Friday, April 26, 2013

HP Readalong ~ Half-Blood Prince 8-18

It's week two of The Half-Blood Prince (!!!) and the section was rather long, so prepare yourself for an excessively long post.  Sorry, it can't be helped.  Oh, and I apologize in advance for the quote dump.  I got rather carried away with myself.  Happy Harry Potter Day!

Here's a whole list of things that are NOT OKAY:

Neville turned pink and blinked confusedly; Professor McGonagall had never paid him a compliment before (174).  Professor M is stern but decent.  You'd think she'd have found a way to boost Neville's ego at some time before this.

Slughorn made Hermione a little bow as he finished speaking.  It was as though Ron was not present; Slughorn did not so much as look at him (233).  NOT OKAY.  And this isn't just an isolated incident - the whole Slug Club is terrible - why is a teacher who blatantly chooses favors students acceptable?

...said Ron, casually turfing a first year out of one of the good armchairs by the fire so he could sit down (257).  DOUCHE.  And then, "D'you think I want people saying my sister's a -" (287).  A what, exactly, indeed.  Ugh.  Ron is the worst.

Everyone was wearing new sweaters when they all sat down for Christmas lunch, everyone except Fleur (on whom, it appeared, Mrs. Weasley had not wanted to waste one) (339).  Ugh.  As a daughter-in-law, I have to say that this would make me sob SO HARD.
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So, Harry needed an "Outstanding" in Potions to advance to NEWT level with Snape, but he only needs an "Exceeds Expectations" with Slughorn.  We've said it before but man does Hogwarts needs standardization.  And why doesn't Snape carry that over into Defense Against the Dark Arts?

Quidditch tryouts!  Apparently nobody is automatically carried over from last year's team and all have to try out again (even Katie Bell, who has been on the time at least as long as Harry, but insists on trying out)...except for Harry, who has never tried out, not even when he first got on the team.  That's what I call fair and logical.

At Slughorn's party is the vampire Sanguini, who was tall and emaciated with dark shadows under his eyes...  A gaggle of girls was standing close to him, looking curious and excited (316).  Ugh.  At first I thought that it was the influence of Twilight making these girls STUPID because he SUCKS PEOPLES' BLOOD UNTIL THEY DIE, but it turns out that both books were released in 2005, so that's unlikely.  In which case, JKR is just independently romanticizing men who are terrible for women, and that's just not cool.  Lets romanticize serial rapists while we're at it, kay?  Yes, I know that this is traditional re: vampires and even happens in Dracula but hasn't society figured out how problematic that is yet?!  ME SO ANGRY.

So Harry's learning about Voldy/Tom, which makes good sense.  This is how they catch serial killers in Muggle world too, right?  Get into their heads and understand their backgrounds and whatnot.  We learn that Voldy/Tom's uncle repeatedly attacked Tom, Sr. and that the Ministry had to come and wipe Tom's memory.  And you know what?  That is so messed up.  Tom is left unaware that he lives in the vicinity of an enemy and a danger, and doesn't even know to watch out for him and protect himself.  We also learn that at some point, Tom, Sr., who had presumably been under a love potion, abandoned his witch wife, Merope, and returned to his family home (261).  I would argue that this is a rather biased view of things, as Tom was essentially kidnapped.  He did not so much abandon his wife and child as escape his captor.  I think that this is the one deadbeat Dad I've heard of who I totally support.  In fact, Tom is really just a pitiable victim throughout this whole thing, a prime example of the problems with magic.  Oh yeah, and then he's murdered by the son he never agreed to have and may not have even known about.  WTF.
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And some other stuff:

"Not now, Hermione," said Harry in a darkly significant voice.  He hoped very much that they would all assume he had been involved in something heroic, preferably involving a couple of Death Eaters and a dementor (163).  Lol.  I love getting the occasional reminder that Harry is human, and just a kid who wants to be cool, because too often he is just this aloof hero.  This kind of thing humanizes him and makes me like him so much more.

Harry takes Luna to Slughorn's holiday party!  And I am all swoon.  They're not the most logical match, but it's nice to see Harry do something nice and risk looking like a dork.  And Luna gets to go to a party!  How often does that happen?

