UP!–The Half-Blood Prince: A ROYAL READ

Cover - Half-Blood Prince

(NOTE: while this post is current, scroll on the sidebar to click to listen to Hedwig’s Theme while reading 😀)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was the book in this series I really couldn’t wait to get my hands on. In fact, though I’ve never been able to say I had a favorite of the 7 books because I love them ALL, this is the one that seems to come to mind first. Not only does its plot/character twists and reveals heat up the story to a white-hot blaze, it also holds a sentimental place in my heart in a way the others couldn’t.

 

At the time of its release in 2005, I was a user of Barnes & Noble University online (I really miss it!) and they offered a reading group for the book. Three actually, in August, September and October. As soon as I saw it, the magnetic pull was strong. I knew if I allowed myself to get involved with the group, I would become completely absorbed, and I really needed to be doing other things. I deliberated fiercely, but in the end I couldn’t resist, much like I couldn’t resist participating in Sheila’s ReRead-along of the series. It was as if Harry waved his wand, putting me under the Imperius Curse! It is a decision I will never regret.

BNU HBP - image of intro to first group

From the moment I entered the first group in August, I was set under its inescapable spell of deep discussion about so many aspects of the series, wrangling character and plot theories, most of which I’d never analyzed in depth. I examined the entire series in a way I wouldn’t have taken the time to do had I not participated. Ultimately, I ended up joining all three groups! Though there was a good amount of repetition, there were also new theories that popped up.HP Lexicon headerBefore that time, I was completely unaware of the vast Harry Potter online universe, nor had I ever heard of fanfic. Sites like the Harry Potter Lexicon, The Leaky Cauldron and Mugglenet (all still going strong) became regular stops for me; so many of us having been glued to Mugglenet when updates were imminent on virtually anything “Harry Potter” (movies or Book 7). Mugglenet header

Mugglenet BOOK cover

In fact, the founders of Mugglenet authored a book which includes many of the theories pre-“Deathly Hallows”: What Will Happen in Harry Potter 7: Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Falls in Love and How Will the Adventure Finally End?, a book I purchased and had signed when Ben Schoen and Emerson Spartz visited my local Barnes & Noble. Also The Leaky Cauldron‘s Melissa Anelli put out Harry, A History, a book which captured the reader/movie-goer “Harry Potter” experience from the beginning.

Harry, A History - cover
When the final BNU HBP forums came to a close, a group of us decided to stay in touch because we’d become friends and wanted to share the journey in anticipation of the last installment. We created our own Yahoo group and continued the ride! One of the many things I’ll never forget was, when the covers were released for “Deathly Hallows,” how we painstakingly examined them, trying to find clues to answer things we’d been theorizing about.

U.S. cover, Scholastic:

Deathly Hallows US cover

British cover, Bloomsbury:

Deathly Hallows BRITISH cover

Deathly Hallows BRITISH Adult cover

 

 

British cover for adults, Bloomsbury (yes, there were adults embarrassed to be reading the books):

 

 

 

BORDERS Snape bookmarks for DH

Through the first five books I’d already felt J. K. Rowling was an outstanding author whose work had me and millions of other readers totally hooked, but by scrutinizing the series in this way, her standing—certainly in my eyes—was elevated a hundred-fold; she was literary royalty! The characters she created are so “real,” we were filled with angst over them when discussing who we thought might die in Book 7 and certainly whether or not Harry himself would live or die. One of the many things that still impresses me is how she knit the story’s mysteries so perfectly, she sparked heated debate over many things, probably the most heated being whether Severus Snape was good or evil. In anticipation of Book 7, Borders Books centered their promo around the whole “Snape: friend or foe” thing.

From the incredibly insightful, knowledgeable theories to the outrageously absurd, it all turned out to be one of the most fun and memorable times of my life, not to mention it having fed my writing life in a way that only it could have. I will forever feel grateful to BNU and the many people (some are still dear friends) whose keen observations and passion for the Harry Potter books enriched and deepened my love for reading and writing Kidlit more than it ever would have been.

