Sunday, July 24, 2005

Half A Review

S P O I L E R A L E R T !
Read this only AFTER reading the book.


Now that JK Rowling is financially secure for the rest of her life thanks to Harry Potter, I suspect she’s now concentrating on securing her critical reputation as a writer.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the sixth book in a seven-part series, but it actually reads like one very long set-up for the last chapter—where Harry and Voldemort finally face off. This is the long-awaited match-up, and I think Rowling is making sure not to leave any stone unturned for the climax. Such massive anticipation could stress out even the most seasoned of authors; it is to her credit that HPATHBP doesn’t ooze flop-sweat. Instead, she quite confidently sets things in motion. Which isn’t to say that the sixth book is full of action; on the contrary, nothing much happens. Most of the “action” happens in flashbacks.

In HPATHBP Rowling finally attempts to address two of the major weaknesses in the Harry Potter series: Voldemort and Prof. Dumbledor. While most of her characters are real and three-dimensional, the chief villain of the series has always been a flat character. In the sixth book Voldemort’s past comes to life, giving us clues as to what makes him tick, and more importantly, how he’ll be defeated.

Rowling also addresses the structural and thematic problem of Dumbledor. The Hogwarts headmaster has always acted as the deus ex machine of the series: Need to turn back time? He’ll provide the means. Got bitten by a huge snake? His phoenix will come to the rescue. With him around to save the day, Harry’s not really in any real danger from Voldemort. By taking him out of the equation, she ups the stakes between Harry and Voldemort.

But wait, you might say. Are we really sure that Dumbledor is out for good? Time Magazine, in a sidebar, actually points out precedents from The Chronicles of Naria and Lord of the Rings of beloved characters coming back from the dead; I’m actually partial to Obi Wan Kenobi myself. But one need not look far for precedents; in fact, Voldemort himself is the prime example of characters cheating death. So while Dumbledor took a hit, don’t be surprised to see him coming back in one form or another in book seven. But maybe Rowling will limit the way in which he’ll help Harry.

Meanwhile, the sixth book is full of character development, unexpected twists and surprises galore. As a writer Rowling still needs to work on writing fight scenes. But by now she’s an expert on red herrings and shocking revelations. Where does Snape exactly stand? Does Neville play a major role at all? And don’t count out the two house elves in the story—they may yet provide unexpected help in the final book.

So enjoy the sixth book. Because the next wait will be the last time you’ll wait in anticipation for Harry, Hermione and Ron. Enjoy it while you can.

4 Comments:

Blogger complicated dude said...

i somehow anticipated that dumbledore will be killed in the story but not in the sixth book :(

i definitely loathe snape after reading the half-blood prince but i must admit that he's becoming one of the most interesting characters jk had built up since the sorcerer's stone.

i can't wait for the final book, and had to prevent myself from visiting various fan sites which are swarming with speculations, predictions and theories as to what the book seven will be.

i had one theory, though. that harry's scar is one of voldy's horcruxes. well, one of my weird ideas.

but knowing jk, the possibilities are endless...Ü

12:01 PM  
Blogger McVie said...

My personal theory is that Snape "killed" Dumbledore as part of the latter's plan. Why would Dumbledore make sure that Harry sees the murder being done? It makes Snape the perfect mole in Voldemort's camp.

Besides, re-read the "murder" scene. Dumbledore may actually be pleading for Snape to make sure he pushes thru with killing him, and Snape's facial expression may not be loathing FOR Dumbledore but a loathing for what he's being asked to do.

12:07 PM  
Blogger complicated dude said...

either that or snape had no choice but to kill prof. d'dore. he consented to the unbreakable vow, promising to take over malfoy's job (w/c hapenned to be killing d'dore) in the event that malfoy will certain to fail. and when malfoy was having a hard time killing the headmaster, snape had to act or else it will be the his death had he not fulfill the promise/pact/vow he made with narcissa.

6:53 PM  
Blogger McVie said...

The thing is, I suspect Snape's consenting to the unbreakable vow--I believe that Snape making the vow is part of the "grand plan" (how very conspiracy theory!) of Dumbledore.

Oh well, these are all speculations. Which speaks of JK Rowling's ability to come up with a series that manages to grip the imaginations of millions worldwide.

Book seven, here we come. :-)

11:25 AM  

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