My overall feeling when I finished the final book was that it was... satisfactory. Which I suppose is saying a lot, ultimately, about Rowling's achievement, since with all of the hype and the build-up and the incredible investment on the part of readers, it was probably more likely than not that the ending would have felt unsatisfactory, at least on some level. But no, when I finished reading, I felt that the series was satisfactorily finished.
But. (And of course you knew there'd be a "but.") Even as I was, I suppose, "satisfied" by the ending that I read, there were things that I suppose I felt might have been.... cooler. Yep, no way to put it other than that. There were teasers in other books that never materialized into anything more than teasers, there were things that I'd have liked to have seen developed more fully, there were answers I'd have liked to have seen provided that just were not provided. So in this post, I'm going to be a crotchety person and talk about all of what I wish could have happened in that last book that didn't happen. But I will conclude with what I loved in the final book, so if you're not in the mood to read my crotchety musings (and remember, I'm suffering from a cold and so I should be forgiven for being crotchety), just skip on down to the end where I talk about what I actually liked in the book.
So, in no particular order, here are the things that irked me about Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows:
- Why was there no portrait of Sirius in Grimmauld Place? Was I the only one who had expected to see Sirius in portrait-form when Harry, Hermione, and Ron returned there, as of course we knew that they must?
- And speaking of portraits, I really had thought that our hero would first get advice from Dumbledore from a chocolate frog card. Why? Well, Bill did say in The Order of the Phoenix that Dumbledore didn't care what they did to him as long as they didn't take him off the chocolate frog cards. Now, on the one hand, this could have been just that old Dumbledore being silly, but I had hoped that it was more meaningful than that - not in the least because it would have provided nice symmetry between the first and final books.
- I'd have liked to see a bit more exposition surrounding Fred's death. As it was, Fred seemed like a bit of an easy way out - a way not to kill somebody who'd REALLY upset us. Specifically, without hearing more about how George dealt with Fred's death, I as a reader couldn't really feel deeply about his death one way or another.
- I'd have liked to see Harry learn the truth about Snape before seeing his death. I felt like Harry got let off a bit easy with the two events happening in the reverse, and I'd have liked to have seen Harry have to deal with Snape's death after Snape was redeemed in his eyes.
- I can't even talk about my feelings about the "everybody gets married to their childhood sweetheart and lives happily ever after" epilogue. I guess those of us who didn't find our soulmates at 11 are just screwed. (Actually, the whole, "you can't have a fulfilling career and a family" undercurrent throughout the series is quite troubling. Quite.)
- I've got to say, I wasn't very compelled by the whole "deathly hallows" story line. It was fine, I guess, but I didn't really care whether the hallows were united, nor did I see that the hallows themselves were particularly crucial to the outcome of the novel. I suppose they do mark Harry as "the chosen one," by the fact that he can unite them, but whatever. Didn't we already know that he was? Blah.
- The return of Percy was just dumb. I mean, after all of that, he's just forgiven? And why would he have been in contact with Aberforth when nobody even knew about Aberforth at the Hog's Head until this stupid book? Wouldn't it have been more likely for him to be in contact with a member of the Order at the Ministry? L-a-a-a-m-e.
- I'd have liked to see all of the skills that Harry and the others learned at Hogwarts come into play more in the final battle and/or in finding the horcruxes. It would have been nice to see Ron/Hermione/Harry use all of what they'd learned at Hogwarts - potions, runes, arithmancy, charms, CoMC, etc. - and I didn't feel like the final book really showed them doing so.
- I still want to know what James and Lily did for a living, whatever happened to the Potter Grandparents (as they were both alive when Sirius was 16 and just a few years later - poof! gone! - and it wouldn't have taken much for Harry to see their graves or something in this last book), and heck, for that matter, what do Hermione, Ron, Harry, and Ginny end up doing for a living in the epilogue (for surely they can't be paid to be lovesick and irritating). I also wish we'd gotten some follow-up on Luna Lovegood, as she remains my total and absolute favorite. And did Malfoy marry Pansy Parkinson? I really want to know whether that's true.
- What's the deal with "everybody sat together regardless of house" at the end of the battle once Voldemort is defeated, but at the start of the epilogue Harry's son is freaking out because he doesn't want to be in Slytherin? Do the old rivalries and divisions remain, and if so, what was achieved through the defeat of Voldemort? And if not, then why is Harry's son wigging about ending up in Slytherin?
- The death of Dobby. I hate that Dobby died, as he's been a huge favorite of mine, but more than any of the others who died I feel that Dobby got his due.
- Peter Pettigrew getting his comeuppance (although it's a shame that doing a good thing led to his death).
- The redemption of Kreacher (and who didn't love his leading the house elves in the charge in the final battle? Awesome).
- Neville-f'ing-Longbottom. Really, Neville made the whole book for me, to be honest, and without his role I don't think I'd have found the book satisfactory.