Writing a review for a Harry Potter book is almost by definition a waste of time – anyone who is going to read it read it on the first day and everyone else could not care less. This website, however, has never and is unlikely to ever be about me using my time productively so I feel justified in sharing my opinions of this book.
Unlike previous HP books, this one concentrates mostly on back-story and is a final reflection and re-examination of the characters before the final showdown. Harry has dropped his moody swings and self-centred nature to emerge a fledging adult, the realism of which you will completely overlook out of gratitude. Ron and Hermione have likewise matured and become hormonal, which will either amuse you or entertain you, but it is unlikely to move you.
The best thing about Harry Potter has always been that it you could enjoy it on the level that suited you best, adventure, characters, children’s novel. This book seems to have become confused in those aims by the complexity of adolescence; there is very little adventure and a whole lot of partner swapping. I do not think anything before page 400 is really that important. J.K. Rowling must be given the royal treatment by her publishers by now, and as a symptom of that no-one seems able to stand up to her with a red pen and cross out the crap that bloats what is otherwise a solid book.
If you are a casual reader like me, you may find all the characters confusing. Harry makes continual references to specific moments in the final battle in the last book which makes me grateful that the series is ending before it becomes Star Trek and everything is a reference to something else.
The final 200 pages are very good reading, and like all the books you will be able to read this one while driving. If you loved the other books, you will love this one, and I must admit for a while I was at home with the characters. Yet you will be left with a feeling of quaint unease as you wonder what Rowling is concocting with her final book and whether anyone will have the guts to edit it and turn it into the book it should be rather than this draft.