Manny’s review of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter, #6) > Likes and Comments

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message 1: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Proust!
in a J.K. Rowling review?!

message 2: by Manny (new)

Manny Well... um... they're both seven volume series... they've both been filmed... they both contain detailed analyses of how a teenage crush works. Oh wow, I got to three! I'm quitting while I'm ahead :)

message 3: by Jessica (last edited Feb 27, 2009 05:51AM) (new)

Jessica ha!
damn, that was a pretty good defense (hate to admit it, but...)

message 4: by Manny (new)

Manny Thanks!

This could be turned into a party game, couldn't it? Your turn. Anna Karenina and (you pick)...

message 5: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Manny, I ain't even going to try! I'm not good at this sort of thing. But you know who is? Mr Giltinan! He's the perfect match for you! I know he's in Madrid right now, but we can hope he'll join on --

message 6: by Jessica (new)

Jessica I read the first two.
liked 'em too.
but read no more `~

message 7: by Manny (new)

Manny My younger son is the same age as Harry, to within a couple of months. He grew up with them. What was I supposed to do? I can break down and weep if it's likely to help here.

My lawyer advised me to plead guilty. I'm beginning to think I maybe need a new lawyer...

message 8: by julieta (new)

julieta I read the first three, je...and I have no kids or small children around as an excuse, but I did give my nephews a good time by re telling some parts of the story. I thought they were well written, but my interest lasted those three volumes...

message 9: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Aw, the sixth one is my favorite!

Jackie "the Librarian" Really, Sarah? This one? With the ... uh, death, at the end?

message 11: by Aayushi (new)

Aayushi This book was marvellous! people with closed minds just dont have enough brains to appreciate it!

message 12: by Manny (new)

Manny I liked the first three. But I thought she lost enthusiasm as the series progressed, and by the sixth volume all the sparkle was gone. Another obvious problem was that she'd become a publishing phenomenon, and no one dared edit her any more - the last volumes are far too long.

In contrast, I'd say that the Potter movies keep getting better. I think they've been very clever in changing the director regularly... if they'd still had Chris Columbus in charge, I bet the movie version of Order of the Phoenix would have unwatchable.

message 13: by Aayushi (new)

Aayushi Manny wrote: "I liked the first three. But I thought she lost enthusiasm as the series progressed, and by the sixth volume all the sparkle was gone. Another obvious problem was that she'd become a publishing phe..."

you got point there.

message 14: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Jackie "the Librarian" wrote: "Really, Sarah? This one? With the ... uh, death, at the end?"

Trying to answer without giving away any spoilers...
Yeah, that was definitely sad. But I thought it was so well done. It came as such a shock to me and I LOVE being taken by surprise. I hate when things are so clearly telegraphed that I can guess it, but I love when I can go back and see the clues that should have led me there along the way. Does that make any sense?

Also, I thought this book gave me the most to talk and speculate about after I was done. What were the other horcruxes? What was motivation? Who is RAB? Would the couples really finally get together in the end? And yes, I did love all the teen romance stuff. What can I say? I'm a girl. I like romance.

I also thought this book had the best balance of dark scary stuff and light fun.

message 15: by Bram (new)

Bram The Proust similarities are very amusing...and didn't George Lucas also claim he had the whole Star Wars saga planned out from the beginning? If so, then the Luke and Leia kissing scene is, um, inappropriate.

message 16: by Manny (new)

Manny Turning it around, I'm trying to think of someone who just said straight out that, what do you imagine, they made it up as they went along, and what the hell is wrong with that?

Perhaps Flashman? I don't know that series well, have only read the first one. And I don't think I've ever seen an interview.

message 17: by Bram (last edited May 14, 2009 08:50AM) (new)

Bram Great question. I can't think of any, but making it up as one goes along may actually be a more impressive accomplishment. In an interview I saw on youtube, David Foster Wallace said that nothing he ever wrote ended up even close to his initial plans/outline. But I guess that's not quite the same for a single work--many authors probably say that.

message 18: by Manny (new)

Manny DFW always was refreshingly straightforward!

