But now I'm done and I have the some thoughts on this HBP business, none of which are likely to be new or exciting to you, but you are welcome to read because I have deprived myself of the Internet for DAYSSS, so I would remain spoiler free, and now that I've been freshly canonized and Potterized I'm ready for some beautiful fandom interactioooooon!
(1) OMFG, MY LOVER SNAPE IS THE TOTAL SHIT. Who expected it? Who? The Half-Blood Prince! (And Dumbledore's murderer!) Not me, anyway. When he told Harry he was Prince, I gasped and squealed, because---I don't know! It made me think Harry's going to have to get to know Snape a little better next book. It can't be a loose thread; there's more to it. Snape's going to do something magnificent or Harry's going to get to know him in another light. Maybe this is my fandom brain talking, but I'm excited as heck.
(2) DRACO: What can be said that hasn't been said? He's turned into a human character. He was scared. He was lonely. He was sad. He was confused. I would have been so disappointed in Rowling if she'd done it any other way. Can you imagine Draco walking in confidently and killing Dumbledore without mercy? He and Snape are so alike---they have major issues with bloodlines, they are both obsessed with glory and fame, they have both been at Dumbledore's mercy (and Draco was almost brought over to Dumbledore's side around the same age that Snape was)---I'm wondering if Draco will continue to follow in Snape's footsteps, if you catch my drift....
My main concern now is what's immediately next for him. I definitely believe Draco would have turned himself over to Dumbledore's side if those motherfucking Death Eater's hadn't shown up
(3) SNAPE, DRACO, and VOLDEMORT: I never expected Rowling to treat them like real people. Granted, she expanded on Snape's character a bit in OotP. But she's always seemed fond of the idea that Draco was just bad. And that Voldemort was just evil. I guess she's full of surprises. This book was a dream come true for a lot of people, I'm sure. While I was reading it, it reminded me of fanfic: she gave us reasons to feel sorry for these characters; to get to know their families, homes, and motivations; to wish the best for them. Though, of course, I hope Voldemort will go down, I don't want to it to be the scene of the righteous hero valiantly murdering his villain. I don't know what I expect. I do hope to learn more about Voldemort...and...okay, I admit the fluffy bunny side of me wants Voldemort to admit his wrongs and hold hands with everyone and be forgiven---yes, I am insane, just move along... Anyway, I expect plenty more about his human side. And, yes...I'm confused.
(4) CANON PAIRINGS: Wow, the Ron/Hermione is blossoming so sweetly and perfectly. I don't know why anyone would hate this pairing, I just don't know!
The Harry/Ginny I didn't mind as much as I thought I would---who couldn't have seen it coming last book, what with Ginny so suddenly becoming a fascinating character?---but it was, like others have said, abrupt, even though it was clear as Harry boarded the Hogwarts express that he was feeling something for her. I think, also, it was forced, as though Rowling wanted to get them together but didn't know how to go about it. Their relationship was flat and boring to me, and just plain made no sense.
When Harry and Ginny broke up, the first thing I thought of were those Harry/Draco fics where Harry must shun his love for Draco because it would put Draco in danger if Voldemort knew they were together, but somehow, through extraordinary circumstances, they are reunited and make super-duper love and babies and rule the world and live perfectly ever after, because, omg, love conquers all. Yes. Well. I hope that doesn't happen with Harry and Ginny. I wouldn't put it past Rowling, because she seems more focused on romance with each passing book.
Remus/Tonks: What the fuck? How random was that? That is all.
Mr. and Mrs. Weasley: Mollywobbles! ♥
Draco/Pansy: I don't think much went on between them. I don't think he cared as much about her on the train as he did having his hair worshipped. He just likes the attention, honestly. Plus, he's gay.
(5) POTENTIAL PAIRINGS:
---Yeah. Harry becomes Draco's obsessive stalker. How could that not be true love? :)
---Harry/Snape reborn? So much to explore between them now. They are connected intimately, what with the book, and the death, and Snape's role in the murders of Harry's loved ones. Omg, the angst. There was a serious lack of this pairing in fandom between OotP and now. Do I feel the start of a whole knew era? :D:D:DD
---You werewolf lovers are going to go nuts with Remus/Bill, aren't you?
