Just finished my first re-read of this. I was so disappointed in it the first time through that it's taken me almost six years to be willing to sit through the whole thing all over again.
I'm glad I re-read it, though. I'd remembered that horrible boring nothingness while they're in the tent traveling around trying to figure out what to do as taking up like 3/4 of the book... but apparently it just felt like that, because this time through that bit didn't drag nearly as much.
I'd also forgotten several things that I'm glad I got to be reminded about: that it was Snape whose doe patronus led Harry to the sword, that the deluminator brought Ron back to them, that Aberforth was the one Harry'd been seeing in the mirror and who saved their lives several times, that it was Neville who killed Nagini.
I was also reminded of several things that I didn't like so much the first time, but had still forgotten about: the whole Elder Wand thing and the inconsistencies in how it's "won" from its previous owner, how many unforgivable curses all of the "good" side uses in the course of the battle, and that Mrs. Weasley is who gets to kill Bellatrix.
Not to mention how much I hated the epilogue. Hated it the first time through, and was dreading having to read it again. My phone must have known I didn't want to read it... the battery died right as I turned the page to the start of the epilogue. :P
I still just can't help but wish the battle might have been handled better, that the final battle might have been a little more spectacular after 7 books of lead-up. And that there might have been a teensy bit more resolution at the end.
ORIGINAL REVIEW: 25 July 2007
I thoroughly enjoyed this book--right up to the shockingly abrupt end and the ridiculous epilogue.
Having the book end just five pages after Harry finally kills Voldemort left me feeling somewhat betrayed. Throughout the other books in the series, Rowling has allowed the reader to mourn the various deaths along with her other characters. When Cedric died in GoF, the whole school heard Dumbledore describe what had happened. When Sirius died in OotP, the reader got to mourn along with Harry as he destroyed various possessions of Dumbledore's. When Dumbledore died in HBP, the reader even got to attend the funeral along with much of the wizarding community. Even for Dobby there was a chance to grieve along with Harry as he dug the grave.
But when Fred, Tonks, and Lupin all die in the final battle, not only is there not a pause for mourning at the time--as the reader follows Harry out to face Voldemort--the reader never actually gets the chance to grieve for these characters before suddenly being catapulted nineteen years into the future when what is still a recent loss for us is now ancient history for the few characters Rowling deigns to allow into her hideous final chapter.
Fred and Lupin were two of my favorite characters. Not being allowed the therapeutic opportunity of accompanying the rest of the characters as they struggle to cope with these losses, especially as Rowling provided just that very opportunity to the reader through every single other death in the series, left me feeling unsettled--and as I said earlier, betrayed.
And as for the last chapter! Ugh! Sappy, cheesy, and lame are the easiest adjectives I can find to describe it. If she is going to take us that far into the futures of these characters she's allowed us to know and love for the past decade, the least Rowling could do is let us know what their lives are now! What does any of them do for work? Where do they live? How often do they see old friends? I thought it was a pathetic way to end what had been a fantastic series.