Monday, September 10, 2012

Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
by J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter #6)
Published July 16th 2005 by Bloomsbury

It is the middle of the summer, but there is an unseasonal mist pressing against the windowpanes. Harry Potter is waiting nervously in his bedroom at the Dursleys' house in Privet Drive for a visit from Professor Dumbledore himself. One of the last times he saw the Headmaster was in a fierce one-to-one duel with Lord Voldemort, and Harry can't quite believe that Professor Dumbledore will actually appear at the Dursleys' of all places. Why is the Professor coming to visit him now? What is it that cannot wait until Harry returns to Hogwarts in a few weeks' time? Harry's sixth year at Hogwarts has already got off to an unusual start, as the worlds of Muggle and magic start to intertwine...
Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince, the 6th and second to last book in the series. This is the book I had been waiting for since I first started the series  The long awaited book where Harry and Dumbledore's relationship finally comes to the forefront. I'd been waiting for five books for Dumbledore to take up a more prominent role in Harry's magical education and while the basis of their time together wasn't exactly what I was expecting, it didn't disappoint in the least!  Harry & Dumbledore's quality time together will always have a very special place in my heart.  I'll try and summarize generally before going into plot details but it's hard for me not to go into spoilers right away: there is so much to discuss!

So Half-Blood Prince starts off fresh on the heels of OotP. Everyone in the wizarding community knows that Voldemort is back now. The Ministry for Magic has gotten rid of Fudge and taken an stronger stance against the dark forces that loom ever closer. Having now lost his godfather as well, Harry must come to grips with his loss, as well as the contents of the ominous prophecy regarding himself and Lord Voldemort. Right from the start, when Dumbledore goes to Privet Drive to fetch Harry, coming full circle from dropping him on that same doorstep some 15 years prior, I knew I was in for a treat. As Dumbledore goes from speaking to the Dursley's...to taking Harry to meet Slughorn (with good reason of course ;) ...and finally the touching and perfect scene when both Dumbledore and Harry speak outside the Burrow ♥ *sigh* It was perfection.   The writing in HBP is above reproach, it just flows effortlessly and the book reads in the same way. We are getting into the thick of the real plot now. The truth about Harry's destiny...and Voldemort's. And I loved learning every little detail of it right along with Harry. The scenes in Dumbledore's office with the pensive are among the most riveting in the whole series.

I did however find it a bit frustrating that Ron & Hermione are so reluctant to believe Harry's thoughts on Draco. As early as chapter 7, Harry told them what he suspects to be true about Draco...and for nearly the entire duration of the book they treat him as insane for even thinking it. I feel like at this point, they've known each other long enough and been through enough together to know that Harry's hunches are usually dead on. Sure he gets it wrong sometimes but the bottom line is, they should have considered Harry could have been right.  The guy has amazing instinct, period.

Another highlight in Half-Blood Prince for me is Ginny, the evolution of her character and consequentially her relationship with Harry. Can I just say how much I love Ginny?! She's fierce, brave, an incredibly skilled witch. She is also the least intimidated by Harry. He can be raging or sad to a point where Ron and Hermione would hesitate to approach him...but Ginny never hesitates...she can always get through to him. I've read people saying that they didn't see the love between Harry and Ginny coming... that you don't notice Ginny till book 6 so JKR is at fault for not putting Ginny in the forefront more or sooner. But I feel that these people forget the story is told through Harry's eyes. Harry has always cared for Ginny but I mean she hardly ever spoke in front of him; being so smitten with Harry. As early as OotP, Harry shares many glances, laughs and moments with Ginny. She kind of creeps up on the guy, slowly....from OotP onwards. Harry respects Ginny, he admires her skill as a witch, and on the Quidditch pitch when she replaces him as seeker. And in this book, he starts by inviting her with him on the train to Hogwarts. Then he sees her play chaser and she's brilliant. He loves her before realizing he does and so as readers, she creeps up on us a bit too the first time around...but upon re-reading the clues are there...and quite clear ;) I just loved seeing Harry fall for Ginny; she's much more worthy that Cho could ever dream of being!

And finally: Horcruxes! Half-Blood Prince is all about Horcruxes and I loved learning about them, how they came to be...every single pensive giving a clue for one or more of them. The concept is brilliant, hats off to Rowling for coming up with the whole idea. Seriously, how creepy was it to learn about Riddle's family, and younger Riddle?! *shudders* And yes the ending is beyond sad and I always tear up a few times during the final chapters. But it's fitting, it's what needed to happen and it sets the stage perfectly for the conclusion.

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