Book Six: "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince"
Oh dear, oh dear, where to start? I finished it Sunday evening, though I could have done it earlier as I was away all afternoon and evening and I had been pacing myself on Saturday. No matter, on with the reviewing.
For some reason, I really enjoyed Chapter 1. The interaction between the two Ministries was something I always wanted to see, and this didn't disappoint. The PM's reaction is understandable, and I loved the introduction of Rufus Scrimgeour.
I liked seeing Narcissa, for we never saw much of her, and it was a real treat to finally see Snape's bachelor pad. I was also happy to find out where the heck Wormtail had been for OotP.
Dumbledore's visit with the Dursleys was entertaining to read, and I was happy to know that Dumbledore was as normal as ever. I expected Harry to be a bit more downtrodden, but the prospect of leaving Privet Drive must have lifted his spirits. Horace Slughorn seemed to be a nice enough guy when we visit him, and I was glad to see that Harry wouldn't have too much trouble this time. From meeting Tonks, I was worried about her throughout most of the book.
The Burrow was it's usual place, even with Fleur around. I was happy to see her back and glad to know that she and Bill are happy. Fred and George's joke shop was a real treat. Loved thew whole scene and the twins were just as entertaining as ever. I didn't care for the Draco part, I thought Harry was just being paranoid, but I knew that there was something going on. Hermione's bluff was funny.
I was very happy to see Neville and Luna, but disappointed to see them in such small roles after OotP. We're introduced to Zabini, who was mentioned way back in PS. I was amazed at Draco's beating of Harry and relieved to see Tonks helping to guard him. I was pleasantly shocked when Snape got the DADA job and Slughorn took over Potions. I knew that would be trouble, and sure enough, Potions and DADA have reversed themselves on Harry's favorites list.
I was immediately interested in the Half-Blood Prince and theorized that he would be Tom Riddle, but I realized that the timeframe was wrong when the book's date was revealed. I didn't think to suspect Snape for some reason. I found the book to be a very interesting plot thread. I found it typical, rather than OoC, for Hermione to be angry with Harry, after all, Harry was, by her standards cheating.
Let's see, fast forward. The Quidditch match. I had fully believed that Harry had slipped Ron the potion, but then Harry proved me wrong. Very nice, however unfortunate that it results in the rift between Ron and Hermione. Lavender and Ron's resulting relationship felt very forced and from out of left field, but I suppose that's how it was for Ron as well. I pretty much yelled for the two of them to kiss and make up already. Oh yeah, Harry as Captain. Okay, I guess.
I was rather unhappy at the lack of any real classroom moments. Outside of the trio's hushed conversations we really didn't see much of the standard test-taking and homework woes. Not a big problem though. Harry's distrust of Malfoy bordered on obsessive, which somewhat annoyed me that Harry was so quick to judge, even if he did turn out to be right.
I was very interested in Dumbledore's "lessons" and was eager to see where exactly we'd go each time Harry was brought in. Quite an interesting, though rather predictable past our Tom Riddle had. I did like the scene where Dumbledore first meets Tom; much like Harry and Hagrid's first meeting.
I was surprised to see Hermione's reaction to Won-won. I had expected something more original, but she uses the old standby of jealousy. A shame. I was elated to see Harry take Luna to the party, for that was the couple I had been shipping. I didn't care for Hermione's absence over the holiday, but I liked seeing Percy and Rufus showing up. A shame Percy's still the way he was, but I've still got faith in the boy. Insightful into Rufu's character, his stroll was, and I had hoped for a more friendly sort of Minister, but he turned out somewhat like Fudge. Oh well.
Okay, Harry's like for Ginny came out of nowhere. I don't mind being wrong on a ship, but I would've liked more build-up. For some reason, Harry all of a sudden views Ginny in a different light. I'm sure there's some deaper hints I've missed, but I liked how the teenage romance part was handled. It seemed accurate enough.
