Wednesday, August 18, 2010

RTW: What Book Ending Would You Rewrite?

What day is it, you ask? Why, that would be Road Trip Wednesday, the day that the fabulous chicks over at YA Highway pose a writing/book-related question and invite you to answer it. This week's topic is: If you could rewrite one book's ending, which would you rewrite and why or how?
Oh, it is so on. Because I have a bone to pick with Harry Potter.


A. Don't read this post unless you have read book 7, or don't care to have the ending spoiled.
B. Die-hard Harry Potter fans: don't hurt me. Please.

(Original is here.)

It may shock you to hear that this is not about the epilogue. You know, the epilogue? That wisp of cotton candy at the end of Deathly Hallows? Yeah, that's right, I said it. COTTON CANDY, as in painfully sweet and lacking in substance, as in made me roll my eyes at the end of a book series that I read with greedy eagerness since I was 12. Oh, the humanity.

No, this is not about that, although Emilia Plater has a great post about it, if you want to check it out.

Remember the months before HP7 came out? I do. The rumors about how the series would end were floating around like dust motes, and the most terrifying among them was: Harry Potter is going to die! And while many readers started to collect canned goods and dig bomb shelters in their back yards to prepare for The End of All Things, I inched to the edge of my chair and started to grin like an idiot.

This is not because I don't like Harry. It is because I have the utmost respect for JK Rowling, who ruthlessly killed characters throughout the series, including my favorite, Sirius Black. I admire any author who can and will kill characters if necessary-- potentially a lot of them, at very inconvenient times, all for the sake of a powerful story. And I trusted that if JK decided it was time for Harry to kick the proverbial bucket, it would be mind-numbingly awesome.

And then she didn't.

And okay, the ending, pre-epilogue, was pretty good anyway. I'm definitely not arguing that it sucked the way that it was. I suggest, however, that if Harry had gone into the forest to find Voldemort and discovered that the only way to defeat Voldemort was to sacrifice his life (because he's the horcrux, yes?), it would have been like a kick to the chest. By far the most powerful moment of the entire series. And beyond that, an incredible act of heroism.

Yes, I know that Harry went into the forest anticipating that he would probably die, and that means he's a hero anyway. But it doesn't have the same impact. As I was reading, I knew that he probably wouldn't die because there were like fifty pages left after he goes into the forest, so I never actually feared for his life. I suspect that happened to a lot of other people, too. You think, she can't possibly kill him. The masses would be outraged. There would be riots in the streets of London. She wouldn't do that to us.
But: what if she did? What if, after everyone had convinced themselves that Harry would live happily ever after, he freaking died? The cheerily sadistic writer heart inside my normal heart would have grown three sizes that day.

Of course, I have to admit that as a normal reader, with no inner writer calling for complete destruction, I would have been really upset.

But I would have gotten over it.

So there you have it. My preferred ending to HP7. And that also fixes the epilogue problem. In fact, the epilogue could have included older Hermione and older Ron talking to their kids about their best friend, The Boy Who Lived. Beautiful. Poignant. Sad. So NOT cotton candy.


What book ending would you rewrite, friends?


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