The Half Blood Prince

Slightly behind the curve I realise, but I have finally read Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. I was very close to not bothering with it as I found the last two books in the series very boring. But given that there were only two more books to go, I decided I’d give it a chance.

I’m glad I did. It’s a lot better than the last book. It’s still far too long and could probably be half the size if Rowling had a decent editor, but I didn’t find myself contemplating giving up on it as I did with The Order of the Phoenix.

There was one area where the padding was painfully obvious. Rowling has realised that her characters are sixteen and seventeen and therefore they should start taking notice of the other sex. Now Rowling is a few years younger than me and the interaction between the sexes that she portrays would have been considered outdated when I was a teenager. I’m sure it’s laughable to sixteen year olds now.

I realise that Rowling has a slight problem here. Her readers haven’t aged at the same rate as Harry, Ron and Hermione. I think there are probably a very small number of sixteen and seventeen year olds reading the books. Most of Rowling’s readers are four or five years younger than that. So that means that she can’t really go into detail about what Harry and Ginny got up to behind the bikesheds. But in that case, I think she would have been much better off just leaving the subject out completely. The way that the characters interact (“ew, look, they’re snogging”) and, in particular, the way that Rowling writes about Harry’s feelings for Ginny are completely unrealistic (and, yes, I full understand the irony of calling for more realism in a book about wizards).

Rowling writes about relationships in a way that appears to be forty years out of date. And by doing so she removes a point of familiarity for her potential readers. I’m not saying that all teenagers live their lives like characters from Junk or Doing It, but I think that Melvin Burgess is much closer to the truth than Rowling is.

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