Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the sixth and penultimate novel in the Harry Potter series, written by British author J. K. Rowling. Set during protagonist Harry Potter’s sixth year at Hogwarts, the novel explores the past of Harry’s nemesis, Lord Voldemort, and Harry’s preparations for the final battle against Voldemort alongside his headmaster and mentor Albus Dumbledore.
The book was published in the United Kingdom by Bloomsbury and in the United States by Scholastic on 16 July 2005, as well as in several other countries. It sold nine million copies in the first 24 hours after its release, a record at the time which was eventually broken by its sequel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. There were many controversies before and after it was published, including the right to read the copies delivered prior to the release date in Canada. Reception to the novel was generally positive and it won several awards and honours, including the 2006 British Book of the Year award.
Reviewers noted that the book took on a darker tone than its predecessors, though it did contain some humour. Some considered the main themes to be love and death, and trust and redemption. The character development of Harry and several other teenage characters was also remarked upon.
The film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was released 15 July 2009 by Warner Bros.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was met with positive reviews. Liesl Schillinger of The New York Times praised the novel’s various themes and suspenseful ending. However, she considered Rowling’s gift “not so much for language as for characterisation and plotting”. Kirkus Reviews said it “will leave readers pleased, amused, excited, scared, infuriated, delighted, sad, surprised, thoughtful and likely wondering where Voldemort has got to, since he appears only in flashbacks”. They considered Rowling’s “wry wit” to turn into “outright merriment”, but called the climax “tragic, but not uncomfortably shocking”. Yvonne Zipp of The Christian Science Monitor praised the way Rowling evolved Harry into a teenager and how the plot threads found as far back as Chamber of Secrets came into play. On the other hand, she noted that it “gets a little exposition-heavy in spots” and older readers may have seen the ending coming.
The long-awaited, eagerly anticipated, arguably over-hyped Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has arrived, and the question on the minds of kids, adults, fans, and skeptics alike is, “Is it worth the hype?” The answer, luckily, is simple: yep. A magnificent spectacle more than worth the price of admission, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince will blow you away. However, given that so much has gone into protecting the secrets of the book (including armored trucks and injunctions), don’t expect any spoilers in this review. It’s much more fun not knowing what’s coming–and in the case of Rowling’s delicious sixth book, you don’t want to know. Just sit tight, despite the earth-shattering revelations that will have your head in your hands as you hope the words will rearrange themselves into a different story. But take one warning to heart: do not open Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince until you have first found a secluded spot, safe from curious eyes, where you can tuck in for a good long read. Because once you start, you won’t stop until you reach the very last page.
A darker book than any in the series thus far with a level of sophistication belying its genre, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince moves the series into murkier waters and marks the arrival of Rowling onto the adult literary scene. While she has long been praised for her cleverness and wit, the strength of Book 6 lies in her subtle development of key characters, as well as her carefully nuanced depiction of a community at war. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, no one and nothing is safe, including preconceived notions of good and evil and of right and wrong. With each book in her increasingly remarkable series, fans have nervously watched J.K. Rowling raise the stakes; gone are the simple delights of butterbeer and enchanted candy, and days when the worst ailment could be cured by a bite of chocolate. A series that began as a colorful lark full of magic and discovery has become a dark and deadly war zone. But this should not come as a shock to loyal readers. Rowling readied fans with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by killing off popular characters and engaging the young students in battle. Still, there is an unexpected bleakness from the start of Book 6 that casts a mean shadow over Quidditch games, silly flirtations, and mountains of homework. Ready or not, the tremendous ending of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince will leave stunned fans wondering what great and terrible events await in Book 7 if this sinister darkness is meant to light the way. –Daphne Durham