Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Half Blood Review

That sounds like a good name for a lit zine actually. Anyways, I've finished Book Six, or Harry Potter & The Half Blood Prince, and here are my thoughts:

SPOILERS

This is the best book in the series since Prisoner of Azkaban, no contest. It's much more tighter, much more focused and determined than the last book, Order of the Phoenix, but still lightly edited in places. It finally has the sense of something happening, Snape finally gets the DA job, Harry finally notices Ginny, and we finally learn enough about Voldemort to make him more than the obligatory boogey man. But in the end, you're left wondering if anything did happen; the ending is very emotional, the most dramatic thus far, but one gets the sense that all is not what it seems, and that there may be a way out for Dumbledore, and for his murderer, Snape.

Underneath all the mythic stuff there are the trappings of romance novels (does Ron love Hermonie? Does Harry like Ginny, or Luna?) that reinforce the notion that this is a serial, a soap, and in the end, it betrays the limits of the books. This may be unavoidable. Anyone writing in this mode of storytelling sooner or later has to face the realty that structure is the key; the series gets progressively darker, but like with Revenge of the Sith, as dark as it gets, the structure simply can't support the dramatic grandeur we seek in great mythography. As much as I was rooting for Harry and Ginny (no shame!) you kind of want them to burst out of the rigorous form Rowling has imposed on the books (nasty Durselys, reprieve at Weasleys, buy books, attend class, new DA teacher, spooky new plot device, tidbit about past, attend class, Hogsmeade, holidays, attend class, DA teacher is a snake) and do something, anything, else.

And that's what Rowling apparently intends to do in the seventh and last book. It's clear what the structure will be (an adventure outside Hogwarts), so maybe for the finale, she'll shake things up a bit.

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