Sandra Stricker, January 1, 2010 (view all comments by Sandra Stricker)
All of the Harry Potter books published after 9/11 are dark. This is the darkest, and the most redemptive. It made me feel, once again, what it is like to lose the people I love most, and to survive. I believe art like this helps us prepare for the inevitable losses of our lives, and to learn what it means to be human. At the end of the series, a reader knows for sure that Harry Potter lives in her heart forever. This is a book, and a series that inspired and transformed a generation badly in need of a hero. In this dark decade, Harry Potter showed us the way to go on.
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Catherine Dice, January 1, 2010 (view all comments by Catherine Dice)
An excellent set-up for the finale of the series! The final chapters are exhilarating and profoundly touching; I was heartbroken by Harry's loss (and ours), but Rowling frames it so perfectly that any other ending would be unthinkable. Through my tears, I found myself saying, "Yes--that's the way it must be."
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"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Rowling's sixth book opens in the British Prime Minister's office after 'a very long, tiring, and difficult week,' words that cast an eerie light on actual events in London this summer. Yet from the first, the author has used the wizard world to offer insight into the goings-on in the real world, perhaps now more than ever. After the new Minister of Magic introduces himself to the Prime Minister, the scene shifts to Professor Snape's home, where Draco Malfoy's mother and aunt pay him a call, referring to a cryptic mission on which He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is sending Draco. Next, Dumbledore himself fetches Harry from the Dursleys, as the two begin a book-long quest to get to the heart of the dark wizardry impacting both the Muggle and magical worlds. Although You-Know-Who makes no appearances here, his henchmen gain momentum, and his past comes to light through multiple trips via the Pensieve; perhaps Rowling's most brilliant invention yet, the Horcrux, comes chillingly to the fore. Meanwhile, after winding up with a used copy of Advanced Potion-Making with notes from a mysterious Half-Blood Prince, Harry aces his Potions class, taught by the new Professor Slughorn; Snape is now teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts — what can that mean? Readers will have to madly flip the pages to find out. Rowling spends a fair amount of time in the set-up but she accomplishes a great deal in this book, pulling together threads from all the previous titles and expertly poising readers for the planned finale. Old friends such as Lupin and Dobbin make reappearances, love interests and subsequent tensions unfold. Harry, now restored to popularity, nonetheless finds Ron and Hermione wary of his new obsession with Draco Malfoy's activities. The situation at Hogwarts mirrors world events: even Dumbledore finds it difficult to distinguish the good from those who would unleash terror at the school and society at large. If Harry grew up in the last book, here he becomes a man, learning the true impact of the last book's prophecy, and the importance of love as the antidote to fear. All ages.(July)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day"
by Yvonne Zipp, Christian Science Monitor,
"Raising a young hero can be a tricky business — even without the use of magic. Many authors avoid fictional growing pains by either freezing their characters in time, à la Peter Pan or Alice, or shuffling them off stage when they get beyond that wide-eyed precocious stage, as C.S. Lewis did with the four young Pevensies....Frankly, creating believable teenagers in fiction is a tougher job than is usually acknowledged. Which is why it's nice to see that Harry's turning out so well." (read the entire Christian Science Monitor review)
by Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times,
"The darkest and most unsettling installment yet....[Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince] pulls together dozens of plot strands from previous volumes, underscoring how cleverly and carefully J. K. Rowling has assembled this giant jigsaw puzzle of an epic....The achievement of the Potter books is the same as that of the great classics of children's literature, from the Oz novels to The Lord of the Rings: the creation of a richly imagined and utterly singular world, as detailed, as improbable and as mortal as our own."
by The Washington Post,
"Rowling shepherds her hero's arduous trek to maturity with her customary grace and good humor, though she has infused her story with more bone-cracking and blood-spattering than may be tolerable for many of the young readers who have followed Harry's adventures so far."
by San Francisco Chronicle,
"It's not that [the book] is dull, exactly. In places, it rises to a pitch resembling suspense, or at least a passing curiosity about what might happen next. No, the main problem is that J.K. Rowling has now written six of these bricks. Even if they were getting better, they're certainly not getting any fresher."
by San Jose Mercury News,
"This installment...while still salted with patches of humor and romance, is the most harrowing yet....At the beginning of this book, all hands are pointing toward 'Mortal peril'....Undoubtedly, that is where they will continue pointing until the resolution of the final book in this remarkable series."
by Seattle Times,
"I don't think any of the other Harry books have begun as thrillingly as the shocker author J. K. Rowling pulls out almost from the start. We're back to the pure, intriguing, cat-and-mouse battle between good and evil."
by , Entertainment Weekly,
"[This] isn't my favorite J. K. Rowling book...but it ranks right up there....It's heartening, both as an author and a reader, to see that J. K. Rowling is brave enough to experiment with her beloved series, and that she has remained true to the emotional and physical development of her characters. (Grade: A-)" Christopher Paolini
by Associated Press,
"This is a powerful, unforgettable setup for the finale. The hardest thing about Half-Blood Prince is where it leaves us — in mourning for who has been lost, anxious to learn how Rowling will wrap up a saga that millions wish would go on and on."
by Financial Times (London),
"I was hooked from the first paragraph. It is J. K. Rowling's most gripping novel so far. The end is unforgettable and unexpected."
by Christian Science Monitor,
"The first half of the book offers a sense of lightness to balance the ominous doings to come....[T]he casualty list continues to rise, and Book 6 does not come equipped with a happy ending. Actually, it doesn't really end — the reader just runs out of pages. More than any of the previous books, Half-Blood Prince is a cliff-hanger, setting up the climactic showdown to come."
by Toronto Globe and Mail,
"Rather than overtly moral tales about right versus wrong, the Harry Potter series has always been a battle between hope and despair and the power of love against the chilly blackness of hate. The Half-Blood Prince, which is leaner and more tautly written than its flabby predecessor, is no exception."
by Liesl Schillinger, The New York Times Book Review,
"To read Rowling's novels as an adult is to sink into a half-remembered state of childhood rapture....At a time when everyday life is increasingly charged with dark and deadly deeds, the temptation to believe that a good wizard is coming of age, a wizard who may vanquish the greatest evildoer, holds even more attraction."
by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
"From the start, No. 6 drops us right in to J.K. Rowling's completely convincing and thoroughly engaging world....Richly satisfying on its own, this sixth volume seems to function as a rest before the final storm that the next book...promises."
by The Oregonian (Portland, OR),
"The first two chapters of Half-Blood Prince are grabbers, imaginative and exciting in ways that hook both new readers and those who've read the series dozens of times....Then Rowling falls back on her usual structure...and the pace slows to a stroll."
by San Francisco Chronicle,
"[A]n intense read. Literally, when I was reading the book, at some points, I could feel my heart pounding rapidly and I could also feel my eyes growing wider and wider with the suspense....More than ever, in this book, Rowling's talent is evident..."
We could tell you, but then we'd have to Obliviate your memory.
As the Harry Potter sequence draws to a close, Harry's most dangerous adventure yet is just beginning . . . and it starts July 16, 2005.
We could tell you, but then we'd have to Obliviate your memory.
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