J.G. Keely's Reviews > Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
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's review
Aug 16, 07

bookshelves: contemporary-fiction, fantasy, novel, reviewed, contemporary-fantasy, uk-and-ireland
Read in July, 2005

After the loss of the (admittedly: occasionally interminable) dark psychological tone of the last book, this one falls into a very recognizable 'plot coupon' pattern, which should be familiar to anyone who played D&D or watched Dragonball (we were all 11 once, right?). Of course, constructing the finale around such a simple and direct concept for the ending of the conflict is easy for the author. However, it is formulaic and predictable for the reader, and robs us of actually seeing a physical and intellectual struggle between foes. Of course, this does not mean that they do not strive against one another, but by providing the separation of such a plot device, relocates the entire point-of-conflict to an arbitrary, external point. Thermal exhaust port, indeed.

For more on such plot-specific concepts, please enjoy this article: http://www.ansible.co.uk/Ansible/plot....

This book was mainly built to set up the finale, and feels in many ways to be less of a complete story than a 'second in a trilogy', without a real point and ending of its own, and reliant on the final chapter to decide its importance.

This is also the book with the greatest adherence to actually surprising the audience with a main character death. At least, it would be, if it weren't unfortunately easy to match the emotional directives given to the characters by the author and recognize that what the author wants us to think shows us precisely what will happen. Misdirection is an art, but it should not have to be a martial one.

Long story short, I unfortunately guessed the 'twist' and spent the greater part of this book watching the author try to throw red herrings in my path. A bit disappointing, but still a fairly interesting and exciting tale. The historical and character exploration provide some of the strongest elements in any of her books. It does not quite reach the heights in tone, emotion, or motivation of the last book, but she never does reach that height again.

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Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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Jennifer I'd be very interested to know what tipped you off! I've never been a very alert reader and these things always take me by surprise. I tend to just sit back and go along for whatever ride the author takes me.

J.G. Keely Well, it was two things, really.

(view spoiler)

So that was basically my thought process as I was reading, and in this case, the hunch turned out to be right.

Bookworm Did you read this book right after its publication? Because otherwise, the fact that Dumbledore dies become very common knowledge, unless the HP mania was not strong enough in your area to reach you.

I read all the books in one go a while before the publication of Deathly Hallows, and by then, I already knew a lot of the major plot points (unfortunately).

J.G. Keely Yeah, my girlfriend at the time got it at one of the bookstore chains the night it came out. She read it that day and I read it the next day.

J.G. Keely Yeah, things are really starting to get bloated. Perhaps it's related to all the popular TV miniseries like LOST or Battlestar Galactica, where you are telling these extremely long stories that take days and weeks to watch.

There's also the fact that the series you mention are based on books, and when an author starts to get famous, editing usually goes out the window, and every book is twice the size of the last one, meaning that you can't even fit the final volume into one movie.

Justin But could the bloating come from people wanting to go back to the concept of having long stories, like the old serials of the bygone years, or even Doctor Who of the 60s-80s? I find that it gives the story more room to grow, if it doesn't run away like "Wheel of Time" (though I will also admit that it is hard to not run away when storytelling, especially with not having that experience in our generation).

J.G. Keely Yeah, it isn't that a serial can't be good, of course--it's just that length for it's own sake isn't a great thing. When a story runs on because of a wealth of richness, it's great. When it runs on because of a lack of editing, that's something else.

message 8: by Jo (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jo I have to say quite like your review. I'm almost done with this book. I already knew the twist because of all the talk and I saw parts of the movie. Anyway, your review seemed to me (having just finished a course on English composition) like a college paper, but not in a bad way. I find on here that when writing reviews, people either get too personal Example... the relationship between so and so reminded me of my relationship with my boyfriend. Who cares? This is a book review, not a blog post. OR people act super professional like they think they're writing a review that's actually to be printed on the book. Example... Simply astonishing; (authors name) does it again with their blah blah blah writing sense. I actually laugh at those. Or lastly they just say stuff like this book sucked without really writing in a calm manner why they think so. So this was a breath if fresh air. So now that I've written a novel... Bye!

message 9: by Jo (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jo Oh and I forgot. People also will basically tell the plot, like you sometimes see on books as well. It's like I don't want to know what the book is about, I can read that on the back of the book, what did you actually think of it?!

J.G. Keely Yeah, I also find it frustrating how most reviews are just people giving plot summaries, then saying "I liked it" or "I didn't like it'--or they try to sound like a book reviewer from a magazine and pull out all the bad cliches without actually saying anything about the book. I try hard not to do that, myself. Thanks for the comment.

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