Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I would like to start this (long awaited) review with this.

Link to Quiz

Your in-depth results are:

Gryffindor – 15
Ravenclaw – 11
Slytherin – 10
Hufflepuff – 9

To be honest, I fancied myself a Slytherin or a Hufflepuff. I guess Gryffindor is in between, eh? Anyway, I didn’t take the official test on Pottermore because I refuse to make an account.

Start Weak

Everybody agrees that Deathly Hallows part I, the movie, was one of the worst in the series. Well, the first 2/3 of the novel was very boring as well. Even when it bothered to get interesting, it would quickly get boring again. The whole horcrux thing was a great idea, but it was played off really poorly.

Deaths

No deaths in the entire Harry Potter series was handled perfectly. Sirius was handled pretty well, but he was quickly forgotten, as if he had never existed. Dumbledore was the same way, but I will admit it was done much better.

In Deathly Hallows the people who died were so forgettable that I don’t even remember them while writing this review! I could go look it up, but if they were so minor I can’t remember them then… why bother mentioning them in a review? Oh! There was Moody. Right. The guy who was super interesting and clever until he got replaced by his real self. right. See my point?

The Hunt for Horcruxes

Look, the horcux thing was cool. Harry finally had a mission. But… this should have come about way back in book two or three, or four. Not six. And then IT’S THROWN ASIDE HALFWAY THROUGH??

The Deathly Hallows

What was the point of the Hallows? They could have never been mentioned. Actually, no it’s a motivation for Voldemort. he’s finding the wand throughout the entire book, so we need that at least. Well then what about horcruxes? It seems like, if Rowling had bothered to ever write a second draft of anything, which I doubt she ever did, then she would have found and remedied this redundancy.

Redundancy is a huge issue with Harry Potter.

The horcruxes really did serve no purpose whatsoever because it never mattered. It was a useless obstacle for two reasons.

  1. Voldemort is only really encountered when all of the horcruxes are destroyed already.
  2. Harry never fights Voldemort head on while he has the horcrux safety net.

The only thing that really mattered here was the Hallows. Horcruxes should never have come into the story.

Voldemort is an Awful Villain

This goes without saying. Why? Because he’s evil because he’s evil. There’s no reason for him to be bad, he just is. Nothing happened to him, he doesn’t really have a selfishness that makes people go bad, he just likes causing misery.

Why?

We can never get an answer to that question because there isn’t one.

The Ending was not Memorable

I don’t remember how this ended, except for Harry and Volde coming out of the trees and confronting a line of wizards, then Neville killing the snake. After that it’s a blur. I also remember the short, pointless epilogue.

Why wasn’t the ending memorable? Well, it’s because

All the Build Up Went Nowhere.

Remember Grawp? Hagrid went through a whole lot of trouble and abuse to get him. He even had a connection to the half-giant, it’s his brother! What did Grawp, for all his trouble, do? Shove Hagrid through a window and that’s it.

Remember the Deathly Hallows? Well we had one already, the other we also had. The wand Voldemort found, and then what? Not much really. Pointless.

How about Dumbledore’s army! No, wait, Harry disbanded that in book six. Or the Order of the Pheonix? Well, after Harry went off with his two friends to do nothing for a few hundred pages they faded into the background and did @#$% all for the rest of the book.

Lupin had a whole book. Moody sort of had a whole book. Sirius… nevermind. But there were a lot of huge HUGE characters in the series that did nothing in the final fight. Why? Remember all the trouble Harry and Dumbledore went through to recruit Slughorn last book? Well Rowling didn’t.

The Payoffs that did Land Fell Flat

Horcruxes? Yeah, we had to destroy those! Three down by this book. And then… there was no payoff. Nagini died and that was it, it didn’t feel like a victory. That slog, torturing Dumbledore, and at the end of it all we feel unfulfilled.

Then Snape actually did something good for once. We all knew that deep down he was a great character, just misunderstood! I awaited the moment when he would get over himself and start helping out the main cast. Instead, after becoming Harry’s friend, he died. Sirius all over again! No deep attachment was made yet, but bam! Gone!

Defeating Voldemort though, that must have been great, after seven books of buildup, right? Well, no, not at all. He’s floating somewhere ethereal right now, like purgatory or something. He’s a crying child which, by the way, makes no sense. Like, he was a vile trickster even in his orphanage. What’s he crying about? Who cares?

I Don’t Know what to Do Now.

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Evanna Lynch, Luna Lovegood.

