Jul 18, 2007

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling

When re-reading this book, I realized with some alarm the great amount of details I had forgotten, and once again found myself wishing I had re-read the whole series before book 7. Then again, this is the only book in the series I haven’t read countless times – I avoided it in the last two years because I knew it’d make me anxious for the last one. But now the time has come at last.

I’m going to miss these books so much. I know I can revisit them whenever I want, but it pains me to know that, after Saturday, there will be no more new stories. These books are such perfect comfort books for me. And I’m dying to know how the story ends, but funnily enough, I think it’s the moments that don’t add that much to the general plot that I will miss the most.

If it can be said that the Harry Potter books follow a formula of sorts, it’d be something like this: Harry is staying with the Dursleys, and something mysterious/exciting happens. The school year begins, and things are more or less normal. Throughout the year, more clues/little mysterious events take place, until, around the time of the end of the school year, we have the climaxing scene, and the initial mystery (along with other smaller ones) is revealed.

Now, I love the main plot of this book. In my opinion, it is at plot that Rowling is excellent. But I’m really going to miss those quieter times when “nothing much” is happening. The trip on the Hogwarts Express, the ceremony of the sorting hat, the little moments of humour, going to Diagon Alley, Fred and George, the Quidditch matches, the times spent in the Gryffindor common room, their lessons, the tensions between characters, the moments of misunderstandings between Ron, Harry and Hermione, the moments when they laugh together – everything, really. These are characters I truly enjoy spending time with. This is a world I love to immerse myself in, and I’m going to miss that the most.

Now, I know that almost everyone has read these books, and for those who haven’t, not knowing what goes on in them anyway is a little hard, in a "Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s Father" sort of way. But I’m still going to include a warning, because I don’t want to ruin things for anyone:

There are SPOILERS after the cut.

Harry’s decision not to return to Hogwarts, and Ron and Hermione’s decision to accompany him on his mission, has assured that many of the familiar, comforting Hogwarts moments will be absent in the final book. When I first read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince this upset me quite a bit, but I have to admit now that it makes perfect sense. Things have been getting increasingly darker since book four, and it is now pretty much impossible for Harry and his friends to carry on living “normal” lives, given the state of things.

Everything in this book made much more sense this time around – perhaps because I expected things, so I looked for the signs. The thing with Tonks and Lupin, for example – I remember being disappointed the first time I read the book, because I expected the mystery surrounding Tonks to be something more… relevant for the main plot. I expected her to be under the Imperius curse or something. But the second time around, it made perfect sense. The signs are all there.

The same goes, of course, for Dumbledore’s death. The first time, I was beyond shocked. I couldn’t believe it. I kept expecting it not to be true – until the very last page, I hoped something would happen – Fawkes would resurrect him or something. But I have to admit that it makes perfect sense. After all, Harry would never be the one to defeat Voldemort if Dumbledore was around. If Dumbledore, “the only one he ever feared”, was still alive, he would be the logical choice for the one to defeat the Dark Lord. So it makes sense that he had to pass away, to leave the path open for Harry.

And this brings me to the subject of Snape. I have never really liked Snape, but I have to say, I’ve never trusted him as much as I do after this book. For him to be on the bad side, Dumbledore would have to be wrong, and I just can’t believe it. Plus, the fact that he knew something about Snape somebody else does keeps being hinted at, and Rowling doesn’t normally give false hints. I think that what happened was that Dumbledore told Snape to kill him if he must to secure his cover. That is what he was pleading before he died – “Severus, please do it”, and not “Severus, please don’t kill me”. I just don’t see a man like Dumbledore pleading for his life. And there are a number of other clues. He made the unbreakable vow at the beginning of the book, and there is the talk between him and Dumbledore that Hagrid overheard, where he said he didn’t really want to do it.

Also, I think that the reason why Dumbledore was willing to be killed just to save Snape’s cover was because he was going to die anyway. It could be the potion that he drank, or it could be his wounded hand, which was maybe a sign of something more serious. That would also be why he shared all the knowledge he gathered about Voldemort with Harry. He knew Harry would have to destroy the Horcruxes on his own after he died, but he also wanted to get as much of the work done as possible before his time came.

