One-Minute Book Reviews

August 17, 2007

Harry Potter and the Critic Who Gave Up (Books I Didn’t Finish)

The latest in an occasional series of posts on books I didn’t finish and why I didn’t

Title: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Scholastic, $34.99), by J.K. Rowling

What it is: “The seventh and final installment in the epic tale of Harry Potter” (dust jacket).

How much I read: The first two chapters, a total of 29 pages.

Why I stopped reading: This novel wasn’t good enough or bad enough to hold my attention. I hadn’t read the first six books in the series, so opening this one was like walking into cocktail party full of people I didn’t know. The first chapter seems to involve mainly the bad guys. They have names like Snape, Malfoy and Voldemort, and they’re all sitting around a table plotting to kill Harry. But I was skeptical about whether they’d pull it off, because a white peacock appears on page 2. And here’s how critics read books: “White (symbol of purity) + peacock (symbol of immortality in Christian art) = pure character/Christ figure lives.” White is also a symbol of resurrection. So, I figured, the deal might instead be: “White peacock = Christ figure dies but is resurrected.” Naturally, I have no idea how things turned out. I may have looked at one too many peacocks on cathedral walls or altarpieces. But I didn’t want to slog through 759 pages only to yell at the end, “It was obvious! Major resurrection symbol on page 2!”

Best line in what I read: A line from a newspaper obituary written by one character for another: “Several of his papers found their way into learned publications such as Transfiguration Today, Challenges in Charming, and The Practical Potioner.” Nice satire, especially that Challenges in Charming.

Worst line in what I read: The names of some characters, such as Dolohov and Grindelwald, clash with the best in the series and seem unconsciously to imitate Tolstoy, Agatha Christie and others. It’s as though Rowling had named these characters 15 minutes after she finished reading War and Peace or Murder on the Orient Express.

Published: July 2007

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.


  1. well, you’ve got to join the party in the first book and not the last! you’re right about the symbolism bit…

    Comment by nylusmilk — August 17, 2007 @ 5:43 am | Reply

  2. Yes, I did feel as though I’d gotten I’d gotten to the party after all the guests had taken off their name tags! Wish I’d read long enough to learn more about that Sneakerscope, though. It sounded like the shoe phone Maxwell Smart used on the old TV show “Get Smart” … Thanks so much for your comment.

    [Correction: It’s Sneakoscope. But a SneakERscope would be great, too, wouldn’t it? Jan]

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — August 17, 2007 @ 10:40 am | Reply

  3. no problem. 🙂 here’s what you want to know about the shoe phone.

    Comment by nylusmilk — August 17, 2007 @ 11:19 pm | Reply

  4. Everybody, this is a great link from nylusmilk. It gives you definitions of more than the Sneakoscope. It also defines all kinds of other magical objects in the Harry Potter series. If you jumped into the series toward the end, you might want to print this one out and keep it handy.

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — August 17, 2007 @ 11:43 pm | Reply

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