This book is my second-favorite of the series. So much more of the past comes out in this book, and when that is combined with the fact that my two most-favorite characters are spotlighted in this book, how can I not love it, even with its flaws?
There are a lot of "why did she do that" moments here, but overall, there is a lot of richness to this story. I wish she'd spread some of this out into the other books a little more. It might have made it easier to swallow at this level.
But for me, this book boils down to two things:
The title character, who I will not specifically name, but who sorely deserved this spotlight long before this book. He is the richest, most detailed character in this story. Unflinchingly so. And I can only wish that JK Rowling could have loved him as much as many of her fans do.
And then there is Draco. I didn't start out as a Draco fan. In fact, I still cheer every time I read the scene in Prisoner when Hermione punches him for making fun of Hagrid. But I also always thought that outside of Harry's little circle (which always included Neville for me, even as an outside part of their circle), Draco was the most interesting kid. That without Draco, this story could not and would not finish well. And this story shows that despite all we'd seen before this book, there is more to him than the spoiled brat that Jo wanted us to see. Even more, it showed that he deserved redemption.
And if they rob him of that in the movie, I will be furious.