Reviews for Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince
Booklist Reviews 2005 August #1
/*Starred Review*/ With the Harry Potter Express chugging closer to its final destination, the sixth book in the series gets down to business. No more diversions about the welfare of house elves or the intricacies of Quidditch. This penultimate offering is more about tying up loose ends and fleshing out the backstory. Harry and the gang are back at Hogwarts, but the mood is grim. The wizard community is now fully aware that evil has returned, and the citizenry is afraid. Harry has been left bereft by the death of Sirius Black, and there are more killings to come. In a powerful early scene, readers learn that a pivotal figure is seemingly not to be trusted, yet throughout there are hints that he or she is a double agent. Later Harry becomes entangled with a former student known as the Half-Blood Prince, having accidentally acquired the prince's Potions textbook, but this turns out to be a mixed blessing. Rowling also devotes time to a carefully crafted telling of the story of Lord Voldemort's early life, which Harry and Dumbledore piece together by plucking other people's memories. Rowling is at the top of her game here. For those able to reach just beyond the engrossing tale, there is commentary relevant to today: how governments offer false security about perilous situations and how being in a constant state of war affects people's behavior. Harry is almost 17 now, and this is a book for older readers, who will best understand the moral implications of his choices. ((Reviewed August 2005)) Copyright 2005 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2006 Spring
In this sixth volume, Rowling delivers the likable characters and thrilling situations that have made the series so popular, handily weaving in earlier plots and returning to comic staples of wizard school life while providing fresh novelties. Rowling's attention is focused on setting up Harry's final showdown with Lord Voldemort (to come in book seven), but there's plenty of engaging mystery and suspense here. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2005 #5
This sixth Harry Potter will wow the series' many fans -- Rowling delivers the likable characters and thrilling situations that have made the series so popular, handily weaving in plots begun in earlier books and returning to comic staples of wizard school life while providing fresh novelties. Connoisseurs will note that Rowling's real attention is focused on setting up Harry's final showdown with Lord Voldemort: Dumbledore's private Pensieve tutorials with Harry, in which the two sift through various characters' memories about the Dark Lord's history, searching for the means to defeat him, are the main thrust of the book but will pay off fully only in the last volume. Even so, there's plenty of engaging mystery and suspense here: the title character, the Half-Blood Prince, occluded for most of the book as merely the author of some helpful notes in Harry's potions text, bursts into startling prominence by the end. Harry himself, grown more independent, decisive, and "fanciable," comes of age, committing himself by his own choice to defeating Voldemort and accepting that former protectors like his parents and Dumbledore (and even the Dursleys) no longer stand between him and danger. Old animosities against Snape, now the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher (whose twisted loyalties become even more opaque), and Draco Malfoy, the newest Death Eater recruit, continue unabated and crescendo into an epochal betrayal at the close, brilliantly conjured by Rowling. In the war against Voldemort, Snape may prove to be the linchpin just as much as Harry, but to find out for sure, readers will have to wait for the ultimate Harry, book seven. Copyright 2005 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2005 July #4
Rowling's sixth book opens in the British Prime Minister's office after "a very long, tiring, and difficult week," words that cast an eerie light on actual events in London this summer. Yet from the first, the author has used the wizard world to offer insight into the goings-on in the real world, perhaps now more than ever. After the new Minister of Magic introduces himself to the Prime Minister, the scene shifts to Professor Snape's home, where Draco Malfoy's mother and aunt pay him a call, referring to a cryptic mission on which He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is sending Draco. Next, Dumbledore himself fetches Harry from the Dursleys, as the two begin a book-long quest to get to the heart of the dark wizardry impacting both the Muggle and magical worlds. Although You-Know-Who makes no appearances here, his henchmen gain momentum, and his past comes to light through multiple trips via the Pensieve; perhaps Rowling's most brilliant invention yet, the Horcrux, comes chillingly to the fore. Meanwhile, after winding up with a used copy of Advanced Potion-Making with notes from a mysterious Half-Blood Prince, Harry aces his Potions class, taught by the new Professor Slughorn; Snape is now teaching