on 5 December 2010
I am 8 years old. I really love this thrilling book. Anyone aged eight and a half to thirty years who likes adventures should read it. It is full of magic and excitement. If you are worried about it being too scary, then don't - it has never given me nightmares. As soon as I got this book I could not wait to get started. I hope you enjoy it too.
on 3 August 2005
Well I finished the Half Blood Prince last night and was again blown away by both the imagination and the quality of JK Rowling's writing, it was truly fantastic. I have been a huge fan of the series ever since I first picked up the Philosophers Stone, completely drawn into this fantastical world that she had created. I felt empathy with the characters, the environment, their strives and their joys. A story that is set in mythical place but with real feelings and real problems. Well maybe metaphors for real problems...
The Half Blood Price picks up directly where the Order of the Phoenix picks up and now, more than ever, feels like a piece of a bigger story rather than a stand-alone tale. The first 4 Harry Potter books did provide some direction as to where the overall story was going but were far more self contained. OOTP really stepped away from this and was much more in the style of a Lord of the Rings book, definitely a part of a whole. This is why I believe it was not as well received but will only be truly be judged when all 7 books have been completed. HBP is very much in the same vein but really points you more clearly than ever to the tasks that Harry most overcome to finally rid himself of the loathsome burdens that he must bear.
For the first time I felt I picked up upon a major twist in the story, after about 250 - 300 pages I had figured out who the Half Blood Prince was, although I didn't really believe it until it was written. This I feel I was deliberately allowed to figure out as once I began thinking this way I was really thrown off the scent of what was actually going to happen at the climax of the book, a really skilful piece of writing.
Speaking of the quality of the writing I do read of a lot of people detracting from it, saying it will never be a literary classic, or that it lacks the quality to ever really go down in history. What rubbish. The books people often benchmark this against (Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia) where written for the time period they served, just as HP is now written for people (not just children) of our time. History will make this a classic, too many people love it not to be.
The story is definitely a slow burner, leading the reader to the inevitable finale but really taking its time getting there. This is no bad thing and I feel really adds weight to the book. I do believe JK Rowling is now struggling with the number of characters she has introduced and the many complex relationships that they undertake but I feel the saving grace here is the time we have had with each of them before. This allows us to create our own background and our own ideas on how they will act, with gentle nudging in the right direction...
The book is a real success, lengthy but not unnecessarily so. Be warned, the end is by no means expected and will catch you off guard. Those of nervous disposition be ready for some water works! Read this book in the context it was written and you will truly have finished what is one of the best books of its age.
The clock has struck 13, the train has left platform 9¾ and term is starting at Hogwarts. The media razzmatazz has swamped Edinburgh, and millions of children around the (English) speaking world gathered at their local bookshops close to midnight to get their hands on the literary equivalent of a golden snitch. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.
Just to make things clear if you didn't like any of the Harry Potter series, if you subscribe to the view that children's books are for children, or if you are just a cynical crusty then this review will not reinforce your position. This is a review of the new Harry Potter book from the view point of an adult fan. Having said that I too was once the cynical observer of this mass phenomon until I actually read one. And was hooked.
So has Ms. Rowling done her best? Is it really worth the wait? Surprisingly largely yes. The new book continues in the vein of the series, growing heftier and darker, dealing with weightier issues and becoming more immersed in a growing, almost suffocating, world of magic. Things are not well in the world of wizards. Whilst the majority of muggles only see freak accidents and weather conditions, magical families are in varying states of panic as he who shall not be named stalks the land once more.
In the middle of this crisis there is an apparent oasis of calm and normality. Hogwarts is still open for business, and Ron, Hermione and of course Harry will be returning to Gryffindor tower for the first year of their NEWT exams. This is the penultimate book, and following the school life they have finished their OWLs (GCSEs), and are now studying for their 'sixth form' exams.
The curriculum is not all that has changed. Whilst Rowling hints at the kids growing up in the previous books, it is in the Half Blood Prince that the threshold is crossed and the children become adults. This is one of the few reservations in the book. Is the development a little forced? Rowling is at pains to demonstrate the emotional turmoil that threatens to rip apart friendships. And like all teenage problems it all becomes a little, well, tedious. Fortunately this only fills in the middle, and by the end Rowling is once more romping towards an unputdownable finale.
