While The Order of the Phoenix is by far my favorite Potter Book, Half-Blood Prince is the book I’m most familiar with. I’ve read it twice already—once when it first came out and again the month before that last book was released. Plus, the movie version was part of the SparkNotes Movie Club two years ago.
But do I like the book? Kind of. Overall it’s fantastic, but there are nitpicky things that bug me about the story, namely Snape and Dumbledore and the ultimate plan. Also, Ginny is a lamp. I know she’s less lamp-ish in the books, but she still pales in comparison to Luna.
Chapter One: The Other Minister
Better Title: Harry Potter’s Not In This Chapter
Chapters without Harry Potter are great. That’s not because Harry is a bad character, but after spending so much time with that angsty orphan, it’s nice to break things up with a few chapters sans Potter. It’s like eating delicious pizza and stopping to have an onion ring.
This chapter serves to give a bit of backstory and set everything up for the rest of the series. Here’s what you need to know:
The Second Wizarding War has begun. There is no denying that Voldemort is back. Rufus Scrimgeour has replaced Cornelius Fudge as the Minister of Magic. The Muggle Prime Minister is aware of what’s happening and everything seems dark and ominous.
Ladies and gentlemen, grab your crying rag and hug your beloved stuffed pterodactyl. Things are about to get sad.
Harry: Hey lady, why aren’t I in this chapter?
JK ROWLING: Shh. Be quiet. I need to explain some things in this chapter.
HARRY: But I’m the boy who freakin’ lived! I should be in every chapter! Couldn’t you squeeze me in? Maybe I could pop up and say, “Later taters!”
ROWLING: Relax. There are still plenty of chapters for you. Go practice Quidditch or imagine what a naked girl looks like.
HARRY: Girls...can be naked?
ROWLING: They really don’t teach you much at that school, do they?
HARRY: I’ll leave you alone. But you’re not going to kill any more of my father figures, are you?
HARRY: Because that would just be mean. You already killed my parents, made me live in closet, made me fall in love with boring women, and you let a curtain kill my godfather. Cut me a break, lady!
ROWLING: Don’t tell me how to do my job.
HARRY: Um...you know who’s a huge father figure of mine? Dean Thomas. Yep, I sure do depend on Dean Thomas. I certainly hope nothing bad happens to him. Dean Thomas. That’s my number one father figure. And not the Weasleys or Dumbledore or Mad Eye. Only Dean. Dean Thomas. He’s my best friend! He’s the brother I never had and the father I always wanted. For reals!
Chapter Two: Spinner’s End
Better Title: Why is Snape Poor?
This is a great chapter in which Bellatrix Lestrange and Narcissa Malfoy visit Snape at his home. His house sucks. I know he only earns a teacher’s salary, but shouldn’t wizards have fancy mansions? They can turn tents into luxurious hotel suites, so a wave of the wand should turn a drab hovel into a palace.
Maybe Snape enjoys living like a rodent.
The first time anyone reads this chapter, they probably fume with hate. Why is Snape agreeing to help the Death Eaters?!? What is he up to?!? SNAPE IS A VILLAIN?!?!
And then you read the entire series and learn that Snape is actually just an emo adult.
Reading this chapter a second time, you see how Snape is playing everyone. He knows what’s about to go down, and he’s chosen to fight for the good guys. Every move is calculated.
Reading this chapter a third time, you’re a bit bored because you’ve already read it twice and your brain starts to wander and you think about how weird it is that soap and soup are almost the same word.
Draco is about to embark on a mysterious secret mission for the Death Eaters and Snape agrees to watch over him. Snape even makes an unbreakable vow, which is like a deadly triple-dog dare in the wizarding world.
If wizards can make unbreakable vows, it must kill a lot of teenagers who go around vowing “I will always love you.” It’s like getting your boyfriend's or girlfriend’s name tattooed on your thigh, except if you break the unbreakable vow, you die. Whereas you can simply add "Just Kidding" to an "I love Stacy 4-Evah!" tattoo. (So the jokes on you, Stace-face!)
SNAPE: I’ll look after Draco and make sure he...does that thing.
BELLATRIX: As long as he does the thing, which is super important, and doesn’t fail at the thing, then all will be right.
NARCISSA: The thing needs to be done, but the thing is dangerous and could go horribly. It’s such a grand thing that Draco must do.
SNAPE: The thing will be done!
BELLATRIX: Don’t screw up the thing.
NARCISSA: The thing worries me.
SNAPE: Hey, wait. Are we talking about Draco killing Dumbledore, or Draco taking Algebra II? Because I’m all for the later. But Algebra II is an unnecessary evil.
BELLATRIX: I thought we were talking about Draco having his first boy-girl party? I think he’s ready.
NARCISSA: Yes. It’s the boy-girl party thing. That it was we’re talking about.
HARRY: I’m here, too! Did you know girls can be naked? Like, when they shower or pee from their belly buttons? Crazy, right?! Learning so much!
Chapter Three: Will and Won’t
Better Title: Serious Green!
Harry is still staying with the Dursley's. It sucks, but he doesn’t have much of a choice. Thankfully, Dumbledore shows up and scares the crap out of the Dursleys.
Dumbledore tells Harry that Sirius left him everything in his will. Harry inherits 12 Grimmauld Place, Sirius’s money, and Kreacher...whom Harry sends to work at Hogwarts. Gandalf...er, Dumbledore then takes Harry back to school, but there will be a stop on the way.
DUMBLEDORE: So, you’re good to go Harry. You get money and a house. You’re gonna get all the honeys. Neat, right?
HARRY: But my godfather is still dead.
DUMBLEDORE: Eh, lots of people are dead, Harry. Einstein’s dead. Abe Lincoln’s dead. Your parents...lots of people die.
HARRY: I sure hope you never die.
DUMBLEDORE: Me too. Did you tell JK that Dean Thomas is your father figure? Did you tell her that his death would inspire you to defeat Voldemort on your own? You told her that, right? That Dean is the most important person in your life? And that I’m just a silly old teacher? She knows that? You told her?
HARRY: Yeah, just like you said.
DUMBLEDORE: (looks over his shoulder) OK. Cool. Cool.
House Bergstein School Announcements
If you want to join House Bergstein, please write three sentences about the 17th best day of your life.
The debate team needs a new left tackle. Tryouts will be held tonight in the Chamber of Phantoms.
Tryouts for the Coed Turtle Team will be held tomorrow morning in the Chamber of Buckets and Utility Sinks.
Next semester’s Intro to Mouth Secrets has been added to the course schedule. In order to take the class, students will need a permission slip from their best friend.
The eggs at this mornings breakfast did not come from chickens. To say more would spoil the surprise, but those with werehawk allergies need to see the school nurse immediately.
There are new rules of the Winter Ball. You may ask anyone to the dance, but you can only ask via awkward, vague text messages such as, “Hey? Wasup? LOL Study Hall Sux”
Learn to tie a knot that can bind the wind.
Read Chapter 7: Murder, of Duckingson’s Guide to Ghost Making.
If the elves went to their elf heaven, and the dwarves went underground, what the hell happened to the Hobbits? Explain in a short essay.