The scene where Harry feeds Dumbledore the potion is, for me, the most powerful scene in the book. It’s so heartbreakingly sad. I can only imagine how hard it must have been for Harry to put someone he cares about through something like that, and yet know that, as hard as it was, he had to do it.

Some predictions for the next book: I think Draco, perhaps along with Pettigrew, will end up doing something important, something worthwhile. The fact that he was unable to kill Dumbledore showed that there was some hope left for him. And the same, as I said above, goes for Snape.

I think it is possible that RAB will end up being Regulus Black, Sirius’ brother. Not much is known about what he did before he died, after all.

I think Remus will finish Fenrir Greywolf off, perhaps along with Bill.

I think Hermione and Ron have to survive, even if just because they have to end up together. Things between them have been developing from book 1, pretty much, and by the end of “Half-Blood Prince” their mutual feelings for each other were pretty much out in the open. How frustrating would it be to go through all that just to see one of them die?

Unfortunately, it’s quite possible that the same cannot be said about Harry. There is something I wonder about – could Harry himself be a Horcrux (this would explain his strange insight into Voldemort’s mind, incidentally)? Could he have been made into one with Cedric’s murder, at the end of book four? Rowling did say that something crucial for the final outcome of the series takes place in book four, and Dumbledore said that when Voldemort first tried to kill Harry, not all of his Horcruxes had been made. This, of course, means that Harry himself will have to be destroyed.

Unfortunately, I think that even if he isn’t a Horcrux, it is likely that he will die. It’s just so sad. I hope I’m wrong, because it will be so depressing to see a character I spend 7 books with, a character the reader watched grow up, a just die in the last book.

Voldermort will die for sure. I think there is no way she will let the bad side win. The only question is who he will take along with him. If Harry dies, I know it will be heroically – saving his friends, maybe, like his mother died saving him – but even so, it will be so depressing. So I really, really hope my hunch is wrong.

When Saturday comes, I am inclined to take measures as extreme as this blogger’s to avoid spoilers. I will cut contact with the world until I’m done reading. I will immerse myself in the books, and only return to reality when all these questions have been answered.

Other Blog Reviews:
In Spring it is the Dawn
Words by Annie (full series)
Aquatique
Books Love Me!
Books of Mee
Wordlily
Kristina's Favorites

18 comments:

  1. I hadn't thought about avoiding spoilers til I read Bobbarama's post. But then I remembered last time, and how I kept having to avert my eyes and quickly close tabs on the internet. This time, I'm declaring an internet-free weekend, or as long as it takes to finish the book.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm very afraid of spoilers and have been avoiding livejournal and the HP fandom (which I've been apart of many years). I can't wait to be done and the fear of spoilage to be lifted. I'm going offline after midnight GMT (which is 8PM Friday for me) just to avoid it as well. Though there are some leaked pages online and I know at least once person who managed to fanagled an advance copy (as she says).

    I reread OotP and the Tonks/Remus was in there too. Often, Harry would see them together in a room waiting or something.

    Cheers for Saturday.

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a great review! I can't wait!! I'm going to sequester myself this weekend, too, and not watch TV or get on the internet until I've finished the book.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great review. I'm glad I read that before getting the last book.

    Careful what you look at online even before the book's release. There are stories everywhere now about some guy who photographed every page of the last book and put it online for hundreds of people to download before he took them down. Now it's everywhere ... and several key people have said they believe it's authentic. And there's also a report from an online bookstore that has apologized for accidentally sending out more than 100 copies of the book before the release date. Spoilers are popping up everywhere. Just sayin'

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great review! I love your conjectures - you've clearly been thinking very hard about all this.

    I'm worried about spoilers, too - I have to work at the library on Monday night, and if someone says something to me about it before I've had the chance to finish the book, I am NOT going to be happy!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I am so looking forward to seeing just how long it takes for the end events of the newest book to get to me. I'm not reading it and I plan to wait awhile before reading any spoilers just to see how quick someone on the radio or tv blabs everything. Should be entertaining.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm going to the midnight opening of my local book shop and then locking myself in the flat with no tv, internet or phone until I have finished it just so no one can spoil it for me. My husband keeps threatening to read the last few pages and tell me when I am not looking, but I don't think he is that mean.

