I have a new date I must survive until – July 21, 2007. That’s the day when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is released into stores – the seventh and final Harry Potter novel. Thankfully this is a week before San Diego Comic Con – you try getting a Harry Potter book in that town when it’s filled with a gazillion nerds.

A lot of people assumed that the book would hit July 7, for a 7/07/07 date for the 7th book, but I guess Scholastic was OK with just multiples of seven. Maybe that’s why the hardcover is priced at a fairly steep 7 x 5 = 35 bucks.

It’s a big summer for Potter fans – the fifth movie, Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix, is hitting theaters just a week before the book comes out. This means that if you’re not a Harry Potter person you should probably avoid the internet for most of July.

What’s going to happen in book 7? I can’t wait to find out – I make no bones about being a fan of the series, which has evolved from fluffy kiddie nonsense to surprisingly dark and deep kiddie nonsense. Look, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here – JK Rowling is no Thomas Pynchon, but she has tapped into something very universal about adolescence and growing up, and she has managed to take some very standard tropes of fantasy and mold them into a unique universe that feels so real you want to move there. What’s been most fascinating about reading these books has been watching Rowling grow as a writer, moving from plain declarative text in the first couple of books into some prose that’s actually quite lovely by the time book 6 rolled around. She’s also not been afraid to get complex with her storytelling and her morality, allowing the books to grow up along with the original reader base.

Here’s what I think we can expect: Hermione and Ron get it on. Snape sacrifices himself. I bet dollars to donuts that Sirius Black returns. Draco Malfoy will join the good guys. And I’m hoping that Harry Potter bites it at the end – what a way to end a children’s book series. I doubt that will happen, but Rowling has shocked us in the past.