What is also clear is that this book marks an important development in the Potter story arc. One criticism is that it leaves so many threads dangling - necessary for the final book to tie up, but annoying for the reader having to wait two years for the finished product. However it is nice to see Hogwarts and the Potter universe having a coherency and direction that mark the series as being a whole.
The Half Blood Prince marks a significant development in the series, as it becomes truly dark. No one is spared pain, and it is a fine example of the grand tradition of children's stories that do not spare the gruesome and dark. In a world of happily ever after this return to Grimm and Anderson is welcome. Rowling's writing is strong, has sufficient pace to grip the adult and child reader, is vivid and, well, for want of a better word magical. I finished it in a few sittings spread over two days, and it was as blissful and purely entertaining as any film or TV programme.
Many people have criticised Rowling, but millions more have praised her for creating books that have captured imaginations, got children reading and have forged a magical world. This latest book should dispel more critics, and cement Rowling's reputation as a pre-eminent children's, and adult's, author. It is proof that the series is complete, that the story arc is gripping and that Harry Potter will captivate generations to come. In a word, magical!
on 5 August 2005
After having read some of the reviews of this book i feel compelled to refute some of the comments made. I am someone who read the first 2 before the hype began and I have to say that the hype has greatly changed public perception of this series since the release of book 3. JKR has personally never promised the best addition to 21st century culture since the mobile phone, nor has she claimed that they are the best thing written since beowulf. However I would say that the Half-Blood Prince is the best written book of the series so far. The plot was as action packed as could be expected given that is the penultimate chapter. Unlike the other books, JKR had to at last answer questions instead of keeping us in the dark. Yes the death is expected, as are the long overdue romances but reviewers seem to have forgotten two things.
Firstly, the main storyline is Harry/ Voldemort which has required us to wait 5 books for adult Harry to emerge so that he is in a position to fight him.
Secondly, the 'dispensable', 'unnecessary', 'missed-in-editing' subplots are what make Harry Potter books stand out from the rest of their neighbours in the Fantasy section. This is a character driven series. JKR has used standard narrative devices, mythological ideas and the wizard/magic genre in all her books and combined them with an ordinary school lifetime. One doesn't have to delve far into the Net to find fans passionate about fan-fiction; who are passionate about the weasley family, or Snape, or Sirius or any of them. Every character and every subplot is what makes the series so well rounded and so universally appealing. If you want good and evil, read Lord of the Rings or just wait and read the 7th Harry novel.
In the end, Harry Potter is about love, friendship, family, loyalty, power, prejudice, racism, terrorism - you name it, it's in there. Half-Blood Prince is a gift for those who appreciate the sub-plots, and i think you will find that most of the fans probably care more about what Ron and Hermione's wedding will be like, or whether Snape will ever be redeemed, than they do about the final Harry/Voldemort showdown.
on 8 October 2005
J.K Rowling has done it again. She has gone back to the magical world of Harry Potter and delivers an exciting and well thought out portrayal of his world in "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince". This book is darker than the others and focuses more on Harry growing up and the fight against the Dark Lord Voldemort, that finally has been accepted by the Ministry of Magic. This book is a page turner that can only be expected of Miss Rowling and should be loved by all true Harry fans. Although her puns and ideas are spot on and original, I found the first few pages not as engaging as previous books and found it hard to want to reread it as much as I did the others. Whether this has to do with the new "darker" Harry that has become a typical teenager or whether the chapters are simply not as interesting, I do not know. J.K Rowling has cut down on the size of the book (although it is massive it still went too quickly!)which should come as a relief to some Harry fans but the ideas are still flowing and it still remains a brilliant piece of fiction.
Most people should love this welcome escape into Harry's world but others, I fear, will either be left wanting more or left wanting none at all.
on 16 July 2005
J K Rowling's increases the pace considerably in the Half-Blood Prince. Containing less background history than Order of the Phoenix, this story is action packed. It clearly maps out the terms for the final confrontation which will occur in the next book. The ending is more tantalising than ever, as we are left with a clear idea of what the final book will entail.
