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Jeffery Donaldson
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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré I last read The Half-Blood Prince when I was sixteen, so it's not surprising that my opinions about it have changed. More specifically, my views on characterization have changed a lot. Let's break it down. *Warning,* mild spoilers ahead.

Harry: He's a lot more likeable in this novel than in previous instalments. He's more mature, he's funny, and he takes his "destiny" into his own hands. He's a protagonist that I actually like (unlike in previous novels, where he's pretty dull and depends on others around him to do anything useful).

Voldy: The insight we're given into Tom Riddle's background makes this book the best in the series. I used to say that the Goblet of Fire was my fave. Not anymore. Riddle is a really scary, three-dimensional villain. I loved seeing his transformation from a good looking child, teen, and young man into an inhuman shell of himself. Rowling's description of him visiting Dumbledore in the office, all waxen and blood-shot, had my hair standing on end. I'm not sure how I missed the genius of it the first time around.

Dumbly: FINALLY we get to see more of Dumbledore. The characterization of him in this novel is fantastic. He's funny and lighthearted, but powerful enough to be scary. We learn more about what he does when he's outside of Hogwarts, and it's not very pleasant. The Cave scene was scary enough that I shelved this novel under "horror." I'm really bitter about the ending. Bitter and sad.

Snape: I used to love Snape. I don't know why; it's probably because it was the unpopular opinion, and I wanted to be different. Even with the reveal of his heartbreaking background in The Deathly Hallows, Snape acts like an angsty teen who lashes out for no reason (kind of like Sirius, actually, another character I used to be very attached to). He's emotionally abusive, and even his feelings for Lily and hatred toward James and Sirius don't make his behaviour okay.

Malfoy: Like Snape, I used to romanticize Draco's behaviour. Yes, I pity him. He comes from a really tough background, and is thrown into a darker life than he wants. I still don't condone the ruthless bullying that Harry had to endure for the 5.5 years before we learn about his internal struggles.

Hermione: She's really annoying in this one, which is a pity. She's normally one of my favourites.

Ginny: Teenage me really disliked the relationship between her and Harry. I'm baffled at this now. Ginny is really funny, lovely character, and I'm glad we saw more of her in this novel than in previous ones.

Hagrid: I can't believe I'm about to say this, but I didn't care for him. He's not as fleshed out as some of the other cast. In comparison to the backgrounds of Dumbledore and Riddle, he feels flat and almost caricature-like.

If I had so many issues with some of the characters, then why is this my (now) favourite Harry Potter novel? Because it has all of the immersive qualities of its predecessors, but with added depth. It exits the lane of popcorn lit and into the realm of psychological exploration.