My rating: 5 of 5 stars
As I re-read the Harry Potter series for my Mythgard class, “Taking Harry Seriously,” reading The Half-Blood Prince is particularly bittersweet. (NOTE: I don’t think there are major spoilers in the following discussion, but if you’re extremely sensitive to being spoiled, play it safe and don’t read further.)
This one has so many “lasts.” Last time the kids get to be just kids, just Hogwarts students. Last time to worry about getting a girlfriend or passing an exam or winning a Quidditch match before the life, death, and soul struggles of The Deathly Hallows. One of my favorites in this vein: the kids learning to Apparate and struggling to get their Apparition licenses, similar to the way we Muggle kids had to pass our driving tests. Only we worried about getting into fender-benders during driver training, whereas they have to worry about getting splinched and leaving parts of their bodies behind! It’s this kind of detail of everyday life in the Wizarding World that makes the books such treasures, so much richer than the movies (which I do enjoy, also).
It’s also interesting to me how this book is connected to Book 2, Chamber of Secrets. So many things that were introduced in Chamber of Secrets (and possibly not mentioned since) become important again in Half-Blood Prince: several items that were casually seen in Borgin and Burkes when Harry ended up there by accident; Dobby the House Elf; Tom Riddle’s Diary; Aragog the giant spider–and probably a host of other things I’m not remembering at the moment. This is another reason the books are so powerful to me–Rowling obviously had such a detailed plan in her head from the beginning that this book series reads, to me, like one cohesive story. NOT a series of Harry Potter adventures she threw together after the success of the first book.
A co-worker recently asked that common question–if you had to choose one book to take with you if you were stranded on a desert island, which one would you take. Before I could speak (because she knows me well), she said, “You have to choose ONE Harry Potter book.” This is absurdly unfair to me, because that’s like telling me I could only take a few chapters of some other book!