Monday, July 25, 2005
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
I read the latest Harry Potter book while on vacation. I read it in the DFW Airport. I read it on the airplane. I read it in hotels. I read it on the beach in La Jolla, California. I finished it, in tears, while in bed. My sister was nice enough to let me keep the light on and finish it. It was remarkable, because that is exactly how I finished the fourth book too. It was over the Christmas holiday so I was kicked out of my room and had to bunk with my little sister.

I would rate the fourth book right up there with number one, three, and four. It is very easy for me to classify the books at good (#2 and #5) and really good (#1, #3, #4, and now #6). Going beyond that sort of classification is hard for me, because I just cannot choose.

Things I loved about this book. (Jacki, you might not want to read this unless you have read the whole book. )
This book tied elements of the books together and also gives us a great idea of what the next book will be about. It struck me as so odd that I bought this book not knowing a thing about the plot. I knew there would be a major character dying. I knew that this would be another year at Hogwarts. But I knew nothing else. I have a better idea of what will happen next book. And I have some questions that I know should be answered. That is exciting.

This was my favorite part. At the very end. Page 644-645:
And Harry remembered his first nightmarish trip into the forest, the first time he had ever encountered the thing that was then Voldemort, and how he had faced him, and how he and Dumbledore had discussed fighting a losing battle not long thereafter. It was important, Dumbledore said, to fight, and fight again, and keep fighting, for only then could evil be kept at bay, though never quite eradicated... And Harry saw clearly as he sat there under the hot sun how people who cared about him had stood in front of him one by one, his mother, his father, his godfather, and finally Dumbledore, all determined to protect him; but now that was over. He could not let anybody else stand between him and Voldemort; he must abandon forever the illusion he ought to have lost at the age of one, that the shelter of a parent's arms meant nothing could hurt him. There was no waking from his nightmare, no comforting whisper in the dark that he was safe really, that it was all in his imagination; the last and greatest of his protectors had died, and he was more alone than he had ever been before.
That is a great piece of literature. I thought about some of the other good vs. evil stories and how they compared to this. I thought about Star Wars and ET and Jesus. I read in an article in Newsweek (I think) how there are some college courses about Harry Potter that compare the story to other classic pieces of literature. And the things that might have influenced Rowling. That would be a facinating class to take.

At the end of the book, where Ron and Hermoine show their support for Harry in his quest, it reminded me of the end of (R.I.P) Joan of Arcadia. Joan is told that she will be fighting good vs. evil. And her "army" is made up of her friends.

God: The universe is kinetic, Joan. Every day, you have to make a choice. Make it better or worse. Most people do a little bit of both. And there are those powerful enough to overbalance the scales on either end.

Joan: So is this fancy talk for you expect me to save the world?

God: Counterbalance is a better word.

Joan: You want me to fight back?

God: I expect you to fulfill your true nature, same as it ever was.

Joan: I really don't think I'm up to this.

God: I think you are or else you wouldn't have met him.

Joan: This is seriously going to cut into my normal high school routine.

God: You never liked high school that much.

Joan: If you want me to do this, I get it, but I can't do it alone. My own father doesn't believe me. My ex-boyfriend is siding with the devil. I have no weapons. Other people who have fought back, you know, the other Joan, she had an army, ok? I don't have anything like that. Where's my army?

[God looks pointedly to the side. Joan follows his gaze to see her group of friends. Grace says, "Quit it, Friedman!" and both Grace and Glynis smack Friedman. Luke is tossing something at Friedman. Adam is seemingly oblivious, lost in his own thoughts.]

Joan: Yeah. So basically I'm on my own.

God: You have everything you need, Joan. [He walks off, giving a low Godwave.]

I had the same feeling reading the end of Harry Potter that I had watching this very last episode of Joan of Arcadia.

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