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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.
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.Before 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).
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.
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:
British cover, Bloomsbury:
British cover for adults, Bloomsbury (yes, there were adults embarrassed to be reading the books):
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…”
“Dumbledore says people find it far easier to forgive others for being wrong than being right,” said Hermione.
“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.”
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: SO Glad I Didn’t Miss THIS Train!
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: Still AWED While Reading Anew!
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: When a Book is a “THRILL RIDE!”
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Burned by the GOBLET OF FIRE!
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: The PHOENIX: No Ordinary Bird…
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: An Unforgettable, “HALLOWED” Conclusion
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?