I'm hoping I can say something new, something other than "I loved it" or "it was awesome" about this book, but I'm not sure I can. The Half-Blood Prince, Rowling's sixth installment in the series of seven about wizards and Hogwarts and, of course, Harry Potter, not only ups the ante, but does so with style, grace, and a whole heap of pitsweat and tears.
This installment follows Harry as he delves into the past of Voldemort, an ex-student at Hogwarts then known as Tom Riddle. Harry comes into his own as a confident, sarcastic, and very brave young man who is getting a handle on the magical history he is a part of, as well as the responsibility it comes with. Also a treat in this book is the amount of time we get to spend with Dumbledore.
Most refreshing is the sense of growth in the characters (and, incidentally, the author's style) as Harry's years at Hogwarts pass. Not only are we witness to a contemporary coming-of-age story, but the solidity of confidence and absolute mastery of storytelling by Rowling.
And yet, Rowling knows when to pull up the reins. The story moves along swiftly, like a bird in full flight, towards that ultimate and inevitable dive back to Earth. The Harry Potter story is not finished, and although I foresee re-reading all seven novels in a few years I, for one, cannot wait for the seventh to hit the shelves.