Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (#6)
Re-reading these books are definitely a very different experience after knowing the whole story. I thought that this book made me feel all the feelings the first time I read through it – oh jeez, this second time…all of the feelings definitely felt 100x more amplified. That being said, I loved re-reading this!! The characters in the books have so much depth, the story gets real dark, and I love reading the intricacies of the whole Wizarding world.
As I continue with the rest of this “Then/Now” post of mine, I am warning you – there will be spoilers!! If you haven’t read the Harry Potter series, stop whatever you are doing and go read it!!! Then, come back and fangirl with me! 🙂
As mentioned in some of my other Harry Potter “Then/Now” posts, I noted that there is always so much more extra detail in the books than there were in the movies. This one started off in that same way, with talking about the Muggle Prime Minister and the new Minister of the Ministry of Magic. I really enjoyed starting the book like this because it gave extra context to the darker and more urgent atmosphere of the book. After re-reading this, I am super bummed that we don’t get the small details like this in the movies.
In the same way, we see so much more depth to a lot of other supporting characters that we don’t see a whole lot of in the movies or are just more one-dimensional. This is one of the many things that I love about the way J.K. Rowling writes. The amount of complexity and depth that goes into each of her characters is astounding and everyone can truly connect to one of her many characters. One that I want to highlight here is Ginny Weasley. Movie Ginny is super one-dimensional, which is a huge bummer. There are snippets of sassy fierceness in the later movies, but for the most part – we don’t get to see a lot of Ginny as an independent character. Book Ginny, however, was all sorts of sassy, fierce, independent, smart, and witty. She was a talented Quidditch player, she was beautiful, she was compassionate to all those around her, and she was never willing to back down from a fight. Book Ginny is definitely one of my favorite characters in the book, and one of the many examples of strong women that J.K. Rowling wrote into her stories.
Of course, one of the main plot lines of this book were the Dumbledore/Harry Pensieve scenes, where Dumbledore showed Harry snippets of memories outlining the life of Voldemort before he became the Dark Lord himself. These were, by far, my favorite parts of the book and I forgot how few of these we actually saw in the movie. These moments in the book were so much creepier than they were in the movie, which added to the dark ambience of the book. I loved how these moments were like jigsaw puzzle pieces that you needed to figure out how they all fit together to figure out how to defeat Voldemort. These are the moments that definitely kept the story moving along. This is also where we start to learn about Horcruxes and why Voldemort wanted to figure out how to make seven of them. I definitely did not pay as close of attention to this the first go around as I did the second, particularly as to what it actually meant to create a Horcrux and the moral complexity around how they are created.
Now, to get to the title of the book, “The Half-Blood Prince”. Again, I forgot just how creepy this whole thing actually was in the book, rather than the sort of upbeat-ness of how it was portrayed in the movie. In the movie, it was more about Harry excelling in Potions class, but there are so many more layers underneath it in the book than what we saw in the movie. As you read about the notes of the Half-Blood Prince and the jinxes that were created, you are wondering whether this is all Dark Magic or just the musings of an old student. Especially when Harry starts to embody parts of the Half-Blood Prince, as evidenced when he uses the Sectumsempra jinx on Draco which is always so heartbreaking.
There is also so much more Quidditch in this book!!! I forget how much more of other aspects of Hogwarts we get to see in the books than we did in the movies. I love Quidditch and I particularly love the role that it plays in the story. Quidditch has always given Harry something to attach himself to in order to gain a sense of identity, amidst all the other crap that goes on in his life. In this book, Harry is Captain of the Quidditch which presents him with a whole load of problems from balancing his friendship with Ron, staying focused in the game while trying to figure Malfoy out, and of course, trying to win. Reading about so much Quidditch made me oh so happy and I wanted to keep reading more!
Moving onto the most heartbreaking part of the book – the cave, the lightning tower, and the funeral. Warning: all of the feelings ahead! I remember when I first read this book, I definitely cried during the lightning tower and the funeral scenes purely because of the shock of reading Dumbledores’ death. In my re-read, however, I started crying from the cave scene till the end of the book. Now that I know the entirety of the story and some of the added complexities to some of the characters, I think the end of this book is so much more heartbreaking:
- The cave where Dumbledore and Harry go to find the first Horcrux…which, the fact that it wasn’t even a Horcrux breaks my heart even more. Anyways, the cave scene – it’s dark, creepy, and wrecks my soul. We only see the Inferi during the cave scene in the movie, whereas they are referred to more often in the book. The description of the Inferi is wildly terrifying, and my heart was racing when Harry almost got sucked under. And of course, as Dumbledore cries out to Harry to stop drinking the potion and Harry has to keep making him drink it…the tears came streaming down my face.
- The lightning tower with the attack of the Death Eaters and Malfoy facing off with Dumbledore. In the movie, it is actually kind of believable that Snape might have been trying to help and had to pick to kill Dumbledore in order to save Malfoy. However, in the book, Snape seems so cruel and heartless to kill off Dumbledore so easily. Especially since Harry cannot move in the book and he just has to watch the whole thing unfold. I remember when I first read this, I definitely did not believe that Dumbledore was dead…he was surely alive and would be coming back. My heart broke all over again as I re-read this.
- Of course, Dumbledores’ funeral at the end…all of the feelings! It absolutely breaks my heart that this wasn’t in the movie. Don’t get my wrong – the raising of the wands in the movie was heartwarming and I loved it, but the funeral was written so beautifully. I thought it was a great send-off for Dumbledore and really honored his memory.
All in all, I loved this one and I think this is probably my favorite so far. This book is beautiful, haunting, creepy, and heart breaking all rolled into one story. It is truly incredible what J.K. Rowling can do with her stories and how vivid the imagery is in these books.