Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6)
By: J.K. Rowling
Reviewed By: Jon Henshaw, M.A.
Harry Potter is back with the sixth book from J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince continues where it left off, with Harry Potter living with his notorious Aunt and Uncle after his fifth year of school. Unlike some of the previous books, the summer-time experience is short-lived, and Harry quickly finds himself back at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
As with all of the Harry Potter series, the subject matter and intensity seem to mature with the age of its characters. For example, Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, the main characters of the Harry Potter series, experience bouts of jealousy and infatuation, and they all embark on experiences with dating and kissing. Kids who are similar in age as the characters will easily relate to their social experiences in this book, and parents will remember what it was like when they were kids.
The social scene isn't the only thing that matures with this latest novel. This book is easily the darkest of all of the books so far. For example, J.K. Rowling introduces a new terror called Inferius. The Inferi are dead people who become zombie-like creatures that are controlled by the dark wizard, Voldemort. There are some very scary scenes with the Inferi that would make many adults cringe. It's important to note that some of the dark and scary scenes in this book may not be suitable for young minds. Especially minds that will have trouble sleeping after reading it.
Overall, this book was much better than its predecessors. The story is much more interesting, and it flows a lot better. Whereas the previous books had a similar structure, this book takes on an entirely different flavor. Less time is spent on the summer before school, and detailed Quidditch games. Instead, more time is spent fleshing out new and old mysteries, along with Harry Potter discovering the uses and the history of the Half-Blood Prince's potions book.
I would recommend this book for children closer to their teenage years. Some of the scenes and details may not be suitable for children 10-years-old or younger. Similar to the advice I give parents about movies, I would encourage parents to read the book first, before allowing their children to read it. However, if you do go that route, be sure you schedule enough time, because the book is a little over 650 pages long.