Book Review: Harry Potter misses sixth step

By Kyle Francis

Since the series debut in 1998, Harry Potter has managed to protect a magic rock from an evil wizard, fight a big snake, prove the innocence of his godfather, save a Hippogriff, watch a friend die at the hands of the same evil wizard, narrowly escape with his own life on several occasions, dispel rumours he was crazy by sicking a pack of centaurs on an old woman, watch his godfather die, play a lot of Quidditch and generally save the world from certain doom time and again. After all of this, it’s pretty easy to say “holy shit, give the kid a break.”

No one was actually expecting him to get one, but this is exactly what happens in his latest adventure Harry Potter The Half-Blood Prince. Here, J.K Rowling has decided to give Harry a book off from the thrilling heroics, opting instead to spend 600 pages tying up loose ends and setting up the plot of for the seventh (and final) book of the series. While a 600 page exposition has certainly set the finale up to rock, The Half Blood Prince ends up feeling like a sacrifice to the gods of the overarching story rather than a self-contained adventure.

The plot is impossible to summarize because nothing happens. There’s some nice development of principal characters, a lot of back-story filled in and some riveting action sequences, but the only significant plot development happens within the first and last 50 pages of the book. While it’s nice to have all the little details filled in, it’s hard not to think Rowling could have worked them around a story as grand and gripping as her first five.

Despite its non-existent plot, The Half Blood Prince manages to keep the reader’s interest up until the very last page. Fans of the series will giggle with delight as Rowling reveals mysteries only hinted at in the previous books, but sag with disappointment as they reach the last page and realize that they didn’t really read a Harry Potter novel so much as a collection of short stories that just so happened to take place in the same continuity as the previous tales. As long as the seventh book is as completely mind blowing as the sixth has set it up to be, fans should be able to forgive Rowling for dropping the ball this time. Six out of seven still isn’t bad.


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