Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince (SPOILERS)

This post (and subsequent comments) has many spoilers.  If you haven’t read the book, STOP READING NOW!

Yeah, so I got it Saturday*and started reading all 652 pages of it that evening. I got the last little bit today, right after work. I found one irritating as hell typo “site” instead of “sight” on page 12 which really irritated me, but other than that, it was done well from a mechanical standpoint.

First, it’s a good book. It reads very fast and seems much shorter than the weight of the volume would have you believe. It’s also a page-turner.

Second, there have been criticisms that Jo Rowling has been trying to wrap things up tidily in this novel. I think, yes, some things do get wrapped up nicely. Many things get left open.

The book is decidedly more British. Many of the things they used to change “pudding” for “dessert” are left unchanged now. Yet, they still insist on “bathroom” which in the UK is the room in which one takes a bath. It almost seems out of place. The more English feel is an asset for this book and I’m glad the publisher decided to have a little more faith in the intelligence of their readers.

Last chance. Book-ruining spoilers follow.

  1. That Snape is really evil and not to be trusted will surprise no one, however what he does in this book will surprise everyone. Well, “to thine own self be true” is certainly accurate.
  2. The death of Dumbledore will surprise nobody. I was relieved, actually. I was so worried the whole book that they were going to kill Ron Weasley, I couldn’t stand it. When Dumbledore died instead, I was almost relieved. And to be honest, I had Hagrid or Ginny pegged as the ‘gonner’ for most of the book. Of course, this is caused because Harry once again withholds information, only this time with fatal consequences. He had proof that Snape was bad, but rather than let himself get in trouble, he hides the potions book with the proof. Harry is not flawless, and I am disappointed in him. This is not the first time he does this, and I am confident it will not be his last.
  3. Harry gets Ginny, gets to snog, etc. Yawn. Ron finally ends up with Hermione, which will surprise nobody and leave you wondering what took so long. What little sexual tension this book has is between those two.

And last, but not even remotely least, is Mr. Draco Malfoy. Malfoy is revealed to be the frightened, little snivelling scared child we all know him to be. And it is the first time I am truly irate at Mr. Potter. You ever realize you’re at defining moment that will forever alter the future course of events? Well there was one in this book, whether or not Rowling put it there. When Potter walks in on Malfoy who is crying ** his heart out to Myrtle, Harry could have offered him comfort, or any number of other things. Harry could have been a big person, but he wasn’t. Harry could have gone to Malfoy while he was recovering from his wounds and tried to fix things, then and there, but he didn’t. And ultimately, when Malfoy can’t kill Dumbledore, if you didn’t realize Draco still could be saved, you knew it when Dumbledore tells him. However, you should have figured it out early on. I am so terribly disappointed in Harry, I am not sure how to express myself. (I wish I knew how to get in touch with Ms. Rowling so I could tell her how much I think she blew it in this one scene.)

The book gets better as it goes along — no question about that. The whole Horcrux bit is a little over-convoluted, but not distracting at least. But I have no real complaints about the book, yet some frustrations that characters don’t act how I think*** they should act.

Everyone says the book is dark, but it isn’t any darker than any of the other books. And, unlike Goblet of Fire, you don’t need a forklift to carry it. Kudos to the Canadian publisher for using recycled paper instead of virgin trees for the printing. All-in-all, I am happy. I can’t wait for the penultimate book in this wonderful oeuvre!

— E

*Thanks, Mo!

** That alone is a shocker

*** Yeah, I know the author gets to decide

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