I drove the books down to camp last night. Within minutes, my oldest came zooming into the infirmary. "Dad! Where's the book? I have to have my copy!!!!", "Not until your name is written in it". That took about 10 seconds, and she was out the door. They were having a Harry Potter trivia contest at camp that very minute, and Shaina needed to be one of the few people there who actually had possession of the Half Blood Prince.
Fortunately, copy number two was still in my possession through this afternoon. With about three hours of reading on Saturday morning after returning from the midnight party, then four hours of sleep followed by about eight hours of splitting my attention yesterday between reading, watching the British Open, the Tour De France and the Yankees v. Red Sox, then the drive to camp, and another three hours of reading after getting to camp, a decent night's sleep, and then about another seven hours today... and I'm all done. A bit fried, and my eyes took about an hour to start focusing this morning, but I'm done.
I'm not the fastest reader, nor the slowest. I'd definitely do better if I weren't splitting attention so much of the time. In any case, I'm finished and I can leave the second copy for my youngest to read when I go home for the week. Shaina will probably be done with her copy by sometime tomorrow, so my wife won't have to wait too long to read it.
I think our youngest will have some problems with the ending. A lot of kids might. Like the other books, this one is excellent, but let's just say that this one is darker, and the characters are moodier (no pun intended), and the climactic scenes are probably even more clearly PG-13 than any of the previous books.
This book is tighter than the previous two. There is quite a bit less setup. It dives right into plot and mostly stays there, except for some brief diversions into quidditch. There's quite a bit less character development than we've seen in previous books, especially in the previous two books. Fleur de la Coeur is re-introduced as a minor supporting character, and in a brief scene near the end she shows more growth than any of the major characters. Although he gets very little direct attention, Malfoy develops quite a bit, actually, gaining a little bit of a sympathetic side... although still very ambiguously sympathetic, at best. Snape's character finally becomes unambiguous. (Or does he? I'm not 100% sure. What do you think?) Only two of the sympathetic characters, Harry and Dumbledore, really get much at all in terms of new development. Ron's character progresses in terms of some milestones achieved, but there's not much real change in his basic character, and Hermione's character, frankly, becomes much less interesting in this book.
I didn't catch any obvious continuity errors in this one. No broken wand-order like Goblet of Fire, and no mysterious "why didn't he see that before?" problems like the Thestrals in Phoenix. BTW: contrary to what some people hoped, the loose end of the Thestrals was not cleaned up in Half-Blood Prince.
We'll have to wait until the final book, but one thing that I have to say that I didn't like about this book is that it is becoming too much about Harry as a lone figure, and less about Harry and friends working together or Harry and the Order working together. There are, admittedly, some conflicting signals as to whether or not that will continue in the final book.
1. Rob McDonagh07/18/2005 01:41:34 PM
I'm with you on Snape, Rich. I don't think it's a done deal. It's pretty clear that we're SUPPOSED to believe Snape's a bad guy now, which makes me contrary. While fighting Harry, Snape was still teaching him (telling him his attacks would always be blocked until he learned to hide his intentions better) - in an obnoxious manner, but then that's Snape all over. The only 'evil' action Snape took that can't be explained by trying to keep less well trained people (professor or kids) out of the fight was the murder. On the other hand, a great deal is made of the fact that Dumbledore can and does make serious mistakes, so maybe trusting Snape was one of them (that's what we're intended to think). Ultimately, I think it's undecided.
I also think it's very interesting that the deceased individual (note: I'm trying to avoid spoilers here, but I don't think the fact that somebody died is a spoiler - please edit this post with a hatchet if you disagree) spent a fair amount of time talking to Malfoy about faking a death. The death itself may have been a fantastic illusion.
As far as Harry going it alone in this book, I think that's a consequence of what happened in the last book. His friends learned that Harry can make big mistakes, and they don't necessarily follow blindly now. I think it's more fun when they're doing the 3 Musketeers routine, but I think this development was consistent with the series. I also think it will change in the next book, as indicated pretty clearly at the end.
re: relative darkess - I think book VI was very similar to book IV. Book V is the darkest, from my perspective. Yes, both IV and VI end with a death, and both have violence and sadness at that point, but for much of the books the tone is light-hearted. Bad things are happening, but Harry isn't overwhelmed with despair. In Book V, when it seems every hand is against him, he becomes a very angry and frustrated person and the reader is drawn along for the ride. I think this book was a turn up from the last one, that's all I'm saying.
2. jonvon07/22/2005 03:32:31 PM
i definitely agree with the cap'n here, esp as regards the tone. to me book 5 was by far the darkest in the overall emotional tone. whereas some of the things introduced in book 6, as in some of the dark magic and the lycanthrope who appears, and his particular appetite, the inferi, the history of voldemort, etc, i thought from that standpoint this was possibly the darkest of the books. i'd have to go back and reread to really say that with certainty though.
in other words, if i were the pope (hehe) i might say book 6 was the darkest, but as a human being i'd say book 5 *felt* the darkest.