This book is the most adult yet, in terms of violence, the teenagers' love lives and the overarching themes. There is more consideration of the grey areas between good and evil, the world of politics and the fallability of human nature.
The mood is increasingly dark and resolute, though there are still some brilliant comedy moments that had me laughing out loud.
Finally, I found this book shocking. Many of the mysteries hinted at in the previous books are finally laid bare. I won't say what the revelations are, but they do include much more about the prophesy, whether Ron or Harry will end up with Hermione and of course the identity of the half blood prince.
Overall I thought this book was fantastic. Even though it may rule out some well argued theories about various characters and relationships, I cannot imagine that any fan will be disappointed.
on 22 July 2005
I don't know how Rowling does it! This book is simply the best yet! Harry has stopped acting like a grumpy teenager which dominated the last book (which frankly got very irritating) and has started to embrace his resposibilities of being Harry Potter.
There are plenty of the usual HP book traits which you would only understand having read all the other books. Ends start being tied up in preperation for the last instalment and there are plenty of unexpected twists and although I'm itching to give everything away I'm not going to be cruel if you haven't managed to read it all yet! However I will say Harry gets an unexpected girlfriend (and it's not Cho Chang...) there's a very shocking death that I still haven't got over yet! One of the teachers turns out to be very bad and we meet a Slytherin who doesn't idolise only those from the same house but instead likes Harry which is a novelty! And the identity of the Half-Blood Prince is a complete shock.
Rowling has done it again...she is an absolute genious and I'm literally wetting myself in anticipation of the last book! Bring it on Rowling!
on 30 July 2005
JK Rowling has surpassed my expectations with an exceptional addition to the Harry Potter series after the disappointment of The Order of the Phoenix.
I think that the last book was rather too slow and with Harry's angry displays far too frequent and vehement, but I appreciate that Rowling was attempting to show his unsteady passage through adolescence.
But Rowling has now seemed to have perfected Harry's aging character so that he acts more like an adolescent and less like a child afraid of girls and the mere mention of alcohol.
JK Rowling has opened this book like she has none other, the inter-lapping of the mundane and arcane governments and the dark second chapter that put me upon a false trail throughout the rest of the novel.
To those who disdain this book as being too frank and blunt you must realise that both the audience and characters are aging and to expect Harry and co. to remain childlike and innocent is false.
Upon reading another few reviews, on the Amazon site, I am shocked at people saying that: 'Talk of snogging, the use of alcohol to get information out of people and at least one example of language that the youngest potter fans shouldn't hear.'
The series is about a boy who is orphaned after his parents are cruelly murdered by an evil wizard and Harry only survives because his mother chose to sacrifice her life for his. How dare people say that simply plying adults with alcohol to drag information from them and a few kisses is something children should not hear. This series has a darker side: if you dislike showing a child that the world is not all happiness and daises then never let him interact with another human being and wrap him in the proverbial cotton wool.
I am nearly 16 and was approximately 10 when the first Harry Potter book came out, like Harry I have grown older and I praise J K Rowling for this piece of work which has proven to me that she has matured her novels to an extent that they still hold an appeal to all ages. But trust me she has definitely toned down the actual activities of a group of fifteen year olds as no doubt most readers already know.
on 20 July 2005
This sixth instalment in the amazing Harry Potter series is simply breathtaking, and looks set to become the fastest-selling book in history. I am just one of the millions of Harry fans around the globe who frantically sought out "The Half-Blood Prince" on its publication day, and I am delighted to say that it has not disappointed me in the least. All of the usual wit and humour that is contained in every previous Harry Potter novel remains etched throughout this book, and it is perhaps this trait that wills the reader to recklessly read on as Harry's world becomes devastatingly darker.
Huge fans like myself will undoubtedly wonder if Harry's life could possibly get any worse, but JK Rowling pulls out all the stops in this sixth novel and shows us just how serious her creation's life has become through more surprising and shocking twists in the plot than ever before. Her fantastic writing style ensured that I was constantly moved and, in many cases, horrified at what was taking place in the 607-page masterpiece in front of me, but a smattering of typical Hogwarts happenings such as Quidditch games and trips to the nearby village, Hogsmeade, are also dotted throughout the book and will undoubtedly provide some comfort for those who cannot believe how dark this novel is as they read.
