Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling - As the Dark Lord’s sinister forces amass, a spirit of gloom and fear is sweeping the land. Harry Potter waits nervously in his bedroom at the Dursleys' for Professor Dumbledore to arrive. One of the last times he saw the Headmaster was in a fierce duel with Voldemort at the Ministry of Magic. Why is the Professor coming to visit him now? What is it that cannot wait until Harry returns to Hogwarts? In his sixth year, Harry will discover the secret behind the Half-Blood Prince, as Professor Dumbledore prepares him to face his destiny... From Goodreads.
With Half-Blood Prince, one of the things I will always love is learning about Tom Riddle's life through the pensieve and the Horcruxes. Discovering just how evil Voldemort is, just how far he went. However, this time, I also found it weird to think of Voldemort as a child, and it made me think of the question about whether it's nature or nurture that makes a person evil; Voldemort was certainly dodgy as a child. "I can make them hurt."
I also loved learning more about the prophecy and Harry's role. How the prophecy doesn't actually mean anything, just that Voldemort took stock in the part he heard, and how he actioned on it led to Harry being the only one who could defeat him. (Also, if Voldemort had never heard any of the prophecy, or went after Neville instead, I wonder how different the story of this world would have been.) I felt super proud of Harry when he finally realised that he wasn't going to go after Voldemort because of the prophecy, but that he would go after him because he wanted to, to get back at this evil villian who killed his parents and continually tries to kill him. If he never heard of the prophecy, he would still have gone after Voldemort. I think I finally got that this time round, too. Harry had the choice, and choosing to face such a deadly foe is just beyond brave.
As weird as it may sound, I liked seeing a more sensitive side to Draco. He was given this terrible task, as punishment for his father's failure, but he really struggled with it. For all his arrogance and seeming support of Voldemort, when it comes down to it, he has a really hard time facing what he has to do and going through with it. The failures he has with the cupboard and his tears in the bathroom... I felt for him, just a little, in that he finally realised how ruthless and villianous Voldemort is, and the consequences of letting him down. And he wavered at the end, he changed his mind.
I'm going to finish with how upsetting I will always find Dumbledore's death. The guide, the mentor, the protector... gone. Not just for Harry, but for me, too. I know he's just a character, but Dumbledore was so wise, and he imparted so much wisdom and advice, and words for us all to live by. And I grew up with this character guiding me as he guided Harry, and his loss was hugely felt for me.
I'm really, really looking forward to reading Deathly Hallows now, and completing this re-read. It's been so wonderful, and I'm really looking forward to this conclusion.