A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a grim, violent fantasy book. Characters show wonderful qualities such as bravery, loyalty, perseverance, and sacrifice, but deaths still occur in nearly every chapter -- major as well as minor. We know younger kids will want to (and probably will) read this wonderful end to the Potter series, but because of the heavy themes, we've rated it for age 12 and up. Parents who want to learn more about the series (and spin-off movies and games) can read our Harry Potter by Age and Stage article.
What's the story?
At the end of Book 6, Harry found out that he must kill Voldemort and that, before he can be killed, the Horcruxes in which the Dark Lord has hidden pieces of his soul must be found and destroyed. Neither is an easy task -- they are hidden geographically, protected by enchantments, and cannot be destroyed by ordinary magical means. While trying to solve these mysteries, Harry, Ron, and Hermione are on the run and fighting for survival. The Death Eaters have taken over the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts, put a price on Harry's head, and set up a variety of magical traps for them. Nothing is safe, no one can be trusted, and they have no idea how to even begin accomplishing their tasks.
Is it any good?
The long-awaited finale to the biggest publishing phenomenon in history crashes to a thunderous ending, bringing the series total up to around 4,100 pages. But Book 7 in the saga of the Boy Who Lived will not disappoint. Author J. K. Rowling has lost none of her magic touch. Though there is, at times, a bit too much exposition, it's enthralling, exciting, suspenseful, surprising, clever, and moving from beginning to end. But there's one thing it isn't -- fun. You can't say she didn't warn us, however, as Rowling has publicly stated that fighting pure evil involves hardship, sacrifice, and death. The best word to describe this final book is grim.
Rowling retains her crown as the queen of plotting and pacing. Never for children, and rarely for adults, has there been an epic story arc this complex, convoluted, and carefully constructed. This final book makes it clear that there was hardly a wasted word or event in the whole series as everything comes together in a way that's satisfying -- and that rewards close reading of the previous books.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the publishing phenomenon that is Harry Potter. Why has it been so successful? What makes it different from other books and series for children? Is it just hype, or something more?
What do you think about the way author Rowling ends the series? Are you satisfied?
How is it different from what you expected? Do you wish anything was different? Do you understand the complex reasoning that leads to the denouement?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.