I cannot rate this book highly enough. With startling twists, shocks a plenty and non-stop magical adventure, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" is yet another work of genius from the unstoppable JK Rowling, for children and adults alike. The inevitable wait for the seventh and final book now commences...
on 28 March 2006
For once, the critical reception is correct - this is probably the best-written, and best overall, Harry Potter book so far.
For the first time, the series truly feels like an epic, one big story. Things suddenly become very clear that were just there unconsciously before. Were you wondering why on earth Riddle's diary was important in Chamber of Secrets? It's all here. Why Ginny Weasley kept one-upping Cho Chang in Order of the Phoenix, and why Harry got a lump in his throat when talking to Ginny in that book? That takes off like a rocket in this one. The series now feels like a saga, one story told over seven chapters, rather than a series of vaguely connected seperate novels.
The central theme of this book is choice - who do we choose, and why do we choose them? It's a theme which has been present throughout the series, but really comes to the forefront in this book, and permeates all of the main plots.
The backstory on Voldemort is fascinating, and comes at just the right point in the series. We finally learn exactly why Voldemort and Harry are such opposites, and the choices they - and people around them - made to get them to this point. Would Voldemort have become evil had his mother not capitulated, and had survived to raise him? Had he choosen to heed Dumbledore's advice at Hogwarts, let him take him under his wing? Voldemort always had choices, always had a chance to turn back ... but he chose to isolate himself, cut himself off from human warmth and compassion, and love only himself. It cannot be a coincidence that we discover this in the book in which Harry falls in love - the difference between the two is made very explicit. One can love, one cannot. Rowling's device for Voldemort's immortality is wonderful, and demonstrates the pure evil of what somebody would be prepared to do in order to gain immortality.
The Snape-Malfoy murder plot is particularly fascinating, since the issue of Snape's loyalty is still left a little ambiguous at the end of the novel. Whether he is working for Voldemort or not at this point, he remains a complex character with mysterious motives, and nobody can predict which way he will go in the next book. Malfoy also, for the first time, becomes a complex characters, with conflicting motives. He is given a choice at the end - Dumbledore or Voldemort? It will be fascinating to see where Rowling takes this in the next book - perhaps Draco isn't just a token bully after all! The death at the end of the book is the most tragic and emotional yet - I dare you not to have a tear in your eye during the final chapter.
The romance is an absolute delight - sweet, funny, but very, very realistic. For anyone paying any attention to the foreshadowing in Books 1, 2 and especially 5, Harry and Ginny's romance has been a long time coming, and it has been worth the wait. The way Rowling has structured this romance, where the two have to grow up a lot emotionally before they are READY to fall in love, has been done sensitively, intelligently and realistically. Rowling's device for Harry's feelings - the "monster in the chest" - certainly brings back memories of what it is like to feel that initial rush of falling in love! Her ability to accurately describe the feelings of teenage boys is amazing! Ginny has been a fiesty breath of fresh air in the last two books, and it's great to see her coming into her own here. The romance feels real, and right for teenagers, but it also feels deep - their final scene together in the book is the most romantic thing Rowling has written in her novels, and is truly heart-wrenching.
Then there is Ron and Hermione. Quite probably the most obviously hinted-at romance in the history of English literature, they are still crawling towards the inevitable conclusion. Ron has to realise, in this book, that a relationship based purely on lust is not particularly enjoyable. There has been criticism of Hermione's character in this book, but if you have actually paid attention to her character in Books 1-5, and not been influenced by fanfiction or the films and elevated her to Super Logic-Woman, she actually hasn't changed. Hermione is probably the most insecure, and often emotionally unbalanced, character in any of these books. She nearly has a nervous breakdown over her school-work in Book 3, so her reaction to being spurned by the boy she has been in love with for three years seems very real, and certainly in-character.
This is the first Harry Potter book to end on a cliffhanger, and what a cliffhanger it is. This is Part 1 of 2 - "to be continued". Will Harry kill Voldemort? Will he survive? Where do Snape's loyalties lie? Will Harry and Ginny be reunited, and Harry allowed the live the happy life he wants? I, for one, can't wait to find out. JK Rowling has been getting better and better each time; if she carries on like this, the completion of this tale might be something very special indeed.