Well... now that I consider it, both books I've been involved in writing also came out quite different to the original plan. So who am I to criticize? I'm trying to think if I've ever made misleading claims. Maybe I'm just willfully not remembering them :)

message 19: by Bram (last edited May 14, 2009 09:04AM) (new)

Bram Yeah...I think the mind is designed to remember processes/events in packages that are a little too neat and clean. I know Tolkien occasionally misrepresented how much he had planned out as well. Still no counter-examples coming to me.

message 20: by Manny (last edited May 14, 2009 09:09AM) (new)

Manny Yes, people have an urge to impose structure even where none exists. I made a comment about this in my review of The Number of the Beast.

Though, now that I look at it again: Balzac! Did he ever claim that he had a plan in mind when he started? It seems a bit unlikely. But I know very little about him.

message 21: by Bram (last edited May 14, 2009 09:16AM) (new)

Bram Haha--great review. You've hit on a fascinating topic here. I'll have to start policing my own attempts at mental structuring. But maybe self-policing is in itself a form of composing structure. Damn!

My knowledge of Balzac is limited to Proustian asides at this point, so I'll have to weigh in at a later date.

message 22: by Manny (new)

Manny If you want an easy intro to Balzac, check out the movie of Le Colonel Chabert with Gerard Depardieu in the title role. It's very true to the book, and a fine piece of work!

message 23: by Bram (new)

Bram Will do, thanks! Maybe that will help with my French quest.

message 24: by Robert (new)

Robert Catherine Fisher told me (and everyone else attending) that she does not plan her novels at all.

message 25: by Bram (last edited Mar 01, 2010 08:11AM) (new)

Bram So a couple months back I read an essay by Proust in this book:, which was published on the heels of the publication of his first volume, Swann's Way. What struck me about it was that he actually did seem to have the main ideas planned out at that point (regarding his major theme of Lost/Recovered Time). From what I recall, he originally meant it as a 3 part book (The 2 'Ways' plus the final volume), and so it definitely seems as if he stretched it a bit. But I think the main pieces were in place.

Anyway, I also just realized that you mention Proust in a HP review and I mentioned HP in a Proust review. I'm not sure which is more absurd.

message 26: by Robert (new)

Robert Mentioning Proust at all, is absurd, I suspect... ;-)

message 27: by Manny (new)

Manny Bram, I've heard that claim too... and I wonder if it would have been a better book if he'd stuck to his original plan? He certainly did add a lot of material, which doesn't at first sight have much to do with the main theme. But maybe he decided that the original idea was too trite and logical, and that real life never can be reduced to a formula. I'm sure there are acres of speculation on this :)

message 28: by Tatiana (new)

Tatiana Douglas Adams admitted that he made up the Hitchhiker's series as he went along, and he said if you ever saw anything that seemed to make sense of stuff that came before, well, then, he was as surprised as anybody. =)

message 29: by Matt (new)

Matt Actually, I find her rather credible in this. I'm sure that she didn't plan out all the details of a seven volume series, but I do believe that she new most of the major plot points ahead of time. Her primary strength as an author IMO is planning out story arcs. She may not make the most beautiful sentences or the most elegant paragraphs, but she ties things together at the end with a skill similar to that of Victor Hugo, Agatha Christy, Vernor Vinge or Mary Bujold.

My take on the quality of stories is that they peaked in book four. I did not enjoy the first three. I found them overlong, boring, filled with details that defied suspension of belief, juvenile and by the third book somewhat predictable (once I'd gotten over not giving her enough credit for being clever). As I was reading each book I said to myself, "This is the last one I'll read." But as I came to the end of each book, she finished each so strongly and so well that my prior conviction melted. The fourth book was a revelation though, because it provided the sense that she might be capable of something more.