---Haha, Harry and Luna were so cute that I wish something would have happened between them. That would have made more sense, even, than Harry/Ginny, knowing what Harry shared with Luna at the end of OotP. (Also: Luna was charming as the commentator (I was cackling madly), and I felt such sympathy when Harry asked her to the party. I mean, I knew she had few to no friends, but I didn't know she was that lonely!)
NARCISSA: I'm pleased! She desperately needed to save her son's life. It might seem obvious, but there's been this concept floating around that Draco's mum was either cold or neglectful toward him. This proves their relationship is something loving. My examples in the past were that Narcissa stops Draco from going to Durmstrang, because it's too far from home; and that Draco, who normally hurts people in words rather than violence, throws a mean hex at Harry for making a rude remark about Narcissa (in book four, I think). It may not have been much to go off, but I'm not seeing someone as spoiled and self-important as Draco as being abused or neglected, especially to the degree that a lot of people like to think.
GINNY: I don't want to sound like an ass. I liked Ginny more in this book than the last. She was less arrogant about that bit with being possessed by Voldemort. But did she seem like Mary Sue to anyone else? Apparently all the boys like her. She's so beautiful. She's so funny. She's so smart. She's such a Quidditch pro. Harry feels "a monster" inside him when she is near (what an annoying metaphor). I don't mind a well-rounded individual, but her only flaw now that's she's rid of her shyness and general squeaking-little-sister routine, is that she clearly wears too much flowery perfume.
LUPIN: I loved it when he got upset at the end, when Dumbledore died. It was the most emotion we've seen from him, and it crushed my heart to see him in such pain.
(7) OTHER STUFF:
---It's pretty irrelevant, but it occurred to me at work, while I was elbows-deep in lukewarm pastrami grease, that Harry and Ginny weren't together very long, were they? They got together on the day of the Quidditch Cup and broke up before the end the school year, and it was probably much sooner than the usual school year because the students were sent home early. That's two months, at most. So I needn't worry about some corny passionate get-back-together mating ritual thingy in the seventh book, because, that's not much time to develop intense feelings is it? It was just a fling, right? Tell me I'm right or submit to my emoticons of unhappiness. >:| Unless, that is, Ginny was to go with Harry on his quest next year, which would stink because I want it to be Harry, Ron, and Hermione, doing their thing like always. Neville will likely be involved, too...I don't care if he is.
---I don't understand why some people are freaking out over Snape's actions. Knowing his role in the Order, knowing about the Unbreakable Vow, knowing that Dumbledore already knew about Snape's involvement from Draco, I was not at all concerned that Snape had gone back to Voldemort's side. Though I gasped when he actually did it (I didn't expect him to die until the seventh book!), it was more shock over the great Dumbledore meeting his end than the fact that it was Snape, well, who introduced him to his end. But maybe I'm biased. Maybe I have too much faith in Snape and only wanted to believe he was doing it for good reasons. Either way, I'm sure it's going to be interesting to see how Snape conducts himself in the next book. While I'm on the subject, you should go see garlandgraves's theories on Snape and R.A.B. and some other great stuff, thought I'm sure you probably have. What a clever person!
---Harry whispering to some little girl, "You're very pretty, aren't you?" even if it was Goyle, was the funniest image in my head. I choked on my own laughter, I swear, thinking, "Goyle must think Harry's a child molester now". :D
--- I can't help but wonder, even though I believe that Snape is loyal to Dumbledore, if he will be feeling some sort of pride at the attention he will be receiving from his role in Dumbledore's death. He has always longed for glory (conclusion drawn from his bitterness over Harry's effortless fame and the loss of his Order of Merlin in PoA, and I think some other stuff that I can't recall). Not because he wanted Dumbledore dead, but because he will now be known as the man who killed the greatest wizard in the world. There's got to be some sense of greatness there, even if the death was agreed upon by Dumbledore and Snape (which I believe wholeheartedly).
I know I have more to say, just I can't think of it all right now. I will probably post more on the subject, and I hope to read a lot of other people's thoughts on the book. Link me to your HBP posts if you want! I'm going to go searching, but I'm sure I won't find them all.
By the way, I thought the book came out on the 22nd, for some reason! So when I saw a headline that said the next Harry Potter was now on sale, I pretty much exploded with joy. I was like, "OMGWTF, I GET TO READ IT TODAY?" Sure enough, my Amazon.com-ordered copy arrived in the mail shortly after, and I've been happy ever since.