Welcome to my November post featuring Harry Potter! Yes, I realize I’m two months late. But I did actually read this book in November before we found out I was pregnant. So I’m playing a little catch up today with this review. This month’s book is Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.
I remember this being one of my favorite books in the series growing up. It has one of the craziest endings in the whole series and this book starts bringing together the pieces for the climactic ending in book 7. I love this book!
My first experience with this book – This book has always been one of my favorite Harry Potter novels. We were visiting my cousins when this one came out and we all went to a midnight release party. One of my cousins wanted to race to see who could finish the book first. I beat him by a mile. But then I was the only one who knew the crazy ending of this book. And that was a torturous few days! We get so many more details in this book. I love the relationship between Dumbledore and Harry as they learn more about Voldemort’s past. And I adore that Ginny and Harry finally get together in this book. Ginny is so much cooler in the books than the movies. This book set up the climactic ending to the series in book 7 so it’s always been a favorite of mine.
What surprised me this time – First, I was just surprised I could actually read this book in November. I have mentioned before how I have a hard time reading anything during the first months of pregnancy. So this is my miracle book series. It has just enough action to get me invested but not too complex to make my head hurt. How many details I had forgotten about in this book. From Harry becoming Quidditch captain to Slughorn’s ridiculous Slug Club and Ron dating Lavender Brown, there is a lot of fun happening at Hogwarts this year. It was interesting to read 5 and 6 close together to see the changes in the characters, especially Harry. Also, can I just say how great Ginny is? She really brings out the best in Harry. I was surprised too to find myself feeling sorry for Draco Malfoy. That was definitely unexpected.
Who I love most in this book – I love Ginny because she is tough, talented, and finally wins Harry’s heart. She is one of my favorite characters in the book series. I love Slughorn. He is ridiculous, self absorbed, but secretly does want to do the right thing. One of my favorite scenes is when Harry takes the Felix Felicies and finally gets the key memory from Slughorn. It’s good to see Slughorn does care about others and is willing to be seen in a negative light to save the world. I love Dumbledore in this book because we get to see so much more of him. We finally get to see what he has been up to and glimpse why he is the most powerful wizard in the world. I totally tear up when he dies at the end of this book–perhaps it was the pregnancy hormones this time, but it always gets me. I also kind of love the half blood prince. It’s fun to see Harry excel in a subject over even Hermione. Sure, he certainly has questionable morals at times, but I enjoy his asides (and the fact that he is Snape is a great twist).
How I see Harry, Ron, and Hermione changing – Ron becomes more than “Harry’s best friend” in this book. Between his intense and then annoying relationship with Lavender and his triumphs and trials on the Quidditch pitch, he is becoming his own person this year. And I like that. Hermione remains the smartest and most hard working person I know. But she also softens in this book. She has feelings for Ron and I love their awkward encounters and almost expressions of love in this book. Harry is finally ready to tackle his quest to destroy Voldemort. I so appreciate that he has come a long ways from the only angst-filled teenager of book 5. And I love that he gets a few beautiful weeks of happiness with Ginny. The guy never gets to just feel normal. So It’s nice to see him catch a break, even for a few days.
What I learn from this book – Trust your closest friends or you will feel very alone. Harry shares all he learns about horcruxes with Ron and Hermione. I think that helps him feel less burdened by his task. Contrast that with Voldemort who always works alone, even if people think they are his friends. Life and death are not always what they seem. Okay, I’m thinking ahead a bit here as well. But one of the great lessons from this book is that Voldemort is hyper focused on avoiding death while Dumbledore actually orchestrates his own death to happen in a particular way. It’s one of the most compelling themes in the series, I think.
How I would teach this book in a class – At this point in the series, I would be interested in having students write essays about death. Perhaps contrasting two character’s deaths and how those deaths affect others. Or contrast how different characters feel about death and how that is seen in their actions. I would also be interested in writing about the changing relationship between Dumbledore and Harry. At the start of the series, Dumbledore is protecting Harry from the truth about his destiny but by the end of this book, he’s taking Harry with him on a mission to find a horcrux. Why the changes and what do they say about Dumbledore’s character? And just for fun, I would love to discuss the dating relationships in this book. There is actually a lot of love going on and it would be fun to discuss why some work out while others don’t.
As always, some great quotes in this book:
As one of my favorite books in the series, this reread did not change my love of The Half Blood Prince. Look for my final Harry Potter review in the coming weeks!
What is your favorite Harry Potter?