"Half-blood this!" he said half-bloodedly
J.K. Rowling was very wise -- though I doubt it was intentional -- to announce at the start that Harry Potter would be a seven book series. It's what's kept me reading. Don't get me wrong, I've very much enjoyed five out of the six so far (the exception being the unforgivable Goblet of Fire) but if I'd thought they were going to go on without end, I probably would have said, after around book three, "well, I'm not going to read these every other year for the rest of my life, so this is as good a place as any to stop."
I've always thought of Rowling as half a great writer. She's swell at devising plots and imagining details, but mediocre at best with the whole prose thing. Eric Berlin puts it nicely: "Words were merely the tools she needed to build a bridge between the points in her overwrought story. A perfectly respectable bridge, but not one you'd want to take pictures of or anything." And every now and then the bridge creaks threateningly, as when, in the new volume, Dumbledore "murmured soundlessly." A murmur is a sound by definition.
It was Stephen King who first opened my eyes to Rowling's worst habit: "As a writer, [she is] oddly, almost sweetly, insecure. The part of speech that indicates insecurity (“Did you really hear me? Did you really understand me?”) is the adverb, and Ms. Rowling seems to have never met one she didn’t like, especially when it comes to dialogue attribution. Harry’s godfather, Sirius, speaks “exasperatedly”; Mrs. Weasly (mother of Harry’s best friend Ron) speaks “sharply”; Tonks (a clumsy witch with punked-up, party-colored hair) speaks “earnestly.” As for Harry himself, he speaks quietly, automatically, slowly, quietly, and – often, given his current case of raving adolescence – ANGRILY."
You can see from this review why Entertainment Weekly thought it'd be a good idea to give King his own column. What doesn't make sense is why they haven't yet admitted their mistake.
The spot the adverb game kept me amused during my reading of The Half-Blood Prince (now available for free download), but I nearly choked when I read, "'Yes, thank you, Phineas,' said Dumbledore quellingly."
Quellingly? It's not clever enough to be a coinage; I can only assume Rowling thinks it's a real word. She's not exactly the first person to use it, but it has previously been restricted almost entirely to the realm of fan fiction, including -- hmm -- numerous Harry Potter fan stories. And that makes sense, really, for what does Rowling's prose remind you of if not better than average fan fiction?