See, Harry Potter is beloved by so many, and while I don’t really hate it, I also can’t recommend it. I watched three of the movies, but there’s no rewatch/reread value whatsoever aside from maybe seeing what Luna looks like as an actor. (Nevermind, she’s super hot. Might have to watch the movies with her.)

The worst thing about the whole series is that it’s not even a bad story, it’s just delivered poorly, and in bad prose.

It’s as if Rowling never learned how to be a writer, and just decided to write a series regardless. Oh wait…

JK Rowling ignored the advice that was given in rejection letters. Advice to take a course, or otherwise improve her writing. She just kept submitting, and got turned down more than fifteen times. By refusing to improve, she not only let’s down Harry Potter, but also her fans.

Verdict

Harry Potter and the Nothing Happens is a book about just that. It felt kind of Hallow to be honest. I didn’t feel Deathly, or even let down. I didn’t feel much of anything, which isn’t a good sign. I just didn’t.

54/100, not memorable. I honestly hope Rowling tries to improve her writing in the future so that her next series is a masterpiece that people love far above Harry Potter.

Want to chat? Check out the Reddit post.

You can find all the reviews at the Harry Potter Table of Contents.

Daniel Triumph.
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Interested in getting the book yourself? You can buy it here, Deathly Hallows (Amazon Affiliate Link)

Manga, Ecchi, and My Current Favourite

Hey, it’s my birthday! Well, capitalism stops for no man, so here is your daily post!

By now it should be clear that I’m a fan of all forms of narrative. Specifically, I like series and I like concept music. The world of anime is not new to me, I was a huge follower of Japanese art during my adolescence, starting around the age of ten when I watched Bleach, and then age eleven when I finished all three Dragonball series.

Since my younger days, two things have happened. I’ve found I have far less time for TV and far more time for books, as I am an artist, I can pass reading manga off as “research.” Actually, aside from the terrifically paced Death Note (which I dropped after Near and Mellow showed up), I don’t really like manga.

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My Credentials

That’s why Hajimete no Gyaru stands out so much. It took me into a medium I don’t particularly enjoy, and gave me enjoyment.

What is a Gyaru?

What is a “gal?” Well, a gal or gyaru (what I will be referring to it as for the rest of this article) is a form of fashion based rebellion in Japan. At least, it started as a form of rebellion back in the late twentieth century. Now it’s mostly a fashion trend.

I took this from Wikipedia

Rebellion

Goth and gyaru styles blend well.

The Gyaru or Ganguro style originally came about in the 1970s and hit its top in the 80s. It shows a stark contrast to what was and still is traditionally fashionable in Japan. Like all cultures in the world, pale skin is valued above all. I’m not sure why, maybe I’ll write about that odd mentality in the future, as I am not pale myself, but instead a mixed person. Anyway, gyaru artificially darkened their skin with something similar to rub-on or spray-on tan. This darkening is less common nowadays. Black hair is nearly universal in Japan, so obviously, the gyaru had to ditch that too. They wear a lot of make-up usually, and certain branches go for a younger look, enlarging the appearance of eyes with liner.

Gyaru are considered both immature and also slutty. It seems that people assume that like other bleach-blonde girls, the gyaru are “easy.” This viewpoint is repeated in most of the anime that I’ve seen gyaru in, that they makeout as easily as they breathe, that they’re a good place to go for easy sex. Whether this is true or not, well you’d have to ask a gyaru.

In my mind, I like to parallel the gyaru style with the gothic style. They’re both looked at as odd in their respective cultures, and they both tend to group together, as sort of purposeful outcasts. Gyaru has heavy western influence, and so sometimes the two actually meet. it’s pretty cool, if you have tastes like mine anyway.

The Ecchi Anime

Ecchi is a term that just means “sexy,” or “dirty” in Japan. In western culture, it basically means “fanservice” or “tits.” An ecchi anime usually doesn’t feature any nipples (heaven forbid!) but will often show off 90% of a breast, most of an ass, and so on. Some Ecchi get really crazy, as plot generally falls to the wayside in favour of fanservice.

Generally, in a series like this, you have a beautiful and endearing girl with a face of pure innocence, paired with a worthless boy who is good at nothing and never tries to improve. That’s actually fairly standard ecchi/harem based-on-a-visual-novel fair. In fact, it’s so common that about 30% of these carbon-copy, worthless, self-insert main characters have the exact same name, Keita.

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Here’s a small fraction from a master list of Keitas. I underlined all the romances I could find.

I’ve watched enough anime to know when something isn’t worth my time.

