Sunday, December 15, 2013

Rereading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter, #6)
It was nearing midnight and the Prime Minister was sitting alone in his office, reading a long memo that was slipping through his brain without leaving the slightest trace of meaning behind.

"The war against Voldemort is not going well; even the Muggle governments are noticing. Ron scans the obituary pages of the Daily Prophet, looking for familiar names. Dumbledore is absent from Hogwarts for long stretches of time, and the Order of the Phoenix has already suffered losses. And yet, as with all wars, life goes on. Sixth-year students learn to Apparate—and lose a few eyebrows in the process. Teenagers flirt and fight and fall in love. Classes are never straightforward, though Harry receives some extraordinary help from the mysterious Half-Blood Prince. So it's the home front that takes center stage in the multilayered sixth installment of the story of Harry Potter. Here at Hogwarts, Harry will search for the full and complex story of the boy who became Lord Voldemort—and thereby find what may be his only vulnerability."

Perhaps it was not such a good idea to read all of the Harry Potter books in one go; I ended up getting rather tired of the style by the end, with all the "said's" and not much variation in terms of dialogue and writing. Nevertheless, I still love the series, and J.K. Rowling certainly spins a good tale full of detail and endlessly fascinating. 

Even though a lot of bad things happen in this one, the fifth book is still definitely the most grim and dark, mainly because of Umbridge's crackdown at Hogwarts; at least in the sixth book, the Ministry of Magic now acknowledges Voldemort's return, and that's something, even though they're going about handling it completely the wrong way. 

A lot of new things are introduced in this sixth installment; for example the sinister and awful Horcruxes. The Pensieve is also explored more fully, and so is Harry and Dumbledore's relationship, although there are still many mysteries about Dumbledore that will not be revealed until the final book. The ending of the sixth book is quite shocking, certainly, and changes everything. 

Just like The Order of the Phoenix, Harry and his friends are also in the midst of adolescence, and there's quite a lot of "fighting, flirting, and falling in love" in addition to battling evil. All of it is quite entertaining, however, and the book flies by quickly just like the previous five. 

What else can I say? Slughorn is a new character; he's annoying but kind of endearing as well. One feels slightly sympathetic for Malfoy in this book; I mean, he's really nasty, but he's bitten off more than he can chew with the mysterious assignment. Harry is convinced that he's a Death Eater, and is annoyed that everyone else doubts him, and that Dumbledore won't even really listen.

Ah, the half blood prince, what gives this book half of its title. I really enjoy the sections where Harry is triumphing in Potions thanks to the book, which has helpful tips and instructions. The book eventually gets him into a lot of trouble with Snape, who as it turns out is the author of it. One thing I found unrealistic about this is that Snape would just leave his Potions book with all of his scribblings in the store cupboard of the classroom where it could be found by anyone. It's very unlike Snape. Harry also at first suspects that it might be his dad, but when he sees the book was published fifty years ago, he assumes it's not. But that doesn't mean anything; I mean, his class is using it fifty years after it was published. It wasn't like Harry to just assume that the owner had it when it was first published. That was a minor annoyance, but irksome nonetheless. 

Overall, I like this book too, and though it's not one of my very favorites, I still really enjoyed rereading it. 

652 pages. 

Rating: ****

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