Harry Potter is sixteen, and in his sixth year at Hogwart's. No longer a kid, and the book is not a cozy read like we expect a Harry Potter to be.
Death and sadness hover constantly in and around the school--just as the special clock always points to Mortal Peril in the Weasley home.
This long awaited book somehow disappoints. It may not really be a fault in the writing, but a let down in the story--if you've read it, you know what I'm referring to.
Rowling continues to use the same adverb-filled language. People are always replying quickly, hotly, angrily or politely--does Rowling fear that the dialogue alone will not show the emotion? Characters also tend to walk off or dash off, never just walk or dash. The narrative is unnecessarily pulled like chewing gum in places, probably to increase the weight of the book--but this still is a shorter story than the fifth book, if I'm not mistaken; I have not counted pages, though.
Horace Slughorn and Fenrir Greyback are interesting new characters, the latter being a really evil, scary one.
Harry is sometimes irritating in his pointed refusal to look at some things that common sense show as obvious. A little too much focus is placed on the teen love aspect, since the contribution to the story is not proportional. I got the feeling that the writing was difficult and kind of forced, not the elated, inspired work that we saw until Book Three. Has fame gotten to your performance, ma'am? You've got great potential, please don't ruin it...
The plot is, as always, good, and it's hard to put the book down even when your eyes are aching and burning. But the next one is where you have to do best, Ms Rowling, that is the grand finale, I suppose, and there is so much scope for excitement, mystery, terror and adventure. Please don't disappoint by resorting to silly tricks like lengthening the story and going on without any purpose about Quidditch and the Marauder's Map.