The first sign is 5+ girls interested in one guy. Why? Because he never ends up with any of them. It closes unresolved. It’s actually just an ad for their visual novel, where you can go out with your favourite. (For those who don’t know what a visual novel is, it’s essentially a choose-your-own adventure/picture book that you read on a computer. Usually it features a lot of girls who you can have sex with. This is one of the reasons Japan has a NEET problem. (NEET stands for “Not in Education, Employment, or Training”. It’s a term used a lot in Japan, because it’s a real problem there. NEET was term originally used in the UK. (which stands for the United Kingdom.)))

The second sign is if it’s based on a visual novel, again this usually means that it will feature an inconclusive ending that can only be resolved if you play the VN.

The third sign is the tags. Ecchi/harem is generally a great pair of tags if all you’re looking for is fanservice. If you want a romance, stay away!

The Exception

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The one true ecchi.

Very rarely is the nudity ever used to enhance the plot in any way. In fact, there’s only one case in all of the anime I’ve watched where this happened. Oretachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai: Under the Innocent Sky used the fanservice and chaos inherent in the ecchi genre to enhance the atmosphere of the anime.

See, Oretachi is about young adults. The kinds of people who walk around filled with repressed sexually, searching for decent work, and joining small-time gangs. You know, things typical of 20-25 year-olds. The fanservice is either added as comic relief, or very casually and naturally. Oretachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai is actually one of my top anime, despite featuring an almost literal sex scene. (Which was really weird to be honest.)

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This is how it is.

Hajimete no Gyaru

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This is fairly typical anime/manga fanservice.

Also known as Hajimete no Gal. In English, it’s called My (Frist) Girlfriend is a Gal. So as you can see, our two main characters are fairly typical Japanese high school students, although one of them has bleached hair and dresses like a gyaru. Something else you might not have noticed is how unusual their expressions are.

I originally found this manga by its anime. The art was nice, and the main female protagonist, Yukana had something about her… something so rare in female anime character expression. Yukana had confidence. This girl is overflowing with confidence, and confidence is sexy! The male character, Junichi (not Keita) is no pushover either. Let’s talk about him first!

Hashiba, Junichi

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This is the face of passion.

Junichi is just a guy, and that’s what makes him so great. He’s not that tired whiner trope like Hope from Final Fantasy XIII, or some crybaby who contributes nothing to the adventure like Yuki of Mirai Nikki. He’s also not an unstoppable omniscient god like Sora from No Game No Life.

He’s just normal. He’s nervous about meeting girls since he and his anti-social friends probably never talk to them, but he’s not petrified. He actually builds up the nerve with some help from the aforementioned friends and asks Yukana out on his own. They meet up outside school, and after a lot of inner dialogue, he musters his nerve and asks her out.

Yame, Yukana

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This face is just condescending.

When it comes to personality, Yukana is more than just a pretty face and some tits (although, she is well endowed with both.) Yukana is confident, feminine, and friendly. Like, despite being a gyaru she’s actually pretty friendly. She’s also fairly condescending to the main character, but he’s no slouch! He can take it!

She accepts his request at the end of the first volume and they start going out. She likes shooter arcade games and karaoke.

Yukana also knows how to dress up, which is to be expected of a gyaru. Outside of school, she usually dresses in a fairly normal manner. The gyaru thing might just be to keep people out of her hair.

The Good

Hajimete no Gyaru is really awesome when it comes to the main romance. Here’s a breakdown of how romances work, in both eastern and western works of fiction.

  1. The main two want to get together, or maybe one is pursuing another.
  2. Something gets in the way.
  3. They get over it.
  4. In the last chapter they make up and get together.
  5. The end.

Well, Hajimete no Gal put step 4 at the beginning. They’re dating for most of the series. It’s great! Why has no one else noticed this? It’s so unique, I mean, name another series like this. Not where they’re chilling from the beginning, but actually actively going out and dating. Love Hina maybe? I can’t think of one. What does that mean? That means something unique is happening here, and unique is good.

The Bad

If I can think of something to put here, I will. For now, here’s a nice picture.

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This panel in particular stood out to me. Why? Because the main character thinks “health committee,” and imagines Yukana as both a doctor and a nurse. No stereotypes. Yame is whatever she wants to be.

The Great

It’s a brilliant, iconic cover. It shows that packaging matters. How ...
Jurassic Park level pacing.

Pacing! The pacing in this manga is impeccable! Oh man, I should take notes because this series moves so fast, but still gives you enough time to take everything in! It’s wonderful!

