling it around in my head ever since.
I’m moving toward being able to say that I liked it. When I finished it, I’m not sure I could’ve said that — partly because of the ending and partly because of some deeply unsatisfying bits and pieces. I think some of my sadness from this book comes from the fact that my favorite part of OOTP was when Dumbledore finally showed his powers — the duel with Voldemort at the end was close to being my favorite Dumbledore scene in any of the books. Just walking around, casual and chatting and calm, battling evil… it was the scene that established, yet again, that Dumbledore’s just So Freaking Cool and So Freaking Powerful. So this book took aim at that established power from basically the get-go, and that was what, I think, seemed most ominous to me from the very start.
* The big controversy, of course, is Snape. Was he evil? Was he good but had to kill Dumbledore because of his vow? Was he a little bit of both? Obviously the last few chapters were meant to raise more questions than they answered. There’s evidence both ways — the most compelling for Snape being evil is that he killed Dumbledore; the most compelling for him being good is that he didn’t kill Harry, nor (and this is more convincing to me) did he let Harry cast any Unforgiveable curses. I think what bothers me most in the whole Snape affair is that the reason that Harry offers (via Dumbledore) for Dumbledore’s trust in Snape. What I understood was that Harry believes that Dumbledore trusted Snape because he believed that Snape was trying to make up for having told Voldemort about the prophecy and, therefore, for having put into motion James and Lily Potter’s deaths. The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that the explanation for this is going to be that Snape not only owed a life debt to James (oo, ah, saved him from a werewolf) but that Snape had a thing for Lily. That would be close to satisfying — and would tie in with Dumbledore’s belief that love is the most powerful thing in the world. But really, whatever explanation is offered in Book 7 — and I think the hope of an explanation may be THE reason, right now, that I have any excitement for the next book — it’s going to be difficult to take, because someone is going to end up being very wrong about Snape.
* I think my favorite descriptions in the book actually come from something that I’ve seen other people being unhappy about: the pairing off of Harry and Ginny. I like the “monster in his chest” that has the various reactions to Ginny throughout the book. Come on, this has been telegraphed since at least book 4, and Ginny was so much cooler in book 5 that there had to be some new, big role coming for her in 6. The end, though, when he pulls the “I can’t be with you” stuff… eh. Over-the-top, a bit. Then again, it was probably also necessary.
* I like the other pairings, too. Lupin/Tonks was a little odd, and I certainly didn’t catch on to it until that hospital scene, but now it makes more sense and it’s kind of cute. Lupin is still probably my favorite side-character.
* There were a few moments where people acted in ways that I didn’t understand — for instance, Dumbledore’s extreme harshness with Harry over the memory from Slughorn, despite the fact that Dumbledore seemed to already know what it would reveal. It was the number of horcuxes that was new and important, I suppose, but… usually there’s a later explanation for Dumbledore’s sternness, and I felt like it was lacking here. Then again, I suppose the man was under some tremendous strain.
* Omens for Book 7: Not being set at Hogwarts will certainly be a risk. I’m a little afraid that they’re going to turn into Seeking Horcruxes Private Detectives in book 7; I’d be willing to bet Dumbledore’s good hand that they’ll end up using someplace cool — probably Grimmauld place — as a home-away-from-Hogwarts type headquarters, IF it works out at all. I can’t see the Weasleys or Hermione’s parents easily letting their kids not go back to school…
And on and on. I have nothing too exciting or new to say about the book yet. I need to think on it more. This one, though, I will read again (actually, I look forward to getting it in audio book format and listening to it. Jim Dale was the voice in my head as I read).