The penultimate book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, is alive and kicking. It is written better than the last one, Order of the Phoenix, and has more adventure, humour and romance. Like all her books, and following the saying 'Art lies in concealing art,' J. K. Rowling's latest effort stops being a work of fiction, but grips us with strong fangs and does not allow us to put it down till the last word, when we have to keep it down with a sigh. Of satisfaction, and a pang of sadness, realizing that we will have to wait for ages till we can find out what happens next.
I read the book at a stretch, having waited for so long to sink my teeth in it. And it was worth the wait. And the price!
This book takes the adventure of the boy wizard further, making him a teen wizard now, and he displays more mature qualities. He has lost the anger and resentment he had in 'Phoenix,' and does what he considers is his duty.
This is the last book that will be based on Hogwarts, the school of magic, as Harry is in his senior year, and might not come back to the school. This book gives a lot of backstory, especially about Lord Voldemort, and traces the growth of his power and evilness.
An important character who has been one of the 'fixtures', or so we thought, dies, and we have to imagine a magical world without his presence, in the last book.
An interesting thing that is brought forth by the sixth book is that nothing is certain. We are used to certain things in the series: Harry being bullied by his foster family, the visit to Diagon Alley, Hogwarts Express, Quidditch matches, the sorting, Snape's bullying…
In the last book, we got less of Hogwarts in the start, and then we had to endure a different headmaster, or headmistress, instead of Dumbledore, going to show that nowhere is safe. This is taken further in 'The Half Blood Prince,' and increases the sense of adventure. Adventure, after all, is the exploration of the unknown.
Rowling has maintained a steady pace of narration, which probably contributes to the book's 'unputdownability.' There is a lot of humour, as usual. This, combined with suspense and drama, makes it an unforgettable read.
The following is my attempt to analyse Rowling's page captivating abilities:
One interesting theory I read explaining the unputdownability, or one
reason for the feeling of adventure you get is due to the hero & co
not staying in one place; quick changes of venue. Look at the trip
with Hagrid in the P's Stone: home, zoo, home, hotel, sea shack,
boat, train, London, leaky Cauldron, Diagon Alley, Gringotts,
underground, various shops in Diagon Alley, Leaky Cauldron,
Paddington, Home. During this crazy trip, which is like going through
rides of a mad carnival, Hagrid gives Harry (and us) what is actually
a clever sales pitch for Hogwarts, even managing to mention
Quidditch. What actually happened was our orientation training.
Hagrid's the Keeper of the Keys, and he's the character who opens
most of the locks of the wizard world, converting us from Muggle to
Wizard or Witch.
Second theory: An ancient literary device is the usage of portals and
codes to take the reader deeper and deeper into a fantasy world. Lure
the reader by letting him in on all the secrets, seal the pact of
dangerous friendship and stick the book to his hands with magic gum.
Like the Leaky Cauldron bricks and Diagon Alley,
9 & 3/4 platform, train to Hogwarts,
portal paintings, trapdoors, chess game...
One literary trick I noticed in the books was Rowling's excessive use of alliteration. Read the following for proof:
flat on his back in a flowerbed outside number four.
he had hidden himself behind a large hydrangea bush...
vanished from view before Uncle Vernon's voice...
smoking on street corners and throwing stones at passing cars
Eyes streaming, he swayed, trying to focus on the street to spot the
source of the noise, but he had barely staggered upright...
resisteo tie his trunk to his broomstick and set off
hiding in flowerbeds in the hope of hearing something
about Cedric he had unsettling dreams about long dark corridors, all
finishing in dead ends and locked doors,
The streetlamps from the surrounding roads were casting a
misty glow strong enough to silhouette a group of people
All the examples were from the first seven pages of Order of the Phoenix.
Please don't mind me analysing good work like some patronising
mugwump; I'm doing it like some kid learning to write stories...
I have taken care not to spoil your reading pleasure by revealing the secrets of the book; I only want to whet your appetite! Enjoy the book!