Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2017), J.K. Rowling

After what I thought was a disappointing fifth book, the sixth is its savior. This book is, again, brilliant on several different levels. First, one thing I noticed re-reading the first four books was J.K. Rowlings reliance on reiterating what all these terms mean throughout each successive book; i.e., muggle, Harry’s wealth, Harry’s original run-in with Voldemort, etc. I think this is the first book to be totally free of the constraints of “catching up” in the narrative. If you’ve read up to this point, there’s no reason that we shouldn’t all know these terms. This not only helps the pacing, but it also helps to delve into the world even more. Which leads me to number two: one thing that I believe Rowling is supremely gifted at is being able to immerse the reader in an incredibly thoughtful world with an incredibly thoughtful plot. The world of Harry Potter is so intriguing because it could be real; who really knows if there’s not a Ministry of Magic? This comes out even more in this book. Having already read the series, it’s amazing to see connections everywhere that allude to the end but that don’t give it away. The hints here and there are virtually unknown to the reader for the first time, but give such a satisfying end when we see one question answered just to have another come up. This book was very much in this realm: it seems as if so many questions were answered, and yet there are still more to be discovered. Third, the character development in this book was more fulfilling than the last because of the relationship between Harry and Dumbledore. My favorite parts of this book are Harry in Dumbledore’s office, being sucked into the pensive for another “lesson.” I have such an affection for the character of Dumbledore than I daresay I like him sometimes more than Harry. And speaking of which, Harry is much less bratty in this book than the last. While he still has occasional outbursts, he is not only tolerable but downright likeable in this book. Last in this category, the development of Snape, from becoming Defense of the Dark Arts teacher to interactions between Harry, Dumbledore, and Malfoy, all make him even worse. The first chapter alludes to how dark his character will become and we know that by the end, he is as rotten as all get out. Or is he? Onward to the last book to find out!

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