Defense Against the Dark ArtsÃ„what can that mean? Readers will have to madly flip the pages to find out. Rowling spends a fair amount of time in the set-up but she accomplishes a great deal in this book, pulling together threads from all the previous titles and expertly poising readers for the planned finale. Old friends such as Lupin and Dobbin make reappearances, love interests and subsequent tensions unfold. Harry, now restored to popularity, nonetheless finds Ron and Hermione wary of his new obsession with Draco Malfoy's activities. The situation at Hogwarts mirrors world events: even Dumbledore finds it difficult to distinguish the good from those who would unleash terror at the school and society at large. If Harry grew up in the last book, here he becomes a man, learning the true impact of the last book's prophecy, and the importance of love as the antidote to fear. All ages.(July)Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2006 July #3
From our Best Books citation: "In this sixth book, Rowling pulls together threads from all the previous titles, expertly poising readers for the planned finale." Ages 9-12. (July) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2005 September
Gr 5 Up -Opening just a few weeks after the previous book left off, the penultimate entry in the series is, as the author foretold, the darkest and most unsettling yet. The deeds of Voldemort's Death Eaters are spreading even to the Muggle world, which is enshrouded in a mist caused by Dementors draining hope and happiness. Harry, turning 16, leaves for Hogwarts with the promise of private lessons with Dumbledore. No longer a fearful boy living under the stairs, he is clearly a leader and increasingly isolated as rumors spread that he is the "Chosen One," the only individual capable of defeating Voldemort. Two attempts on students' lives, Harry's conviction that Draco Malfoy has become a Death Eater, and Snape's usual slimy behavior add to the increasing tension. Yet through it all, Harry and his friends are typical teens, sharing homework and messy rooms, rushing to classes and sports practices, and flirting. Ron and Hermione realize their attraction, as do Harry and Ginny. Dozens of plot strands are pulled together as the author positions Harry for the final book. Much information is cleverly conveyed through Dumbledore's use of a Pensieve, a device that allows bottled memories to be shared by Harry and his beloved professor as they apparate to various locations that help explain Voldemort's past. The ending is heart wrenching. Once again, Rowling capably blends literature, mythology, folklore, and religion into a delectable stew. This sixth book may be darker and more difficult, but Potter fans will devour it and begin the long and bittersweet wait for the final installment.-Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME [Page 212]. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2005 October
Harry Potter enters his sixth year at Hogwarts shaken both by the recent murder of his godfather Sirius Black and by the revelation that he alone must face Lord Voldemort, either killing him or perishing in the attempt. Professor Dumbledore prepares Harry for the duel ahead, using the Pensieve to tutor him in Voldemort's fascinating family and personal history. The keys to Voldemort's immortality are six Horcruxes, Dark Magic vessels containing pieces of his soul, which must be destroyed before Harry can face him. This serious business takes place against the engaging backdrop of a Hogwarts school year: Harry finds his academic nemesis, Severus Snape, appointed to the position of Professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts; he spies on Draco Malfoy's suspicious extracurricular activities; he successfully manages the captaincy of Gryffindor's Quidditch team; and he enjoys a double-edged prowess in his Potions classes thanks to an old textbook, heavily annotated by the brilliant and pseudonymous Half-Blood Prince Maintaining forward momentum while juggling all of these seemingly disparate plot points is a daunting task, and there are a few missteps here, including the revelation of the Prince's identity, which is clichéd and anticlimactic, and a flagging pace in the chapters that do not focus primarily on Harry and Dumbledore's exploration of Voldemort's past. The book's many fine qualities-leavening moments of humor, increased character development for Snape and Malfoy, realistically adolescent romantic entanglements, and genuine grief at the book's wrenching conclusion-easily outweigh its few flaws, however. It is an essential purchase.-Sophie Brookover Harry Potter and the Half-Blood-Prince is an attention-grabbing book, with never-ending excitement in every chapter. With problems going up and solutions going down, Harry, Hermione, and Ron have a dilemma-filled year at Hogwarts. Rowling made a great transition in this book. I wasn't very fond of the ending at first, but it grew on me. The author fills this book with detail and excitement. I would recommend it for all readers! 5Q 5P.-Melissa Arnold, Teen Reviewer 4Q 5P M J S Copyright 2005 Voya Reviews.