I actually caught up to volume three in one night! For reference, I usually read one volume a day, meaning I covered three times my normal amount. Why? Because I was engrossed. I can only compare the pacing to a Michael Crichton novel.

Awesome.

The Amazing

The characters are very realistic, they truly feel human.

Side Cast

Look, even the side characters contribute something. Even the smallest character manages to eventually gain some relevance. Instead of introducing new people, the author got a clever idea, one that I use in my own works. Why not have old characters do the things I want to have new characters do? Keep the pool of people focused, streamlined.

Honjo, Ranko

Yukana’s best friend Ranko? She’s jealous of Junichi because he’s taking all of Yukana’s attention. She sits in on some of their dates, and more often than not actively disrupts them by showing up right when things start to get interesting.

But there’s more.

Ranko.jpg

When Ranko realizes that she’s not going to be successful in breaking the two up, she changes gears. She becomes the badass protector of Junichi and Yukana’s relationship. (While still trying to drive them apart.) How? Why? Well, let’s take a moment to be rational. It seems that Ms Honjo has a very specific set of priorities.

  1. Keep Yukana all to herself.
  2. If 1 is not possible, Junichi x Yame is the next best thing.
  3. If anyone gets in the way of 1 or 2, stop them with physical violence or intimidation.

Ranko is essentially my type, so you go girl! Intimidate that poor deceptive schoolgirl!

Kashi, Yui

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This is the face of someone who’s been beaten at her own game.

This is your typical goody two shoes. The pure girl who the main character is destined to fall for.

 

Well, this isn’t that kind of story, so instead she gets pushed aside and resorts to deceptive tactics to try and force her way into Junichi’s heart! Does she succeed? Well, read the manga to find out! (Hint, no.)

Actually, she tests Junichi’s outer limits of commitment, and she still gets turned down. Then she tries to force herself on Junichi, and of course, Ranko comes in and saves the day, leaping in from… I don’t know, the sky maybe?

Sakamoto, Shinpei

... Ryuugamine from Durarara!! ) joins the cast to voice Shinpei Sakamoto

This is our ringleader, the catalyst. He’s the leader of a group of outcasts, the group Junichi finds himself in at the beginning of the story. Some might write him off, but he has clear motivations and a consistent character.

Actually, if it weren’t for Shinpei this story might not have happened. See, he was the one that forced Junichi into asking Yukana out. It was his idea, and he had to basically force it to happen.

Then later he returns to make MORE plot stuff happen! Like, don’t discount this guy, he’s serious!

Fujinoki, Nene

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I’m not a huge fan of this girl, but luckily her arc was short, and way less cringe-inducing than I expected.

Nene is the childhood friend who’s returned to claim her boi. And that boy is Junichi. She makes a lot of advances on him, utilizing handcuffs and nudity and taking advantage of the fact that she knows where Junichi lives.

In the end she claims that she will be competing with Yukana for Jun’s love. Yukana decides that this is both hilarious and adorable, and stops taking her seriously. Good!

The Endearing

Junichi’s Contributions

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Not once, but twice Junichi stops a girl’s advances.

He informs them that he’s already in a relationship, and he’s perfectly happy with it.

Why is this important? Well, consider the typical harem. The main character hasn’t (and might never) decided on a woman, and so he never blatantly turns down a girl. Junichi is and does. His greatest character trait is his resolve, his commitment.

Junichi does more than just pull his weight. He’s a true second half in this relationship, whether his girlfriend is there to babysit his emotions or not.

Yukana’s Contributions

Image result for hajimete no galAt first, for both halves, the relationship was sort of a joke, and sort of a test ride.

Yukana wasn’t conceited about it though, she regarded Jun with open eyes, and took it seriously when things got serious.

She dresses up for him, and keeps him at a fair distance. She picks on him, flirts with him, and tests him. She asks Ranko for advice and considers Junichi fairly when he makes an advance. (Although most of the time she turns his advances down. She’s not sure what to do in a relationship either!)

The Pair

These two are a great match, which is exactly why this series works. Yukana teases Junichi to confuse him, and Junichi spouts his honest thoughts to confuse her. Neither of them has been in a relationship before, it’s new and exciting. This is a prime example of young love!

The Human

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This is the gold of the series. All the characters, all the situations are so natural. They seem so real, it’s the kind of stuff that happens all over the world, with regular people. It truly is a slice of life, and I love it.

The fact that this series is so grounded, that it invites you to expect a cliche and then instead gives you a natural response, it’s just wonderful. As someone who’s seen over one-hundred anime and is familiar with all the tropes, I was both impressed and refreshed.

