Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Review: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter, #6)
Goodreads Summary: 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.
Goodreads / Barnes and Noble

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 652
Publisher: Scholastic
Source: Purchased physical copy

First Line: "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."

Favorite Quote: "'Do you remember me telling you that we are practicing non-verbal spells, Potter?' 'Yes,' said Harry stiffly. 'Yes, sir.' 'There's no need to call me "sir", Professor.' The words had escaped him before he knew what he was saying."


Warning: Spoilers are present in this review 

It was easier for me to immediately get into the central story in this one, mainly because Harry has stopped being as moody as he was in the Order of Phoenix, and that in itself made me like the sixth installment in this series more. I think that The Half Blood Prince might be my favorite one so far (just behind it is The Prisoner of Azkaban). I can't really say why, but there was something that kept me so immersed in it that I had to stay up late to finish. That's not to say that the others don't possess the same quality - but even so, I felt it more here. It could just be the fact that I enjoyed the subplots more.Normally I don't like it when there's a lot of memories and flashbacks in a book, but J.K. Rowling unfolds everything so skillfully as always, and learning about Voldemort's past was quite interesting to me. I suppose he had a bad childhood, so that could have contributed to his evilness, but overall I think he's just crazy. It also answered something that had been puzzling me since the beginning of the Goblet of Fire - I didn't get how three Riddles were murdered in their big house. But with the explanation midway into the novel it all made sense. I've learned to just go with the flo when it comes to the Harry Potter books, knowing that eventually I'll have no more questions to ask.

I always felt like Harry was right to keep such a close eye on Draco throughout his sixth year at Hogwarts, especially after everything he heard on the train. I found it a little odd that Ron and Hermione dismissed Harry's serious suspicions about Draco so easily with the evidence that steadily kept piling up. I was surprised at the turn his character took, honestly. He's always been a pest, yes, and definitely a worthy enemy of Harry's, ever since the first book. Still, I was sad when he started working with the Death Eaters, and by the end of HP number six, I felt really bad for him. He probably felt like he had no choice, what with his whole family being on Voldemort's side. That doesn't excuse his actions, though. I'm curious to see what will become of him in the last one.

I can honestly say that the HP books have the best secondary characters of any series I've ever read (and that's quite a statement, coming from me. I like to think I've read a lot.) Almost all of them have made some kind of impression on me, whether they were good or bad. For example, I kind of love Luna, even though she hasn't been around a whole lot, and was just introduced in the last book. She may be a little odd, but she has this open way of stating things; I'm really hoping for some kind of happy ending for her. All the Weasleys will always have a special place in my heart. I was, however, kind of surprised by Harry's feelings for Ginny. They seemed to spring up very suddenly. I mean, they've known each other for over five years and he just now realizes that she's pretty and awesome. I got used to it after a while, but I kind of wish the relationship had a little more development. I was really disappointed at first because Ginny was really quiet, and as close to a flat character as you can get in the HP books.

But she actually showed some personality here, much more fiery than before. I was annoyed when Harry broke up with her at the end. It was obvious that Voldemort would use whoever Harry cared about against him, but he could just as easily use Ron or Hermione, and I didn't see him ditching them. In both the books and the movies, I have seen tiny hints of feelings between Ron and Hermione. I think that they came out a lot more in this one. It was obvious after Hermione's temper tantrum with the birds when Ron got together with Lavender (who was extremely annoying). On one hand I felt kind of bad for the both of them, but on the other I've gotten to the point where I'm just really frustrated with their dance-around-the-feelings thing. I think they're pretty cute together, though I do wonder sometimes what made Rowling decide not to put two of her main characters together.

The most heart-stopping, punch in the gut was definitely the end when Dumbledore died. I had some suspicion of it happening based off some comments I'd read in some reviews, but I was hoping against hope I was wrong and it wouldn't happen. I had come to care for him so much as a character in this series that I was simply devastated upon reading about his demise. I actually had to put the book aside for a few minutes so I could cry about it; he was so wise and friendly, yet so powerful. I didn't expect Draco to be the one to kill him in the tower based on the way he was already acting (he was crying earlier in the bathroom, after all), but I also didn't think Snape would be the one to do it. Obviously I've always disliked him for his behavior towards Harry, but I was hoping he had really changed (though maybe some part of me thought he didn't, even though five years had gone by without him murdering Harry). And the fact that Snape was the Half Blood Prince? I probably should have seen that coming, what with all the advice he gave coming out of a Potions book, but I really didn't. I still don't feel like I completely understand Snape's character, but as of now I hate him for killing Dumbledore. This book was an excellent set-up for the final chapter, and though I want to put off reading it because it's the last one, I know I won't because I just have to see how this all ends immediately.

5 stars

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