EPS Review #112 - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, by J K Rowling, Bloomsbury 2005, 607pp

Claire I still had not got my Amazon copy by the time we left for France on Monday afternoon: two mail-deliveries post release. Do I blame Amazon or the mail? Book four (review #9) had arrived with the first post. Luckily, Ross had deposited a pound at the local WHSmith, so on Saturday we walked down and got his copy with two bottles of Devil's Bile (Coca Cola, as forbidden by the witch of the house). Then we sat in front of the Radlett Centre and read the first two chapters together. Ross reads faster than I do, so he had to wait at the end of every right-hand page. The newly-teenage Ruth Irwin passed by in a frilly blouse, and informed us that her household already had three copies.

The BBC reviewer who had stayed up all night, found the novel to be more-of-the-same, and a tedious preparation for the seventh and final volume. Well, he is just completely wrong. While I thought that "Order of the Phoenix" was a dull rehash of the previous plot elements, "Half-Blood Prince" is back on page-turning form. I ate up the pensieve sessions with Dumbledore, the quickening romance of Harry and his new girlfriend, the test of Malfoy, and the lingering ambiguity of Snape. I have already reread the dramatic closing chapters, for the excitement and to service my disbelief. Now I really cannot wait until the final volume.

Of course, it is still a kids' book, and cartoonishly simple in some ways. But what gets me about some negative reviewers is that they seem to object to the books' popularity. On the contrary, I enjoyed seeing friends, or people on the ferry, or passing by in cars, who were holding the distinctive fat volume (not available in French until September, apparently).

Doesn't Dumbledore have great manners?

Wondering about R.A.B.? Wiki has some answers. [ Spoilers ].

Here is an interesting parallel life: Frances Hodgson Burnett.

I am off to see if I can find some e-books of the forgeries.

Laurie wrote: i read it this weekend too, loved it! And I agree, rather than excoriating something for being popular, why not wonder what it is that makes the general non-reading public actually read a book with real vocabulary and without long sex scenes

Sean wrote: I'm with you. Furthermore, I think Snape is still working against Voldemort.

I replied: Yeah. My suspicion is that Dumbledore's death (if he is really dead, which I reckon 90% likely) was somehow planned. Why did D immobilise Harry? One of the fan sites off the wiki link had an interview with JK, who said that some things that D said were important, I think meaning after he drank the potion. Wasn't he feeling guilty about something? More will no doubt be revealed, in a year or two.

Sean replied: I think the key conversation is the one where he says to Snape something like "well you know what you have to do then" (ie you made the unbreakable vow so you're going to have to help Malfoy kill me so that you are in a position to help Harry when the time comes). That's why he wouldn't let Harry do any unforgivable curses and why he said "Don't call me a coward" etc

John wrote: I'll read this in a few months after K and I have finished reading it out loud to each other.

Jan wrote: I completely agree with you! I really enjoyed it, for all the same reasons. And yes! to your rhetorical question on Dumbledore. I was in love with him, so am now in mourning.

Ewan wrote: Agree entirely. Loved the book. Harry has turned into a more likeable teenager since the last one. The Dumbledore/Harry relationship was nicely rounded out before being finished. The various "teen-luuuuurve" subplots worked pretty well and the Tonks-Lupin thing was a nice touch. Also the Fleur/Bill denouement was unexpected. Couldn't put it down.

Gavin wrote: I finished it this morning. Kind of agree with the BBC reviewer - it is the literary equivalent of fast-food. But as fast-food goes, it's very enjoyable!! Looking forward to the final book (and won't be reading the spoilers...)

I replied: As for fast food, I seem to remember that Julia Child was quite fond of In-N-Out burgers, and McDonald's fries...

Martin wrote: Yes I've read half of it so far, and it's much better than the last one, the best so far I'd say. Funnier and missing out the tedious bits.