Ken and I bought Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at around 1 a.m. this morning. I read three chapters and then fell asleep. I woke up, and with the exception of about an 1-1/2 break for dinner, read for 13 hours straight. I'm groggy, disoriented, and a little dehydrated (crying will do that).
I won't spoil the book for anyone--I don't want to make enemies. But I will tell you I have two gut reactions: the reader one and the writer one. The reader in me liked it alot. I laughed, I cried, I was shocked. The reader in me has a few complaints but that falls into the spoiler catergory, so I'll save that discussion for the weeks and months to come. The writer in me felt that the story was bloated in places. I also feel that this story arc can be broken in two: the first four books and then the last three. I believe she had a firm idea about where the story was heading and what the major plot points concerning Harry/Voldemort were all along. However, I also feel that Rowling used the three years between Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix for some major plotting/construction/backstory work that maybe wasn't strictly part of her original plan.
Mind you, I'm not saying that bad. It's necessary, in fact, when you're writing a long series, I think. My opinion is that she found uses for some of the characters later in the series that she hadn't planned on when she started out.
I'll probably read the whole series again, start to finish, but probably not for another year or so. I need time to digest. I also need some time to come down from the whole Harry Potter OCD business.
My confidence in my own writing is intact, and for that I'm grateful. It's a big step for me; I used to read awesome stories and say "Why can't I do that? Why do I suck? I'm never going to make it." Now, I go, "Hey, she did that really well. I'd have done X differently ... but this is her story. I enjoyed it."