Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Rowling) - Book Reviews

Book Reviews
These newest 652 pages—far darker than those that preceded them—are leavened with humor, romance and snappy dialogue, and freighted with secrets, deepening bonds, betrayals and brutal lessons, many of them coming from the sinister, Harry-hating Severus Snape, master of the dark arts. Up to now, Harry, while overcoming any number of harrowing trials, has managed to retain a trusting nature; but at 16, worsening circumstances force him to realize that even though he regards himself as ''Dumbledore's man through and through,'' he must also be his own man.
Liesl Schillinger - New York Times Book Review

The darkest and most unsettling installment yet.... It is a novel that pulls together dozens of plot strands from previous volumes, underscoring how cleverly and carefully J. K. Rowling has assembled this giant jigsaw puzzle of an epic.... The achievement of the Potter books is the same as that of the great classics of children's literature, from the Oz novels to The Lord of the Rings: the creation of a richly imagined and utterly singular world, as detailed, as improbable and as mortal as our own.
Michiko Kakutani - New York Times

The journey from child to adult is tough enough for ordinary mortals, but the trip has been unusually hazardous for the world-famous wizard-in-training. Rowling shepherds her hero's arduous trek to maturity with her customary grace and good humor, though she has infused her story with more bone-cracking and blood-spattering than may be tolerable for many of the young readers who have followed Harry's adventures so far.
Jabari Asim - Washington Post

Our hero, Harry, now 16, battles ever-more-complex evil as Lord Voldemort's followers begin to wreak havoc even in the Muggle (non-wizarding) world. Rowling writes with increasing depth and nuance, her characters gaining maturity and dimension with each book. As Harry and Professor Dumbledore join forces to unlock the secrets of Voldemort's dark heart, their discoveries tie up loose ends from previous installments while (vexingly) unraveling others to be resolved in the seventh, and final, installment. The dark tone, snogging (kissing), and a shocker of an ending make this a better choice for older readers.
Child Magazine

Your library already owns multiple copies of this blockbuster fantasy adventure, of course, but just in case you haven't read it yet, this tells of heroic Harry's sixth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He is now 16, and romance is in the air along with hefty helpings of humor, horror, and Rowling's delightfully inventive fantasy details (wouldn't you like a potion that confers luck?). Headmaster Dumbledore teaches Harry about the background of Harry's mortal enemy, Lord Voldemort, so that together they can try to defeat him. Old adversaries Draco Malfoy and Professor Snape play important roles, as do Harry's faithful friends Ron and Hermione, and a particularly beloved character meets a nasty end. Not as gripping as the last volume, but the action-packed final chapters help make up for a slow start. (Ages 12 to adult.)

(Gr. 5 & Up) Opening just a few weeks after the previous book left off, the penultimate entry in the series is, as the author foretold, the darkest and most unsettling yet. The deeds of Voldemort's Death Eaters are spreading even to the Muggle world, which is enshrouded in a mist caused by Dementors draining hope and happiness. Harry, turning 16, leaves for Hogwarts with the promise of private lessons with Dumbledore. No longer a fearful boy living under the stairs, he is clearly a leader and increasingly isolated as rumors spread that he is the "Chosen One," the only individual capable of defeating Voldemort. Two attempts on students' lives, Harry's conviction that Draco Malfoy has become a Death Eater, and Snape's usual slimy behavior add to the increasing tension. Yet through it all, Harry and his friends are typical teens, sharing homework and messy rooms, rushing to classes and sports practices, and flirting. Ron and Hermione realize their attraction, as do Harry and Ginny. Dozens of plot strands are pulled together as the author positions Harry for the final book. Much information is cleverly conveyed through Dumbledore's use of a Pensieve, a device that allows bottled memories to be shared by Harry and his beloved professor as they apparate to various locations that help explain Voldemort's past. The ending is heart wrenching. Once again, Rowling capably blends literature, mythology, folklore, and religion into a delectable stew. This sixth book may be darker and more difficult, but Potter fans will devour it and begin the long and bittersweet wait for the final installment. —Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME
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