The seventh installment of JKR's epic series is riveting and tear-jerking, while driving the plot itself into the ground. For the first twenty chapters or so, I felt utterly disappointed in Deathly Hallows. Rowling manages to take all of the learning, the quirky magical mishaps, the school environment, and every lighthearted romp from the other books and completely get rid of them in an attempt to make the last book "dark."
There are a few areas in which I thought DH failed:
1. It seems the only thing Rowling could think of to sidetrack us (seeing as how there's NO subplot this time around) was to make a list of every character from the series and go through them, randomly deciding which ones were to be killed off. It seems any character that DOES die is either cute, heroic, fun to be around, or just somehow close to Harry. (No, don't kill off Percy, everybody hates him! Might as well kill someone the fans like!) For this reason, the book should be renamed "The British Chain Saw Massacre".
2. A good chunk of the book takes place on a continuous camping trip, during which the Trio essentially hasn't the slightest clue what to do next.
3. Rowling has now given us reasons to hate practically every character in her series, or at least think that they aren't all that great. Harry is moody, emo, and a complete brat who really needs a good smack upside the head on more than one occasion. Hermione, no longer being anywhere near a library, chooses to entertain herself by constantly yelling at Ron and Harry or sobbing uncontrollably. Ron just doesn't have a clue, not that he ever did, and turns into a no-good...well, with the rules of profanity here, I can't say!
4. The rules of children's fantasy have been thrown out the window, or rather, burnt up like Dumbledore's hand. There are no lines to cross in the final struggle, as can be expected in the last book. Essentially, everyone's killing people, stealing, or doing something else totally unlike themselves. Yes, friendship and love are the core themes of HP, cheesily enough, but apparently, it's okay to use Unforgivable Curses if you think someone's actions are slightly offensive, or it's no harm really to use false identities for the sake of getting something important.
While I will admit, this book is probably the most action-packed, emotionally-shaking book I have ever read (Battle. Of. Hogwarts. Period.) , it still fails to live up to expectations. Even the title of the book, the "Deathly Hallows" don't come into play until about halfway through.
The ending is hardly the satisfying finale I expected. It's the end. Whoo-hoo. That's it. There are too many gaps left open overall. Even if JKR makes the rumored HP encyclopedia in five years or so, she'll still have a lot of explaining to do. (Exactly what ARE the rules of the Fidelius charm, anyway!?)
This book still gets a 4/5, mostly because of the action.
If you, like me, finish the book thinking that there are questions left unanswered, please check out the controversial second book by MuggleNet.com's Emerson Spartz and Ben Schoen. (I can't mention the title - it's a spoiler for book 7!)