The fifth and sixth books were I admit disappointments, especially the fifth one. But I will say that the sixth book will probably look better in the light of the seventh, because the sixth is the first book she ends without a real ending but with a cliffhanger and her strength is, as I said, endings.

I do believe that the sixth movie is the best of them, but I don't agree that the movies got better and better. After the sixth, I would rate the 2nd and 1st as being the best, with the fourth and fifth movie being muddled messes. The movie version of 'Order of the Pheonix' is unwatchable. The screenwriter of the sixth movie was the first to be able to actually successfully condense the longer later books into a movie length and still have a coherent plot and capture the essense of the story. Indeed, in some scenes he actually excelled Rawlings, which is not I think low praise.

message 30: by Ravenclaw26 (new)

Ravenclaw26 Um, JK actually did plan out all seven novels. It's really obvious how she did so. She plants important plot points for the other books even in the first book. Ex: Sirius Black, invisibility cloak, disilluminator. Also, to be frank, you didn't give any reasons for disliking the book. All you really said was "Her books keep getting worse".

Sorry if you found this offensive in any way. I'm really blunt about my points.

I didn't really think the movies got better and better. The fourth book was my favorite, but the movie was terrible. My favorite movies were actually the first and fifth.

message 31: by Manny (last edited May 23, 2010 03:01PM) (new)

Manny Sorry... I've had too many Harry Potter discussions this weekend. J.K. Rowling, you will be unsurprised to hear, is not one of my favourite authors. You might want to look at my review of the whole series.

But, very briefly: if she had actually planned all this out, why are there no references to Horcruxes, Deathly Hallows, Grindelwald etc in the earlier volumes? It would have been the easiest thing in the world to have Dumbledore say a few things which made no sense at the time, but which in retrospect would have been vital clues. Occam's Razor says it's because she hadn't yet thought of them.

message 32: by Ravenclaw26 (new)

Ravenclaw26 Grindelwald AND the Hallows were both mentioned in the very first novel. On Dumbledore's wizard card, I believe, its mentions that he was famous for his defeat of the dark wizard Grindelwald. All of the other information is not mentioned at the time because these are secrets Dumbledore has tried hard to bury. The invisibility cloak is also in the first novel. In the second novel it is mentioned that the diary contains a portion of Voldemort's soul later on you find out that this is because it is a Horcrux.

Dumbledore is" the guy who knows all", but sometimes he witholds information from Harry because a)Harry is too young b) Dumbledore is ashamed of this or c) Even Dumbledore hasn't figured it out yet.
Horcrux- c)
Hallows- b)

Also, these subjects didn't have much to do with the plot at the time so she only used vague hints (as mentioned above).

I read your review and I'm getting the feeling that you dislike Harry Potter it has become a literary phenomenon and you believe it does not deserve this fame. It sounds like you are rating the series based on the hype.
I don't really find the Harry Potter characters one-dimensional. They start off a simple characters, but slowly evolve into more complex ones because the first book is written for eleven year olds, the second for twelve year olds and so on.
There is no sex in Harry Potter because it is a children's novel. Millions of children are reading these novels and you expect them to have sex in them- that's disturbing! It does however, feature other challenges that exist in real life (for kids)- gossip, family problems, rivalry, teacher problems, crushes... etc.
I find it very irritating how you compare it to twilight, a book I find severely flawed and lacking good characters, plot, and common sense. However, I see your reason for it: they are both the most widely read young-adult novels around. I guess I felt just as you had when the Potterholic compared Potter to classics such as Animal Farm. I must admit I have never read it, but still- I feel your pain.

I just realized that my username must make me sound like a rabid Potter fan, but I guess I kinda am.

message 33: by Manny (new)

Manny The things you learn on Goodreads. I hadn't remembered that Grindelwald was referred to in the first book. Though I still find it unconvincing. We're supposed to believe that Dumbledore's defeat of this black wizard is sufficiently famous to be a trivia item, but somehow no one, not even the obsessive researcher Hermione, knows any of the details until the final volume. To me, that doesn't fit. And, having just checked on Wikipedia, I'm quite sure that Horcruxes aren't mentioned until the sixth book. Again, why not?

