Wednesday, September 2, 2015

“It was nearing midnight and the Prime Minister was sitting along in his office, reading a long memo that was slipping through his brain without leaving the slightest trace of meaning behind.”

Straight from the get-go, Harry  Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is probably the most entertaining and most mesmerizing book of the series.  The other books build up the story, enticing you to keep reading to find out what happens next and to continue the journey to the climax of the story;  Half-Blood Prince draws you in by sheer force of storytelling, by the way Rowling weaves the story in a way that you are in the moment, not wondering how this is all going to come together, not wondering what is going to happen next,  but just simply interested in the story plot at hand.  Everything has lead up to this book; all the unanswered questions, not yet solved problems, and the gray areas of loyalty are all made painfully clear in this book.

The book opens with one of the most realistic, most darkly enjoyable  scenes of the series.  The Muggle Prime Minster is in a near panic from all the inexplicable disasters occurring in Great Britain. While in a state, he is visited by the recently sacked Minister of Magic, who explains that all the disasters are related to the revitalized power of the most powerful dark wizard of all time.  This meeting does not go well. Yet, this opening leaves reader caught up with the events since Voldemort's going public at the Ministry of Magic.  We meet Harry once again at Privet Drive; the Dursleys haven not changed much, but Harry sure has.  Quiet, often brooding, and still simmering with the agony of Sirius's death, Harry is quite startled to be relieved of his time at Privet Drive by Dumbledore himself.  A whirlwind manipulation of a former teacher later, Harry is reunited with his friends and they off to Hogwarts for harder classes, complex love affairs, general shenanigans, and to be faced with a plot so simple, so driven with fear, that it entirely changes the course of Hogwarts and of the mission to defeat Voldemort.

Chapter 27-
"The Lightening-Struck Tower"
There are several points of humor in this book (which is turn led to a highly entertaining movie) that balance out the dark forces that are simmering under the surface. The dialogue is more natural and more mature.  For the first time in the series, Rowling finally makes use of flashbacks; however, it is not your typical flashback, since the scenes are memories stored in a Pensive (most useful item in the series after wands!)  When not written correctly, flashbacks can seem campy, unnecessary, or can throw the plot off completely.  This is not the case for Half-Blood Prince; some of Rowling's best writing in the series are these scenes.  They are almost separate narratives in a story, all contributing to the present day situation.  Rowling weaves in tragedy, determination, evil, madness, beauty, and mystery throughout the stories.  The flashbacks propel the narrative forward, revealing Voldemort's past, present, and future. Rowling writes her more mature teen characters with witty dialogue, amusingly accurate portrayals of love, angst, and everything in between, and, most importantly, a near-complete revealing of what exactly is going on.  Why does Harry have to return to the horrid Dursleys every year, what happened to Dumbledore's hand, how was Voldemort able to cling to life, and much, much more, including the revealing of several characters' true intentions.

As I said in the third post about this series, this is the second best book, in my opinion.  It has the elements that made this series great; ingenuity, adventure, fantasy, family, love, great dialogue, and historical intrigue.  This is the most heart-pounding book in the series, the book that ushers readers to the beginning of the end.  The beauty of Half-Blood Prince is that it leaves you sad, hopeful, and completely immersed from beginning to end.  You question gray areas of characters and sitautions: what would you do?  That is the question Harry is asking himself in the beginning; by the end, he has his answers and is preparing to face his greatest foe.

“His hand closed automatically around the fake Horcrux, but in spite of everything, in spite of the dark and twisting path he saw stretching ahead for himself, in spite of the final meeting with Voldemort he knew must come, whether in a month, in a year, or in ten, he felt his heart lift at the thought that there was still one last golden day of peace left to enjoy with Ron and Hermione.”

The end is coming. Wands ready!

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