Despite my many misgivings towards J.K. Rowling, I don't think anyone can deny that she's built up a pretty fantastic world that anyone would love to get lost in. There's a smooth mixture of the absurd and the darkly real in her Wizarding world that even wizened old shrubs like me can appreciate. Her writing style isn't particularly *BRILLIANT* but it works perfectly for her story, so I'll give her that. She may be sort of crap at writing teen angst in a way that doesn't want to make anyone bludgeon Harry to death with a wrinklefucker hammer, but then again any sort of teen angst really does make me want to start a-bludgeoning, so maybe I'm not the right person to judge.
At any rate, my opinion that Harry Potter is a whiny, self-obsessed, dramatic little shit who gets things handed to him on a silver platter and still keeps bitching about his hard, gifted, nigh universally loved life has not changed much. I suppose this is part of Rowling's attempts to keep up with an aging adolescent audience, but there were a lot of times when I really just wanted to grab him by the collar and give him a new scar to cry about. Grow some perspective, you brat.
But--and there really is a but--everything else was pretty great. I am a sucker for underground rebellion stories, and if Rowling had allotted more of the book to expand on their activities, I would have probably bumped my rating for the book up another star. Enough about Harry and his Teen Insecurities and Hard Knock Life! Give me more Luna Lovegood cheerily messing with people's heads, more unexpected Neville Badassery, more Hogwarts Life Under the Snape Regime! (Kindly leave the Ginny behind because she's fucking boring and whatever romance sprouts up between her and Harry is flimsily contrived. He'd be a better match with Luna, of all people, and if I hadn't heard about the epilogue beforehand, I might've thought it'd have been them. Ginny was nothing more than a swooned-over two-dimensional footnote of Angst in this book.)
I think one of the biggest flaws was Rowling's execution of Harry and his friends' flight into Undesirable Number One rebellion. All this hiding in the woods, whining at each other and grabbing at straws, not to mention Harry's angsting over everyone lying to him? Kind of a drag. I sort of faffed around reading at this point, but things picked up when they finally got kidnapped. I understand that all these side trips and failed exploits were to put the pieces of the plot together for Harry to figure out at the very last moment, but all the angst was really boring and not worth taking up almost half of the book. Really.
Also, I think it's a sign of a major flaw that I was far more interested in the reappearance of who-the-hell-is-he-again Dean Thomas than Harry and his inner conflict. And that Hermione basically is the true hero if this book, because if she wasn't around, they'd be dead fifty times over in just the first half. Rowling should have made her the titular character, because at least we'd be spared Harry's constant grimdark moaning.
This is kind of why I'm interested in seeing the final movie this month. Now that the dark, emotional turmoil has been taken care of with the first part, I'm sure the producers will go for Spectacle and give us a Siege of Hogwarts Badass Rumpus Party Town to cause all of us to flip our respective shits in the theater. Fingers crossed they don't waste screentime on the epilogue, but ugh, I have little hope on that score.