Saturday, 16 July 2005

Book review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (J.K. Rowling)


I finished the new Harry Potter book in six hours, and all I have to say is this:

Thank God I didn't spend RM99.90 on it...

On with the review then...

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Title: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Author: J.K "Gimme More Money!!!" Rowling

Synopsis:
Harry Potter is this young angsty wizard, see. And he has to save the world, see, so we have pay JK. Rowling RM99.90 to read about how he does that and go through life in his sixth year at this wizard school caled Hogswart, see... Not easy to do, because you know, that bad dude called Voldemort is loose, and everyone is in mortal peril...

Main characters: But you know this already...


What I liked:

  • Won-Won!
  • Great start to the book, especially the first two chapters
  • There were some good touches here and there (although very far between)
  • Quite sad at a certain point of the book...
  • Builds up two very interesting characters - Snape and Malfoy. I wanna read the next book just to find out what happens to them...

What I didn't like:

  • Somehow, I can't help the feelng that this book was a pointless waste of time. It didn't exactly advance the overall plot much besides establishing several OTHER plotlines and developing a few other characters. And you certainly don't need a bloody 600 page book to do THAT!
  • The beginning of the book was great, as was the ending, which was fairly exciting. But the middle part was ...zzzzzzzzzzzz....
  • Some parts read like a Mills and Boons or Sweet Valley High than a children's book.
  • The main characters getting very boring and bland
  • Nothing new in the wizarding world besides some new spells, potions and monsters
  • Bloody THICK!
  • TOO EXPENSIVE!
Summary (a very LONG one):

One gets the feeling that Rowling is churning out the books for the adult market now, no longer the children. Which is sad, considering the fact the the first three books were great books for kids, introducing them to fantasy and magic well.

But with the past three books, Harry Potter has digressed into an adult page-turner that serves nothing more than make more money for Rowling.

The story in this book is almost non-existent. Sure, there are some new things here, but she works mostly with the knowledge (or rather, assumption) that her readers would probably know almost everything about each characters and each made-up word in the book, and does not even bother to explain some things anymore.

There is nothing new to read here. The magic is reduced to a jumble of gibberish made-up words, and the characters are in danger of becoming two-dimensional cardboard figures (with the exception of perhaps Severus Snape and Draco Malcoy, surprisingly). Apart from a whole new monster, and a whole new plot line for Harry to pursue, and a certain loss, there really isn't much point to this book, is there?

While the development of some relationships was quite nice to read about, I also got the feeling Rowling really chickened out of it in the end in this aspect as well though...

Some elements of the book seemed to have been recycled from previous ones (ANOTHER book?!?!) and several things I would liked to have seen expanded was just shoved aside and buried under all the jumble of 'spell' names and what-not.

Another thing the book does is set up a rather convenient setting for the next (and supposedly final) Harry Potter Book. One can almost SMELL what's gonna happen in the last book...

I hate the fact that this books have so much potential in them, but it's been so hyped up that the writer doesn't write it as well anymore, just giving it enough to sell books and get more money.

The past three books have been bloody DICTIONARIES, and most of it could have been told in HALF the pages, without sacrificing the details or essential elements of the story.

As it is, HP and the Half-Blood Prince is a bloody thick book that has a good story but lousy execution.

And GAH! Now we gotta wait another two years for the next one!

My conclusion? read it if you must, just don't pay RM99.90 for the damn thing. Wait for the paperback, borrow it off a sucker who lined up at 5am for the book, or just read it at the bookstore (which I did), I don't care. Just don't pay RM99.90 to JK Rowling for this kind of pointless tripe.

Better yet, spend that money on Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series. Now THAT's a bloody good children's series...


Update: Lemme get something clear - I don't HATE Harry Potter. I wouldn't be reading the books if I hated it, would I? It's a guilty pleasure, and I DO enjoy finding out about what happens to the characters. I also think its a damn near brilliant concept, and written well, would have been brilliant.

HOWEVER, I just wish Rowling could have done it better. Right now, it's like Wheel of Time all over again - never ending beating around the bush, endless new things being introduced and not used in later books, and more and more characters with strange names entering the mix.

But as much as I find it trivial, I... just... can't... stop... reading them!

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