And now, though I hadn’t done this in my other Harry Potter posts, I feel compelled to include some of my favorite wise, hilarious and/or touching quotes (all taken from the U.S. edition), many of which were uttered by Snape and Dumbledore, the bearers of some of the best lines. I think my going this far somehow solidifies that, if forced to pick a favorite book of the series, this must be it:

Pg. 23, at Snape’s house:

    “We…we are alone, aren’t we?” Narcissa asked quietly.

  “Yes, of course. Well, Wormtail’s here, but we’re not counting vermin, are we?”

Pg. 46, at the Dursleys’ house when Dumbledore has come to retrieve Harry and Uncle Verson says:

  “I don’t mean to be rude—” he began, in a tone that threatened rudeness in every syllable.

  “—yet, sadly, accidental rudeness occurs alarmingly often,” Dumbledore finished the sentence gravely. “Best to say nothing at all, my dear man…”

Pg. 73, upon Dumbledore emerging from the bathroom at the Muggle’s house in which Horace Slughorn has set up camp:

   “Oh, there you are, Albus,” he said. “You’ve been a very long time. Upset stomach?”

   “No, I was merely reading the Muggle magazines,” said Dumbledore. “I do love knitting patterns…”

Pg. 96:

  “Dumbledore says people find it far easier to forgive others for being wrong than being right,” said Hermione.

Pg. 392:

     “I can’t stop thinking about her!” said Ron hoarsely.

    Harry gaped at him. He had not expected this and was not sure he wanted to hear it. Friends they might be, but if Ron started calling Lavender “Lav-Lav,” he would have to put his foot down.

Pg. 416, in the Hospital Wing in a bed beside a recovering Ron, Harry’s conversation with Madam Pomfrey:

   “Cracked skull,” said Madam Pomfrey, bustling up and pushing him back against his pillows. “Nothing to worry about, I mended it at once, but I’m keeping you in overnight. You shouldn’t overexert yourself for a few hours.”

   “I don’t want to stay here overnight,” said Harry angrily, sitting up and throwing back his covers. “I want to find McLaggen and kill him.”

   “I’m afraid that would come under the heading of ‘overexertion,’” said Madam Pomfrey, pushing him firmly back onto the bed and raising her wand in a threatening manner.

Pg. 443, Voldemort to Dumbledore:

   Voldemort’s expression remained impassive as he said, “Greatness inspires envy, envy engenders spite, spite spawns lies. You must know this, Dumbledore.”

    “You call it ‘greatness,’ what you have been doing, do you?” asked Dumbledore delicately.

Pg 578, after a life-threatening situation in which Dumbledore was injured and had to rely on Harry, this being one of my favorite moments in the entire series:

    “It’s going to be all right, sir,” Harry said over and over again, more worried by Dumbledore’s silence than he had been by his weakened voice. “We’re nearly there…. I can Apparate us both back…. Don’t worry….”

    “I am not worried, Harry,” said Dumbledore, his voice a little stronger despite the freezing water. “I am with you.”

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And there you have it. My gushing post about Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Have you read the book? How do you feel about it? Do you remember or did you take part in the theorizing or festivities that led to the last book?

31 thoughts on “UP!–The Half-Blood Prince: A ROYAL READ

  1. Excellent – I think you are my new Harry Potter hero and I have decided I want to be Dumbledore when I grow up. 🙂 I am so behind on the series now… I have to get caught up I can not wait!!! I read the book, Harry A History and enjoyed it, thank you for bringing it up in your post. I also forgot about Mugglenet and now must go check it out for old times sake 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • SO glad you liked this, Sheila 🙂 It brings back some great memories I will always cherish, for sure! I’m with you on Dumbledore! It is a time in my life I will never forget and I’m really glad you started this ReRead-along, my dear. Thank you 😀