Conclusion

download (1).jpgIf you like realism, and good characterization, this manga is for you. I’m so jealous~!

Verdict:

I almost never give a true 10/10. All my My Anime List ratings are bumped up by 1 point since I’m so unfair. (Bleach is a 9, Slayers a 9, Oretachi… I’m not sure, 9.4?)

Hajimete no Gal gets a true 10 out of 10. I absolutely love it, and if it gets translated officially, I will be supporting this artist by purchasing the manga.

Daniel Triumph.

This is where I read the manga, until it gets an official release anyway: http://mangafox.me/manga/hajimete_no_gal/

Grasp of the Undying, by Pentakill

This my a review of the new Pentakill album.

Pentakill: Grasp of the Undying Officially Released for Free ...

Overview

I might be impressed with this album if I hadn’t already been a metal head for three years. On the surface it sounds like Iron Maiden with the singer of Avantasia, all wrapped up in prog. I can understand if someone enjoys it, but as someone who knows what they’re hearing, I can tell it’s 60% Progressive metal, 10% Heavy Metal, and 30% advertisement.

The Progressive Metal

Whoever wrote this was clearly into the prog side of things. Prog is very hit-or miss. For example, Maiden only touches on it, using it as fuel for their music, rather than a base. The other side of prog is the one that gives the genre its bad name. It’s the gaudy, arrogant sound. This album falls into the second category. Just listen to the repulsive seven minute “Blade of the Ruined King” and tell me how you feel afterwards.

The Heavy Metal

It’s okay, but honestly the guatar solos are rock tier. That’s not bad, but Metal solos tell a story and are irreplaceable. Rock solos sound cool and change all the time during live performance. These solos are rock, not metal.

The Advertisement

This is basically the same as most pop songs. At the core, this album was made to sell skins in League of Legends and make its audience go “wow! I can’t believe they made a whole album!” Seeing as I did not react this way, I guess I lie outside the target market, as will most other metalheads.

Verdict

6/10

This album is decent, but not good enough to purchase a hard copy. I don’t even want to listen to it twice, because the prog causes me metal anguish.
It’s like a less artistic version of Far From Reality, a true artistic prog band that mixes classical-style piano with progressive guitars. I would listen to their only album over this every single time if given the chance, as Reminiscence by Far From Reality is a clean 8/10.

In fact, if you liked Pentakill, go check out Far From Reality, you’d love it! Here’s a link: https://farfromreality1.bandcamp.com/album/reminiscence

Daniel Triumph.

Redux: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

This is an enhanced version of the original review. It’s six-hundred words longer, and has more images including a sketch of Lupin that I made myself.

Introduction

I enjoyed this book thoroughly. The Chamber of Secrets was really an experimental mess of a book. But what comes from experimentation? Progress! And the Prisoner of Azkaban is proof that that experimentation paid off. Let’s get right into it.

Edit: I’ll add, that now that I’m nearly done Deathly Hallows, I can say with confidence that Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is my favourite book in the series, despite it lacking my favourite character, Luna Lovegood.**

Beginning

You might remember in my previous reviews that one of my big gripes with Harry Potter is that the books took so long to get of the ground. Eight chapters for the Philosopher’s Stone, and thirteen for the Chamber of Secrets. This time, things get started almost immediately, and I’m really happy that Rowling has realized the flaw in her other two and fixed it!

Edit: Right, so I believe that this book did have a slight dip in interest after the Knight Bus, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the Goblet of Fire’s awful plummet into boredom until chapter 20.

Is Hogwarts Really Safe?

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Movie Lupin

At first I thought this book would take place in Azkaban, maybe rescuing Hagrid or something. Instead, Rowling has brought a little bit of Azkaban to us. In The Philosopher’s Stone, Hagrid tells Harry that Gringots Bank is the safest place to store something, except maybe Hogwarts. I think he was wrong. Hogwarts is possibly the most dangerous school in fiction.

In the first book, maybe it’s safe, if you don’t consider the fact that there’s a Cerberus guarding something inside the castle. Why not somewhere else? Further, there’s the woods just outside full of dangerous creatures. And what about the whomping willow? I’m sure that’s harmed a student or two. The real proof though, is in this and the previous book. In the Chamber of Secrets, there’s a giant killer snake that has access to all the waterways. Real safe, right? And then here, despite large amounts of security, a man with a knife breaks in without issue multiple times! Hogwarts isn’t safe!

