The International Writers Magazine: Book Review
TOOK THE 'WHIZ' OUT OF WIZARD?: J.K. ROWLING DID
Abp. Dr. Antonio Hernández
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.
Click on image to get the adult cover version from Amazon
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
Buy and judge for yourself.
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