Hey! This month is drawing to a close, as is my foray into the Harry Potter series. To be honest, I’m rather impressed with myself that I’ve actually read all 7 of the books in a month, especially since this month has been absolutely crazy.
Alright, so let’s get started. There are a few topics I want to make sure I cover here.
The first is Dumbledore. In this book, we actually see Dumbledore as a flawed human being rather than the wise, virtually all-knowing old man we’re used to see him as. And this time through, I really liked that. It makes him seem more real, given that he made his own mistakes in his youth and learned from them. And I think it’s great to see someone from two different perspectives. Is Dumbledore the genius that Elphias Doge knew or the arrogant jerk Aberforth saw? Is Dumbledore good for defeating Grindelwald or evil for furthering Grindelwald’s cause? That’s not to say anything about what happened to Ariana.
I just like that Dumbledore is so layered this time around. I like him more as a character knowing that he made all of these mistakes early on and learned from them. He learned from his quest for the Deathly Hallows that he didn’t trust himself with power. He forced himself to be humble and to avoid positions (like Minister of Magic) that would have allowed him too much power. And I see differences in the way he treated Grindelwald to the way he treated Voldemort. He learned.
Perhaps the most absolutely terrifying part of this book (and it was intentionally done, I’m sure) was the required registration of every Muggleborn in the wizarding world and their subsequent trials. I’m a history buff and I teach the Holocaust to my students every spring. The parallels between the Muggleborns’ plight and that of the Jews and other marginalized people in the Holocaust were scary similar. Again, I’m sure this was intentional. It was frightening in its simplicity, as to how quickly Umbridge and other officials were able to make those policies law. It truly didn’t take much time at all for them to make this a reality. It’s so easy to see something like that making a short jump into our world next.
Which, thankfully, leads us now into one of my favorite things about this book. I enjoyed the underlying rebellion seen by so many characters. Neville says toward the end that he learned from Harry how acting out gave everyone around him hope for a better tomorrow, and that’s exactly what these little acts did. With Harry, Ron, and Hermione on the run, everyone had faith he would eventually face Voldemort. Hogwarts was being attacked from within by Dumbledore’s Army on a daily basis. The Order wrecked havoc where they could, including the radio broadcasts that told everyone what was going on. It was all dangerous, but all of it kept that hope alive that the war would end if only people kept fighting back.
I thought this book was going to be super boring with the whole “let’s wander the countryside looking for Horcruxes” angle (I didn’t remember that super well from when I last read it 11 years ago), but it was actually one that kept my attention better than most. I think that’s because I wasn’t as familiar with the story as I am with the earlier books in the series. They were predictable because I remembered them, but this one was almost new to me again.
This book made me look at so many characters in a different light, and I loved that.