Harry Potter and the Snotty Kleenex
This blog has MAJOR spoilers about the goings on in the new Harry Potter book. If you have the book and haven't read it yet or are of the mind that you'll just wait for the movies, please do not read this post. This is basically for the 2 out of 5 people that read this that actually read the books.
A side note: if you have only seen the 3 movies that have been released so far, I recommend picking up the 4th book reading it, asking someone who read the 5th to tell you about the prophesy (the 5th is only OK and unnesecarily long) and then reading the 6th book.
Stop reading if you want to go to the 6th movie as a Half Blood Prince virgin.
SPOILERS BEGIN NOW!!!!
The 6th HP book, which I just finished on Saturday, is by far and away the best of the series. I loved the 3rd and 4th books, but this one is something that is really very special. It was the first time ever that I was reading a book, decided that I would stop reading once I finished the next chapter, but couldn't stop and decided I HAD to finish the book. Now I know what a book has to be like for me to actually say, "I can't put it down."
In the 6th book, Harry is learning about Voldemort's childhood through memories that Dumbledore is supplying. During the course we learn that V has used a very terrible curse which enables a wizzard to split his sould in 2 and store the other half in an object. Therefore, if the body is killed, the person lives on in this object and can be brought back to life. To do this, the wizzard must kill a person, however, becasue that act essentially fractures a person's soul. And V, we figure out, has SEVEN of these things spread out and hidden all around. Needless to sya, Dumbledore and HArry are determined to destroy these objects. As a resutl fo retreiving one, Dumbledore is severely injured, returns to Hogwarts to find that V's followers have infultrated the school and during the confrontation, Dumbledore is killed by none other than Professor Snape. The same Professor Snape that no one but D trusts.
On Ain't it Cool News, one of the folks on that web site called the Half Blood Prince J.K. Rowlings's own personal Empire Strikes Back. I think that assesment of this book is entirely, 100% accurate and fair. If you happen to been in the continuum of geekdom that LOVES both Star Wars and the Harry Potter books, learning of Dumbledore's death is every bit as shocking as learning about Darth Vader being Luke's father (oops, I forgot to mention that there's a Star Wars spoiler in here, too). The main difference being that if you're a female member of both groups, like my dear friend Erika, you probaly cried like a baby while reading the HP book (or if you're a male member, the room got a little dusty and your allergies were acting up a bit).
Before I read that bit from Ain't it Cool News, I had already started drawing the Star Wars similarities. They can't be ignored. On a mere plot level, this is the first Harry Potter book that basically sets up the plot for the next book: Harry needs to find these other bits of Voldemort's soul and destroy them. That's it. That's the plot of the next book. Just like you knew one of the main bit of plot of the movie after Empire would be the gang rescuing Han Solo. It had to happen. And since in both cases, the next installment is to be the last, you knew it was happening very soon.
Then you obviously have Dumbledore as the Obi Wan Kanobi figure. The key difference is that in the HP world, there's nothing to say that a wizzard can be more powerful in death than in life, as was the case of the Jedi and Obi Wan. But you KNOW that a character like this cannot die without the death serving a grander purpose. We don't know what the purpose is yet. It's not like Harry needed any additional reason to hate Snape and to want to seek revenge on Voldemort. So to say, "It was just to get Harry mad and to act," I don't feel is enough. A part of it could be that Harry could never realize his true potential while D was still alive becasue he'd always fall back on him for help. I can accept that as part of it, but alone, it is not sufficeint. What the reason behind his death is remains to be seen. I'll be very disappointed with Book 7 if there isn't one (I'll still love Book 6, though).
This raises the question f Snape as the Vader character, and to be more specific, can he redeem himself. First, on a very basic level, I reject the idea of Snape as Vader (which Jenn argued very well) mainly because Vader is the archetypal father in the Star Wars trilogy. There isn't any connection between Harry and Snape to make their relationship such that Harry would hate him but grow up to be like him. Plus, there is nothing in Snapes past which suggests that he was ever good. Pitiable, certainly, but not not unculpable and certainly not sypathetic. That leads to the final question of whether he can be redeemed. I don't think so nor do I want him to be. Dumbledore himself in the book said that murder is the most unforgivable act anyone can do. There are some making an arguement that he was sparing Malfoy from committing the act (V had given the task to him). But that's still inexcusable. You don't kill, period. And on top of that, I don't WANT him to be redeemed. To paraphrase Erika, "He's a shit. I hate him and I like hating him. And I don't want to see him turn out to be good after all." I'm fully capable to see Snape get killed in a final act to save Harry in some way. But that is not redemption. Vader got redemption by killing the Emperor. That is Harry's job here. If Snape does sacrafice himself, he is simply paying the price for the ill he has done. We're square, but he's still a shit.
I'm really looking forward to the next book. I can't even begin to think about what's in stopre becasue the means to the ends could be anything. You have to be prepared for anything. But I'm most looking forward to reading about Harry's celebration after he runs the gauntlet to kill Voldemort. The celebration, with Ron, Hermione and Ginny and all the Ewoks, will certainly be a big one!