HP6 - first responses (no spoilers)
I'll have to read it again before I can do my really sharp, insightful literary analysis, but as of right now, my first impression is very positive. I have a feeling that a lot of the book could have been cut down - it's backstory, information-providing scenes that could have been written differently and more efficiently - but this doesn't really detract from the novel. The best and most surprising bit for me is how Rowling's writing (or her editors' editing) has improved, especially in casual dialogue. HP6 is funny - at times, though of course humor is not the prevailing tone. But the interactions between the kids - Harry, Ron & co - rang much more true to me - they joke, they're sarcastic. Harry doesn't waffle around with adults - he's gotten pretty defiant but comfortably so. His insistence on following his own dictates doesn't come off as it has in the past, as a kind of immature, childish contrariness; in HP6, he seems like a real human with a conscience and well-developed sense of right and wrong, a knowledge of what is the right thing for him to do, and an absolute (and admirable) unwillingness to deviate from that knowledge. He is not longer petulant, which is a huge relief, and finally Ron's been given some good lines (!).
My big disappointment is not very much Luna Lovegood, with whom I was absolutely delighted in HP5. She makes appearance here, of course, but not in the sustained way I was hoping for. But I can live with this.
There's a typo or misspelling within the first few pages which made me groan ("site" instead of "sight") but otherwise I think this was well-edited. A bit of a lack of continuity - some things felt a bit as if they were coming out of nowhere, and for the obsessive re-reader, Harry's sudden ability to swim rings false (remember in Goblet of Fire how he worried about the second task because he couldn't swim well??? evidently, Rowling and her editors didn't).
This was definitely not the book I expected, but at the same was precisely what I expected. A few of my personal predictions came true, which is always nice. I'm curious to see how the series will wind up - of course, I'll be waiting a jolly good long time for this to be revealed. In the meantime, I'll re-read HP6 and think it through more carefully, and there's a universe full of other (more?) brilliant books awaiting my attention.
Summary: HP6 a pleasant surprise. sharper, cleverer, smarter than i'd expected. flawed, certainly. but a hugely satisfactory read.