I’ve just spent my Sunday afternoon holed up in my room devouring, well, Harry Potter (don’t laugh!). In case you have been living on Mars, J K Rowling‘s penultimate book in the series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, was launched yesterday at exactly 7.01am yesterday. According to the papers, there were fanatics who were queueing up outside Borders since Friday afternoon just to lay their hands on the book. I must be getting old because my first thought was, hello, you can, like, order the book online?
Apart from going to sleep at 4am (I started reading on Saturday night at about 1) and the occasional toilet breaks this afternoon, I never put the book down. It was that good. After the highly convoluted and sometimes confusing preceding Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince is simpler and dealt a lot more with the psychological and emotional aspects of Harry.
For one thing, it answers questions of how Lord He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named grew to become the scourge of evil (that sounds mild even to my ears), and the part that Dumbly-dorrr (points to you if you remember who called Dumbledore that) had to play in his life. The infinite wisdom of Dumbledore shapes Harry’s, and our, perception of Harry’s choices, actions and destiny, which will, of course, be played out in the seventh and final book.
The identity of the Half-Blood Prince is revealed at the end, though not to unexpected results. And here, you are forced to make your own judgement about a principal character who evokes contrasting emotions in you – fascination yet loathing, admiration yet repulsive, sympathetic yet revulsion.
And then, there is The Death. This time, the death is not as hyped about as Sirius Black’s, but it is in no way less significant or tragic. It is still the same – somebody who is close to Harry and whose loss he feels immensely, and it still makes you cry. But what is different is that his death (oops, did I let out anything) opens up a Pandora’s Box of questions and mystery and it actually propels you forward into the next book.
There is also a lot of focus on love in this book. Given that Harry and his friends are in the throes of adolescence, it is not surprising but it does seem rather awkward and abrupt. But well, according to Dumbledore, love is the greatest magic in the world and maybe with the love and courage planted in this tome and the others before it, the good will be able to triumph over evil in the last book.
I know that Harry Potter is a series that is supposedly meant for children but it still makes for an intriguing read all the same. There are darker themes and undertones which children might not be able to grasp fully and in light of the world we live in today, you can’t help but read and hope that Harry, the underdog and the boy who Lived, would be able to rid his world of evil the way we cannot.