Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Star summary: 

5 stars-- it just blows most other "children's books" out of the water.

The more I read, the more I see!! J.K. Rowling is the queen of narrative misdirection; I can see why she loved Emma (Jane Austen), which is a book ALL ABOUT thinking you know where the characters and plot is going, and being totally wrong. This book is amazing at that! For any who haven't read the sequel I won't spoil anything, but I will say that this book does a wonderful job making you lean one way, and then letting go so you fall over. :)

Bottom line? This book is chock-full of lessons on mercy and trust. But really, it's incomplete without Book 7!!

Cautions? The death at the book's end is in some ways unexpected, and it is very very sad. I cried. Some of the material is clearly for older readers-- the boy-girl relationships are quite full of "snogging" (kissing), though this is poked fun at and shown to be immature.

Audience? Grades 9 & up (age 14+). While younger children would love it as a read-aloud, and probably many 6th graders could handle the reading level, I would recommend parental participation due to the more mature themes in this book. The evil is quite intense (as evil is), the ending is heart-wrenching, and the boy-girl relationships are quite prevalent (though not in an inappropriate way).

5 stars: this whole series is unsurpassed in terms of depth, humor, rich writing, believable characters, and eternal value. Wow.

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