Friday, June 4, 2010

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling (audio)


For as long as it took the kids and I to listen to the 5th Harry Potter audio book (which included a late fee at the library after renewing the maximum number of times), this one flew by. Perhaps it is an indication of our interest level, I'm not sure. But all roads of the wizarding world in which we have been living leads to this book, does it not? In fact, this installment is so emotional, so dramatic, so heart-breaking that our final book, The Deathly Hallows, almost seems anti-climatic.

My first comment is this. If you have seen the movies, and have declined the reading experience because you think you have seen it all, please reconsider. I might agree with you on Book 1 and maybe 2, but with each book, the movie gets further and further from its literary counterpart. The 6th movie? A disaster in my opinion. Entertaining, I suppose, but far off the path. I am sure decisions were made on the tone and content to maximize marketing power, but it fails miserably to convey the heart of the book.

For those of you who have not read this series, have not seen the movies, and intend to at some point, please go no further. I had to say this to protect the innocent.

I won't bother you will a summary of the plot, because 98% of you know this already. As with reviews of the previous books, I will give you some of my highlights:

1. We always knew Malfoy was nasty, but now our opinion is validated by his personal involvement with Voldemort. It just makes you want to scream "See? I told you he was evil!".

2. Harry falls in luuuuuv (or at least is now AWARE that he is in love) with Ginny. It is what we have always wanted, right guys? He had no business with mopey-face Cho. In fact, the hormones are flying everywhere. Snogging, jealousy, love potions...it's that age I guess.

3. We get edg-ma-cated on all things Voldemort...his parentage, his days in the orphanage, his days in Hogwarts, his sociopathic tendencies from a young age. And hoarcruxes. Important information to get us through the final book.

4. Dumbledore seriously dresses down the Dursely's for their mistreatment of Harry. Major fist-pump through this scene.

5. Harry stands up to the new Minister of Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour. The Minister had the gall to ask Harry to give the appearance of support to the Ministry of Magic for political reasons. This would be the same institution that promoted the sadistic Umbridge with her God complex. I think not, and neither did Harry. Another fist-pump!

6. Rowling completely nails atmosphere and stomach-hurting intensity with the scene in the cave, when Dumbledore drinks a potion in order to get his hands on a hoarcrux. Not only that, but Jim Dale gives the audio performance of a lifetime, drawing tears from everyone in our car.

Dare I even address the death of Dumbledore? Am I the only one who picked up the 7th book with a hollowness inside, wondering if I could possibly CARE what happened? Well, OK, ultimately I did care, but it would never be the same. I've always admired the author that has the cojones to throw a major character under the bus, but this was not quite what I had in mind. Even though this was my fourth or fifth time reading the book, it hasn't gotten easier. Hats off to Rowling for the ultimate sucker punch.

So the kids and I wait with bated breath for the 7th audio book to arrive. None of us have read it more than once, and of course we've only seen the trailers for the two-part movie. I look forward to a second look (especially that dream sequence at the end)! I don't look forward for it all to be over...

4.5 out of 5 stars

13 comments:

Nymeth said...

"The 6th movie? A disaster in my opinion. Entertaining, I suppose, but far off the path. I am sure decisions were made on the tone and content to maximize marketing power, but it fails miserably to convey the heart of the book."

I felt that way even about the 3rd movie, which was why I stopped watching them after that :\ I do have a tendency to be too critical of movie adaptations of books I love, though.

The ending of this book was SUCH a shock to me. I literally kept reading *that* part in the hopes that the words would magically change after I'd read them a certain number of times, and an owl would come flying in with a message from J.K. Rowling: "Haha, just kidding. Got you there for a moment!".

Alice Teh said...

Oh yeah... I love it when Harry discovers that he's in love with Ginny. I love a good love story or a hint of romance in anything. Hehe...

I have only read up to Book 4 but listening to people talking about the series all the way up to Book 7, I more or less know what's going on. LOL!

JoAnn said...

It's such fun to read about your "audio experience" with Harry! On to Book 7....

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

I didn't go all the way because I think that I am the innocent you are seeking to protect. I am intrigued by how popular these books have been and how enduring the loyalty to these books. I finally got The Host ny Stephanie Meyer, so maybe I will next pivk up a little J.K.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I actually stopped reading them after #4 in spite of having loved them, because of the movies. So it's very good to hear that the movies shouldn't be a consideration. Still, it has been so long... I feel like I would have to reread one through four in order to start with the rest. Is that true, in your opinion?

Trisha said...

Like Nymeth, I kept re-reading *THAT* part, but I did so looking for the loophole. Even after reading the section numerous times, I was convinced he'd be back in the next book. I was the same way with Sirius. Terrible.

I have to admit. I don't like the movies. Any of them. I think I just loved the books too much to watch bits and pieces get taken out and manipulated and reordered.

Zibilee said...

I totally love your enthusiasm over these books, and I also love the fact that you are sharing them with your kids. It's a great idea. My daughter is doing a Harry Potter reread right now, and after reading your review, I really want to have some discussions with her about how she perceives the series. Great review, Sandy!

Michele at Reader's Respite said...

I just love that you're going thru the audio of all these fantastic books. I've collected the unabridged audios for the series (I tend to do that for books I loved, loved, loved) and can't wait till kidlets are old enough to appreciate them. In the meantime, I'm enjoying every spoken word!

Julie P. said...

Booking Daughter is on the 5th book right now. I love that she's finally given into these books.

Jenners said...

Naturally I read all of these .. but I can never remember what happens in what book so I enjoyed your summary.

I chose not to watch the movies because I can't imagine them doing the books justice. The books are just too rich and fully imagined and I can't imagine them being able to capture all of that on film.

Beth F said...

The movies are fun but the books ... well, no comparison. And the ending of this one did shock me. OMG, I thought, it's all a mistake, it's not true, it didn't happen. Sob.

And we had to wait forever (it seemed) for the next book.

Kathleen said...

Glad you enjoyed the audio book so much. It sounds like Jim Dale is a powerful narrator. I love the Harry Potter books but haven't gotten past book 4 and I'd still like to go back and reread the first ones again before I continue.

Darlene said...

I like the books better than the movies but I enjoy watching the movies too although I'm pretty sure I haven't seen the latest one. I think I ended with Order of Phoenix. I'm about ready for a reread of my HP books again.