I am certainly not saying that children's books like Harry Potter should contain sex! What does strike me as odd is that a series obviously aimed at younger readers should be so popular with adults. That's unusual.

Agreed, Potter is better-written than Twilight - I said that already. But my comparison was primarily about the way they've been marketed. Don't you see many points of contact there?

La pointe de la sauce 'What does strike me as odd is that a series obviously aimed at younger reader should be so popular with adults'

Manny, Manny, Manny. You seem to be making the argument that adults can't really enjoy Child/YA fantasy novels but the truth is many 'adults' do!

As you've been repeatedly told, this has little to do with marketing eventhough marketing is crucial in book sales, being an author I'm sure you, more than anyone know that. Tolkeins Hobbit was intended as a 'Children Fantasy Novel' but happened to attract an adult fanbase. I'm sure you can see the similarities between The Rings and Potter in the evolution of a simple storyline into what turns out to be a darker and more complex fantasy novel.

The notion that adults can't enjoy reading a YA or Childs novel is absolutely ridiculous, just ask Abigail, she's been exclusively reading fairy tales/fantasy novels for over a year and I think she enjoys it. I read Animal farm when I was 8 and despite my ignorance of it's allusions, it was still a story that made perfect sense, it doesn't take a richness in experience or knowledge of historic background to enjoy these books.

I'm not saying that marketing/hype doesn't play a crucial part in getting you to actually pick up a book, but then it's up to the reader, after reading it to decide if they enjoy the book or not.

Manny, I remember you supporting a book which was markerted quite aggressively but which is universally disliked here on Goodreads and in fact, everywhere. It is most probably the most ridiculous book I've ever read and yet you wrote a letter to a newspaper supporting 'The Da Vinci Code'. :) - sorry for outing you) c'mon, are you seriously against marketing, or against the marketing of Potter?

Where did the Manny we all love go? Will you now repent and be absolved of all sins my son?

message 35: by Manny (new)

Manny King, obviously adults do read children's books. But not, until recently, to this extent, and not almost exclusively devoted to two series. That's what I find both interesting and disquieting.

The key question is why this has happened. It's perhaps nothing more than a bottom-up effect caused by the rise of the Internet. But it seems to me that the people in charge of marketing these books have become adroit at using the Internet to magnify existing trends to an unnatural level. As Michael points out in post #53 of my main Harry Potter review, there is something just plain weird about having Twilight become the most famous book in the world. And, forgive me for moralizing, but it seems hard to conclude that it's an entirely good thing.

message 36: by Robert (new)

Robert I remember attending an evening where Catherine Fisher talked about her book, Incarceron; the only other adult there was a school teacher with some of her pupils...made me feel a bit of a lemon.

There is a significant adult following for His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman; enough for adult marketed editions to have been published.

I suspect that many readers of the fantasy genre read "YA" because what's on offer there is often better than fantasy marketed towards adults.

Also, certain books take on an acceptable face, after a certain level of popular attention - it's not embarressing if everybody else is reading it, too.

message 37: by Ravenclaw26 (new)