I, like others, am somewhat confused as to why Dumbledore needed Slughorn's Horcrux memory, but I suppose he needed to see Tom's part of it. Harry's final attempt to get the memory was hilarious, as was any scene involving drunk professors. Intoxicated Trelawney was especially funny.
The Horcruxes are an interesting plot device. It makes the diary much more clearer, but it sort of seems like something thrown in for a quest plot. It feels almost like Pokemon, but it works well enough. I do like the mystery surrounding the remaining Horcruxes though, and am eager to find out what's been hiding Voldy this whole time.
Ron's poisoning could probably have been left out, though it adds more to the relationship with Hermione. Glad to see him break up with Lavender. Highly amusing, too.I found Draco's breakdown with Myrtle hard to take. It seemed rather OoC for him, but he was under the strain from the Dark Lord, I suppose. It was horrifying to see the true poer of Sectumsempra and even more terrifying to have Snape walk in. It seemed to turn out well enough, though, as Gryfindor won the game and Harry gets a kiss with Ginny. Luna as commentator was hilarious. Glad to see Ron's approval. I would hate to have another Ron/Harry schism.
Chapter 25 grabs you and doesn't let go. From the moment Harry finds Trelawney at the RoR, things get shot to hell. His desperate orders to his friends was oddly scary, as if he had only moments before a great battle.
Harry and Dumbledore's trip to the cave was a tense scene and Harry desperately trying to save Dumbledore was very suspenseful. I expected someone else to rescue them, but he made it. Worrysome scene upon their return. Dumbledore almost seems reinvigorated at the sight of his school and his students under the Dark Mark. Goes to show you his dedication and bravery.
Amazing scene with Draco, Harry and Dumbledore. I felt just like Harry, powerless to do anything but watch. Dumbledore attempts to help Draco, and for a moment, I thought he would falter. Hearing of the fallen body, I feared the worst for all my favorite characters until the Death-Eaters arrive and Snape hurries after them.
Powerful is the only way to describe what comes next. It's obvious from the evidence and clever use of words, that Snape didn't want to kill Dumbledore, but Dumbledore had told Snape that it was the only way. So with that, Harry's greatest protector and the best headmaster of Hogwarts falls. Snape is obviously left with no choice now and makes a run for it with the Death-Eaters. What becomes of Draco will indeed be interesting.
Snape vs. Harry, fleeting though it is, is done well. Snape's reveals himself as the Half-Blood Prince, which I honestly didn't fully expect. I was breathing heavily throughout these entire chapters, as if I had just ran alongside Harry. Great.
The heads of houses meeting is very somber and that's when the full impact of the death hits; especially when we see a new portrait of Albus, sleeping serenely as if nothing happened.
The funeral is done well. A bit of tears got through from me, as the whole meaning of Dumbledore's death culminates. So many people showed up and several cameos, as well. Ron and Hermione seem to finally have formed a relationship and Harry tries to push Ginny away. I have a feeling they're not completely over, though.
Fenrir Greyback is an interesting new villain. Bill getting bit by him was unexpected and I'm anxious to see what will become of him. It was wonderful to see that that didn't matter to Fleur and it looks like the wedding's still on.
I have little doubt that Hogwarts will reopen next year, and that somehow Harry will end up there again. This book leaves several questions including the identity of R.A.B. (not convinced it's Regulus), Snape and Draco's status, the remaining Horcruxes, the direction of the relationships and countless other unwrapped plot threads.
Well, it's going to be a hard wait for Book Seven, but I know I'll enjoy poring over the book and it's predecessors trying to figure out what JK Rowling is up to, and I have no doubt that she'll surprise me again.
Current Book Ranking: (subject to changes at the author's wim)
1. Order of the Phoenix
2. Prisoner of Azkaban
3. Half-Blood Prince
4. Chamber of Secrets
5. Goblet of Fire
6. Sorcerer's Stone
Not that that means much, they're all good books. Heck, 1-4 might as well be a tie.