March 20, 2008

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

HBPThe Boy Who Lived returns to Hogwarts for the sixth year. Voldemort’s return is public knowledge, but he gathered power while the Ministry of Magic denied Dumbledore and Harry’s claims. The book opens with Severus Snape making a cryptic promise to Narcissa Malfoy, in a scene that sets the novel’s dark tone.

I will refrain from plot synopsis as many have already read the novel as well as its sequel. Instead, I’ll explain why I choose HBP for my first review. On my personal blog, I often mention books I’m reading, have read, or will read. The first book I offered in-depth commentary on was HBP, as soon as I finished it at 10:30 AM the day it came out. This review builds on that original commentary. I felt it fitting to use this book for my inaugural review.

Rowling has magic in her pen. Her prose may not always flow and some plot twists might be obvious, but few books are as fun to read as the Harry Potter series. Her Hogwarts imposes itself on the reader’s imagination – children across the world hope for an invitation on their eleventh birthdays. I devoured this and her other six books because she catches your attention and holds it.

Despite this, I feel Rowling became less descriptive in this entry. Some parts seem rushed and it damages her fantastic world-building. It also ensures that Harry seems blander. Most fans hate OoTP Harry. I, on the other hand, think it is his best incarnation. He’s temperamental, impulsive, hormonal, and often quite stupid. Rarely does an author write a teenager that perfectly. With this less emotional Harry, more emotional remove exist between the reader and his grief and crushes.

But while I feel remove from his crush, Rowling develops one relationship I hoped for in many of the previous books. She also, FINALLY, grants Draco Malfoy some character development. Long a fan favorite and a key figure in many of the best fanfictions, the Malfoy of the books left something to be desired. Namely, a third-dimension. DH does not focus on Malfoy, but it does continue this development with some wonderfully done scenes involving the entire family.

In the end, the flaws of HBP don’t matter. It’s the sixth book of the most popular series ever. The Harry Potter books may not be perfect, but they are something special.

You know what J. K. Rowling’s written. You know where to find more information. Enjoy.

Coming next: KITTY KITTY by Michele Jaffe

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Livi.

    "Heard" about your blog on PW.

    Re: HBP Harry vs OoTP Harry, I agree with you. I was on a warner brothers board and most posters hated "hormonal Harry". I guess it helped me to have a 14yr son--I could relate.

    As to HBP, I wondered what you think of JKR's comments about Dumbledore. For myself, I didn't appreciate them. Her readership is largely younger people and I think she should have kept that morsel of DD's character sketch to herself. She was so cryptic about so much for so long, why bring it out so late( or at all?)


    "Future" published author :)
    "Life's Uncertain Voyage"


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