Beware of Half-Blood Prince spoilers!
All right…overall, I liked it a lot. I thought that the trio’s various romantic escapades were rather lame and out of character (Ron and Lavender? Hermione dating McLaggan to make Ron jealous? Come on!)…but I guess their love lives had been stagnant enough thus far, something was bound to happen. Regardless, I wish that those pages had been dedicated to plot instead.
Ah yes, plot. Although I certainly laughed aloud many times (Mollywobbles, Phlegm, Ron’s half an eyebrow…etc.) as I enjoyed the first several hundred pages, I did feel like very little was happening in comparison to previous books. (Although the first two chapters were excellent.) Then near the end, all of a sudden everything started happening and I didn’t know what to think. I actually gasped many times, which is good :) I was very upset when Harry had to make Dumbledore drink the poison (“That was no health drink, Harry!”—ha ha), and when Snape killed Dumbledore, and when the locket showed that it had all been for naught (though as we know with JKR, nothing is really for naught). That said, now that I’ve calmed down a little, I realize it was quite inevitable; the hero has to ultimately face the villain alone, be forced to act like a man, etc. Oh Harry!
I think the reason I’m not as enthusiastic as I might be is because the book revealed so many more questions than answers. Things that I thought would be answered or at least addressed/fleshed out in this book, but weren’t: (1) Sirius’s two-way mirror from the previous book (2) Lily’s importance—why was Voldemort willing to let her live? (3) The characters Luna, Neville, and Ginny. (P.S. Anyone else think that Wormtail's silver hand means that he's going to kill Lupin?—after all, silver kills werewolves.)
As for the questions introduced by HBP, oh my. Well, we know that JKR always introduces things for a reason, but what, for example, was her reason for introducing the muggle Prime Minister (in the first chapter no less!) and what was the plot importance of Harry’s oh-so-mysterious Half-Blood Prince spell-book?—he did better in Potions, and of course Snape is important, but the textbook itself seemed rather pointless.
Then there is Snape. How did Snape really convince Dumbledore of his innocence (there’s no way I believe Harry’s reason)…And remember how Hagrid overheard Snape and Dumbledore arguing earlier in the book:
"Well—I jus' heard Snape sayin' Dumbledore took too much fer granted an' maybe he—Snape- didn' wan' ter do it anymore—"As such, I'm inclined to think that Dumbledore sacrificed himself for the cause; his death cements Snape's rep as a cold heartless Death Eater—he's now the perfect spy. Dumbledore would never beg for his life to be spared. I think he was begging for Snape to have the courage to Avada Kedavra him. (But then why didn't Dumbledore tell McGonagall? To protect their secret from Occlumency? Hmm…)
"I dunno, Harry, it sounded like Snape was feelin' a bit overworked, tha's all—anyway, Dumbledore told him flat out he'd agreed ter do it an' that was all there was to it. Pretty firm with him."
I think that possibly the most important, most overlooked plot point of HBP was the repercussions of Sirius’s death. Specifically, Harry now owns Grimmauld Place and, more significantly, he is Kreacher’s master. Kreacher and Dobby’s tailing of Malfoy through much of the book had little effect, but we can assume that they’ll continue to follow Malfoy (and, presumably, Snape) after they flee Hogwarts. (Two side-notes: First, don’t house-elves have a special, strong brand of magic? And second, I think Malfoy is going to be redeemed somehow—after all, he didn’t end up killing Dumbledore.)
The other really important thing revealed at the end of the book—though this is much more obvious—is the fact that the locket horcrux was a fake. I’m assuming that R.A.B. (from the note) stands for Regulus Black, Sirius’s younger brother who joined Voldemort’s ranks then was killed when he tried to return to the good side. Right. And remember how when they were cleaning Grimmauld Place (Black residence) in the previous book, they came across a mysterious locket that wouldn’t open? Either that locket is still in the house, which Harry now owns (doubtful), Kreacher stole it, it was thrown away…or Mundungus sold it. Hmm!
(Oh, side note about the horcruxes. So maybe seven is a lucky number or whatever (after all, there are seven Harry Potter books! ha ha), but if I were an evil soulless murderer who wanted immortality, I’d horcrux everything in sight: enigmatic, boring, hidden, obvious, big, small…so I’m a little curious about that.)
Okay, that’s enough for now. The only other thing is that I was hoping for a great battle in Hogwarts, with all those moving staircases and hidden passages and ghosts and such…but I suppose we can still hold out for book 7! Heh.
Wow, I really italicized and analyzed the hell out of that book...I guess that now you can begin to understand why I'm such a literature nut! Feel free to comment with your own HBP reflections. Take care, I'm off to the doctor's office, what fun.