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Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince

The sixth book in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series.

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Mysteries a-plenty -- maybe a few too many

  • Aug 27, 2005
Rating:
+3
This is the sixth volume of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, and for those who've read the previous five books, both her strengths and weaknesses as an author should be familiar territory. In general terms, not much is different about this book, so diehard fans will likely be pleased while critics will still have much to say against it.

I find myself somewhere in the middle. Though I think "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" was my favorite, I've enjoyed each of the Harry Potter books, including this one. I really appreciate how Rowling creates characters that you can identify with and feel for. Most of her characters aren't cardboard cutouts, but careful portraits with depth and a sense of someone who could almost leap off the page. Her stories are increasingly intricate, involving more and more of the world outside Hogwarts (though she did seem to pull back from that a little in this book) and sub-plots abound. Her sense of humour is as present here as it ever was, with lots of little details that, while not adding much to the overall story, are very amusing in themselves. And her imagination, as always, is in high evidence here, suffusing the book with a sense of wonder that's good for all ages.

Oddly enough, some of these strengths also lead to the weaknesses, when overplayed or used poorly. Her usually-strong characters make it easier to see the ones she has put there just to cast away again...these are the people who we don't get to know as well, whose motivations don't matter because they won't be around for too long, for one reason or another. The intricacy of the story has led to a lot of dead ends, and this is the case more and more as the series continues. If it's intentional, then it means Rowling is throwing out a lot of red herrings, and if it's not, it means she's going down a lot of blind alleys and we're following blithely along, the blind leading the blind. I started feeling this way about the fourth book, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," where the plots started to feel a bit too thick, the sidetracks many and without much point. The fifth book had even more times like this, whole chapters it seemed, so much so that I had a hard time getting through the book. And the same is true of this book. There are 200 pages or so right in the middle where some things are happening, but much of it is repititious of what has come before and not at all needed to further the story. Rowling still hasn't learned the lesson that, often, less is more. Quite the opposite, she seems to be packing each succeeding volume with more and more needless detail, while I'd rather she skipped the third or fourth description of two characters snogging in the common room and moved on with the story. It's funny, but it does get tiresome, and it doesn't serve the overall plot thread at all.

Still, there's much here to enjoy, and the last 200 pages (where everything starts to happen in all of her books) make me want to keep reading. In this book, Harry learns a lot more about Voldemort, as he and Dumbledore join forces more than they ever have to get to the bottom of the Dark Lord's rise to power and to try to discover a weakness. Mysteries abound; a new and surprising Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher is chosen, Harry learns the effect of strange new spells like Sectumsempra and Levicorpus, the discovery of what a Horcrux is leads Dumbledore and Harry closer to Voldemort's nature, and of course, the identity of the Half-Blood Prince is sought. By the end of this book, some things are resolved but much work remains for Harry, the future of Hogwarts is hazy, and clearly things are drawing to a close, one way or another.

Another thing Rowling does well: she really knows how to leave her readers wanting more. At the end of each book, I am anxious to read the next one, and "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" is no exception. Obviously, much of the sixth book exists to set things up for the seventh, and final, book in ther series. It should be, to say the least, interesting.

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More Harry Potter And The Half-Bloo... reviews
review by . February 05, 2010
Writing a fictional character from childhood to adulthood, as J. K. Rowling is doing in this series, is not easy; following a character from uncertainty to heroism, as Harry Potter has progressed in Half Blood Prince, is fraught with danger for the writer who attempts it.    And again, Rowling attempts all and succeeds. With one year to go, Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts for Year 6, but not before dealing with lingering complications from the taut climax of Harry Potter and …
review by . July 02, 2010
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince was released during a tragic period of my life, just when I thought that I had grown out of the series I'd loved as a child. I was entering my junior year in high school when my parents decided to move our family from the big city of Los Angeles, California to the small town of the Middle of Nowhere, Georgia. As an act of reconciliation, my brother in law purchased the book about 300 miles out of California. I was so depressed about my loss of friends …
review by . June 09, 2010
What was your emotional reaction as you read? Why?      I was excited to finally get the next Harry Potter book out and learn more abou tthe plot and discover the mysteries.        Who would you recommend this reading to and why?      Anyone who likes young adult and fantasy books. And if you like a book with a good mystery.        Consider the setting.      Its set in a mystical …
Quick Tip by . October 15, 2010
I was totally "blah" about this novel. It is purely a setup novel--creating the necessary ingredients for the finale. Its very much like laying out all the ingredients to make your own creme brulee. Gathering the ingredients is necessary to making the final product, but ... it isn't exactly all that fun. I didn't feel cheated by the novel, just not even remotely sated.
Quick Tip by . October 14, 2010
This is my favorite book in the series. It's the one that ends on the biggest cliffhanger. Appearances can be deceiving.
Quick Tip by . July 13, 2010
The entire series are worth reading. They are full of imagination.
Quick Tip by . July 03, 2010
Pivotal, but not as strong as other books in the series. A great many hints are dropped that are not necessarily "canon" (e.g., Dumbledore is gay?), and much background is filled in. Good, just a bit longer than I'd have liked (with apologies to the author!). Not the ending you'd expect.
Quick Tip by . July 01, 2010
the half blood prince was a very good book. i liked it a lot. they certainly switched things around by making snape defense against the dark arts teacher in this book. and the horcruxes made voldemort just seem that much more evil. not like he was an angel but the things he did to become immortal are frightening, and very extreme. im going to get the griffindor house crest tattooed on my forearm because i like this series so much.
Quick Tip by . June 30, 2010
harry learns the secret that will unlock his past and his future...a very thrilling and exciting read.
Quick Tip by . June 26, 2010
Great book! The story is a bit scary :)
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Wiki

The long-awaited, eagerly anticipated, arguably over-hyped Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has arrived, and the question on the minds of kids, adults, fans, and skeptics alike is, "Is it worth the hype?" The answer, luckily, is simple: yep. A magnificent spectacle more than worth the price of admission, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince will blow you away. However, given that so much has gone into protecting the secrets of the book (including armored trucks and injunctions), don't expect any spoilers in this review. It's much more fun not knowing what's coming--and in the case of Rowling's delicious sixth book, you don't want to know. Just sit tight, despite the earth-shattering revelations that will have your head in your hands as you hope the words will rearrange themselves into a different story. But take one warning to heart: do not open Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince until you have first found a secluded spot, safe from curious eyes, where you can tuck in for a good long read. Because once you start, you won't stop until you reach the very last page.

A darker book than any in the series thus far with a level of sophistication belying its genre, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince moves the series into murkier waters and marks the arrival of Rowling onto the adult literary scene. While she has long been praised for her cleverness and wit, the strength of Book 6 lies in her subtle development of key ...

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Details

ISBN-13: 978-0439791328
Author: J. K. Rowling
Genre: Education, Juvenile Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Arthur a Levine, Scholastic
Date Published: July 16, 2005
Format: Novel
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