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Harry Potter Mania Strikes as Fans Seek out Deathly Hallows

By July 23, 2007

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Parts of New York City briefly became Harry Potter Land (don’t laugh – there’s one coming) late Friday night, as the “magic hour” of midnight approached when bookstores could finally sell Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Scholastic, the American publishers of the blockbuster series, were once again enforcing the rules as stiffly as Minerva McGonagall, suing violators of the embargo and even getting Amazon to print “Attention Muggles! Do not deliver or open before July 21!” on the 2.3 million copies they shipped out. Scholastic printed 12 million copies, and sold 8.3 million of them on Saturday, according to CNN – a record.

Major New York bookstores enjoyed long lines stretching around the block of people waiting for the books, not a few of them in costume. The funny thing is, New York has become so accustomed to the Barnes & Noble franchise that they seem to forget other stores sell books as well. My friend Sok, a big Harry Potter fan like myself, was in Union Square around midnight that night and considered getting on the long queue snaking around the Barnes & Noble on the north side of the Square to get his copy – until he remembered that the Virgin Megastore on the south side of the Square also has a bookstore. Guess what? No line. He was in and out in fifteen minutes. It’s unsettling that New York, which used to be so proud of its mom-and-pops and its little shops around the corner, is now neglectful even of also-ran megachains.

Now that I’ve read Deathly Hallows, it’s easier to look back on the series as a whole. Harry Potter has undergone a huge character arc over these seven books, and this is the one in which he truly completes his journey and becomes a man. In that sense it’s tremendously satisfying. A number of dismaying events from books five and six are recast in an entirely different light, and so Deathly Hallows provides a final understanding of Albus Dumbledore, Severus Snape, and Harry’s schoolmates Ron, Hermione, Neville, Ginny, Luna, and Draco. A few of these culminations feel slightly rushed, and if that’s odd for a book that’s 760 pages long, at least ample time is given to very carefully molding the character that really matters – Harry. Is it my favorite book of the seven, as J.K. Rowling has said it is now for her? I’m not sure. But I do know it’s the one I’m most glad I took the time to read.

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