Edit: Looking back, Hogwarts is fairly safe, but only in book five. Here’s an overview:

  1. Voldemort is literally in the castle most of the book.
  2. Giant snake. Spiders in the past.
  3. Man with a knife, twice.
  4. The Goblet is tampered with. Voldemort’s most devoted follower is let in as a teacher. A student dies.
  5. Nothing! (Luna is also introduced.)
  6. !!!Killing of a Teacher!!!Death Eaters in the castle!!!
  7. Swarming with Death Eaters.

So, my statement was fairly valid. Gringot’s on the other hand, has only been broken into twice, and no one died.

Middle

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was actually very interesting, and I enjoyed most of the middle portion. Not much to criticize until the end parts. I really enjoyed learning more about Harry’s past, about Harry’s father and his three friends.

Edit: Lupin’s classes were definitely the highlight. They were interesting, and adventurous. I also enjoyed the interactions between Harry and Lupin. Why don’t we talk about the new Defence against the Dark Arts teacher for a bit?

Remus Lupin

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Book Lupin.

I loved Professor Lupin, I think he’s my favourite Harry Potter character so far. In fact, I might do a sketch of him, because my imagination conjured something much different then the movie’s actor. He taught in a practical manner, and helped Harry out a lot. Also, I’m a huge fan of the shabby casual air he had. Quite the opposite of Malfoy, don’t you think? I’d love it if Mr. Lupin returned in the future, although considering what little happens to Lockheart, I’m not getting my hopes up.

Edit: I was right, Lupin does not return, at least not in full force. He comes back in Order of the Phoenix, but it’s not the same Lupin. He’s like… a cheap imitation of Lupin. I was mildly disappointed, but as we know, Ms. Lovegood was introduced in that book, so the pain was numbed. We get our old Lupin back at the end half of the final book. Wow, what a wait, happy to see you again, Lupin!

End

This is where the weak point is. Honestly, I loved the Prisoner of Azkaban from start to finish, but the climax stood out. Something was wrong. Then I realized, it had the exact same issue as the Chamber of Secrets, the climax was a huge infodump! The information was far more interesting, and I was mostly engaged, but holy! The dump was twice as long this time, and there was no actual action scene afterwards, not a real one anyway.

Worse, it takes forever to get started. The kids meet up with the infamous Sirius Black (a suspicious name for an antagonist), and he just wants to explain himself. He says something along the lines of, “You’ve got it all wrong.” Then for a page or two, Harry and his friends interrupt him and flail their wands threateningly. This scene dragged on until Lupin shows up and the exposition begins.

Look, I don’t have a problem with exposition. My favourite book is probably over 30% infodump [Edit: The Lost World is closer to 40% exposition.], but it’s never used as a way to drive the plot forward, just to explain what’s happening. What is happening in Harry Potter, for books two and three, a lot of the climax is being told, not shown. This is poor writing at its most basic definition.

Sirius Black

Image result for harry potter lexicon sirius
Could not find an artist to credit.

Edit: Added this entire section.

Sirius Black is a great character. He’s consistent, he’s moderately (not amazingly) interesting, and he’s a bit of fun. I had so much hope for Sirius, but things don’t turn out well for him later down the line. And I don’t mean what happened at the end of book five, that was actually kind of stupid.

What I mean is, Sirius was Harry’s godfather, he was Harry’s last guardian figure. He deserved not only more screen time, but more depth. Sirius is… a two dimensional character. He’s not flat, but he’s also not whole. He has two sides, the badass, biker side, and the happy go lucky dog side. But that’s it. Sirius would beat out Lupin as my second favourite side character, but he’s just so… empty feeling.

There was one vital scene for Sirius Black, and that was the one were Harry and Sirius have a long, deep conversation with each other. The one where they full develop their relationship, and learn a bit about each other. After that scene, every encounter between the two characters was enhanced, both future and past. You remember that scene?

Neither do I. And it’s a shame it never happened, because it needed to. Rest in Peace fully fleshed out Sirius, we are so sorry that you do not exist.

Conclusion

Look, I know I’ve been ragging on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, but as I said before, I really liked this book. I think Sirius Black was great character, and I loved the twist involving him, and how the book began straight away instead of halfway through. I’m giving this book fourteen extra points on the previous. Fourteen points for Gryffindor! That’s 76/100! Awesome, if this were a movie, that would be a bit over four stars. I hope it’s all uphill from here, because I’m really starting to enjoy myself.

