I would have been content to be at the nearest National Bookstore at 7:01 AM, July 21, 2007, but DH insisted we go to Fully-Booked Serendra. He read in the internet that there will be activities (magic tricks, giveaways, etc.) at the launch of the final Harry Potter book and he wanted the KiDS to experience that. And so it was that the entire clan woke up at 5:30 in the morning. Even earlier than our waking time on a school day. I strongly suspect that DH cast an Imperio spell on all of us.
We arrived at Serendra at 6:30 AM to a disappointing line of three people. (There were five others sitting lazily by the planters behind the fountains. Hey, people! A line means people standing one after the other, waiting their turn. Sitting way over there, does not count.) On the one hand, we were happy to get a good spot, on the other, I wonder: where are the magicians, the fanatics in costumes? What? No one camped out? Obviously, I expected way too much.
I think the KiDS were the youngest to fall in line. Heck - the KiDS were the only children there. Most of the early birds were teenagers or parents like me. The KiDS passed the time by taking photos outside the bookstore. At 10 minutes to 7, the line grew longer. But from experience, I'd say that the lines at Krispy Kremes are longer. Exactly 7:01, the doors opened.
I let Diego pick out a book and bring it to the cashier. He ignored the many books on the tables (did I really worry that I will not get a copy?) and took one from the display window. He excitedly showed me that the photo of Harry was different in the book he chose. Harry, apparently, had a "kiss mark" near his chin while the others didn't. He and his Papa noticed it from the many books on display. Yup! That's how bored they were.
We still got a discounted price for the book so all those early bird discounts were for naught. And Diego got free pens. We then saw a line that ends at a table were young people dressed in Hogwarts robes milled around a Sorting Hat. We lined up, too, thinking that it was for the activities. It turned out to be a line for members of Pinoy Harry Potter (why should I be surprised when we have a Pinoy Scrapbookers, hahaha) to get their reserved copies. We asked the Customer Service where the Harry Potter activities were going to be held and they said second floor. There was no one there, but it was the children's section so I let the KiDS get their own books to read so I could get started on my book. I was into chapter 3 when Alby texted that she was in a long line at Powerbooks Greenbelt. It was around 8 by then and there didn't seem to be activities happening so we went to get doughnuts from Krispy Kreme and breakfast at Seattle's Best Coffee. I sank on a comfortable sofa and continued reading while DH fed the KiDS breakfast. Shortly after, they decided to go back to Fully-Booked to check out the activities.
After one chapter, I followed them to the 4th floor, where, a magic show was ongoing. DH greeted me with a "There's a great magic act there...they turn your P100 into a...ta-daaan...wand." Or what passed for a wand anyway. It was actually a twig covered with paint and glitters. And of course, the KiDS had to each have one. And one broomstick for P200. At that price, I told Diego he better put that walis ting-ting to good use sweeping the garagewhen we get home.
While the KiDs cast spells on each other and new-found friends, I found a quite corner and continued reading. I was quite successful in blocking out the expelliarmuses and windgardium leviosas, until DH finally announced it was time to go. This, after the KiDS attended Transfiguration class (or paper folding in organizers-speak).
I was just glad to go home so I can curl up on my bed and read the Deathly Hallows, undisturbed. I'm not sure if I had lunch, but at 6:30 PM, I finally stirred to meet up with my friends for dinner. I was by then in chapter 31. Surprisingly, I didn't find it difficult to wrench myself from the book. I had a relaxing Harry-free dinner (my friends have not read the books) and finally got in at 11:00 PM. I continued reading and finally finished 1:30 AM, July 22.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Except for the first three books, I have read all the Harry Potter books on the day they came out. The previous book, Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince, I read in a day, locked up inside the bathroom, because it was the one place in the house where I could be left undisturbed. I was getting a headache from lack of sleep but I couldn't put the book down. I had to find out what happens next. I can't say the same from this book. While I would dearly love to find out what happens to Harry, Ron, Hermione, and their friends, the book didn't have me in its grip as much as the other. In fact, I took time to have a leisurely dinner with friends. That I was able to put the book down at all said volumes to me.
Don't get me wrong. I still like the book. I think that J.K. Rowling did a great job tying all the loose ends together. But sometimes I really felt that she was tidying up and some chapters were dedicated to this. While some events were foreshadowed in the previous books, and thus, you were able to feel that you were part of them, some developments in the final book seemed to have come out from nowhere. I was disappointed that the quest for the remaining horcruxes (magical vessels where Voldemort stored pieces of his soul) wasn't as thrilling as the search for the first horcrux (which had shades of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings). But then, again, maybe it's because this book is more about the hallows.
Expecting battles of the same magnitude as middle earth's, I was bored by the lack of action in the first chapters. Many characters we have come to know die in this book, but we aren't there when they do. We do not get to witness their heroism first hand as the news comes to us belatedly. There is no doubt that this is a book about Harry Potter. All the other characters merely support him.
But I am glad that all my questions were answered. I have a running bet with my DH about Severus Snape and I won the bet. I was wrong about my hopes for Sirius Black and Albus Dumbledore. I should have remembered that while Harry Potter is marketed as a children's book, it is no fairy tale.
In the middle of the final confrontation between Harry and Voldemort, I had to take out The Half-Blood Prince. I fear that Rowling put a confundus charm on me. And for a moment there, (OK, one whole day), I didn't quite get it. But then, all was revealed to me. And finally, as J.K. Rowling ended it, all was well.