Reading Journal Entry: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, by J. K. Rowling

Spoiler free:

Less seems to happen in this book, although there is a whiz-bang ending. The 'theme' or 'threat' Rowling uses to tie together the events of the school year is weaker than previous, but still has interesting consequences. Too many flashbacks. Too much snogging. My main complaint is that the bok has a half-finished feel - the story arcs aren't quite there. Rowling is usually an expert at pacing, but it seemed like fewer neat things happened and the energy was just not there.

Plus there was a typo on page ten.


I thought Harry's romance with Ginny was handled significantly worse than his romance with Cho, which, although excruciatingly painful, was at least realistic. The way H and G finally got together was, frankly, a complete cop-out, and the break-up at the end did not ring true.

I'm trying to find more to say about the book, and I'm having a hard time. The dealie with the Horcruxes was intriguing but not really a complete arc. The whole Snape thing seemed contrived. And once again, why not kill Harry? Because Lord Voldemort wants to lock him up in a cell with a single guard? The only theory I've heard that's interesting is that Harry somehow is one of the Horcruxes. It'd better be that or it better be a super-secret-special-triple cross because, well, otherwise it's just a bit lame.


Richard Mason said...

Agreed that the Spiderman-esque breakup with Ginny was super-lame.

Still, I thought this book was better than Order of the Phoenix.


mapletree7 said...

I thought Phoenix was better, but I will reserve final judgement until I've listened to this one on audio-book to give it a fair chance.

At the end of Phoenix I was actually quite impressed by the way she drew things to an emotional conclusion with Sirius's death - the ghosts - and Harry finding out that Luna had lost her mum.

And at the end of this book I was just a bit teed off.

Richard Mason said...

In HBP, Dumbledore's insistence on Harry retrieving Slughorn's memory is a bit bogus (or more charitably, it's a bit peculiar and unexplained). Unlike Harry, Dumbledore presumably knows what a horcrux is-- so when Harry does retrieve the memory, after all that buildup, Dumbledore only learns the probable number of horcruxes that HWMNBN has or had at one time.

Which is all prelude to saying that I thought OOP was even worse in that regard: giant buildup for a prophecy that, on its face, told us nothing we didn't know in Book One. HWMNBN wants to kill Harry because Harry is his potential nemesis, and vice versa! Couldn't everybody in the wizarding world pretty much guess that already?

Also re that silly prophecy, it says, "neither can live while the other survives." On its face this seems to be blatantly false. Harry is certainly alive, yet Voldemort survives. And Voldemort is alive for practical intents and purposes. Fudge ruminates that perhaps Voldemort isn't technically alive if he can't be killed (because he's divided into horcruxes? dovetails with Harry Horcrux theory) but if so, it's not clear Voldemort would even want to be alive in the technical, mortal sense.


mapletree7 said...

You're absolutely right, of course, on both counts. The prophecy is not a 'weapon'. My only answer is that Voldemort thought it was and as such it functioned as a valuable distraction. And it doesn't make sense, which is a much more important point.

So, yes, huge flaws.

BUT - I had a lot more fun reading it. And it seemed like a lot more fun stuff happened in the book. Umbridge was a wonderful villain. Fred & George. The DA. Grawp. Quidditch & Ron. Non-stop action.

My big complaint in HBP is that it's boring, which is an inherent problem with flashbacks.

wrnglrjan said...
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mapletree7 said...

Seriously! And on page 10! If it were on page 493 I could understand, but how can reader's fatigue have set in by page 10?