Ravenclaw26 On marketing influence...
I read Harry Potter because my parents gave me the first book, not because of marketing and I decided it was my favorite series without much marketing influence. Maybe my parents read the book because of marketing- I don't know! (I had heard about the movies, but I was too young to care about them)
On twilight's popularity...
I find twilight's immense popularity strange too, but I think it is because of the "hawt" guys and wish-fufillment. I am in middle school and almost EVERY single girl in my school has read it. Most say "It's -like- the best book I have -like- ever read!". In my head every time that happens I think "that's because it's the ONLY book you have ever read" (willingly).
I think one girl once read twilight and thought it was amazing (due to "hawt" guys and wish-fuffillment) and told her friend who was less of a bookaholic to read it. According to this girl it was "the best book she had ever read" and she told HER friend- and so the craze passed swiftly through the country.
On young-adult novel popularity...
I don't think it's the internet that creates the popularity: I think it's the movie industry. The moment a book becomes a movie -BAM- its sales go up. Examples of this: Harry Potter, twilight, The Golden Compass, and Eragon(TERRIBLE movie). Notice how these are all young-adult novels?
On your last sentence-
I'm not really sure if it is a good or bad thing. The good part is that young girls start to read, The problem with this, I find, is that most of the time after reading the saga they stop reading again. Sometimes the saga is like a gateway drug and they move on to better literature. Sometimes (sadly) they keep reading bad vampire romance novels. The bad thing is that the first thing most of these girls read is bad literature and they believe it is good. They read about glorified abusive relationships and pedophilia(sp?) and believe this is the way relationships work.

Please forgive me if I rambled or ranted.

message 38: by (last edited Nov 23, 2010 10:13PM) (new)

★ Ravenclaw26, your points are EXACTLY what I came here to say, but there is no point doubling up on comments, so I shall simply say:
"I second that!"

Manny, Horcruxes were not mentioned in previous books because even Dumbledore knew nothing important on the topic.

message 39: by Manny (new)

Manny Booklover23 wrote: "Manny, Horcruxes were not mentioned in previous books because even Dumbledore knew nothing important on the topic."

That is as may be. The question more on my mind, though, was whether the author knew anything!

message 40: by j (new)

j i think there's enough evidence that she did, but even if she didn't, it all tied together quite nicely, i think, even making the second book a bit better in retrospect by explaining why the diary was such an unusually powerful magical object.

internally, though, it makes total sense. aside from the first chapters of the later books, the entire series is from harry's limited POV. horcruxes are very, very secretive and dark magical objects that few know about and no one wants to discuss. it makes sense that we only learn of them as harry does, AND they aren't totally out of the blue because they help explain how voldemort survived, how he came back, why he is connected to harry, etc.

i was more thrown by the sudden introduction of the deathly hallows myself.

and now i have gone and posted something about harry potter on the internet. sigh.

message 41: by JK (new)

JK What a great analogy.

message 42: by Chance (new)

Chance Except Proust wrote his first and last volumes simultaneously. His revisions to the story, unlike Rowling's allegedly "making it up as she goes along," hardly diminishes the literary value of the work.

Also, Lost Time hasn't been adapted into a movie franchise. There have been occasional one-offs, but no Harry Potter-esque franchise.

I can't help but take this entire thing as a slight to Proust, and if that's the case: what an amateurish comparison!

message 43: by Manny (new)

Manny I can't help but take this entire thing as a slight to Proust, and if that's the case: what an amateurish comparison!

Ah... in case it wasn't obvious, that was meant to be a joke. If you look at my Proust reviews, you'll see I'm another fan.

message 44: by Robert (new)

Robert Methinks your tongue was proximate, nay in, your cheek!

message 45: by Manny (last edited Jul 23, 2011 01:19PM) (new)

Manny Well... I didn't note down its exact position at the time, but that sounds entirely possible :)

message 46: by Robert (new)

Robert ;-)

message 47: by Addison (new)

Addison Something is wrong with you

message 48: by Manny (new)

Manny Addison wrote: "Something is wrong with you"

A great many things, but my opinion of Harry Potter is not one of them. And if you were offended by this review, I'll warn you now that you should certainly not read this.

message 49: by Addison (new)

Addison Okay, sorry, but I still think that isn't fair. It may have been planned out. You don't know.

message 50: by Manny (new)

Manny Well, let's just say that I am very far from being convinced by the evidence offered, which to me looks like a weak post hoc reconstruction.

There is a looooong discussion of the issues in the comment thread to this review...

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