September 7th, 2019


Book #44: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

Number of pages: 607

This is my least favourite book in the Harry Potter series; it didn't really do it for me, and for a lot of the book, this felt like J.K. Rowling going through the motions, with the usual content that fills her Harry Potter books, like Quidditch and (since around the fourth book) Harry's romantic life. I was a little annoyed on my first read that Harry did not appear until chapter 3, although reading it again, the first two chapters weren't that bad.

There were a few surprises, like Snape becoming Defense Again the Dark Arts teacher, when J.K. Rowling faked us out into thinking this would end up being the new character, Professor Slughorn, but this one really does drag until the final few chapters, although there were a few nice bits, including the chapter where Hermione thinks Harry has drugged Ron's drink to improve his performance at Quidditch.

So, a lot this book is about fleshing out Lord Voldemort's backstory, through numerous visits to the pensieve, and I felt that I had to pay more attention than in the previous titles (there were a couple of chapters that I completely re-read).

I remember I was really annoyed when I first read how this one ended, it seemed that J.K. had decided to do a complete U-turn regarding what I thought she'd established for certain characters. I of course refer to possibly the most shocking chapter in the whole series...

[Spoiler (click to open)]

This book's twenty-seventh chapter, when Dumbledore dies, at the hands of Snape, who was made to look like a villain in the first book, and who at the end of this book appears to have been faking being a good guy all along.

I did manage to guess the truth before I read the final book, and knowing how it all ends made me feel less frustrated about this one. I also did notice on this read-through that J.K. did stick a few clues as to what was really happening throughout this one. However, this doesn't stop this from being the most disappointing book in the series, possibly because it's mostly just a way of building up the plot for Deathly Hallows.

Next book: Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)

Books 52 and 53

52. Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie
During a party, a teenaged girl boasts of witnessing a murder. Later she’s found drowned in the apple bobbing tub, and Hercule Poirot is asked to look into the matter. This is near the end of the series, and Poirot is old but still sharp. I found the mystery itself to be a little disappointing; but nevertheless, it was an enjoyable beach read and should make for good discussion at the October book club meeting. Read 22-26 August.
53. The River by Peter Heller
What starts as an idyllic canoe trip for two college friends through the Canadian wilderness goes awry due to an approaching forest fire, an early fall, and encounters with some sketchy fellow humans. This was an intriguing combination of slow burn and wild ride, character study and nature story. It seems like it would be a standard survivalist thriller, but there are some compelling issues brought into question that would make for a good discussion. Read 21 August-2 September.