Disclaimers: I review works of art like literature as independent of their creators. Just because I support the Harry Potter books does not mean I support J.K. Rowling’s actions, statements, and/or views. This review contains my opinions. You don’t have to agree with me.
This post contains spoilers for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
I first read this book when I was 9. I reread it when I was 11 and 21. I’ll start by discussing the things I noticed every time. Then I’ll share what I noticed during my reread as an adult. I’ll wrap up by pointing out plot holes and other unanswered questions. This series is rather famous for having interesting plot holes. I point them out jokingly. Younger me didn’t notice them, and since this series is geared toward a younger audience, I think that’s all that matters. Adult me needs to just enjoy the story and stop asking so many questions. I also realize some of the plot holes are addressed on Pottermore, in the author’s tweets, etc., but these are things that need to be included in the books, not supplemental material.
I love the characters and their interactions in this book. As I get farther into the series, I find I like Snape more and more. His character development is just great. Same thing with Neville. Both are characters I didn’t care for as a kid, but I appreciate their character arcs as an adult. I like the increasing tension between Snape and Harry. I also love that Harry thinks the Half-Blood Prince is a better teacher than Snape. Harry idolizes the Half-Blood Prince, yet hates Snape, which is great. I absolutely love the Half-Blood Prince’s potion book too. Objects play such a crucial role in this series.
I like the argument between Dumbledore and the Dursleys. That’s a great scene. I like the animosity between Ron and Ginny regarding Ginny’s relationships. I like Ginny and Harry together. I think that’s foreshadowed well. Ginny’s a great character too. She’s grown a lot over the years.
The Weasley twins don’t show up very often, but I enjoy seeing them when they do. I also really enjoy the scene where Harry scares Goyle (who is disguised as a girl via Polyjuice Potion). There are other funny moments in this book I enjoy too. This is a weird one, but I like that Snape is the one to kill Dumbledore. I won’t spoil the seventh book, but the plotting around this seemingly horrific act is fantastic. It does so many things for the plot.
I like the story’s fast pace. It’s a major improvement from books four and five, which are super dense and slow. I love the plotting and foreshadowing. One of my favorite things about this book is watching all the puzzle pieces fall into place in regards to Voldemort and Harry.
Onto my nit-picky adult things. I have my same-old complaints in regards to the writing style. I was really hoping it would improve over time, but it doesn’t. There are more inconsistencies with the trace. There’s also an inconsistency regarding how long the Felix Felicis potion lasts. At one point, every detail of Harry’s room is described. Who cares? They have no impact on the story. The whole Muggle Prime Minister scene is boring. I really don’t care about the politics behind the story. If they’re that important, sum them up really quickly. Don’t show them in-scene and bore us to death.
I’m not a fan of Ron’s attitude in this book. In the last book, Harry was really whiny. In this one, it’s Ron. He and Hermione need to communicate with one another and accept the fact they like each other. It would solve so many of their problems. Also, I’m not a fan of McLaggen. I’m not saying he’s a badly written character. I just don’t like him as a person, and I don’t love to hate him like some characters. I just hate him.
Now for the plot hole bonus round.
Once again, there’s a memory and the person whose memory it is isn’t present for the whole thing. It can’t be their memory if they weren’t there for it.
Why hasn’t Side-Along-Apparation been used before? I feel like that could be really helpful in situations where characters have had to use broomsticks and floo powder. Why didn’t they just Side-Along-Apparate to get Harry to Grimmauld Place in The Order of the Phoenix?
Why didn’t Harry and Dumbledore Apparate outside Slughorn’s house? Why’d they go to the trouble of walking down the street? How did Slughorn have warning of their approach, so he could stage the house?
This is the second instance of professors on the Hogwarts Express with no explanation. Is it commonplace for them to ride the train, and it’s only mentioned a couple times, or is it unusual?
How does the invisibility cloak fit in Harry’s jacket pocket? I feel like a cloak is too big for that. Harry’s supposed to have the cloak on him at all times by Dumbledore’s orders, but he doesn’t do that. Why doesn’t he carry it everywhere?
Since when do existing players have to try out again? Harry’s never mentioned having to re-tryout for Quidditch before. Also, the new Quidditch commentator is a Quidditch player. How can he commentate and play?
Tom Riddle is linked to an incident with a fellow orphan’s pet. Are orphans typically allowed pets?
When Voldemort meets Morfin, how does he know he needs to converse with him in Parseltongue? Morfin doesn’t speak first, so there is no indication that’s the only language he knows.
Why didn’t Harry throw away the love potion sweets Romilda gave him?
Malfoy keeps putting students in danger while trying to indirectly kill Dumbledore. Dumbledore is aware of Malfoy’s attempts on his life. Why doesn’t Dumbledore expel Malfoy before he kills one of the students? I know Dumbledore is playing a bigger game here, but as headmaster, the students’ safety should be his priority.
Bonus question: Hermione does some of Harry’s homework for him. Wouldn’t professors notice Hermione’s handwriting on Harry’s assignments?
Overall, I really love this book. It doesn’t have as many plot holes as the earlier books, and it’s really fun seeing all the foreshadowing come together to solve the mystery of Voldemort’s survival. This book is also the beginning of the dark tone that permeates the rest of the series.
What do you think of this book? Did you notice the plot holes? Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments.