Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince -- J. K. Rowling

"'Yes, thank you, Phineas,' said Dumbledore quellingly."

Now the truth of the matter is that I have a great fondness for adverbs. I use a lot of them myself. But not as many as J. K. Rowling, whose characters are forever saying things "tartly" or "stubbornly" or "soothingly." And sometimes, as in the example above from page 259 of the latest Harry Potter opus, "quellingly." It doesn't wear well over the course of 652 pages.

And what's this about "apparition" classes? Harry and the gang have to learn to "apparate," which is teleporting by another name, so wouldn't they have "apparation" classes? I don't think this is Rowling's fault. It's bound to be a copy-editor's call, and it just seems wrong to me.

I have one other quibble. The book is too much of a set-up. You may be thinking, "Gee, Bill, that's a clever comment. What do you think the other five books were?" OK, you have a point. Still, I thought the ending was a little rushed. Lots of set-up and not enough pay-off.

All that being said, I enjoyed the book quite a bit, and I'm looking forward to the seventh and final one. I don't understand those people (and there are a lot of them) who say, "I'm an adult, with sophisticated adult reading tastes, and I just can't read those childish books." I have nothing against adults, and I'd always hoped I'd become one (didn't work out). We need adults to run things (too bad they're not in charge, though). But you'd think even an adult could enjoy a book written for young people. Maybe some adults can. If they can't, there's always John Irving's new novel, which is much, much longer than Rowling's book. The adults are welcome to it.


  1. For me it's not about age. I just don't think she's a very good writer. I read the first couple to my girls, but as soon as they were old enough to read themselves, I cried off.

  2. Jeff Meyerson9:50 AM

    Bill, I'm with you. I thought this one was much better than the last couple and I will definitely be out there buying and reading the last one when it is ready.

    Adults are welcome to Isabel Allende's "new Zorro" but I'm happy at Hogwarts.

    And jj is wrong (IMHO): He may not like the books but she is a very clever writer.

  3. First, I love the Harry Potter books. There was this ONE quote by Dumbledore that made me giggle, though. "And now, Harry, let us step out into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure."

    Adventure, you ditzy tease, you...

  4. My ex-sister-in-law bought her husband (my brother) a copy of Harry Potter And The Philosophers Stone (and shame on the movie producers for deciding that "philosopher's stone" was too tough a concept for American audiences)and while he didn't care that much for it, I got hooked. She may not be a "great" writer but I think the books have progressed, both in size and sophistication as her character and her audience have aged. Jeff has it right; she is a clever writer and while she may not be Tolkien her books are going to be remembered.

  5. Actually, it was Scholastic that originally thought "Philosopher's Stone" too tough for Americans. Hollywood just followed suit in this instance.

    I agree that Rowling can write a page-turner, but man, with Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix I started wondering if she'd challenged herself to see how many pages she could actually make readers turn! Chop out all those clunky adverbs, and I swear the books would be 100 pages shorter...

  6. Anonymous5:08 PM

    The big surprise for me in HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE was the word "slut" appearing. I can't wait for some "parent" group objecting and calling for the book to be banned from school libraries.

    George Kelley

  7. I am amazed at the response of people of all ages to these books. How did any author get kids to read 800 pages eagerly? My youngest hasn't read anything since finishing her last AP English class months ago, but she grabbed this book the day it came out and read it in a couple days. Thankfully this jumpstarted her reading other books again.

  8. Heather1:09 PM

    JKR's books have kept me spellbound from the very first book. I find myself wishing everyday that this story was real -- horrible though things have gotten lately in the Order of the Phoenix -- JKR is a brilliant writer... and I only hope she continues to write more "Harry" type books, although I would find her or anyone hardpressed to top a series like Harry Potter. Everyday I read it I find myself wondering, "How does someone think up this amazing stuff!!" Everytime I pick up the book I am drawn into it. And it's definitely not a matter of age... I've enjoyed these books since I was about 17, and am now 21... hardly a child. I did read Lord of the Rings before this books series - loved those - and, upon finishing my first Harry Potter book, was completely devoted to the series. I guess you could say that right there is a little of JKR's real magic. :-)

  9. Hey, I'm 54 years older than you, Heather, and I still look forward to them.