Thursday, July 26, 2007

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Well, it was a wild ride, and I had to go back and review at several points, but I got through Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows with far more understanding of what was going on in the previous books. Rowling has outdone herself, and skillfully tied it all together for the readers.

This book was full of death, and many familiar characters died, but the outcome, overall, was satisfying.

In a way this series mirrors life in the muggle world -- in times of conflict people will die and people will live. In our own Civil War families lost fathers and sons, and sometimes they died serving in opposing armies. Today, Christians in the Sudan and Middle East are persecuted for their faith, and there is no guarantee that the good will survive and the evil will die. Yesterday, one of the 23 Korean Christian aid workers taken hostage in Afghanistan was murdered and his body left on the road. There is no sense in any of this, but our hope is in the presence of God through it all.

In the Harry Potter series, it was Love that sustained the characters; something Voldemort could neither understand nor counter.

The previous two posts on this blog were on two thoughtful reviews of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and neither gave the book unqualified praise (or condemnation). On can find strong condemnation in other reviews, but as one who has read C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, I have to say that fantasy literature is not the real world; it may reflect the real world, but as with Paul's mirror, it is a dim a reflection. And eventually we all have to stop looking in the mirror and see things "face to face".

While the Chronicles of Narnia are more overtly Christian, there are large differences between Scripture and how things transpired in Narnia. But that is the point, isn't it? Lewis said that in his world where the animals talked, the Saviour would necessarily be one of them -- a Talking Beast.

As for Tolkien, well, I just have to say that finding Christian themes in Harry Potter is about as easy as finding Christian themes in The Lord of the Rings. It's there if you look for it, but there is very little that is explicit.

I'm not saying that J.K. Rowling will take a place on the same level as Tolkien or Lewis, but it has become obvious over the past several years that she didn't just slap all this together. In fact, there are indications that she will take her notes on characters, places, and events and compile them into an encyclopedia. I look forward to seeing this.

Will J.K. Rowling be able to really sit back and enjoy life without deadlines? Hard to say. It's not as if she has slammed the door shut on sequels, but she has earned a rest. Maybe after the final movie adaptation comes out...

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