Before I begin, Dewey has set up a Bookworms Blog Carnival. The first theme is Novels. I didn’t participate this month, but I may in subsequent ones.
This is the longest review yet. There’ll be another HP post before Saturday and after this one which will sum up all the things.
I enjoyed this book. I believe it was the mystery of one character’s identity, the exploration and past of another, a book that is less action, more calculating and one full of relationships being focussed and strengthened. This is the quiet before the storm, it’s a lot of exposition and background, and unlike the other books, most of the conflicts presented in this book are not resolved at the end.
This is the second time I’ve reread HBP this year because in May, I got the audiobooks for the series and listened to Fry’s version of this. They are great fun by the way and made me remember how funny parts of this book are. I did laugh out loud a couple of times during this book.
When I was read Spinner’s End for the first time two years ago, I kept thinking how awesome it will be when Alan Rickman acts the scene out. I’ve been a Rickman fan since before HP, and I thought the casting was a good choice. It makes it harder to dislike Snape or find him not attractive as a complex character because Rickman has one of the best voices and is quite attractive. I think I will see HBP in theatres (having not done so for the last three movies) just for the Snape/Rickman scenes. I have always been fascinated by spy behaviour and the multi-faceted nature in which there is duplicity, hidden agendas, and secrets.
This chapter is probably my favourite chapter with Snape so far in the series. It is the reason why I do love him as a character rather than find him interesting. Here we see him at his most brilliant. I was surprised how annoying he has been in my rereadings of the early books because his constant sneering and taunting of Harry have almost been as irritating as Draco’s attempt to annoy Harry. In this chapter, we see Snape in action as a spy and speaking “silkily” and “smoothly” in the most calculating manner that we’ve only glimpsed in earlier books. Stephen Fry’s narration of this scene is wonderful as well. He uses such a calm and careful voice; good acting there. Snape is so sanguine here that his answers fluster Bellatrix, who is one of the most powerful dark witches in the books.
Speaking of Snape (well this whole book is about him really), I have always wondered why Voldemort “trusted” Snape. It is indeed true that Voldemort does not trust any one, but Narcissa believes that Snape is one of Voldemort’s most trusted advisors. Why is that? Is it Snape’s brilliance that he finds valuable? Possibly even their similar past. If so, Voldemort would feel more a kinship — well, not really since he’s Voldemort, but close enough — to the Potions master who just like him is a half-blood, with a muggle father, possibly “weak” pureblood mother, unpleasant childhoods as a result of their parents and their shared Slytherin natures and insatiable knowledge for the Dark Arts. They both even wanted to teach the Defense Against the Dark Arts job which is interesting because I don’t think enjoys Snape all that much. I have a feeling that if Lucius or another Death Eater has answered the questions of the Dark Lord as a spy would not have escaped unscathed. Snape knows how to play the Voldemort. Even if Snape is evil, I don’t think he’s the follower type at all. Even if he was not loyal to Dumbledore, Snape has always seemed to be out for himself at the very least.
In one of my LJ reaction posts to this book, I noted the interesting parallels and similarities betwen the three prominent half-bloods in the series: Voldemort, Severus Snape, and Harry Potter. The latter learns quite a bit about the other two. All of them share similarities. All even have the same hair colour, blood parentage, and Slytherin-like ambition and resourcefulness. All three have looks taken from their father as well. Much is made of Harry’s similarities to the Half-Blood Prince in this book; he finds the book to be a friend. The book like its original owner is not whom it appears to be. Well, like everything in this series. All the Defense the Dark Arts Professors have secrets or hidden agendas to some degree.
“The Beast and Co.”
One of the things I liked most and found funny about this book is that while OotP was more angry, isolated sides of being a teenager, this one is about the silly, gossipy and romantic aspect. Everyone is flirting or snogging with each other. Harry has a euphemistic desire for Ginny. Ron and Hermione are worse than ever in terms of making each other jealous. Harry is finally coming into his own in terms of being a hero and being the most popular boy in school. He’s athletic and faced the most evil Dark Wizard several times. He’s more popular than his father ever was, but true to his character, Harry remains oblivious to his attractiveness and appeal.
I must say that on my first rereading of this book, I was reminded of my love for Hermione. I think that fandom has really skewed her. In many ways, she’s been of the most deviatated of characters from canon because her characterization is pretty solid in the latter. I tend to dislike the portrayals written about her in fanon because her character seems OOC often.
Finally a story where Dumbledore features prominently in Harry’s life. Up until this point, Albus has been a mysterious figure in the books. I’ve always had a soft spot for a man who likes muggle candy, music, and knitting patterns. He gets some good one liners, and he’s just a very wise, powerful, and sweet wizard really. If he turns out to be the true ebil wizard of the books: ah well.
This exchange between Scrimogeur and Harry made me realize some things about Harry:
“Dumbledore’s man through and through, aren’t you Potter?”
“Yes, I am. Glad we straightened that out”
I thought, “Harry’s all grown up,” He was very defiant throughout the whole meeting, mature and calm. He’s more determined and sure of himself, and I could not find it not attractive. Frankly, Harry came off a tad hot in this exchange. No wonder he has fangirls in this book.
The scene in the cave was wrenching, but I was a total sucker for Dumbledore’s “I am not worried, Harry. I am with you.”
I’m a softie, didn’t you know?
This book just reaffirmed my desire for the series to finish and for it all to end finally. I was a bit apprehensive, but I’m ready for it. I was ready for it when I read this book for the first time. Maybe that’s why I like HBP so much; it’s the first part of the end, and I’m in suspense to see how it all gets resolved.