Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

~by J. K. Rowling
2005 Booklist Editors' Choice Award Winner
2005 Quill Award Winner
2006 ALA Best Books for Young Adults
2006 British Book Award Winner
2006 Locus Award Nominee

I was so disappointed with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix that I almost decided to skip the last two book in the series. However, considering the cultural phenomenon that the Harry Potter books have become, and since it's a fairly enjoyable series despite its flaws, I decided to continue on my reading regiment for the books--basically staying ahead of the movies. The fact that some of my friends would be rather upset with me if I didn't eventually get around to reading the last books in the series didn't hurt the case.

In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth book and Harry's sixth year at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Lord Voldemort has gained a significant following and a substantial amount of powers. The wizarding community, finally believe he has returned, is terrified. People are being murdered and even the Muggle world is beginning to notice that something is just not right, and in fact that something is horribly, horribly wrong.

Other than extra safety measures and greatly increased security, life at Hogwarts is much the same. When the students can find time to stop worrying about the Dark Lord and his Death Eaters, they have Quidditch matches, schoolwork, new professors , and love triangles to keep themselves occupied. Harry, too, has all of this and more to be concerned about. There is a prophecy: He must either kill Voldemort or he will be killed himself.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince more than makes up for the last book--it has even gotten me excited about the series again. In addition to the current plot, readers also get to learn more about Voldemort and his past along with Harry. I almost liked that storyline better. And Snape. Oh, Snape! He has become a magnificent character and is probably now my favorite in the series (and not just because Alan Rickman pays him in the movies).

The book does have its problems. The first two chapters feel a little bit out of place due to the fact they're written from an entirely different perspective than the rest of the book. Other scenes didn't feel quite right to me either, but I haven't been able to identify why exactly. In some instances, the writing itself is just bad--can someone please tell me how the heck someone can be "murmuring silently"? (I mean, I know Dumbledore is this great wizard and all, but really?) Overall though, the book was a great comeback and I enjoyed it immensely. I'm definitely looking forward to the final volume of the series.