It had to happen eventually, right? I mean, kids grow up, right? In case you’re absolutely clueless, I’m talking about Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince and the fact that the lead characters, Harry, Ron & Hermione, spend a good portion of the book hooking up with whomever will have them and eventually, each other.
I picked up the 652 page book on Saturday morning and was finished reading it by Sunday evening. I can read pretty fast, but the fact that I read that much in just under 12 hours shows how quickly this story moves along. I’m pretty sure there are others who finished it much quicker than I… in fact, 6togo read it in like 20 minutes or something.
Now, I’m guessing if you’re reading my review of the 6th book in the HP series, you’ve already read the book and any information about the plot, characters, and ending won’t be news to you… if you haven’t read the book and don’t want to find out what happens, or couldn’t care less about Harry Potter, stop reading right now. If you’re interested in my thoughts, read on…
Like the first five books in the series, Harry Potter & The Halfblood Prince (HP&HP) focuses primarily on a year in the life of Harry and his attempts to avoid being killed by Voldemort or his cohorts. Unlike the previous books though, this book is much darker. Everything happens pretty much according to what you might expect if you’ve read the five previous books: Harry has run-ins with Snape (who is now, finally, the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher), has conflicts with his friends who have a hard time believing what he’s saying, and must hear constant comparisons to his parents. HP&HP would be pretty boring if it failed to go in a different direction and thankfully, it does.
In fact, HP&HP went someplace I didn’t think it would ever go… killing off a major character who has played a significant role in the previous five books (Albus Dumbledore). That’s pretty edgy stuff, but even more so when it’s in a book primarily aimed at children. Shit like that could fuck a kid up for life. The focus of HP&HP becomes more personal as Harry must battle evil on two fronts… his school nemesis Draco Malfoy as well as the possibility that Voldemort and his Death Eaters might try to kill him at any time. To throw things into complete chaos, Harry must also deal with the unwanted attention of a name-dropping potions teacher who would like nothing better than to add Harry’s name to his stable of famous or infamous wizards and witches. All in all, HP&HP delivers what fans expect as well as setting the stage for what fans will want.
By that I mean that Harry, Ron & Hermione are now teenagers and any story that didn’t explore their budding sexuality would be pure speculative fantasy. In HP&HP, Harry, Ron, & Hermione all succumb to the call of the wild, “snogging” with abandon. Harry finally has a girlfriend (Ron’s sister Ginny) and Ron and Hermione finally get together. Anyone could see that coming from a mile (or five books) away. Even with the hormones racing, the book still manages to stay on track and keep things moving.
As far as the big surprise promised by Rowling while she was making the publicity rounds for HP&HP, I was having an email conversation with 6togo about this and we both came to the conclusion that the death of Dumbledore might be a plot gimmick. Something to lead you down a different path than the one you’re clearly walking down. Perhaps Dumbledore wasn’t really killed by Snape, just pretending to be dead only to reappear in book 7. Like how Gandalf was “killed” in Lord of the Rings and reappeared later, bigger, badder and whiter… At least that’s what 6togo surmised and I get the same feeling, except for one thing… the price of immortality according to HP&HP is splitting your soul and the only way to split your soul was murdering someone… maybe there is yet another way, but if there is, I’m not sure what it might be.
Did you read it? If so, let me know your thoughts.