Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

This novel takes Harry Potter fans in some long-awaited directions -- Harry has lessons with Dumbledore that reveal more of Lord Voldemort's past, and Harry develops a real, vivid love interest in the form of Ginny Weasley. The unexpected ending throws a wrench in fans' desires to see Harry happy and whole, though. This novel throws open the relationship between Harry and Dumbledore, marking Dumbledore as an adventurer and Harry as more than just Dumbledore's favorite. Dumbledore mentors Harry in many ways in this novel, and it's good to see the relationship reach such a high point. In Dumbledore's final lesson with Harry, Dumbledore expresses what makes Harry different from Lord Voldemort eloquently and with care, allowing Harry to see the differences for himself. This exquisite fictional moment makes all the other stuff in the novel almost superfluous. The new teacher at Hogwarts, Professor Slughorn, is not as distinctive as other new teachers have been, perhaps because Snape fills the role of Defense against the Dark Arts teacher. Harry confronts Snape's duplicity directly in this novel, and JK Rowling's sharp pen positively quivers with Harry's anger at the end. This next-to-last chapter in the series leaves much unresolved, but it is a satisfying read nonetheless.
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