For years, I willfully ignored Harry Potter. But people talked about him. And talked about him. And ... you get it. By the time "Azkaban" came out, I caved in to curiosity and bought all three books. I stayed up really, really late every night reading. JK Rowling reached out and Super Glued my eyes to the pages. Mom read them, and then I suckered my husband into it. ("Read page one, honey, I dare you.") He now reads them more often than I do. This is Mr. I Hate Reading Anything That Isn't Muscle & Fitness.
What makes these books so gripping that kids (and adults) who hate to read are turning onto them in a frenzy of midnight book parties? The shipments need security guards--SECURITY GUARDS--to protect them from theft by anxious readers. JKR, can I borrow your life for a while? :) "Half-Blood Prince" is one of only two books that have ever made me cry ("Where The Red Fern Grows" is the other), so you can imagine how eagerly I await "Deathly Hallows."
Which brings me to the point: my predictions for book seven. Who will die? Voldemort, surely. You don't write seven books about fighting the good fight and not let the heroes win at the end.
But not without cost. My bet is on one of the Weasleys. If it were me, I'd choose Percy or one of the twins. What more heroic act than for self-centered Percy to realize the error of his ways and die defending his family? And could you get much more tragic than taking only one of the twins and leaving the other?
I DON'T think it'll be Hagrid, and I'm sure she'll let Harry, Ron, and Hermione live. (Unless she wants a storm of hate mail from her readers.) Likewise Ginny. The girl's got moxie, and I get the idea she'd be the last one standing if the whole world blows up. Plus, being a romance writer, I'd really, really hate it if Harry/Ginny and Ron/Hermione didn't come through OK.
Who's R.A.B.? Well, for various reasons, I'm 90% convinced it's Regulus Black. JKR doesn't just deus ex machina her way into a plot twist. She leaves clues, couched in wording that makes a reader gloss over that part and come back to it going "HEY!" when she reveals her surprises. And for an ex-Slytherin, ex-Death Eater to be the pivot-point for Voldemort's downfall? This is just tooooo good.
Speaking of which ... Snape. Dumbledore trusted him. I trust him. Nuff said.
Enjoy the wait, and I might see some of you at the bookstore on July 21st when we find out the answers (and in the meantime, "Phoenix" is out on the 11th to whet our appetites)!