Book Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J K Rowling

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I finished reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6) about three or four weeks ago. However, due to a heavy editing schedule I had at the time I was unable to write a review of the book…until now.

With over 600 pages, the book is much longer than those I usually read. Having a short attention span, and because I read frustratingly slow, I prefer to stick with thinner books because I feel as if I’m accomplishing something when I finish reading them. So, I get that happy feeling more often with thin books. I never used to be like that. In my younger, more aware days I would only buy extra thick books because I felt I was getting my moneys worth. How things change. 😀

Anyway, back to Harry Potter 6, I have to say that the story kept me intrigued from the beginning. I was carried from chapter to chapter with ease and, of course, the well known characters and well defined plot had a lot to do with this.

Right, if you haven’t read the book, then I strongly advise you to stop reading this post right NOW!!

Spoilers follow, so if you haven’t read the book and you learn something here that you didn’t want to know – you’ve been warned.

Now I can get into the juice of this book. Whilst I really did enjoy it, I was totally disappointed with Dumbledore’s death. It wasn’t so much that he died (that alone did upset me though), it was how he died. He was meant to be a great wizard, and he was killed without the big battle I would have expected from such an important character. I realise Dumbledore had already consumed all that liquid from the bowl in the cave, which made him weak, but still…it felt totally wrong. He should have gone out in glory, but no…it makes me so angry.

I can’t say I’m surprised that Snape was the one who killed Dumbledore. I am, however, left feeling confused as to which side Snape is really on. Of course, that is the author’s intention. I believe she wants us to finally conclude that Snape is bad, but the events will continue to unravel and show Snape to be good in the end. The fact that Snape killed Dumbledore is hard to get around. Dumbledore pleading with Snape is still clear in my mind. But, on the other hand, Dumbledore trusted Snape 100% and I somehow can’t accept Dumbledore being wrong in that judgement. To be honest, if it turns out Snape is actually on Harry’s side, there better be an extremely good reason for Dumbledore’s death.

I am also unhappy about the hint that the seventh book will be taken away from Hogwarts. A friend said “Hogwarts is as much a main character as Harry is” and I agree totally. The school, the teachers, the other students, even the quidditch (which I hate reading about and won’t miss for a second) are combined to make the books what they are. To take the final year of the story away from all that is wrong. Besides, should books that are read by the millions of school aged children and young adults be allowed to promote leaving school early? Definitely not.

And lastly, the romance between Harry and Ginny – it was the one thing I really did not like throughout the entire book. It happened too suddenly and, although Ginny “liked” Harry from the start of the series, the romance didn’t sit right with me. It felt rushed and convenient. Some people think Hermione is more Harry’s type. Perhaps she is, but if she ends up with Harry instead of Ron, I’ll be bitterly disappointed.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7) will be in book stores in mid-July. I deliberately read book 6 now so that the details would be clear in my mind when I started reading book 7. Imagine all those people who read book 6 two years ago having to wait all this time to find out what happens next.

Have you read book 6? What did you think? What are your thoughts?

6 thoughts on “Book Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”

  1. I liked Book 6 although now I’m regretting devouring it so quickly two years ago! I ought to reread it… if only there weren’t so many other books claiming my attention.

    I know what you mean about Dumbledore. I felt a bit swizzed by that, and I really do hope that Snape turns out to be bad or else the plot will become unconvincing.

    I’ve been hearing a lot of debate recently about whether Harry is going to die in Book 7. I’m in the: “He’d better not!” camp because I feel J. K. Rowling would be killing him off for the sake of it (a bit like Dumbledore, in fact). I hadn’t heard that Book 7 would be taken away from Hogwarts and I totally share your opinion on that. Hogwarts is one of the best parts of the series, although not Quidditch! I agree! It’s like the battle scenes in other fantasy books – skip, skip, skip!

