So with no further ado, herebe my opinions and comments on the book itself, and a prediction for the next one.
The book left me, like I imagine it left most other people with two main questions:
1. Is Dumbledore really dead?
2. Is Snape really a traitor?
My answer to question one is: no I don't believe/think he is.
My answer to question two is: no, most definitely not. (And BTW, I'm not a particular Snape 'fan'. I've never seen the films, so I don't know what his character is like in those, I've only read the books. Thus, I'm not basing this on any attraction to AR or Snape, despite having two close friends who are AR and Snarry fans).
My feeling is that the whole thing was planned and orchestrated by Dumbledore and Snape. The object being to make everyone, especially Voldermort, really believe that Snape was still on the 'dark' side. There were rumblings that he wasn't and that he was only pretending, thus it was essential that everyone believed he was truly bad, and that Dumbledore had been wrong to trust him.
Proof/evidence of this:
a) Dumbledore's faith and belief in Snape - it has to be justified.
b) The whole 'killing' Dumbledore thing. It was carefully orchestrated by Snape. He called all the shots; he took over to do the actual 'killing' - if anyone could have convinced Draco to fulfil his orders, it would have been Snape. Then we have the fact that he prevented the Death Eaters from killing Harry; he then blocked all of Harry's curses - he didn't counter-curse. He didn't torture - he could have done. He could have killed Harry easily.
The whole scene to me seemed to carefully planned and orchestrated; people were playing roles - whether they were aware of it or not. Dumbledore's plea, was far more likely to be him urging Snape to do the job, than him pleading for his life - I just don't believe that he would plead for his life. Also, Snape was probably instrumental in preventing wide-spread destruction at the school.
c) If any wizard has the power to appear dead and not be dead, it's Dumbledore. Ditto if anyone can appear to kill and not, it's Snape.
d) Snape is deliberately playing down Harry's abilities as a wizard. Not just in school, but outside of it. He seems to be trying to convince the 'dark' side, that Harry has thus far only been lucky, that he isn't really a threat.
If Dumbledore is dead, then it is at his own instigation, his decision, his insistence - he has chosen death as being the most important thing he can do to help in the destruction of Voldemort, because his death puts Snape back right where he's needed. However, I'm not certain that he is. The whole funeral/burial scene was nicely magical - we really know nothing.
Hubby even threw in a thought that maybe Snape and Dumbledore have actually swapped places.... But we don't really think that's a flyer.
My thoughts in general on this book were that she wasn't as subtle as her earlier books. For example, her sign-posting of it being Dumbledore who died couldn't have been more obvious than if she'd actually written the words.
I'd heard rumours that there would be another major character's death and that Dumbledore was the favourite, but equally so I'd heard several other characters suggested. However, even if I hadn't heard this, I would have guessed it, as it was so overtly pushed from the beginning.
Hubby's opinion on why she did this, when I expressed surprise at her lack of subtly, was that because the book is mainly written for children, she had to give fair warning, so not to stress them out too much. It's a good point, all I know is that I was more than a tad tired of having it rammed down my throat so often.
I also predicted, with about a third of the book to go, at supper yesterday, that it would be Snape who killed Dumbledore. Also that the potions book with all the helpful additions belonged to, and had been annotated by, Snape. Poor hubby, he had to sit through all my predictions and not let on just how correct I was.
If I wanted to get really devious with my orchestration thoughts, I'd add that it's possible that the whole thing with the Half Blood Prince's potions book being 'found' and given to Harry, was all part of the elaborate plot. That Dumbledore kept Snape's advancement to Dark Arts tutor quiet until it was too late for Harry to buy a new book, that he arranged for his friend to give Snape's book to Harry, etc. But that may be a step too far in arranging. Certainly by giving Snape his heart's desire, Dumbledore has managed to maintain the 'no Dark Arts tutor has ever lasted longer than a year', 'curse'.
And another thought I had in the whole orchestration thing is did Dumbledore know that the locket was a fake? Had he, or someone he knew, already taken the real one? Was this still all tied in with the whole plan to get Dumbledore and Harry out of the way, and weaken Dumbledore so that Draco could do his part, and then Snape could step in and act as already arranged by him and Dumbledore?
In one way I didn't enjoy this book quite as much as other ones. However, it's very much a stepping stone book. It's there to bring things to a head, to tie up some loose ends (but leave a lot more open), and to manipulate and arrange everyone into where they should be for the final book. Hubby compared it in those terms to The Two Towers, which did the same thing. Set things up for the final book/show down.
So to sum up: Snape is not evil; and Dumbledore is probably not dead.
I promised a prediction for the final book...... So with sincere apologies to my two dear, dear Snarry fan friends, here it is:
Snape will die saving Harry's life. He'll turn things full circle, as Harry's father saved his life, he'll save Harry's. Whether he'll die at Voldemort's hands protecting Harry, or whether he'll die at Harry's hands because Voldemort has instructed him to kill Harry, but Snape lets Harry kill him, I'm not certain of. But both hubby and I believe that he will not survive the final battle. Sorry.
Off to read some of my flist's views.