“Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.”
This book may not be perfect, but it was inching its way toward that finish line. I enjoy comedic, childlike humor as much as the rest of the fans, but to me when the story gets a little darker (deeper), it gets even better.
We get a return of favorite characters, but as with the other books, we also get new ones. While the rest of the series introduced new characters that were fun and that we actually wanted to read about, here it just seems like two main hate-filled creatures show up: Dolores Umbridge (shudder) and Bellatrix (who I can't stand.)
Harry is now 15 and showing it through teenage angst and mood swings. Happily this didn't bother me because - let's face it - these are dark times in the young wizard's life and him being happy-go-lucky would just be unrealistic. Plus the teenager hormones were already tweaked anyway because of his friends, Dumbledore, and the wizarding community basically ignoring him for a summer. Then you have the Voldemort strange triangle in his head, probably fueling that anger. I noticed when watching the movie that they played up the potential possession while in the book it was hinted as a possibility, left for the reader to muse about themselves and see what happens.
Hermione and Ron show considerable patience with their temper-triggered friend, becoming of all things, perfects in the school. It was an ironic touch for the series but would have worked just as well without it. Loony Luna is a delight because the girl is simply so strange, although the convenience of her character's connected to a newspaper owning father comes into play as well. There's Fred and George, who I always loved in the books but who seem lusterless in the movies - here they rocked with their unique style of misbehavior, especially when showing up a certain new villain.
Where this book shines character-wise is Neville, who is so awesome as a friend suddenly and co-fighter. There's a teary situation in the hospital, and how he stands by Harry (stuffed nose and all) in a fight later was heart-winning. Dumbledore finally gets to show us why he has such an awesome, badass reputation in the wizarding world, and I couldn't be happier with the two scenes that showed him flexing the magic muscle.
“You know, Minister, I disagree with Dumbledore on many counts...but you cannot deny he's got style...”
Since Snape is a favorite of mine but only shows his face occasionally, it was a further delight that Harry had to learn Occlumency from the professor. The scenes were intense and, although a small subplot, mesmerized me. They showed a glimpse into the life of Harry's parents before he put them on a pedestal.
Can we all agree that McGonagall is even more likable after this book? I didn't care about her the first few, but she keeps growing on me. Here she's amazing.
Sirius...ah, Sirius. This book shows even further that he is dependent upon Harry because he misses James so much and sees the father in the son. There was a sad scene in the fire where he withdraws from Harry a bit because he's disappointed. He spends much of the book frustrated and lonely, which was realistic and deep but depressing. I love their relationship, both without families but connecting to each other due to that.
Let's wave aside the villain of Voldemort for this book, shall we? He's there, he's bad, but he's not that frequent and he isn't the one who really irritated readers in this one. Those badges go to the annoying Umbridge we all loved to hate and the evil Bellatrix. Umbridge is around for the majority of book, raising shivers of annoyance. Besides her arrogant attitude that made me want to slap her, there's the beyond disturbing punishment with that blood quill and poor Harry. It certainly brought a twisted touch to the series that was almost missing before.
I hate to see Harry tricked at the end, but you can't keep a series real and have the character be perfect in predictions every time. The book misses that perfect finish line because there are too many lucky coincidences that come in handy and save the characters throughout fight scenes, but they were still imaginative and adventurous. It's a large book, 870 pages, and if you stand back and examine it, not a lot of action actually happens. Still, it's so easy to get sucked in and so hard to look away.
There's a heartbreaking, soul-slapping death that I don't think I'll get over. I knew it was coming, but couldn't remember the order from the movies when it would show up. Sadness! It was sudden and shocking and just awful. Harry's emotion afterwards was realistic and well done.
J.K. Rowling continues this series with talent, and the books really do keep getting better and better. A timeless series that should continue to bewitch future generations.
“Wit beyond measure is a man's greatest treasure.”
Check out the full list of Harry Potter Featured Posts for Harry Potter Week
- Book Reviews: The Sorcerer's Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, Goblet of Fire, Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, Deathly Hallows
- Book-To-Film Comparison: The Sorcerer's Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, Goblet of Fire, Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, Deathly Hallows
- Site Features: Mailbox Monday, Cover Crush, Tune-in Tuesday, Universal Studios Trip
- Themed Posts: RIP Alan Rickman, Philosophers Versus Sorcerers, Magical Quotes