Edit: As we know, it is not uphill from here. The only book that surpasses this is Half-Blood Prince. Lupin and Sirius were great, as was Harry and his friends. It would be great if Rowling learned the meaning of pacing, but I’ll save that rant for the series overview. See you all next book, I hope you return.

You can find all the reviews at the Harry Potter Table of Contents.

Daniel Triumph.

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Interested in getting the book yourself? You can buy it here, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. (Amazon Affiliate)

Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

I would like to start this review with a song.

Start Strong

I will admit that when this book had a strong start, I got worried. The Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix both proved that if a Harry Potter book starts strong, it doesn’t stay that way. The Half-Blood Prince, to my joyous surprise did though. This was the only consistently enjoyable book in the series so far apart from the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Harry Potter is taken to the Burrow by Dumbledore, although they stop so that Harry Potter can help recruit Slughorn as the new teacher.

Upon reaching the Burrow, which is Ron’s house, things go fairly normal. If anything really happened there apart from finding out the Fleur was marrying Bill, I don’t remember it.

We find out that Mrs. Weasley has yet another negative trait. Mr. Weasley even admits that his dream is to figure out how airplanes work, but it seems that Mrs. Weasley doesn’t support his dreams at all. She hates that he’s into non-wizard technology, and is very happy that he’s no longer working in the Muggle Artefacts department.

Ginny also stands up to her mother, reminding me of the twins. She tries to pull her away from talking with Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and she just calls back, “I’m talking with this lot!” I thought it was brilliant. So much, that I wrote the quote down!

The Word of the Day

Before I forget, the word of the day is “prat.” It was used at least six times, but I didn’t bother to count. Seemed to be the prime insult for most of the characters.

Hogwarts

This appears to be wish-fulfilment the book, and we all know how much J.K. loves wish-fulfilment. *Sneers like Snape.*

Speaking of Snape, he finally got the Defence Against the Dark Arts job. And even better, Hermione finally found a teacher that enjoys her hand being up all the time! Slughorn is very impressed.

Lessons with Dumbledore

The lessons with Dumbledore were, as I said, a tool for lazy exposition. Now that isn’t entirely true, it was used for some very good exposition, but I still feel like it could have been executed a bit better. No big deal though.

What did bug me what we actually learned in the pensive’s memories. See, before I had thought that maybe Tom Riddle was a good student who fell to the Dark Arts and turned into the evil Voldimortimer.

Tomathy “Volditort” Riddler

Nope, he was always evil, ever since childhood. Let’s play count the tropes! Voldemort is:

  1. Evil Genius
  2. Evil because Evil
  3. After Immortality
  4. Craves Power
  5. Has an honorific name (Lord)
  6. Prophecy (Complete with chosen one)
  7. Arch Enemy (of Dumbledore)
  8. Disliked by All (Most follow him from fear. Notice how many left when he “died”)
  9. Kills allies
  10. Turned ugly by evil
  11. Child Prodigy
  12. Discriminates (Not pure-blood?)
  13. Don’t Call me Tom!
  14. No concept of love
  15. Literally a psychopath

Whew! I wasn’t expecting that much. And you’re right, it’s sociopath, not psychopath. I wonder if Rowling knew that Voldemort was so damaged? Or worse, that we was so… generic?

See, I know that the “fallen from grace” thing is also a trope, but it’s far more interesting. They could have set up for an epic moral argument at the end, like Tales of Symphonia. (By the way, Symphonia’s plot is far better constructed than this)

The Middle Part There

Tell the Truth, Boy!

Harry Potter has developed a habit of telling the truth. Basically the complete opposite of every other book up to this point. Why? We never find out, ever. There is no explanation. However, I’m very happy about it. (Not the lack of explanation, that’s stupid. But Harry not being a liar really cleans up the narrative.)

The Epic Return of Ron Weasley

ron
Ron, the boy who lived

Not much to say really. Ron’s back to normal, and I’m very happy about it. (For those of you who missed the previous review, I noted that Ron had become a side character. He really faded into the background, and I like Ron, so that was sad.)

This Book was Written on Valentine’s Day

I know that there were relationships in previous books, but nothing like this. Everyone paired up in this book, almost suddenly, and sometimes twice! It was as if Rowling was like, “Oh no, I’ve hit the second last book and there’s been no movement in the destined relationships since book two! Better do it all now!”

Hermione and Ron made sense, it worked. Harry and Ginny though… I don’t know, it just seemed like it was always one sided, and then Ginny lost interest, and then Rowling decided to stick them together anyway. The result was flat, and emotionless. I got excited every time Ron would make a move, and Hermione would get flustered. I felt nothing when anything happened between Harry and Ginny.

