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.