By this time, half of the world knows who gets killed in "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince" and the other half is fast getting filled in with the help of some rather unkind zeal on part of the first half. But readers of this blog need not worry for this post is NOT a SPOILER. All that the post shall try to do is to give a dispassionate (and rather partial, as per my individual views and inferences) overview of the way the sixth book in the legendary series is placed and without going into the nitty gritties of the story at all, try to interpret the phenomenon that Harry Potter has undoubtedly become.
Since it is hardly any use mentioning the popularity of the series, it might be a better idea to think of the reasons for the same. Ever since the first edition of the enchanting series came and readers got addicted to the tales of a young boy studying magic in a school for magical folk and playing a strange game called Quidditch, while defending the Philosopher's stone from the dark side, the story has just been one roller coaster ride after another. We have all seen that boy, Harry Potter, brave five years in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry along with his friends Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger and we have all been entertained by three movies that have come up so far on the series (with the other books being covered, as well).
The young and the old have all been giving rave reviews to the way in which JK Rowling, the high profile author of the Harry Potter series, has been giving shape to her characters and story, year after year...all aimed at one grand finale, the seventh book of the series that she is working on right now. In the meanwhile, there has been an evident shift in her story telling style over the six books that have come out so far. Starting from an out-and-out kids' book, the joy and kiddish mystery that the first book stood for has been, to a large extent, replaced by the chilling sequences of the latest that shall probably appeal more to the slightly older generation...not that the kids aren't interested any more...the craze is to be seen to be believed. Even the latest book had crowds of children thronging the book stores right since midnight when the book was to be released with book reading by the author from a castle in the UK marking the occasion.
The Half Blood Prince takes the Harry Potter story forward to Harry and friends' sixth year at Hogwarts. With Voldemort having risen to full power in the last book and the dark side consisting of Death Eaters becoming more and more powerful, it is now time for Harry to grow into what the prophecy intends him to be...the chosen one who can challenge the dark Lord himself. It is also time for people all around to be growing out of their childhood into the stages of adolescence and of course, the consequent series of infatuations and affairs. Amidst all the evil and the natural cycle of emotional maturity, the lesser things like magic and house rivalries between Gryffindor and Slytherin, and even Quidditch have to take a back seat.
The Order of the Phoenix had already set the tone for something similar and with the declaration by the author of a high profile death in Half Blood Prince, nothing less in terms of the darker overtones would have been expected of the latest, either. The book does fulfill all those expectations but unfortunately, it does only that. In fact, it seems as if the book has been written with the single purpose of killing that high profile character. Apart from very little clarity (it has actually been dealt with quite well, but in too subtle a manner for the younger readers to appreciate) on the reasons for the character's death, the book hardly advances the story any further in an apparent manner.
The relatively lame beginning and shortage of joyous distractions (like Quidditch) in the middle had to be compensated by a fitting finale which was not present at all. The totality of the book was sacrificed to create proper impact through the totality of the series and the fitting of the book in the scheme of things. The book, rather unfortunately, has been reduced to a repetition of an already proven formula. Throw in one evil guy, one match of Quidditch, one suspicious act by Snape, one kind act by Hagrid, one unraveling of mystery by Dumbledore, one Harry, one Ron, one Hermione, and some spice in the form of romance budding amongst the growing teenagers and voila! You have Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.