I’m back with another book review and I’m picking up where I left off in the Harry Potter series. Today’s review is for the penultimate book, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling!
I first read the Harry Potter books as a teenager, into early adulthood. I wanted to see how reading the books again from a more mature perspective affected the overall experience. Obviously, I hoped to enjoy them just as much second time, and I did!
If you want to catch up with my reviews of the earlier books in the series, you can find links to those posts below.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Now, let’s get stuck in to my review of the next book!
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince – J. K. Rowling
Audience: Young Adult
Publication Date: 16 Jul 2005
It is the middle of the summer, but there is an unseasonal mist pressing against the windowpanes. Harry Potter is waiting nervously in his bedroom at the Dursleys’ house in Privet Drive for a visit from Professor Dumbledore himself. One of the last times he saw the Headmaster was in a fierce one-to-one duel with Lord Voldemort, and Harry can’t quite believe that Professor Dumbledore will actually appear at the Dursleys’ of all places. Why is the Professor coming to visit him now? What is it that cannot wait until Harry returns to Hogwarts in a few weeks’ time? Harry’s sixth year at Hogwarts has already got off to an unusual start, as the worlds of Muggle and magic start to intertwine…
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is the book in the series from where I would suggest the series transitions from children’s to young adult. Technically, I think the books are classified as young adult, however, the previous books in the series are definitely readable by children to young teens. The themes in it are generally more mature, and as the storyline takes a more sinister turn, there are characters and events that take place that I wouldn’t recommend to a younger teenager. I read this book at around the mid to late teenage. I wouldn’t have read it any sooner.
In a way, I think the formatting and the length of the previous book in the series helps with the timing of picking this up. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is a very large book. Whilst not as dark as this one, the length and the political machinations within require a bit more thought and concentration in the reading of it. As a result, I think naturally readers will progress with the series at a more mature age.
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows are by far my favourite books in the series. I enjoy how some of the very early plot threads (which are largely unknown at the time) start to come together and make sense at last. Others are resolved or at least explained in full. The magic involved has a degree of complication that the earlier books lack, and I really enjoyed exploring that aspect. It almost feels as if we have graduated with the characters in mastering the basics to be able to take on the more complex.
As with all of the Harry Potter books in the series, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince remains easy to read. There are lots of webs and elements of the storyline in which there is complexity, but the writing style is kept simple. This works as it doesn’t detract from the storyline as the main focus.
The pacing of the book is perfect to the events that are taking place. Whereas in previous books, we have had the structure of Harry spending summer with the Dursley’s current followed by the school year. That is switched up a little bit in this book. Instead, we are thrown into the action quite quickly. This previous structure was familiar, but a little bit formulaic and repetitive if I had to make one criticism. I was glad to see things pan out a little differently in this book.
The character pool in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is thinned a little in comparison to the previous book. However, there are a lot more players on the board compared to the opening books in the series. By now, a lot of them are old friends. Readers of fantasy won’t struggle with this at all. I wouldn’t even say I struggled with this as a late teenager. If there was any book I had difficulty with following what was going on, it was the previous book. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince reins it back in to a manageable level.
At this stage of the series, we have a wide range of characters that we love, and those we hate in equal measure. In a book and series like this, you need the broad spectrum of characters; J. K. Rowling does not disappoint in providing these. The events in this book line us up for the final showdown. The lines are drawn. Good and evil will come together to do battle, and by the end of the book, we know who is on which side.
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is an exciting read. It was satisfying to see some of the opening plotlines start to come towards a resolution. I also enjoyed the dark side of the narrative and exploring the dark side of magic that we get to in this book, as well as the last.
Have you read any books from the Harry Potter series? Have you re-read it? Let me know in the comments.