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Customer Review

33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Magical fiction from the master, 16 Aug. 2005
This review is from: Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince: Adult Edition (Harry Potter 6): 6/7 (Hardcover)
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!
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