Harry's Latest Adventure

Here are my thoughts on the new Harry Potter book.

Whew, I haven't posted in a while! That's what I get for being busy.

I recently finished the new Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It came in the mail on Friday and I finished it Sunday night. What do you think I did that weekend?

I'm not going to talk about the story too much, because it's too easy to spoil the book. All in all, I really liked it. This is the sixth (and second last) book in the series. Rowling clearly shows her ability to tell a familiar yet different tale. The book is similarly cyclical as all the others. The story begins just before the school year, runs through the year and ends as the school closes for another year. There is the requisite covering of the Dursleys and the visit to the Weasleys.

The muggle world is similarly familiar yet different from that of our own. I always feel that it is an alternate 50s take on Britain. It is commonly thought of as our world, but I don't think that was ever the intent. Well, at least the world of the Dursleys isn't our world, I think.

Harry is older now and is dealing with more grown-up magic and grown-up problems. There is clearly a darkening of the tale going on, as if the storm clouds are gathering for the final battle in the last book. (Which they are, of course.)

One note of interest is that the first chapter tells the story through the eyes of the muggle Prime Minister. This is an unusual technique for Rowling, and she has only used it once before, as far as I can tell: at the beginning of the first book when the story is told through the eyes and feelings of Vernon Dursley. The rest of the text in all the books is told from the point of view of either Harry or the Narrator. I'm not sure if there is any significance of returning to this technique, but I will have to think about it.

My only real gripes are Harry's love interest and the two-dimensionalness of the secondary characters. Harry gets a new love interest, but I don't really like the way it was handled. It seemed more like a plot device rather than part of the story. Rowling can write better than that. Also, the secondary characters were too two-dimenstional. I expected the characters to fill out as Harry grew older (and began to see them more as adults). Sadly this doesn't seem to be the case. Perhaps the child readers won't notice. They are the target audience after all, so I guess they are what matters.

Now I will have to wait quite some time for the last Harry book. I'm looking forward to it. Despite the huge Harry marketing behemoth that now exists, there is still a charm in the stories that appeals.