Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter spends a short time at his aunt and uncle's home over the summer after completing his O.W.L.s at Hogwarts. He has proven to the Ministry of Magic and all the wizarding world that Lord Voldemort has really returned and wants to claim all power again. Now The Daily Prophet and many in the world of magic are hailing Harry as The Chosen One to defeat Voldemort. Harry discovers that returning to his fellow magicians is as uncomfortable as it was the year before when no one believed him and he was shunned.
Professor Dumbledore picks up Harry from the Dursley's to take to the Weasley's home to spend the rest of the summer. Professor Dumbledore confesses to Harry that perhaps his tactics the year before weren't the best. This year he is going to give Harry private lessons to help Harry in his future meeting with the Dark Lord and the Death Eaters. Whenever Harry is away from the Weasley's home he sees conspiracies. When he, Ron, and Hermione are shopping in Diagon Alley, Harry is certain Draco Malfoy is in more trouble than usual. When he returns to Hogwarts, he is appalled to discover that Professor Snape has finally earned the Defense Against the Dark Arts class. Harry tries to repeat his theories, but no one listens to him.
There are some bright spots in his sixth year. Harry is now captain of the Quidditch team for Gryffindor. He is allowed to take Potions even though he didn't earn Outstanding in his O.W.L.s. Since he wasn't prepared for the class before school, he borrowed one of the books in the classroom. This book was all marked up. Harry soon discovered that the person who had owned it before, the Half-Blood Prince, knew his or her stuff. Harry followed the hints in the book rather than the original forumlas. Now Harry is the best in the class of Potions. He was having private, if puzzling, lessons with Professor Dumbledore. Even Malfoy is not tormenting him. In fact, Harry rarely sees Malfoy outside of class.
But the land of wizards is in a turmoil. Security is drawn very tight around Hogwarts. All wizards and witches are warned not to travel alone, especially at night. The Death Eaters are out. People are getting killed. Even the Muggles are having problems when Voldemort's followers create chaos for the wizards. Harry and his friends see the results in Diagon Alley, Hogsmead, and in Hogwarts itself. This is going to be a very dark school year.
This book has some wonderful scenes in it. I believe my favorite is when Professor Dumbledore invites himself in to visit with the Dursleys. The professor keeps his voice pleasant, but the Dursleys are not ready for the veiled insults or the chiding the professor gives them. At 16, Ron, Hermione, and Harry see love in the air all around them. Even they are not immune. In my opinion, the teen romance stage is handled well in this book. Harry's jealousy rings true. But some characters are a bit too much. Others are under drawn in this book. I would be interested in Harry and Professor Snape as they interact in the Defense Against the Dark Arts class, but it is barely mentioned.
The story itself keeps pulling the avid Harry Potter reader on through. I must admit, I am very tired of Harry thinking he knows best and keeping secrets from Professor Dumbledore. Admittedly, the professor doesn't listen to Harry's conspiracy theories or discounts them. But Harry should still have mentioned the Half-Blood Prince and the potions text rather than keeping it to himself, Hermione, and Ron. (Since he never told Professor Dumbledore or any authority figure happenings from the past years, I don't believe I am revealing any spoilers here.)
Since it is written for the young adult, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is an easy read for adults. For younger readers it is still written in an easy format. There are battles, violence, injuries, and death in the book that are described well enough for the reader to know what is happening but not so graphic as to scare a younger reader. We know that this is the next to last book in the stated series, and it ends that way. There are some conclusions, but mostly the reader is left hanging. Harry Potter fans - enjoy! If you haven't read any of the series yet, don't start with this one.
These reviews are personal opinions only and in no way reflect other readers' opinions of the books discussed.
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