I was going to write a post comparing the hype about the iPhone and the final Harry Potter book—the Globe quotes someone as saying that it'll be bigger than Dickens, and I don't think they meant in number of pages alone—but I got distracted and reread the fifth and sixth books instead. On this reading the sixth came out better, I think, and the fifth worse than I had thought previously. Harry is so annoying in book five that I was forced to skip several sections and even whole chapters to get to the good parts, something that wasn't necessary (well, almost wasn't) for Half-Blood Prince. The problem with that book, of course, is that the beginning and the end are far the weakest parts of the book, and they point to the problems with the series as a whole.
Namely, Rowling does a great job (mostly) when the action is taking place at Hogwarts, but things go south when her characters are forced to venture beyond the bounds of its august walls. The first chapter of book six, where the English Prime Minister gets a visit from his wizard counterpart, is so embarrassingly bad that I almost couldn't go on when I was reading it for the first time. I recently had a discussion with a big fan of the books about the internal consistency of the stories, which is something all the true enthusiasts talk up, but does anyone seriously believe Rowling has created anything like a convincing picture of the interaction between the wizarding world and that of the 'muggles'? When I think about it for anything more than a fleeting moment, I want to lead a muggle rebellion! What more blatant escapist fantasy is there than this, where we all identify with the essentially limitless power of the wizard characters and laugh at the pathetic attempts of the regular humans—even the Prime Minister!—to manage anything at all in their horrible humdrum existences.
I have other objections too, but I'll save them for another time, like after I've bought the seventh (not the sixth!) book on the first day it's available and read it in a single marathon session. Hey, I want to see what happens!