No doubt, this book has its faults. Absolutely zero foreshadowing of the deathly hallows. Retconning of Harry's invisibility cloak's superiority to all other invisibility cloaks. (Why not bring some of this up in GoF?) The over-reliance on conveniently overheard conversations they have no business overhearing. That's been a standard in this series, but it's one thing when they're all in the relatively close confines of Hogwarts versus the great wide wildernesses of Britain. The retconning of the Deluminator's abilities (though I suppose one could handwave that because Dumbledore would've adapted it to help Ron See The Light). The apologist bullcrap that is Snape's backstory. He's a supposedly grown man, a professor in a position of authority, and he openly bullied and terrorized the students of Hogwarts for 17 years. WTF?! We're just supposed to overlook that because he was in love with Lily? I don't think so. He didn't give a crap about Harry, only that he was Lily's son. He couldn't even acknowledge that she was married. He called her Lily Evans when he went to Dumbledore pleading for his help. He's a wanker. An interesting and complex character, sure, but still a wanker. Bite him again, Nagini! And I realized on the reread (or first time listen) just how horrible a headmaster Dumbledore is for allowing all this crap to go down in his school for the "greater good" - which doesn't even make sense because even if Voldie thought Snape was undercover for him against Dumbledore, wouldn't the best way to go about that to be nice to the students? He doesn't have to hug them or anything, but how about not scarring them for life? Just be passably nice. Then she pulls the apologist bullcrap again with Draco. Geez. How about we hold people accountable for their actions? That sound reasonable?
But damn, if this isn't a fun series and a true feat of literary brilliance despite all that. Book!Ron, Book!Hermoine and Book!Harry are much smarter than their movie counterparts, and Book!Ron is just a billion times better in general - though he does have his sucky moments in this book, no doubt. Book!Harry goes off course for awhile too, but it's realistic that he would be and it's even necessary to the climax of the story. The arcs all these characters go through over the series is amazing, not just the main three but all the supporting characters as well, and when the foreshadowing is there, it works extremely well - such as with Kreacher's backstory. The fickleness of a wand's loyalty to its owner kind of works, except, you know, when you have an unbeatable wand that should, by its very name, be unbeatable. The handwave is that the brother who made it simply made a very powerful wand and so assumed it was unbeatable - to quickly be proven wrong. I mean, really, why would a wand want to be owned by an idiot stupid enough to go around boasting about how unbeatable it is? It probably sighed with relief when Dumbledore finally won it.
Anyway, damn you George Lucas for making me think of this any time someone said Death Stick in this book:
That man can ruin anything. :P
Jim Dale gives another outstanding performance. If there were awards for best audiobook narrator, he would get them all.