August 3, 2007
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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

by J. K. Rowling

Lately, I've found it satisfactory to skip the Harry Potter books and wait for the detailed and faithfully-rendered movies. I particularly enjoyed the recent film of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and I realized on leaving the theater that my policy has a flaw: I won't know How It Turns Out until sometime in 2011.

That seems a long time to wait, even if it does require interrupting a heavy summer reading list for an extra 1200 pages of light fiction. And so, Eric Sink on the Business of Software and N. J. Lowe's wonderful The Classical Plot and the Invention of Western Narrative stay on the stack while I revisit Hagrid and Hogwarts.

There's nothing I can tell you that you don't already know about this book. Rowling's writing is clean and direct, her world-building superb, her plotting amiable. This book is afflicted with buckets of exposition. Its famously Sad Ending doesn't quite serve to hide the fact that it doesn't really do much to advance the plot. The kids used to have some interior life, but now that the boys and girls are snogging in the corridors we dare not inquire too closely what they're thinking.

But never mind: the Hogwarts Express is such fun.