***** WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! *****
***** (Only the first paragraph is safe.) *****
I picked up my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at Books Inc. last night and started reading around 1:00 AM. Took a three hour nap in the wee hours of the morning, then dove right back in and finished around 8 this evening. I read it on my own, since Antonia and Ryan decided they wanted to go through it at a slower pace. I missed the reading-aloud, and the play-by-play discussions, but it was good to go at my own rate, especially considering I was stopping to cry after most of the last 7 or 8 chapters.
This book was intense all the way through. When Hedwig and Mad-Eye Moody died so early on, I knew it was going to be a rough ride, but in a way, the enormity of it really started sinking in for me when we learned what Hermione had to do to her family. The chapter where Hermione was tortured and Dobby was killed just tore me up, and by the time Fred, Lupin, and Tonks died, I was ready to be a basket case for the rest of the book. I was completely at J. K. Rowling's mercy when Harry was marching off to face death without even stopping to say goodbye to Ginny.
But on to the good things, too. I was so happy about the resolution of the Snape question, though the themes of uncertain trust and constant, unrequited love currently give me a real emotional yank. The fact that even Kreacher was redeemed, which I didn't remotely expect, was like a beautiful little gift. I even felt considerably more sympathetic to the Malfoys by the end. And Percy coming back. That was good. I thought it was wonderful that Luna could recognize Harry even through the Polyjuice potion, and that Neville got the heroic deed he deserved. Ron had me worried when he bailed on Harry and Hermione, but he pulled through and I'm very proud of him. The looks into Dumbledore's past were surprising, but I still love him. I didn't expect the "Nineteen Years Later" epilogue (because I didn't even let myself peek at the table of contents before I read) but I was very grateful for it. As much as she could have left us without an explicit happily-ever-after ending, I really needed it.
Anyway, that probably wasn't all too coherent, but it's about all I'm up for right now, given that I'm still pretty emotional about it all and don't yet have anyone who's finished it that I can talk it out with. Now I guess it's time to start coming to terms with a world devoid of future Harry Potter books and mysteries.