Chuck's travels

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Japan - Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - Review

Though this isn't strictly a Japan mail, since I read the book while I am here, this post goes into this blog. Anyway, I don't have a blog for book reviews and toilets (I am thinking of reviewing the Japanese toilet next) ... just make do, ok?

REVIEW - Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

The sixth book in the Harry Potter series leaves me with mixed feelings. Though the story is promising and kept me interested till the end, what followed was a sense of being shortchanged. Surely this cannot be it, I said to myself, once the Half Blood prince was revealed and the important character killed. This was too simple, too obvious and not worthy of being in the sixth book out of a series of seven. Was the wise Dumbledore such a simpleton or does this go further in book seven? Personally, I believe the villain of book six would be one of the heroes of book seven else I would just have to change my views of Rowling being a very fine story teller. In that sense, the killing off of the character in book six would be more like a sacrifice towards the bigger good of the wizarding world than a betrayal as it is portrayed in book six. I hope so!

Once the Harry Potter series is completed, Rowling would be advised not to venture into the realm of romance novels for her future writing. Her efforts at introducing romance into the series in terms of the "raging hormones" of the growing-up Potter gang are highly unconvincing. Little Ginny Weasley comes off as a highly sex-charged hussy and Ron Weasley is a complete chump as the boy-toy he tries to be. Lavender Brown is probably the silliest character in this book and if Ron hadn't dumped her before the book ended, I might have "crucio"ed him myself [Crucio, or the Cruciatus Curse, is one of the Unforgivable Curses that witches and wizards must not use. It causes intolerable pain that slowly drives its victim insane. It is punishable by a lifetime sentence in Azkaban, the wizard prison]. Harry himself is terribly confused about the direction of his hormonal act-up and after a few thousand "I can ... no, I can't" feelings from him, his flirtation with Cho Chang in Book 5 starts looking like a masterpiece of romance fiction. Finally on the romance front, doesn't anyone else think his "I can't ... I have things to do" chant at the end of the story is highly influenced by the Spiderman-1 ending?

The story is built up nicely in the book and I enjoyed the interactions between Dumbledore and Harry as they try to piece together the past of Lord Voldemort in the hope it can lead to clues to his destruction in the future. However, I don't know why this was referred in the book as if Dumbledore was giving him private lessons. There was no teaching involved and the interaction was more of brother-in-arms than a master-pupil relationship. Also bringing a glimmer of interest as the term at Hogwarts starts is Snape getting his much coveted "Defense against the Dark Arts" post to teach. I kept waiting for something to develop on this line but at the end of the book, I am still waiting. Snape's interest in the post has been highlighted since book 1 and once he got it, he contributes absolutely nothing to build up that storyline. The feeling I got after the book finished was that Rowling could have delved much more into these aspect which actually contribute to the story, than waste print on "who snogged who". What a terrible word - snog! One more reason for Rowling not to enter the world of romance book-writing else the writers of Mills & Boons might just take to fantasy fiction for gaining revenge.

The star of the book was undoubtedly the Half Blood Prince, who though revealed only in the end pages, gives Harry company for most of the book. In the end, I was surprised at the identity of the Half Blood Prince because he sounded like a very interesting character all through the book. He never sounds dangerous whereas the half blood prince as revealed in the end of the book always struck me as a very dangerous and mysterious character, but never interesting.

Finally, to sump up, I will just term it as a very interesting book which doesn't quite satisfy one when it finishes. Though the Harry Potter books are part of a series, where the hero and villain will undoubtedly face off in book seven, each previous Potter book had its own story which ended reasonably with that book itself. Maybe now Rowling is confused as to what to put in book six and what to put in book seven, as book six leaves too many questions un-answered to give the reader a sense of satisfaction generally gained by reading a good book. Book seven will undoubtedly have to be a very big book if Rowling has to finish off the series as gracefully as she began it. A small book or even one the size of this one might give the impression of an author in haste, confusion or both.


The Chuckster


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