Thursday, February 12, 2015

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (HP#6) by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter, #6)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (HP #6)
by J.K. Rowling

Goodreads Link:

Recommended to Stacy by: Everyone

Recommended for: Harry Potter fans, lovers of magical whimsy and detailed backstories

Read from January 28 to February 11, 2015 — I own a copy, read count: 1

Confession Time: I have never read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling before now. I know: it's shameful. But let me explain. I first read J.K Rowling's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in 2000 when I was taking a Children's Literature class at University. It was first released in 1997, right after I graduated high school (yes, I just dated myself - ugh!), but somehow I never found it. When I read it for the first time in 2000, I really liked the first installment, so I read part 2, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. But, then, University and life got in the way, and I never got around to reading any of the other installments (for shame! I know). Since then, all of the movies have been released, and I watched the first three because, by then I had read the third book. After that, I refused to watch the next movies until I had read the books because I knew the books would be so rich and detailed. So I read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and watched the movie. But then more life and raising three children got in the way. Then my kids started watching the Harry Potter marathon one year on ABC Family, and we, as a family, watched all 8 movies over one Thanksgiving weekend. And I ruined all of the surprises for myself.
Professor McGonagall does NOT approve!
I am a huge fan of the series, but I feel like a complete fraud because I have never read the 6th or 7th installment, until now! It's embarrassing. I mean I am the girl who owns a remote control wand, for crying out loud, and yet, I haven't even read the last two books. It was pathetic, and I am determined to rectify the situation. Therefore, I FINALLY read book 6, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

And I absolutely LOVED it, as was to be expected. But I hated myself the whole time because I couldn't love it as it deserved to be loved because I already knew the big parts. The sixth movie is by far my favorite of the eight. I love the film score, and the Harry/Ginny relationship, and the pensieve, and the back story of Voldermort - back stories are always my favorite part of any book: they make the characters feel so much more realistic. And I knew the book would give even more information, but honestly, I never could have expected the details Rowling provides - things make SO MUCH MORE SENSE now!!! And while I know that movies must make changes to the story in order to make it manageable to film, I was DOWNRIGHT shocked at some of the monumental alterations that were made for this sixth installment: whole characters were left out of the movie, which I know has to happen due to casting costs, and all that, but some of the omitted characters were pretty important, like Tonks, for example, or the scene when Tom Riddle learns of the Hufflepuff cup and Slytherin locket. And the Cave & Astronomy Tower scenes were drastically different from the book to the movie. I mean, sure, the basic story line was there, but there were key elements that were left out that made the book so much more fascinating.

But my biggest regret of all was Dumbledore's death. 
I guess this is technically a spoiler, but seriously, who doesn't know that he died by now? The book was released in 2006 and the movie in 2009, so if you don't know that Dumbledore dies, I am impressed with your naivety! But anyway, I was so sad reading Dumbledore's death and funeral scenes, but not for the reason that most readers should be sad. I should have been bawling uncontrollably due to the downright SHOCK of losing such a monumentally important character. I loved Dumbledore (who doesn't?). I should have been sobbing over his loss, but honestly I couldn't cry because I ALREADY RUINED THE SURPRISE BY WATCHING THE BLOODY MOVIE FIRST!!! Damn me! Why did I do that? The true reason that I was sad reading this part was because I wasn't reading it for the first time. I felt sad that I wasn't sobbing uncontrollably because I SO WANTED TO BE, but I couldn't because I already knew it was going to happen. And even though there was so much more detail and pathos in the book version, I just wasn't that heartbroken because I already knew! Arrrrgggg! I hate when I do that to myself. I love the surprise of an initial experience, and I remember gasping, downright gasping aloud, when I watched the death scene in the movie for the first time. I could not believe that it happened that way. But I wish I had had that gasping disbelief while reading instead of watching, but I couldn't because I let myself watch the movie first! To quote Hermoine, "What an idiot!" And I am! Ugh!

And now I am going to start reading book 7, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and I'm already kicking myself and moping around in deep depression for the surprises that won't be :( I have already watched the 7th & 8th movies a dozen times or more. I know them forwards, backwards, inside, and out, like all of the movies. But now I'm going to read the 7th book, and the apathy that I feel since I already know the major plot twists is bumming me out. I know that it will be so much better than the movies: all of the other books were so much better than their movies. But, I am mad at myself for allowing this to happen.

I absolutely adore this series. I wish I had been reading it as it was released so that I could be a true Potterhead with all of the rest of the real fans - the ones who waited up for midnight releases and took the day off school/work to devour the books in one sitting, foregoing food and sleep in order to know what would happen next. I wish I could have been a part of that experience. But live and learn the hard way, I guess. And at least, in another few weeks, after I finish reading book 7, I won't have to hide in shame anymore.

If you haven't started reading this series yet, get on that, immediately. The books are so good: the world she creates, the mythological detail she includes, the characters she develops, all of them are amazing. And I love how she drops clues throughout the entire series that you won't even know until you get to the end. I have re-read the first 4 books a few times now, and every time I read them (and I'm sure it will be the same whenever I re-read books 5, 6, and 7), I always find new clues that she included that I didn't even recognize before. Rowling's ability to weave in clues is by far my most favorite part of the series. It's sheer genius! She is obviously a detailed plotter, who meticulously plans out her books beforehand, and I envy her ability to do this. It's is quite inspiring, to be honest.

I look forward to reading book 7, and then starting again at book 1 and reading them through again, over and over again. I will never tire of reading these wonderful books. I love them dearly! 

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