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  2. Donna, Your reading group sounds very special. I can see how analyzing Harry Potter in such depth can really help you with your own writing and writing challenges. Interesting seeing the different covers for the same book. I wonder if you could teach a class for one of the NJ SCBWI conferences about how reading/analyzing Harry Potter has helped you as a writer. Terrific post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It really was special, Robin 🙂 And you know, that’s not a bad idea, though I can’t imagine finding the time to do it. I’m not sure I’m qualified either :/ scratches head Of course, if it got me a free ticket to attend the conference, I’d consider it! lol Thanks for the idea!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m so glad you enjoyed this, Cynthia! I consider your praise quite the compliment 🙂 And, oh, I DO hope you read these someday, and when you do, always keep in mind that each book grows with the story and characters in depth and tension, so don’t be tempted to quit too early. They’re magnificent!

        And you must follow by going to my home page, I’m guessing. I think when it’s by email notification you’re led directly to the post itself, so then if you clicked on the link the home page would open in a separate tab so the music would play without interruption when you’re back at the post page 🙂 That was my intent, anyway lol In fact, it loops!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, Joanna 🙂 So glad you liked it! I REALLY enjoyed writing it for all the reasons mentioned within it. SUCH a special time/book for me 🙂

      And yes, I always attend our local NJ SCBWI conference in June. It’s the BEST! 🙂 Of course, I may be biased, having helped head it in the past! lol Do you attend? I can’t recommend conferences and writing events enough. There’s nothing like being around kindred Kidlit spirits and certainly all the networking 🙂

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  3. Love it or hate it, the internet can make reading more powerful, it allows us to find opinions and theories straight away and through that friends and that is such an amazing gift. For some reason I remember more about the film than the book, apart from where they go into that cave to get a horcrux, I remember that bit although I knew bad stuff was going to happen straight away, a bit like Jaosn and the Argonauts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, Ste J! 😀 So true…I will always have a love/hate relationship with the internet, but do my best to stay with the positives (as you stated 🙂 ) and avoid the negatives (including the time suck) when possible!

      Having been away from reading the books for about 7 1/2 years, I found, too, that the movie versions were, in many ways, my prominent memory—and that REALLY ticked me off! Because of that, I no longer have the desire to watch the movies at all. I loved them up until “Phoenix” in which the distortion became too damaging to the story (I think), but now it’s bothering me that all the movies affected my memory of the books I knew SOOOOooooo well!

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      • I hear you on that, I remember trying to reread Lord of the Rings years ago and just had all the movie visuals which was disappointing, I try to avoid films where possible but usually end up watching them out of curiosity and then I can point out how much better the book is, ha!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yep! The only movie I can wholeheartedly say surpassed (FAR surpassed, in my opinion) the book/s was my beloved “The Wizard of Oz.” That movie is amazing 😀 But I hated the one book I read (as an adult, which may be why). Literally, from the first page it was like pulling my literary teeth pushing my way through that book! lol

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          • The Oz books are a huge departure, I have all of them but have only read four, I remember one had lots of cutlery puns which greatly amused me. The Wizard of Oz was a great film, I loved Return to Oz as well, it’s still sinister today.

            Liked by 1 person

            • You know, I haven’t watched “Return to Oz,” partially ’cause it looks kinda creepy to me, but also because I’m sort of protective (?) of the first film rendition. I really should try to watch it. I was also recently given a pretty detailed rundown of Wicked, too. Sounds so dark!

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  4. What a timely post for me! I’m about to begin a fantasy unit with my 5th graders, and I was angsting over which book to use as my interactive readaloud. I think you’ve nailed it for me! Especially since I can use your post to show kids the lasting effects of community and the line of writing to reading. I study books for myself too, always looking to integrate the art and the craft of it all. JK Rowling certainly is a great role model for us all!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gael, this THRILLS me!!! I can’t tell you how gratifying this is 😀 I never even thought this post would even serve that kind of worthy purpose. You really make it feel worth the time 🙂 I DO hope your students get something out of all of it. J. K. Rowling’s work has merit on SO many levels, and you’ve just shown how 🙂 Thank you!

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