The International Writers Magazine
: Book Review

Abp. Dr. Antonio Hernández

Never one to waste much time on fiction, I am quite happy to confess: I am a total Harry Potter geek. Or, better put, I was, until J.K. Rowling's latest novel, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which is a disaster. Her last disaster, in this writer's opinion, was Goblet of Fire, which seemed more a bid for extra time than anything else. It paled against her previous masterpiece, Prisoner of Azkaban (which was ruined by its repugnant film version). But then, Rowling managed a sort of literary redemption with The Order of the Phoenix.

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Oh yes, we should all be accustomed to creators being their own worst enemies; the new "Star Wars" trilogy should be proof enough to that fact. But I was under the impression that J.K. Rowling, like her 'spiritual' antecedent, J.R.R. Tolkien, actually cared about Harry Potter and all his wonderful friends. We all thought she really cared about their destinies, and about the reckoning awaiting Harry's nemesis, Tom Riddle.

It seems I thought wrong. In brief, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince goes a bit like this: oppressive inertia disguised as a major revelation; unimaginative and nonsensical changes to the story arc; no real segue from the last novel; a worse-than-ever obsession with that infernal game Quidditch and its details; a downright ugly picture of adolescents trying to grope their way through dating; what appears to be a fantastic climax, which is ended by a rank, horrible betrayal (I will certainly not divulge it). And this betrayal leads us to the betrayal in the novel's title. Let the reader beware.

Rowling's novel is not so bad, if taken as a political animal. Or at least, a political metaphor. There is certainly a bin Laden-type creature (Tom Riddle, a.k.a. Lord Voldemort). He comes complete with disgusting, murderous and cowardly followers. There is a slimy character who turns out to be either a very convincing British PM or Karl Rove (that character is Severus Snape). Choose your poison. One can only hope, even with over-intellectualization, that Rowling will redeem herself with what will hopefully be the last of the novels, the seventh, representing Harry's last year in school. Assuming, of course, that there is still a school for him to attend (and assuming Rowling has the grace to rectify her gargantuan error).

To be fair: we fans were warned, in Order of the Phoenix, that a "war" would be coming to Harry Potter. Half-Blood Prince neatly reflects the evil, horrible world in which we now find ourselves. However, with Rowling's ever-growing bloody-mindedness, I can't see how there will be a wizarding school-- or a plausible storyline-- for Harry in the next book. His terrific school for British wizards and witches, Hogwart's, appears to be on the brink of irreparable destruction. Or so Half-Blood Prince leads us to think. Like all such drivel, the novel leads us to think a great deal-- a great deal that should be in the novel, and not in the form of a giant, aching question mark hanging above the reader's head. That's all Half-Blood Prince really is.

My best friend and I are Potter fans from the beginning. We said the novels ought to be included in school curricula, and were delighted beyond measure to see that Scholastic Books would be publishing them in the U.S.A. But after finishing this latest novel, which we reserved ahead of time as always, we actually wanted our money refunded! We had to ask ourselves what has possessed Rowling these days. Is it merely the spirit of the brothers Grimm? A jaded pessimism that is not necessarily inherent in Harry Potter's life story? Anger? A played-out imagination? In any event, we found ourselves flinging this unworthy novel aside, trying to recover from the truck that hit us.
And that, my friends, should NEVER happen at the end of a Harry Potter story.

Buy and judge for yourself.

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