July 22, 2007
I got the book. I read the book. I will say nothing here about what happens or doesn’t happen in the book other than it was like pretty much everything else I read in that I wasn’t 100% delighted with the plot; I was not pleased about a few of the things that happened and was rather disappointed that one thing in particular did not. Of course this wasn’t pretty much like everything else I read in most other respects, starting with they way the release date has been marked on my calendar for months.
The indie bookstore wised up and moved their party from Saturday night (though the posters in the window never changed to show the new time–perhaps to throw off the muggles?), so Friday night found me sitting on the edge of a concrete planter in a long line of other Harry Potter fans. I got there about 10:30 (it was cool enough to wear my Ravenclaw scarf without roasting, so that was a bonus). Not too long after, bookstore employees came by and issued tickets to those of us who had pre-ordered; my number was 47. They let us in to the store around 11 o’clock; I made a quick tour around the snack table and grabbed a magic wand (a pretzel rod with one end dipped in chocolate) before staking my claim to one of the chairs up front. I knit while I talked to the woman next to me–she had gotten there at 5 o’clock and had ticket number 7–and looked at the costumes as people milled about in front of us. My favorites were the spot-on Hermione (her hair and the way she clutched a large book were particularly evocative) and a very good Luna complete with radish earrings. The Harry who had accessorized with plaid pajama pants and Crocs on his feet was cute if somewhat less authentic. One Slytherin had completely committed to the slutty schoolgirl look, featuring a bare midriff and fishnet stockings; I’m pretty sure I’ve read some fanfic about students like that. I am not sure what the girls who looked like they got lost on their way to the Ren Faire were going for.
When it got close to midnight, things got a bit chaotic. The employee in charge asked everyone to move to the back of the store and only come up to the front when the group of numbers their ticket was in was called, but that didn’t work out too well. People seemed reluctant to move too far back, and with good reason, because it was difficult to hear the announcements and hard to move around what with so many people crammed into the spaces between shelves and tables; get too far back and you’d miss your slot in the purchase line. It helped not one bit that people kept pouring in the front doors all night, clogging up the area by the registers and making it hard to tell where to line up even after one’s ticket group had been called–I got scolded by a Gryffindor in the group ahead of me for being in the wrong place. Still, I was back in my car with book in hand by 12:23 and home by 12:30.
I stayed up and read until 2:30, then slept for five hours or so and got up and read some more. I did manage to do a few other things on Saturday, but mostly I read. Sometime before dinner, I was confused when a sentence that started at the end of one page didn’t finish at the top of the next. I went back and re-read and it still made no sense. With a sinking feeling, I looked at the numbers at the bottom. What I saw made me cringe. Page 674 should be followed by 675, not 707 as it was in my copy. I flipped through the rest of the pages (trying to see only numbers, not words)–I had no 675, or indeed any of the other pages between 674 and 707. I had two each of 707 through 738, but that did me exactly no good. Damn it. I expect to have to check for missing pages when I work on projects at Distributed Proofreaders, but not when I buy new books.
Oh, I was steamed. I was fuming. It wasn’t the bookstore’s fault–I’d seen them opening the sealed boxes right there at the counter–but they were going to have to deal with the consequences. Except I didn’t want to risk the bookstore right then. Bookstores are filled with people who read, people who might have had all the pages in their copy and be talking about the ending and I didn’t want to hear it. I was determined not to be spoiled for this one. Instead, I went to Meijer. I put on my iPod and cranked up the volume so I wouldn’t overhear anything and walked in the store and there was a pallet with Deathly Hallows not 10 yards inside the door. I grabbed a copy, made sure there was a page 675 and beyond, and went through the U-Scan checkout, tunes still blaring in my ears. When I got back to my car, I double checked the pages and started reading and didn’t want to stop, so I finished it right there. Not exactly what I’d planned, but I’d done it, gotten through unspoiled by the internet.