Saturday, July 16, 2005
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The most widely anticipated book of all time was released just after the stroke of midnight, when it was "officially" July 16, 2005. Was it worth all the hype? Second in a line of several hundred at my local bookstore to receive a copy of Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince, I started reading and didn't stop until, sometime after dawn (and 652 pages later) I was finally finished.
It was terrific. The preceding book, Order of the Phoenix, though good, suffered from a sluggish plot and Harry Potter's own unlikable personality. Although The Half-Blood Prince clocks in at "only" 652 pages (more than 200 pages less than OotP), both of the aforementioned problems are remedied. Without giving away any of the plot of the new book, it is sufficient to say that it is packed from start to finish, and that the last 150 pages or so move the plot farther than the previous couple books combined! Harry himself is also once again a hero worth rooting for.
The Half-Blood Prince is also the most well-written book of the series. Rowling's trademark humor and knack for description are present, as always. However the story now includes treatments of more mature subjects, ranging from the light (teen relationships, love) to the more sober (psychological terror, graphic violence, and death). While the Harry Potter series remains a "children's series", it is quite clear that Rowling is no longer really writing for the little ones.
After two years of waiting, I'm finally finished with the sixth book and feel at a loss (and not just because of the unsettling ending). Of course, I'm already biting my nails in impatience to read the seventh book. Yet there's the regret that comes with realizing there's only one more left(!), and then this cultural phenomenon will have passed us by.
What a ride it's been.