    I share your thoughts about Harry's fate and sadly and don't se a way that he and Voldemort can survive. I think Snape will be crucial and may die saving Harry or doing something very good in the end battle. The idea Harry is a Horcrux is interesting, it will be great to see how it all ends though. Like you I will miss the characters (especially the twins), but I can always read them again.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I usually read them soon as I get home from the midnigh party so I'm good. Can't wait!!! Oh and I LOVE your little stuffed animal! Sho cute.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Dewey: I unfortunately read a lot of horrid stories even at the time of the two previous books. Some people go out of their way to spoil the fun of others. It's good to be careful.

    Athena: LJ is especially dangerous - I remember that last time, only a few hours after I finished HBP, I came across someone with a flashing "Dumbledore Dies/Snape Kills Him" icon. It will be fun to re-read the series after all the answers have been provided and see how early the hints begin to appear. I really admire her for planning everything so carefully.

    Robin: Looks like we're all doing the same. It will be great to discuss it after we're all done reading it though! Normally I read the books fast and then have no one to discuss it with a while, until my friends finish. But this time I have my blogger friends!

    Bobbarama: Thank you so much for the warning. I hadn't heard about that. I will be extra careful.

    Darla: I cannot help but think about it - I am addicted. I hope people at the library keep quiet about it! I would not be happy either if I were you.

    Carl: I'll bet it won't take very long at all.

    Rhinoa: I hadn't thought of the possibility of Snape dying saving someone, but it makes sense. I really can't wait to see how it all turns out.

    Mailyn: It's my little Hedwig :D I love her too.

    ReplyDelete
  10. And here I thought she was a penguin. I am in serious need of glasses. LMAO.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I finished this one today and just in time! You've made some interesting conjectures. As you know I'm in the Harry will survive camp but we'll soon find out. Happy reading!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Mailyn: lol, don't feel bad! It's not a very flattering picture of Hedwig, after all :P

    Tanabata: Happy reading for you too! And I really hope you're right. I was talking to someone today who had a really interesting theory: Harry's scar is a Horcrux, and when it is destroyed, he will survive but lose all his magical powers. We will find out soon enough!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Great review Nymeth. I echo your thoughts on enjoying the parts of the books where nothing much is happening. I have really enjoyed spending time with these characters and I'm going to miss them so much. It'll be a sad day when I finish the last book :(

    Harry as a horcrux! You know I never thought of that, but it makes perfect sense. That's so sad though!

    I'll be doing the same as far as avoiding spoilers. I'll be blogging to catch up with everyone when I get back to New Orleans, but I'm not reading any posts that have to do with Harry Potter!!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Whew I just finished and just wanted to say that I'm impressed with your guesses!! :P
    Happy to chat more when you're done and back online.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Chris: The day has come for me at last :( It's so sad. Well, we can always re-read the books, but it will take a while to get used to the idea of there being no more new stories :(

    tanabata: I finished late last night. Let me head over to your blog to read your thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I knew that Dumbledore was going to die in this book - I read some spoilers before reading the book! :D So, I was wondering how he died.

    Snape's character is extremely confusing. Is he on the good side or the bad one?

    Wow, most of your guesses were right! Haha! I didn't realize that Regulus could be RAB. His name didn't pop up in my mind when I was pondering over it. But it's a pleasant surprise to read about in Book 7.

    Anyway, here's my review of Book 6!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Here's my review of this one: http://wordlily.wordpress.com/2008/12/11/harry-potter-and-the-half-blood-prince-by-jk-rowling/

    ReplyDelete
  18. Here's mine!
    http://kristinasfavorites.blogspot.com/2009/03/harry-potter-and-half-blood-prince.html

    ReplyDelete

Thank you so much for taking the time to comment - interaction is one of my favourite things about blogging and a huge part of what keeps me going.