Here’s my theory as to why.

Ginny x Harry was originally a one sided infatuation. Then, Ginny gave up on Harry and moved on. Then, suddenly out of nowhere, Harry (or Rowling) decided he was in love Ginny.

They never really have a decent interaction, or even a conversation! There’s nothing between them, they haven’t had any conversations in which to grow closer, they just made out.

Slytherin’s Deceit

Once again, Harry proves he’s a Slytherin with the Quiddich game. Clever, he tricked Ron into thinking that he took the luck potion. Ron played amazing, but he hadn’t taken the potion at all!

On a side note, I can’t be the only one who’s seen Harry’s Slytherin side… completely disappear since book two when it was a plot point? I really wish Rowling was a more attentive writer…

I’d Love to go with You as Friends!

Luna Lovegood is the woman (well, girl, but I prefer to imagine her as a woman.) that Harry brought to Slughorn’s party. Wonderful! As you might have noticed, I love Luna.

Also, RIP the friendzone. Why Harry, why!!!!!

Slughorn’s Party

Slughorn himself is a very well constructed character. He’s very Slytherin in his motives, quite despicable, but he’s also still just a man. And quite a friendly one too. I’m pretty happy about him actually.

The party though, I burst out laughing at this part,

To Harry’s horror, Slughorn threw out an arm and seemed to scoop Snape out of thin air towards them.

This is my kind of humor.

Harry Potter’s Character

Has improved once more. I knew, I knew that he had potential! Harry isn’t perma-angry, but his comebacks are getting strong.

Pacing

The plot was strung along with Dumbledore keeping secrets to conveniently give Harry and his friends time to date each other. Otherwise, like Prisoner of Azkaban, this book had great pacing.

Wouldn’t it be Neat if the Half-Blooded Prince wasn’t Voldemort?

I wrote that as a note, and then was quite satisfied when Voldimort turned out not to be the prince after all.

The Last Chapters

On getting the Horcrux, if the goblet filled with the potion… why not just dump it out? Why feed it to Dumbledore?

Malfoy seems not to be evil enough to kill Dumbledore. Will he get a chance for redemption? I hope so. You know it’s actually quite easy to turn a foe into a friend, since you have such a deep relationship with them already.

The Death

I’m not going to spoil it, although I know I’ve spoiled a lot already.

I am very very picky about deaths. The deaths in Harry Potter so far were not poorly done, and yet they still weren’t all that well done. Sirius died for no reason, and his death made no sense. It didn’t even end up becoming a motivator for Potter! What was the point!? As for this death, I don’t know what to thing. It was unexpected. It was weird. And worse, it could have been faked.

We don’t know where Snape’s allegiances lie at the moment, but consider the following fan theory. (If you could call me a fan, I keep giving the books 6/10s)

What if Snape had simply knocked Dumbledore away? What if he did a silent incantation while saying, perhaps a slurred or mispronounced avada kedavra? Dumbledore gets blasted away, magics up a decoy body, and goes into hiding in the room of requirement.

It’s not even that intricate. It make sense. It’s easy. It works. It’s too good to be true.

Verdict

So, the Half Blood Prince might actually be the best book so far. I don’t know how to compare it to Azkaban, because that was so long ago. For now, I’ll give it a 78/100. Good job J.K. Rowling, let’s see if you can keep it up!

A Personal Note

When I first started this series, I talked to a friend about it. The thing he had mentioned he hadn’t liked about Harry Potter was that after a certain point, the tone changed completely. I think I’ve hit that point, the point where all the whimsy and all the magic left the series and it devolved into a bunch of teenagers killing each other.

I’m entering the Deathly Hallows tentatively.

I didn’t really sign up for this. I wasn’t really seeking for an entire final book full of depression and violence. I really hope it doesn’t turn out that way, but it seems as if that’s the direction that the series has taken. The tone has shifted.

The comparison that my friend gave was Lord of the Rings. There was always this evil force brooding in the background, and then it slowly came to the foreground, just like Harry Potter. But unlike Harry Potter, that lightheartedness stayed until the end. The example he gave was during the final movie, there was a scene where the cast let loose and Gimli and Legolas had a drinking competition.

Will that be the case in Harry Potter? Will that wonder that came with the first book return? I hope so.

You can find all the reviews at the Harry Potter Table of Contents.

One more book, eh? Let’s see how it goes.

Daniel Triumph.
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Interested in getting the book yourself? You can buy it here, Half Blooded Prince (Amazon Affiliate Link)