Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deadly Denouements

Ok, this is something of a pointless excercise. I mean, the book was the fastest selling book in history before it was released. William Shakespeare, Geoffrey Chaucer and J.R.R Tolkein jointly giving it two thumbs down wouldn't take a cent off the billions it's going to make. But anyways.....


Awesome though the book was, it had several things that well, niggle at the reader. By far the biggest niggler (no racist implications there) is plot predictability.

While waiting for the book release I, like any number of jobless HP fans with broadband access, scoured the Leaky Cauldron for info about the book release. In the process I ended up reading several predictions made about book 7. The most important ones:

(a) Snape would turn out to be a good guy after all, because he'd loved Lily
(b) Harry would willingly sacrifice himself to Voldemort in the end
(c) Harry would turn out to be the final Horcrux beyond the 6 destroyed (which is why he'd have to sacrifice himself)

Not only did all three turn out to be true, the book used the exact reasoning the predictors did. Take the Horcrux thing for example. The analyst's logic was that while Voldemort used specific murders to create Horcruxes with the torn portions of his soul, the number of murders he committed would make his an extremely damaged soul (think torn and patched here and there). It would make sense that since he killed two people before attempting to kill Harry, those one or two bits of soul would be hanging loosely and, when his rebound curse turned him into Shadowmort (the popular internet term is Vapormort), they'd disconnect. They'd then enter Harry, he being the only receptacle around. Hence his scar, Parseltongue-abilities and Voldy-sense.

In the climax, Harry finds out he is the final Horcrux, for the same reasons as described at the Leaky Cauldron. This was a bit of a let down. I mean, you don't think J K Rowling's plot would be foreseen with such accuracy, least of all by ginny_potterfan75 (fictitious). And surprise, surprise, he has to give himself up to Voldemort and die so Voldemort can be killed. I wonder - has Rowling been posting spoilers under a pseudonym to raise the fever pitch a bit? Or hiring ginny_potterfan75 to, ahem, help out with the writing?

The next bad is Harry's "power". The prophecy mentions "power he knows not", and as we all know, this is love. LOVE. LUUV. LOVEY DOVEY WOVEY Love. And the fact that Voldy's a bipolar sociopath who can't understand it. So, what role does it play, apart from getting Harry and Ron each an intense PG-13+ make-out scene? (Oh yeah, J K Rowling's put in something for everyone)

In a nutshell, none. Harry's finally defeating Voldemort has zilch to do with love, or his ability to love. It has to do with Voldemort not checking the fine print of:
  • Genesus horcruxus or Fuin jutsu: Horcrux fujin or whatever that spell was that seals a piece of your soul into something
  • That whole business of rebuilding his body with Harry's blood
and a series of duels - one in 1945, one in the Half Blood Prince and a couple in this book - that had nothing to do with love. Harry's love-powered self sacrifices helped set up Voldy for aeventual defeat, but in no way was love Harry's power, at least not the power you'd expect a "Chosen One" to have. From the previous book I figured Harry'd either use his Luuuv EQ to beat Voldemort in some mental struggle or make a Loveton: Rasengan or something. Neither happens. Disappointing.

Next, the Deathly Hallows - 3 objects that enable their owner to 'master' death. Their mysteerious background sets them up to be the focus of the 100th minute, the point where the villian's united the fragments and is either in possession of some super-supernatural ray gun, or has unleashed Cthulhu and Ghatanothoa from another dimension, and it's upto the hero/es to fix either in about 10 minutes, before the world ends and credits roll.

What they turn out to be is a setup to facilitate a terrific Deus Ex Machina, and a step short of a MacGuffin.

Deus Ex first. As with the Horcruxes, these things have been hidden (the difference of course is they have passed down through the ages). They started out though, with the Peverell family. Through a series of events, they moved from owner to owner. When the protagonist spends like 340 pages looking for a great Invisibility Cloak, it isn't the best of plots that reveals it to be the one in his pocket. Wouldn't you just know his great-great -great -great -great -great -great -granddaddy was the last Peverell or something? Ditto, when a superwand everyone's been looking for turns out to be Dumbledore's. The super-wand apparently gives allegiance to its owner, which transfers to whoever beats the owner ('beats' is hazily defined. All we know is to defeat in a duel, kill in sleep or simply disarm from behind count as 'beat') This is what finally saves Harry's posterior - Voldy didn't know a weak underling, whom Harry 'beat' earlier, 'beat' Dumbledore before Snape, whom Voldemort 'beat' to get the SmartWand. So when he and Harry slug it out at the end......... whoops, he should have taken Harry's climactic 5 minute wand exposition seriously. And that is what saves Harry's tush. Not love or character strength or Glucon-D.

MacGuffin next. Finding the three and putting them together does not give Harry the super-duper ray gun to beat Voldy or vice-versa. In fact, the only significant Hallow turns out to be the wand,which at the end is returned to Dumbledore's grave. The second is lost, and Harry keeps it that way. And the third is his Invisibility Cloak, which he continues to use exactly as he did before. The net point of "the Deathly Hallows" - Deathly boring.

Finally, the expositions. The Deus Exes are believable, but having them explained by Dumbledore in a pre-finale exposition (How the fuck did he do that? He's dead) takes a good deal out of the story. Furthermore, the final explanation of Snape's allegiance, the hardest hitting part of this whole sordid tale, takes place over a solid 45 seconds, five minutes before the pre-finale finale (the false finale, so to speak). Lot of info crammed into very little time. I wouldn't be surprised if Harry's "scar pain" were really his head exploding from all the info overload.

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