Harry Potter fans, rejoice: In under two months, you'll be holding the final book in your hot little hands (or "lugging it around," if past page-lengths are any guide). The final book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," will be published on July 21, and the next movie, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," will be in theaters July 11 (moved up from July 13). It's a Wild About Harry summer. (And even then, it's not over...await the theme park in 2009.)
But forget the movie for now, loyal readers know what happens there. Let's talk about the next book. (If you don't like speculation and possible spoilers, duck out of this post now and go enjoy a chocolate frog or two.)
The nice thing about waiting on the book is that there are so many unanswered questions to ponder (sound familiar, "Lost" fans?) The biggest one of course, is who will die? Rowling has promised (threatened?) two major deaths in this last book. My pal Chris Bahn offered odds on various characters' chances to bite the dust in this 2006 article.
The major question about the deaths: Will Harry be one of them? (Make your prediction here.) Will he have to sacrifice himself to end the series to Rowling's satisfaction? Will Voldemort be the other, or is that just two easy, bad guy and good guy fighting to the death, like Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls?
If it's not Harry, who will it be? His pal Ron has to be a hot contender. (Remember the song lyric from "Sunset Boulevard" -- "nobody dies except the best friend"?) But maybe that's too cliched. If so, there are plenty of other Weasleys to take a bullet. (Fred and George maybe shouldn't buy any green bananas.) And don't forget ever-loyal Hagrid, or Neville, or even Hermione.
And what about Snape? The question with him is not only will he live or die, but is he good or bad? Where does his loyalty lie, and what exactly happened with Dumbledore?
There are other plot twists that cry out for resolving as well. Who wouldn't like to know exactly what happened the night Harry's parents were murdered? Is the mysterious RAB really Regulus Black, or is that again, too simple for words? What are the remaining horcruxes?
And fans have creative and fun theories too. It's not just Snape's loyalty that comes into question -- what if someone Harry trusted turned out to be working for He Who Must Not Be Named? (One theory I like suggests this person could have secrets, but I'm not sure I buy that.) I also like the idea that Harry will not die, but will live out his days in peace as Hogwarts' longest-running Defense Against the Dark Arts professor -- after all, who knows more about fighting baddies?
Let's hear your theories. After all, there's just seven weeks to go.