Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince begins in darkness, bearing witness to the dark days ahead of wizards and muggles alike. Each newspaper brings news of terror and horror across the nation, and Harry and his friends read each article fearful of finding someone they know has died at Voldemort's hands. The intensity increases as Harry takes lessons with his headmaster, learning the truth behind the current dark times.
What's more, Harry is quickly approaching manhood, his thoughts no longer dominated by childish ignorance or teenage angst. His wounds from previous tribulations have earned him a place as a young adult, but still much of his pride remains.
Harry is not the only one fighting an internal war. Many of J.K. Rowling characters must now face the same questions as Harry, and each will reach their own conclusions. Rowling takes a journey through the human soul as previously static characters develop into life-like, dynamic individuals. Some will choose the journey of love, and others will choose the journey of ambition. Some will choose exactly where their unyielding loyalties lie, and some will choose another path.
There is little to complain about in this book. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is shorter than previous books, but it is also more concise. The action flows better. Though much of the book may still seem formulaic, it's definitely an improvement over the last four books of the Harry Potter series.
My main complaint is that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is not for children. It is at least as dark as Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix (Book 5) and filled with teenage innuendo and situations. At the very least parents should read the book with their kids, ready to answer any awkward questions.
I do believe, however, that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is brilliant. It is by far the best of the series. The characters are dynamic, the action is intense, and the writing itself is superb. The book made me laugh and cry as I anxiously turned each page to find out how everything would play out. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It easily earns five stars. Simply put, outstanding!