Since I'm relatively late to this party here's a few other spoilery posts I liked:
- Russell Arben Fox interprets it as a children's story ending. Ultimately it doesn't really handle some of the bigger themes it takes on. I'm somewhat, but only somewhat, sympathetic to that interpretation. I'm willing to give her a pass on lack of international relations for instance as she ignores it fairly consistently rather than half address it.
- I particularly like Eve Tushnet's analysis on how the series didn't quite make the jump from cartoony-fantasy to realist-fantasy.
- insheepsclothng's friend-locked analysis is of course first rate. I'm a bit harder on the specifics of Harry's self-sacrifice but otherwise I'm in complete agreement.
- Slate's book club was also pretty fun.
- Friendships and the Ron/Hermione romance. These felt like characters that had known each other for some time and had built up strong relationships. Moreover, the scenes that showed why Hermione would go for Ron felt right (and importantly tended to involve Ron coming around to Hermione's positions). I also liked that they were really good at shutting down Harry's attempts to go off alone.
- The humor. The book made me laugh, a lot.
- The darkness. Man, I didn't expect the ministry to fall nearly so early. I didn't expect the death toll. I wanted more Tonks in the book, but I was okay with the off-screen death of Tonks and Lupine because it was quite literally a war. That made clear just how bad it was.
- Death! Even when you include Harry, this is among the most real I've ever seen death in a fantasy work. Important characters seemed to stay dead even when you don't find the body. How hardcore is that? I totally bought that Harry was willing to accept his death. The bit with the resurrection stone was quite powerful and played just right. I thought Dobby's was particularly well handled and realistically showed Harry getting his head straight.
- The Battle for Hogwarts. I can't wait to see it in the movie.
- Neville kicking ass and Snape's Patronus.
- Dumbledore being a dick. His brother, his past, his chilling with Grindelwald was all great. (Side note: My response to learning which blond stole the Elder Wand was Grindelwald you Aryan bastard!) I think we can now see why he thinks Harry is so selfless. His standards are pretty low. Also, I thought the whole Dumbledore's version of WWII was nicely handled.
- Leaving unsettled the relations with non-humans. She was starting to get somewhere with the goblin and house-elf plot lines. Hermione always got it and other people were starting to. Both sides planning a double-cross regarding the sword deal was terrific and very realisticon how these sorts of rivalries maintain themselves. But it isn't enough to just be a good master to your house-elf, you can't be a master at all.
- SNAPE! Snape should not be a messenger boy. I liked his relationship with Lily, although it reinforced why Slytherin house is such a terrible idea. But aside from the sword delivery and 'punishing' the good guys by sending them to Hagrid, he didn't get to do nearly as much. He deserved a real backstab.
- Wand ownership rules. Generally speaking they were a distraction and if there was some sort of theme going on there I didn't catch it.
- Harry's resurrection. I'm still kinda going 'huh?' over that. I'm okay with it happening, I don't like the mechanism. (And really, can it qualify as the greatest story ever told if it puts all the emphasis on how the hero is willing to nobly sacrifice himself and then just bring the guy back? What's up with that? ;P)
- Camping. Definitely needed more Radio Free Hogwarts.
- Epilogue. Bourgeoisie really. Also, it felt like the Potters and the Weasleys were the new purebloods that everyone was marrying into. However, that's getting better shinuhana found an article where JKR tells more (but not all).
- Dumbledore is a rules lawyer. That exposition scene felt a lot like arguing with the GM, with the help of the new wands supplement, why Harry was actually alive.
- Camping felt exactly like a frustrated adventuring party. I commend her on the effect she achieved. But it could have managed that a lot shorter.
Final thought: It would have been a better ending overall if Ginny switched over to going for Neville. How cool would that be? Although according to the article he might end up with Luna, who is cooler anyhow.