  2. Yeah, I read it when it first came out and finished it before the sun rose for the next day.

    I thought it was excellent. Although I haven’t re-read it as many times as Order of the Phoenix, which to me was amazingly written and brilliant. About Dumbledore’s death in your post…I was shocked to say the least when he died, I really couldn’t believe it and despite his age, it had never struck me or occurred to me that Dumbledore would die. You make a good point about Dumbledore’s death should have been in a glorified battle, although I know JKR likes to keep death scenes rather unglorified and undramatic, like with Sirius. She said something along the lines of, death in most cases really isn’t dramatic, its quick. She’s right, and I think she does make the deaths realistic. In my opinion I thought she wrote the death well. It had been predicted with Trelawney’s light struck tower cards, it left room for shock and denial, and it made us wonder what exactly had been going on between Dumbledore and Snape. Had they made a pact? Had the death been planned? Had Dumbledore asked Snape to kill him?

    I totally agree with you about the romance between Harry and Ginny. It wasn’t great, it was really bad actually. Yup, it was rushed and way to sudden. It would have been way more believable and breathtaking if Harry had fallen for Luna, because of the fact she really is unique and wonderful and people tease her for being strange, but I think she’s a special character, and I think Ginny’s rather boring actually. I actually have seen interesting reasons and even in the text itself for Luna/Harry. Considering love is the power the Dark Lord knows not, Id’ve thought Harry’s choice of girlfriend would have been important, but if JKR wants to go down a boring and predictable lane with Harry/Ginny so be it…I just thought Harry and Luna would be way more enchanting and spellbinding. Hopefully Harry and Ginny will not get back together in Deathly Hallows.

  3. Helen, I’ll be furious if Harry is killed off. I think he deserves better than that. As for Snape, I agree with you, he better be bad now that Dumbledore is dead. I can’t think of a single explanation for that which I’d be willing to accept.

    Laua, I think death is tragic, but in Dumbledore’s case it came across as weak and totally out of place. Maybe one of the things you’ve mentioned might be the case, maybe Dumbledore knew he was dying and sacrificed himself for some reason…I don’t know. I guess I’ll have to wait and see what happens.

    Harry and Luna? I had never given that combination a thought. Although now that you’ve mentioned it, I notice Luna had more of a part in book 6…ever so slightly.

    We don’t have long to wait and find out. 😀

  4. I keep feeling like Dumbledore knew Snape would kill him, and that’s why he kept telling people he trusted him. I have a sense that his death was something he knew would help Harry fulfill his destiny. (Like the way Obi Wan died but then was a spirit to help Luke in Star Wars.) So I feel as if Snape is still possibly on the good side. That’s at least what I was hoping so that Dumbledore’s weak death would not be for naught!

  5. I just finished this book a week or so ago; like you, Karen, I wanted it to be fresh in my mind when the new one arrives.

    It was so much better than Order of the Phoenix; I was really pleased about that. Less angst and fewer side tangents, and not so rambling. I was very disappointed by the revelation of who was the half-blood prince, however. I didn’t feel it was set up at all–the potions connection notwithstanding. I like a revelation like that to be an “ah-ha!” moment, and I didn’t get that feeling at all.

    Here are my wild speculations for the future: Dumbledore is not really dead (that whole Phoenix thing), Snape was carrying out a pre-arranged plan, and Hogwarts will still be central to the final book. Snape will turn out to be on the side of right because Dumbledore couldn’t have been that wrong about him. I think perhaps Dumbledore knew he had to at least appear to be gone for Harry to really accept his role.

    Harry and Ginny didn’t bother me, and I hope they get back together. I’d actually been expecting them to become a couple for a long time!

    So I’m expecting a lot from the last book! And yes, if Harry dies, I don’t expect I’ll every buy another thing associated with J.K. Rowling.

  6. I think the Dumbledore/phoenix thing is on the money. Snape was concerned that he would actually kill Dumbledore, but the headmaster begged him to trust that he, Dumbledore, knew what he was doing.

    The Harry/Ginny thing was a bit irritating, but I think it’ll be left over in the next one. Here’s hoping. Otehrwise, Harry should have had the conviction to stay with her and draw strength from her instead of picking her up and dropping her again so casually.

    In the beginning I was not fussed about the Potter books – derivative and nor paticularly clever. She seemed to simply have a great talent for naming things! But her skills and the story have definitely developed over time and I’m looking forward to the last installment. But I’ll be glad to see it completed. The real test of Rowling’s skills will be whether she can write anything non-Harry related that’s any good.


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