We see more of Hermione's limited intelligence in this section.  In Defense Against the Dark Arts, she offers a quote from the Standard Book of Spells as her answer, showing impressive memorization and studiousness but not much synthesis of the material.  Then, in Potions, she refuses to consider a different way of brewing her potion because she will only do what the book says.  Hermione's talented but only in copying other people's work.  I wonder if JKR has been showing this aspect of her character lately in preparation for Xenophilius's comment in Deathly Hallows.  After noticing all of these little incidents, it's hard not to agree.

On the other hand, the Prince had proved a much more effective teacher than Snape so far (239).  Snort.  SNORT, I say.

To ponder:

The Fat Lady and her friend Violet drank their way through all the wine in that picture of drunk monks down by the Charms corridor (351).  So, they drink the wine in a painting, which I guess makes sense because they are also paintings.  But does the painting run out?  Is there just no more wine to be had?  If so, does that change how the painting looks?  Or does it magically replenish itself to its original state?
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  1. Whoa! Not fair fussing at JKR over the vampire thing! She's making the point that girls like vampires, not that it's cool for girls to like vampires. Doesn't Sanguini later, like, start looking hungry, and his friend has to take him away to eat beef or whatever?

    Dude, and I so agree about Tom Riddle Sr. Dude got kidnapped and raped BASICALLY. I would be pretty pissed off about that too, and I would not necessarily want to hang out with my kidnapper any longer, even if there was a kid involved.

    1. Yeah, I guess you're right about the vampire thing. She didn't actually make Sanguini appear sexy or anything...that's all on the girls. I CONCEDE.

  2. I didn't realize before this readalong how much I like Fleur but I keep feeling so bad for her during all these scenes. If you figure Mrs. W didn't even MAKE her a jumper, no wonder she's making comments about her favorite Xmas music. Why can't we all just get along?

    I LOOOVE that Harry took Luna to Slughorn's party and he didn't ditch her when he got there. Especially after Luna's comments about never getting to go to parties. Poor girl.

    1. I admit, during the music part I was all, "Well DUH no one likes her if she acts like that!" But you're right, who can blame her after being totally rejected??

  3. The Slug Club thing is definitely gross. It's another example of how little the wizarding community values inclusion.

    And yes, the Christmas jumper thing is KILLING ME! So sad!

    "On the other hand, the Prince had proved a much more effective teacher than Snape so far (239)." -- All the snorts, as you say.

    1. Yeah, they are all about the exclusion, in so many ways. Poor ten-year olds everywhere, waiting for their letters. They have no idea what they're getting themselves into.

  4. Presumably, Snape isn't allowed to only accept students who got Os for DADA because of all the Voldy-danger that's flying around. ALSO because Harry would then have no friends in his lessons, and that would be sort of boring to read!

    And OMG- I totally had the same thoughts about the wine in paintings. Or, well, I didn't think about it that much, but there was a definite fleeting 'So... How does that work?!' because it makes NO SENSE AT ALL. But I still sort of love it?

    1. It would be super-boring but I require explanations!

  5. I feel like JK keeps doing things to try to make us like Harry, with VARIED EFFECTIVENESS. Having him be all 'self-sacrificing' and wanting to fight and shit on his own: not working. Having him take Luna to the party: WORKING IN A MAJOR WAY.

    1. Lol yeah, I feel like this book is trying to make up for Order of the Phoenix in a MAJOR way. Even still, I totally buy into it.

  6. Re: Snape accepting students who scored an E on their DADA OWL (heh, that is a lot of initials there) but not for Potions: I'm pretty sure that Dumbledore would have made him do that. Snape is Dumbledore's last, best hope to teach these students the kinds of things they need to know. Dumbledore knows he's slowly dying and that Snape can only be in the DADA position for one year because of the curse, so he makes Snape accept the maximum number of students who are still capable of handling the workload.

    I did the shallowest of skmming for my post this week, so I forgot all about the weasley sweater for Fleur, but it hurts my heart. We know Mrs Weasley has a petty streak (cf: hermione's tiny Easter egg in 4th year) but i don't like to think of her going that far to exclude Fleur. Which is probably one reason why I cry SO HARD at the scene at the end of this book between those two women.